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Inthis paper, we examine surnames that serve as markers of identity among some Yorùbásub-ethnic group members. We show that this present work is different from theprevious works because the earlier works focused on Yorùbápersonal names in general, and the present work locates the Yorùbásurnames within particular sub-ethnic groups to show that though all the namesdescribed in the previous works are Yorùbá names the previousworks do not distinguish tradition-based names that are today surnames and alsodo not tell us where the names can be found within the Yorùbásub-ethnic groups. We argue that surnames form one of the parameters that canbe used to distinguish the Yorùbá sub-ethnic group membersfrom one another. We also show that surnames which indicate Yorùbá sub-ethnicgroup affinities are tradition-based personal names and that each of thetradition-based surnames is structurally a combination of a noun phrase and asimple clause or a noun phrase and a simple clause. We further show that thenoun phrases depict traditional religions or deities that were peculiar to eachsub-ethnic group before the advent of Christianity while the simple clauses, insome cases, consist of lexical items that are also peculiar to each sub-ethnicgroup dialect. We also argue that the introduction of Western or Europeanaddress forms into Yorùbá whereby the use of surnames isemphasized has helped in preserving the Yorùbá religiousthoughts, beliefs and variation in Yorùbá dialects. This isbecause, in some cases, the tradition-based surnames serve as reminders or arefull of reminiscences of the religious activities of the Yorùbápeople before the advent of Christianity in Yorùbá land.


Surnames, Tradition, Religion, Dialect, Ethnicity, Yorùbá

Cite this paper

Ìkọ̀tún, R. 2014 Surnames as Markers of Identity among the Yorùbá Sub-Ethnic Group Members. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 4, 307-316. doi: 10.4236-ojml.2014.42025.

Author: Reuben O. Ìkọ̀tún



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