Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I am Human by Name: Onomastic Footprints of Identicide

ANS 2021, January 23, 2021 “I am Human by Name: Onomastic Footprints of Identicide" Diane Allen West (University of West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica) A comprehensive analysis of slave-names as well as principles and patterning of slave naming in 19th century BWI has produced several taxonomies of names with implications for unanswered historical questions such as who named the slaves, how to trace the genesis of slave-names, and what are the socio-psychological ramifications of slave naming. The taxonomies comprising substantial Anglo-typical exonyms: plantation aptronyms, classical, biblical and, hypocoristic anthroponyms, toponymical or provincial types, protonymical or paternalistic types, as well as caconymic or pejorative types which this study classifies as forms of nameshaming; are altogether examined as evidence of New World’s slavery’s systematic identicide and coinciding linguicide, amongst enslaved peoples. Additionally, the endonymic Akan Day Names, herein termed Akanyms, are analysed within the context of African cultural retentions, their specific demographic distribution, and peculiar significance in citing onomastic shifts within the matrices of Caribbean creolization. The study considers these onomastic classifications for the purpose of illustrating, that name-identities are useful indices for measuring the extent to which chattel-slavery represents ‘crimes in perpetuity’ and to further indicate the social costs endured by Afro-Caribbean people and their descendants. The study however, also examines surprising paradoxes in the genesis of shame-names and poses questions as to cultural universalities, purposiveness, and the relative values given to names and naming. It considers ultimately, the elemental place which names occupy for human beings and the existential value of a name in being human. These areas are explored thematically within the colonial experience; within realities where languages and cultures come into contact and finally, where unpredictable linguistic cross-pollination produces dissimilar yet similar onomastic outcomes across the diversely colonized Caribbean. Diane Allen West is the UWI Postgraduate Linguistic Scholar 2018-2020 and Student Special Envoy, who is committed to exploring historical-linguistic Slave Name Phenomena and Caribbean Socio-Onomasics with special focus on the taxonomies of Plantation Onyms. Her research investigates evidence of cultural reproduction and retention of Africanisms within the Caribbean and its diaspora.

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