• Goabilwe N. Ramaeba University of Botswana
Keywords: Personal names, polemical names, Setswana, lexically transparent, socio-onomastics


This paper discusses personal polemical names which name givers use to indirectly communicate their feelings and opinions, especially in conflict-laden situations in order to avoid direct confrontations. The paper draws from the field of socio-onomastics, a recent approach that studies names within the contexts of their societies. Socio-onomastics recognises that names are not mere linguistic entities that develop and exist in isolation; they result from interactions amongst people, their languages and their communities. The paper outlines the social situations under which Setswana polemical names are used. The data comprises 47 polemically motivated names categorised into eight related themes. These names are part of the data which was collected for a PhD thesis between May and August 2016 in the villages of Mahalapye and Molepolole in Botswana. The data was collected through questionnaires and oral interviews. The study reveals that Setswana personal names can be used to perform communicative and practical pragmatic functions of indirect conversational exchanges in addition to their primary role of identification.