n African Entomology - IsiXhosa insect names from the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



We present a list of isiXhosa names for a wide diversity of South African insects, and their English translations and scientific names, to contribute to bridging the knowledge gap between rural development workers and isiXhosa speakers. We interviewed 51 people in their homes at eight sites across the Eastern Cape and also included words from a published dictionary. We found 151 insect names, and categorized them into personal, dialectal and standard categories. Response-frequency distributions of the categories of names showed that the dialectal and standard lists were essentially complete. Sample accumulation curves showed levelling-off within sites and across the whole study, demonstrating that samples were adequate. The literal translations of some names show that isiXhosa speakers relate insects either to people, to their habitat and / or to their behaviour. The list can contribute to the standardization of knowledge of insects' indigenous names in South Africa for a variety of practical applications such as agricultural training and health services.

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