Iho popitha aantu? – Don’t you greet people?

A Contextual Analysis of Oshiwambo Greetings

  • Petrus Angula Mbenzi University of Namibia
  • Justina Meluwa Latenda Amakali University of Namibia
Keywords: Greetings, Socio-pragmatic, Oshiwambo, Culture, Aawambo


This paper is intended to investigate the socio-pragmatic context of Oshiwambo greetings. There is a dearth of literature on the intricacies of Oshiwambo forms of greeting and the metamorphosis that it has undergone to date. Thus there is a need to investigate the present state of Oshiwambo greetings. The paper is pegged on Austin’s Speech Act theory that emphasizes that utterances are the production of words and sentences on particular occasions by particular speakers for particular purposes. In view of that, Oshiwambo greetings are expressed to convey a specific message to the addressee by the addressor. Two approaches were employed to collect information for this paper namely, ethnographic approach to gauge the impact of Euro-western culture on Oshiwambo greetings and, documentation to dissect the socio-pragmatic context of Oshiwambo forms of greetings. The paper focuses on the functions, situations and types of greeting that exist in Oshiwambo. It further focuses on the paralinguistic and extra-linguistic features which complement the forms of greetings. The analysis has shown that greetings are an integral part of interactional discourse and serve as a prelude to the establishments of social relationships and that they can vary according to the age of the interactants and the circumstances under which the greetings take place. The paper further reveals that there are circumstances in which no exchange of greeting is expected. In the final analysis the paper reveals that western culture has an effect on the extra-linguistic features which accompany greetings thus both verbal and non-verbal modes of greetings are partly westernized.


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How to Cite
Mbenzi, P. A., & Amakali, J. M. L. (2018). Iho popitha aantu? – Don’t you greet people?. JULACE: Journal of the University of Namibia Language Centre, 3(2), 113-129. https://doi.org/10.32642/julace.v3i2.1389