Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Before you ask: Yes, 'Floyd' is a surprisingly common name amongst Southern African tribesmen.

From the paper 'Psychological Factors Affecting Preferences for First Names', by Colman, Hargreaves and Sluckin of the University of Leicester.

"Another striking example of the psychological importance of names is found among the Pondo tribesmen of Southern Africa. The patriarchal structure of the Pondo kinship system is reflected in a set of taboos governing name avoidance by married women. A Pondo bride is forbidden to utter the names of her husband's elder brothers, her father-in-law and his brothers, or her husband's paternal grandfather, whether they are living or dead. She is not even permitted in day-to-day speech to use words whose principal syllable rhymes with any of these names. She is also forbidden to use the personal names of her husband's mother, paternal aunts, and elder sisters, but she need not avoid words which rhyme with them."

No, because that would just be silly.

What I wonder is how they police this rule. I like to think the married men of Pondo carry little buzzers with them at all times.

- I'm just going out for an hour, husband. Will you still be in when I get back?

- Bzzt! If I can just stop you there, wife, and remind you of my brother Jack.

- Oh. Yes, of course. Alright, will you still be in when I... return?

- Bzzt! Sorry dear, you seem to be forgetting Great Uncle Ern.

- Oh, come on! Your father had twenty five brothers! I can't avoid all their names!

- Bzzzzzzzzzt! Great Uncles Joe, Ron, Arthur, Clive, Floyd, Paul and James!

- Arthur does not rhyme with father! It's a half rhyme at best!

- Yes it does! Doesn't it, village elder?

-Well, on this occasion I'm going to give your wife the benefit of the doubt, but the village enjoyed your challenge, so you get an extra point.


Auntie Em said...

*falls off chair laughing at Nicholas Parsons as village elder*

Damn your archives! Oh well, it's not like I particularly enjoy being employed anyway.