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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Proudly South African: a toponymical excursion
Author:Meiring, BarbaraISNI
Periodical:Language Matters: Studies in the Languages of Africa
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:place names
Khoikhoi languages
Portuguese language
Abstract:There is no single definition of South African identity. This is due to the diversity of the people, languages, cultures, geographical features and historical perspectives comprising what is perceived as being typical of this southern part of the African continent. South Africa's position as a route to the east since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the favourable conditions for eventual colonization as well as the southward migration of the African people have contributed to the diversity of cultures in place names. South African geographical names reflect the influence of a vast number of cultures, ranging from the Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, British, French, German and other seafaring nations, to the indigenous Khoi, San, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, Sesotho, Tswana, Ndebele, Venda and Tsonga people. Place names given by the Khoi and San can still be traced from the adapted forms the names acquired when other linguistic groups were unable to pronounce the different click or suction sounds of the indigenous languages and dialects. By way of examples from the Khoi language and some Portuguese names, this article points out how a diverse corpus of South African place names became part of the country's heritage and reflect a true South African identity. The examples are used to indicate the motivational force behind the names and how they changed with each new group in power. This pattern of giving names and changing existing names can ultimately be applied to the contributions from other cultural groups to South African toponymy. Examples of the phonological adaptations, transliterations, translations and other grammatical and semantic features of the names, are discussed. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]