Linguistic and sociocultural aspects of plant names in Chiyao


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


Foreign Languages and Linguistics


Chiyao, a Bantu language of southern Tanzania, has diverse plants vocabulary and makes extensive use of such vocabulary to refer to other entities such as places and people through metaphorical extension. Despite this richness in plant vocabulary, and its widespread use to refer to other objects, the linguistic and sociocultural aspects of the plant vocabulary in Chiyao have not been well described. Consequently, the conditions determining plant naming and metaphorical extension of plant names have remained unclear, and the morphological patterns exhibited by such nouns are yet to be determined. This study aims to investigate the factors determining the choice and metaphorical extension of Chiyao plant names, and establish their morphological patterns. The study will specifically analyze the morphological structure of nouns referring to plants, investigate the factors determining name assignment to plants, and identify the conditions determining the use of plants names to refer to other entities.