Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2214-3157
  • E-ISSN: 2214-3165
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In certain societies including the Ibibio of Akwa Ibom State, South-Eastern Nigeria, naming is a distinctive system of communicative practice which is used to express emotion and construct the personhood and identity of the name-bearer. This article examines emotion-referencing names among the Ibibio and adopts an ethnographic approach to investigate the motivations for the name choice, their socio-onomastic significance and the extent of influence they have over their bearers’ ‘selves’. We find that emotion names are bestowed through a range of motivations such as being a reflection of familial problems, death-prevention, religiously inspired and namesaking. We conclude that regardless of these motivations or whether the name has a positive or negative VALENCE, for the Ibibio, emotion-referencing names appear to have a subtle psychological impact upon the name-bearers self-perception. Naming among the Ibibio, therefore, is not only a form of cultural identity but a prominent site to reflect on and interpret emotions.


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