Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2214-3157
  • E-ISSN: 2214-3165
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Cultural norms of interactions influence Maasai people to apply animal names to address each other. This article explains that avoidance of personal names of certain categories of people in Maasai influences the use of animal names. In the theoretical framework of Cultural Linguistics, the author analyzed information from an ethnographic exploration through observations and interviews with Maasai informants in Tanzania. The article shows that Maasai’s categorization of people and avoidance system make senior members accumulate more animals through the process of selecting animal names to use. The patriarchal cultural beliefs and conceptualizations of domestic animals have implications on how animal names are applied between men and women. Only women married to polygamous men use animal names to address each other. There are some lexical, morphological and semantic differences between men and women’s names to mark gender categorizations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Afful, J. B.
    (2010) Address forms among university students in Ghana: a case of gendered identities?Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural DevelopmentVol.31 (5), 443–456, 10.1080/01434632.2010.505655
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2010.505655 [Google Scholar]
  2. Agyekum, K.
    (2006) The Sociolinguistic of Akan Personal Names. Nordic Journal of African Studies, Vol.151, 206–235.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Ahn, H.
    (2017) Soul uncle: cultural conceptualisations behind the use of address terms in Korean. InF. Sharifian, Advances in Cultural Linguistics (pp.587–622). Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978‑981‑10‑4056‑6_19
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4056-6_19 [Google Scholar]
  4. Allan, K., & Burride, K.
    (2006) Forbidden Words: Tabooks abd the Censoring of Langauge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511617881
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617881 [Google Scholar]
  5. Ameka, F. K., & Breedveld, A.
    (2004) Areal cultural scripts for social interaction in West African communities. Intercultural Pragmatics, Vol.1 (2), 167–187. 10.1515/iprg.2004.1.2.167
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2004.1.2.167 [Google Scholar]
  6. Aronoff, M., & Rees-Miller, J.
    (2017) The Handbook of Linguistics, Second Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. 10.1002/9781119072256
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119072256 [Google Scholar]
  7. Benczes, R., Burridge, K., Sharifian, F., & Allan, K.
    (2017) Cultural Linguistics and Aging: What naming naming practice in Austria can reveal about the underlying cultural conceptualisations. InF. Sharifian, Advances in Cultural Linguistics (pp.624–657). Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978‑981‑10‑4056‑6_27
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4056-6_27 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bloch, M.
    (2006) Teknonymy and the Evolution of the ‘Social’ among the Zafimaniry of Madagascar. InG. V. Bruck, & B. Bodenhorn, An Anthropology of Names and Naming (pp.97–114). Cabridge: Cabridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Borwein, S.
    (2013) Privatizing Pastures: Land Tenure Reform in Kenya’s Maasailand. Public Police and Governance Review, Vol.4(2), 72–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Bright, W.
    (2006) What is Name? Reflections on Onomastics. Language and Linguistics, Vol.4(4), 669–681.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Chauke, M. T.
    (2015) Personal Names and Naming Practices among the Vatsonga. Anthropologists, Vol.19 (1), 303–312. 10.1080/09720073.2015.11891664
    https://doi.org/10.1080/09720073.2015.11891664 [Google Scholar]
  12. Coast, E.
    (2000) Maasai Demography. PhD Thesis (Unpublished): University of London.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Crystal, D.
    (1997) The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (2nd edtn). The United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Culpeper, J.
    (2007) Reflections on impoliteness, relational work and power. InD. Bousfield, & M. A. Locher, Impoliteness in Language (pp.22–53). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fandrych, I.
    (2012) Between Traditions and the Requirements of Modern Life: “Hlonipha” in Southern Bantu Societies with Special Reference to Lesotho. Journal of Language and Culture, Vol.3(4), 67–73.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Fratkin, E.
    (2001) East African Pastoralism in Transition: Maasai, Baron, and Rendile Cases. African Studies Review, Vol.44(3), 1–25. 10.2307/525591
    https://doi.org/10.2307/525591 [Google Scholar]
  17. Gordon, C.
    (2009) Making Meanings, Creating Family: Intertextuality and Framing in Family Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373820.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195373820.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  18. Guma, M.
    (2001) The Cultural Meaning of Names among Bosotho of Southern Africa: A Historical and Linguistic Analysis. Nordic Journal of African Studies, Vol.10(3), 265–279.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Hagström, C.
