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African Day-Names in Jamaica

David DeCamp
Language
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 1967), pp. 139-149
DOI: 10.2307/411389
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/411389
Page Count: 11
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African Day-Names in Jamaica
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Abstract

A system of day-names, indicating the sex and the day of the week on which a child was born, was carried from Africa to Jamaica in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As personal names, they are now obsolete and almost extinct. All fourteen, however, survive as pejorative common nouns, retaining certain syntactic features (e.g. gender), but losing the purely semantic week-day feature. The series of historical changes, conditioned both by social influences and by the syntactic and semantic structure of the system, gives support to the subordination of semantic features to syntactic ones in modern linguistic theory.

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