Research Article

Basotho Naming Systems and Practices: A Sociolinguistic-Onomastics Approach


  • Ntsoaki Teresa Mokala Associate Lecturer, Languages, Literacies and Literatures Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa


Naming is an important act because a name is a marker of identity. Therefore, naming systems and practices in African societies are driven by different socio-cultural factors. For this reason, language and culture influence the choice of names given to children. Naming system among Basotho follows certain processes which reflect their belief systems and cultural heritage among other things. Thus, through names, Basotho portray certain meanings and experiences. This study explores Basotho naming systems, practices and the meanings attached to the names they give. Sociolinguistic onomastics approach is used to explore the meanings of Basotho names. This is a qualitative study, premised on sociolinguistic-onomastics approach aiming to examine Basotho naming systems and practices. Data was collected purposely from national examination results and telephone directories from Lesotho. The findings of the study suggest that Basotho names have the following features: names that describe physical features of the child, politically connected names, names reflecting birth circumstances, and Sothoised Western names.

Article information


International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation

Volume (Issue)

3 (4)





How to Cite

Mokala, N. T. . (2020). Basotho Naming Systems and Practices: A Sociolinguistic-Onomastics Approach. International Journal of Linguistics, Literature and Translation, 3(4), 220–227. Retrieved from



Identity, naming systems, cultural heritage, personal names, traditional values