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A Dictionary of Camfranglais


Hector Kamdem

This book is a simple and clear presentation of the lexis of Camfranglais, an urban youth sociolect in Cameroon. It presents this sociolect as an outgrowth of language contact phenomena that have fossilized especially around the Littoral Region of Cameroon. Methodologically speaking, it uses a lexicographic as well as an ethnographic approach to data collection. Lexical elements have been collected from such diverse sources as Cameroonian popular music, online chat groups and forums like Facebook, blogs, Youtube videos etc. Besides there were group conversations organized for the collection of data. The major strength of this book lies in the diversity and authenticity of its sources which are all traceable. Moreover, all the regular statements it makes about the origin, semantic categories, grammatical classes of the lexis of Camfranglais are the result of the necessary lexical manipulations that should precede these statements. A complete alphabetical lexicon of Camfranglais is presented, and, where possile, etymologies are given. For all entries, real examples are quoted so as to guide the reader to the usage of words. Idiomatic expressions are also presented for different lexical entries. The book will serve as reference for those working on Camfranglais as well as a starting point for lexico-semantic studies on Camfranglais.
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1 Introduction

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Who does a dictionary belong to? Such was the central question to be answered when embarking on the project to write a dictionary of Camfranglais. To this question, the answer was simple: it must be the property of everybody. It is the property of all the speakers or users of the language or language variety whose words and usage it illustrates, as well as that of non-speakers or users of the language variety. These speakers may only consider a dictionary as an object of study or a mere curiosity, as the case might be. A dictionary can thus not be said to have one single author, or even many!

Representativity was the buzzword in the selection of items to be ­considered as Camfranglais or Francanglais. But, more importantly, what is Camfranglais, and what lexical elements would qualify as Camfranglais or not? In 2014 for ­example, where does one go for vocabulary items that would also reflect the usage 30 years ago? The main difficulty in obtaining words, phrases and ­idiomatic ­expressions to be included in this dictionary relates to diachrony as well as to defining the boundaries of Camfranglais. Camfranglais is not a ­recent ­phenomenon, and ­linguistic descriptions of it date as far back as 1985. The ­sources for obtaining lexical elements are fewer and less diverse the further back we go. For the 1980s and 90s for example, scientific articles describing this language phenomenon are the major sources available. To this can be added a few recordings...

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