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Vanishing Languages in Context

Ideological, Attitudinal and Social Identity Perspectives


Edited By Martin Pütz and Neele Mundt

This volume grew out of the 36 th International LAUD Symposium, which was held in March 2014 at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Landau, Germany. There is general consensus among language experts that slightly more than half of today’s 7,000 languages are under severe threat of extinction even within fifty to one hundred years. The 13 papers contained in this volume explore the dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why this matters, and what can be done and achieved to document and support endangered languages especially in the context of an ever increasing globalized world. The issue of vanishing languages is discussed from a variety of methodologies and perspectives: sociolinguistics, language ecology, language contact, language policy/planning, attitudes and linguistic inequalities.
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Neele Mundt - Endangering indigenous languages: An empirical study of language attitudes and identity in post-colonial Cameroon


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Neele Mundt

University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany

Endangering indigenous languages: An empirical study of language attitudes and identity in post-colonial Cameroon

Abstract The post-colonial linguistic situation in Cameroon is highly complex and indigenous languages are threatened by the hegemony of English and French, colonial remnants that are now viewed as the gateway to the rest of the world. The dominant status of French and English restricts indigenous languages to the private sphere, while they are widely used in formal domains because of their overt prestige and legal status. However, indigenous languages are deeply rooted in cultural identity, traditions, and creating a sense of belonging to one’s ethnic community. Thus, language endangerment is evident in Cameroon as approximately 78 languages might die out in the near future because they are spoken on a second language basis or are embedded in very small speech communities (Ethnologue 2013). This investigation1 is focused on language attitudes and identity constructions because these aspects significantly influence the shift or maintenance of minority speech communities.

Keywords: Anglophones; attitudes; Cameroon; endangerment; Francophones; hegemony of English and French; identity; indigenous languages; overt prestige; Pidgin English; post-colonial

1. Introduction: Sociolinguistic profile of Cameroon

6,800 different languages are spoken all around the world, out of which approximately 286 can be found in Cameroon. Still an exoglossic linguistic situation is prevailing because English and French, not indigenous languages, have the official language status (Ethnologue 2013). In this...

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