Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 131


Surname change among some Yorùbá Christians

Reuben O. Ìkọ̀tún* and  á»Œmọ́bọ́lá A. Aládésanmí
Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Received: 28 December 2011
  •  Accepted: 14 December 2012
  •  Published: 30 November 2014


In this paper, we react to the claim that surname modification or change by some Yorùbá Christians is a violation of God’s law or a recent development among the Yorùbá people and that it encourages semantic ambiguity in language use or word formation. The data collected include data drawn from previous studies on Yorùbá personal names, the lists of staff of three Nigerian universities, copies of sworn affidavits from some Courts and change of name columns in some Nigerian National News Papers or Dailies. We argue that surname modification or change is not a violation of God’s law because several examples of name change abound in the Bible and that for some social reasons name change has been a common practice among the Yorùbá people from time immemorial. We also argue that, in some cases, name modification or name change does not promote or lead to semantic ambiguity and that some Yorùbá Christians delete the NPs of their surnames which show reference to Yorùbá deities and retain the VPs. Therefore, we are of the opinion that surname change or surname modification should be a personal opinion which can be or not be especially when some of such names were mere appellations or alliances before the introduction of former education in the Yorùbá-speaking area of Nigeria.


Key words: Yorùbá Christians, Yorùbá people, Yorùbá personal names, God’s law.