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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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3 Sociolinguistics of Camfranglais


Sociolinguistically speaking, Camfranglais is viewed as (1) a register and (2) a sociolect. Furthermore, (3) its use and importance has grown since the end of the 1990s.

One of the main functions of Camfranglais is as a youth identity language. Youngsters learn it as they grow up, now even as early as in primary school. It is used in different peer-groups as a marker of in-group belonging and ­solidarity. As an identity marker, it is also used to indicate belonging to urban youth and ­modernity. For the biggest Camfranglais Facebook group (Ici on Topo le ­Camfranglais: Le Speech des vrais man du Mboa) it is “le speech des vrais man du mboa” [the way of speaking known only to true Cameroonians]. This broader Cameroonian dimension makes Camfranglais not a uniquely youth ­phenomenon. ­However, youths tend to speak it more often and better than grown-ups, who tend to speak more formally. Camfranglais is predominantly a phenomenon of the urban youth in major urban centres, but in some rural centres it may be found in secondary schools as well. In some peer-groups, it is important to be able to speak Camfranglais so as to prove one’s social maturity. ­However, ­­Camfranglais is no longer necessarily spoken with antilinguistic intentions. Youths who use it do not necessarily want to hide something, although this is still a possibility. Typically, parents would not want their children to speak Camfranglais, as they view it as an impediment to speaking and writing formal French. In its...

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