International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

What’s in a Name? An Exposition of Gikuyu Grammar through Personal Names
Peter Kinyanjui Mwangi

When we look at personal names, we find that they are generated by the grammatical rules of a language. An analysis of personal names would show that they are derived from nouns, verbs, nominal modifiers and even larger elements like noun phrases. Many types of transformations like pre-fixation, suffixation; nominalization, passivization and even reflexivization are exhibited. Consequently, the coding of information into personal names is based on the lexical, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic rules of the language. This paper focuses on the basic linguistic principles that underlie the construction of Gikuyu (pronounced as Gek?y?) personal names. The paper draws on linguistic procedures, documented descriptions as well as knowledge of the Gikuyu language structure. The results indicate that the characterization of Gikuyu names is a clear reflection of a large part of Gikuyu grammar. A total of 300 Gikuyu personal names were analysed for this study.

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