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Multilingualism as a model: Fifty-four years of coexistence of English and French with native languages in Cameroon / Modèle de multilinguisme : Cinquante-quatre années de coexistence de l’anglais et du français avec les langues maternelles au Cameroun

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Lozzi Martial Meutem Kamtchueng and Pauline Lydienne King Ebéhédi

The authors in this volume study various facets of the long-term coexistence of French and English with native languages in Cameroon. This coexistence has many linguistic, educational and political implications. The data analyzed in the papers are collected through various methods and from various sources: questionnaires, interviews, participant observation, online sources, social media, written documents, recorded speeches and informal conversations, etc.

Les auteurs de ce volume étudient sur plusieurs facettes la coexistence de longue date entre le français, l’anglais et les langues maternelles au Cameroun. Cette cohabitation offre beaucoup d’implications linguistiques, éducatives et politiques. Les données analysées par les différents contributeurs ont été collectées au moyen de méthodes et sources diverses : questionnaires, interviews, observations participantes, sources internet, réseaux sociaux, documents écrits, discours enregistrés et conversations informelles, etc.

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Introduction

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Cameroon, a country of 475000 km2, is one of the African countries with a very complex linguistic situation: 248 home languages (Boum Ndongo-Semengue and Sadembouo, 1999:67–95) spread across three linguistic phyla, more precisely, the Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan and Niger-Kordofanian; two languages of European importation namely French and English, and two hybrid languages, Cameroon Pidgin English and Camfranglais. It is on the basis of these clues that it has been qualified as a “linguistic melting-pot or patchwork” (Biloa, 2004:1). Fifty-four years after the reunification of the West and East Cameroons, which had English and French respectively as their official languages, various salient linguistic issues concerning language policy, use, attitudes, contact, etc. have evolved and need to be addressed. These issues, addressed in the book in the form of papers, are articulated in three parts. Part One is entitled “language contact and linguistic creativity”. It comprises eight contributions.

Biloa’s paper studies the enrichment of Cameroon English by the French language. It is argued in the paper that the French language has significantly influenced Cameroon English. This influence is attributed to the demographic weight of French speakers, governmental, administrative and political discourses which are overwhelmingly French-dominated. Linguistically speaking, the influence of the French language on Cameroon English is materialized through the use of French lexemes, acronyms, female first names with French suffixes, French terms in the Cameroon administration and French professional forms of address.

In Apuge and Dongoye’s paper is studied the appropriation of the...

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