Shades of Meaning Associated with Personal Names and Naming in Igala
The purpose of the research is to examine the shades of meaning that are associated with names and naming in Igala. The study examined the various circumstances attached to the meaning of names in Igala, and the peculiar features that differentiate the practice from those of other Nigerian languages. The study looked at the practice of naming among the Igala to find out the peculiar features that differentiate the practice from those of other Nigerian languages as well as the meanings that personal names have by reason of the society that confers these meanings and that gives them the status as names. Data were gathered from the native speakers of the language who were asked to list six Igala names that they know. Native speakers were interviewed using the interview questions. Therefore personal names which are regarded as Igala names were collected. Semiology, Roland Barthes’ approach to language analysis was used to analyze the data. The study analyzed Igala names as elements of the language grammar and as any other lexical item in the language. It was found that the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child play a major role in the name they are given. It was also found that Igala people generally believe that both the bearer of a name and the society that endorses his actions help to bring to reality the proclamation in the name. Some Igala names only possess descriptive meanings that are associated with the physical features of the child for example, Oboni – six fingers or toes, Enefu – white –skined. It was also found that Igala names connote certain things in the language which Igala people hold as the meaning of a name. These are, the personality of other people bearing the names, for example, “Obaje” of Ali Obaje, the immediate past and late traditional ruler of Igala land. It was also found that names are not given for the purpose of identity alone but also as a proclamation of the future of the bearer. Therefore, Igala personal names have shades of meaning that are tied to some socio-cultural variables.