Lifestyle, Worldview and Identity: Names on Customized Vehicle Registration Plates
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Local provincial authorities in South Africa responsible for the licensing and registration of vehicles, introduced a system fairly recently whereby vehicle owners can acquire a personalized or individualized registration plate at extra cost. This is proving to be popular. This contribution takes a look at the motivation for the choices that go onto the plates with particular emphasis on lifestyle or worldview names. It is argued a) that this phenomenon should be seen as an integral part of popular culture in South Africa; b) that such manifestations should be considered as names and hence form part of the onomastic discipline, and c) that whatever choice is made, it in one way or another suggests a link to the preferred identity of the vehicle owner. It then also provides a welcome alternative to the somewhat dull numerical and impersonal option. The examples are mainly from the Western Cape, but data from other provinces also feature. The data was collected through personal interviews with vehicle owners. Information so gleaned was then transferred onto a basic questionnaire for further interpretation and analysis.