    (2012) Naming me, Naming you, Personal Names, Online Signatures and Cultural Meaning. Oslo Studies in Language, Vol.4(2), 81–93. 10.5617/osla.312
    https://doi.org/10.5617/osla.312 [Google Scholar]
  20. Herlehy, T. J.
    (1984) Ties that Bind: Palm Wine and Blood-Brotherhood at Kenya Coast during the 19th Century. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.17(2), 285–308. 10.2307/218607
    https://doi.org/10.2307/218607 [Google Scholar]
  21. Jourdan, C., & Tuite, K.
    (2006) Language, Culture and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511616792
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616792 [Google Scholar]
  22. Jumaily, A. L., & Hameed, N. S.
    (2014) Animal Names and People’s Names: A Socio-Cultural Study. The English Literature Journal, Vol.1(1), 1–5.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Katahami, H.
    (1997) Personal Names and Modes of Address among the Mbeere. African Study Monographs, Vol.18 (3,4), 203–312.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Kecskes, I.
    (2008) Dueling contexts: A dynamic model of meaning. Journal of Pragmatics, 385–406. 10.1016/j.pragma.2007.12.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2007.12.004 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kotowicz, A. M.
    (2013) Maasai Identity in the 21st Century, Theses and Dissertations. 7151. Accessed online throughhttps://dc.uwm.edu/etd/715 on 25th June 2022: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  26. Kulet, H. O.
    (1971) Is it Possible?Nairobi: Longhorn Publishers (K) lTD.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Lotte, H.
    (2006) Moving the Maasai: A Colonial Misadventure. Basingstoke UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Maganga, F., Askew, K., Odgaard, R., & Stein, H.
    (2016) Dispossession through Formalization: Tanzania and the G8 Land Agenda in Africa. Asian Journal of African StudiesVol.401, 3–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Maundu, P., Berger, D., Saitabau, C. O., Nasieku, J., Kipelian, M., Mathenge, S., … Höft, R.
    (2001) Ethnobotany of the Loita Maasai: Towards Community Management of the Forest of the Lost Child Experiences from the Loita Ethnobotany Project. Paris: UNESCO.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Mbiti, J. S.
    (1969) African Religions and Philosophy. Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers Ltd.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Morgan, W. T.
    (1963) The White-Highlands of Kenya. he Geographical Journal, Vol.129 (2), 140–155. 10.2307/1792632
    https://doi.org/10.2307/1792632 [Google Scholar]
  32. Morton, R. F.
    (1979) The Structure of East African Age-Set Systems. Pula: Botswana Journal of African Studies, Vol.1(2), 77–102.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Mwamfupe, D., & Mung’ong’on, C.
    (2003) Poverty and Changing Livelihoods of Migrant Maasai Pastoralists in Morogoro and Kilosa Districts, Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota.
    [Google Scholar]
    PAICODEO (2013) Report on the State of Survey of Ten District of Tanzania Mainland 2010/2011. Morogoro: Parakuyo Pastoralists Indigeneous Community Development Organisation.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Rosendal, T.
    (2018) Speaking of tradition: how the Ngoni talk about value maintenance and change. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Vol.39 (9), 776–788. 10.1080/01434632.2018.1438447
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01434632.2018.1438447 [Google Scholar]
  36. Sane, E.
    (2016) Space and Communication: An Ethnolinguistic Study of the Maasai Society of Tanzania. PhD Thesis (Unpublished): The University of Dodoma.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Sharifian, F.
    (2011) Cultural Conceptualisations and Language: Theoretical Framework and Applications. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/clscc.1
    https://doi.org/10.1075/clscc.1 [Google Scholar]
  38. (2017) Advances in Cultural Linguistics. Singapore: Springer. 10.1007/978‑981‑10‑4056‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4056-6 [Google Scholar]
  39. Spear, T., & Waller, R.
    (1993) Being Maasai: Ethnicity and Identity in East Africa. London: James Currey. 10.2307/j.ctv136c0gc
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv136c0gc [Google Scholar]
  40. Tarayia, N.
    (2004) The Legal Perspectives of the Maasai Culture, Customs, and Traditions. Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol.21 (1), 184–222.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Temba, E. I., Warioba, L., & Msabila, D. T.
    (2013) Assessing Efforts to Address Cultural Constraints to Girls’ Access to Education Among the Maasai in Tanzania: A Case Study of Monduli District. Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol.15 (3), 21–37.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Waller, R.
    (1984) Interaction and Identity on the Periphery: The Trans-Mara Maasai. International Journal of African Historical Studies, Vol.17 (2), 243–284. 10.2307/218606
    https://doi.org/10.2307/218606 [Google Scholar]
  43. Watts, R. J.
    (2003) Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Wierzbicka, A.
    (2015) A whole cloud of culture condensed into a drop of semantics: The meaning of the German word Herr as a term of address. International Journal of Language and Culture, 1–37, 10.1075/ijolc.2.1.01wie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijolc.2.1.01wie [Google Scholar]
  45. Yule, G.
    (1996) Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): address terms; assertion of power; avoidance; Maasai; personal names; politeness; teknonyms
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error