n Literator : Journal of Literary Criticism, Comparative Linguistics and Literary Studies - The role of the nameless in isiXhosa ntsomi : research article

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2279
  • E-ISSN: 2219-8237



This article looks into the custom of not giving names to pivotal characters in some selected Xhosa tales. Given that the word "tales" means different things to different people, it is used in this article to refer to both fables (stories which deal with animals only) and folktales (stories dealing with both animals and humans). The unnaming practice is not uncommon in all types of tales and is applied to both males and females, young and old, as well as to strange mysterious beings. The motive for unnaming is analysed and its functions are alluded to. References to popular generic names of animals found in Xhosa tales are made for the sake of clarifying the need for naming, though these are not the subject of discussion here. It is therefore most fitting to use onomastics as the theoretical framework of this article in order to capture convincing patterns of the unnaming system and the creation of faceless characters in indigenous Xhosa tales.

Hierdie artikel ondersoek die gebruik om sentrale karakters in bepaalde Xhosa-verhale naamloos te laat bly. Aangesien die woord "verhale" verskillende interpretasies kan hê, word dit in hierdie artikel gedefinieer as 'n term wat verwys na fabels (stories wat slegs op diere betrekking het) sowel as volksverhale (stories wat op diere én mense betrekking het). Die praktyk van nie-naamgewing is nie ongewoon by enige tipe verhaal nie en is van toepassing op manlike én vroulike karakters, jonk en oud, sowel as op vreemde, misterieuse wesens. Die motivering vir nie-naamgewing word ondersoek en die funksies daarvan geïdentifiseer. Verwysings na algemene generiese benamings vir diere wat in Xhosaverhale aangetref word, dien hier slegs om die behoefte aan benoeming te verduidelik, hoewel dit nie die fokus van hierdie artikel is nie. Dit is dus heel gepas om die onomastiek as teoretiese raamwerk vir hierdie artikel te gebruik ten einde oortuigende patrone in die sisteem van nie-naamgewing en die skep van gesiglose karakters in inheemse Xhosaverhale vas te vang.

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