The structure of Ibibio death prevention names

  • Eyo Mensah University of Calabar
  • Imeobong Offong University of Calabar
Keywords: personal names, reincarnation, culture, anthromorphism, syntax, Ibibio


This paper examines death prevention names among the Ibibio in South-eastern Nigeria, from their structural perspectives. Ibibio death prevention names can generate and maintain some level of assurance and security that is vital for a child’s survival, given the implicit assumption that spiritual forces of some kind are at work. These names are believed to link their bearers to their past, ancestors and spirituality. This paper argues that these names represent enriching morphosyntactic properties that provide a window to the grammatical description of the Ibibio language. Their syntax is not constrained to a limited set of structures, thus they are structurally versatile and open ended, representing the various types and functions of sentences in the Ibibio language. The paper concludes with the claim that, in addition to the referential contents and metaphysical presuppositions of these names, they have other formal structural properties that distinguish them from ordinary Ibibio names.