Another look at ‘Khoikhoi’ and related ethnonyms

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 2
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    English: The nomadic pastoralists formerly called “Hottentots” are today known as the Khoikhoi, a term also encountered as Khoekhoe, often abbreviated as Khoe. The name, said to be derived from the words khoi (khoe) “person” and khoin (khoen) “people”, is variously interpreted as “people of people”, “the best people”, “people of pure race”, “excellent people”, “our people”, “people of our group”, among others. Early forms of the name indicate that the two components of the ethnonym are not identical, and that the first contains a click, thus casting doubt on the given interpretations. This article proposes an interpretation based on definitions of words in Van Riebeeck’s Diary. Variant forms Khoikhoi(n), Khoekhoe(n) and Quena are discussed, as well as a number of ethnonyms that mean “mountain people”.