The Influence of Multilingualism, Christianity and Education in the Formation of Bakalanga Identity

Mompoloki Mmangaka Bagwasi


Unlike many onomastics studies which focus on meanings of names and circumstances surrounding the way they are assigned, this study uses names as a prism for investigating the effects of multilingualism, history, education and Christianity on the Bakalanga naming practices and identity formation. The data used in the study indicates that the names used by the Bakalanga ethnic group are drawn from various languages (Ikalanga, Setswana, Shona, Ndebele, English) and reflect various socio-cultural and religious practices found in the region. The names point to a cosmopolitan and transitory society whose names and identities are very much responsive to changes in language use, socio-cultural and historical links and connections. Such an investigation and analysis of names is meant to further elucidate the far reaching effects of multilingualism which include bilingualism, acculturation, language attitude and shift. Further, the study is meant to present names as evidence or a map of a community’s historical, social, cultural and linguistic course.

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail:

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