Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Xhosa Kinship And Names

Wife E belongs to what I call a clan. This is a family of whom the closer members number several hundred. By "closer", I mean those whom they consider to be sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters. One would think, therefore, that one has several hundred names to learn. In fact each person routinely has multiple names, so that it is far more. This is Boetie (a general name) aka Kaffer (to his friends) aka Nathemba (to his wife) aka James (for cultural conven­ience). That's four alternatives, all of which are in use. Before one learns all the names, conversation can be confusing. OBSERVATION: He calls me nyana, son -- I am his wife's sister's daughter's husband -- which illuminates the kinship thinking. He thinks of me as a first degree relative, and I address him as a first degree relative -- tata, father. He is a loud, humorous, kindly man.

No comments: