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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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5 The poetic making of Camfranglais


As previously discussed, Camfranglais is essentially a phenomenon of ­lexical ­manipulation. Some items maintain their old forms, yet many more take on other forms. In this regard, it is important to discuss the creation of new ­lexical items from older ones. Prima facie observation of Camfranglais gives the ­impression that its present lexical structure is solely the result of borrowing from other ­languages such as French, Pidgin/English, Duala, Fufulde, and Ghomala. The easy conclusion would be that Camfranglais is a mixture of lexical elements from different languages in a French matrix. Inasmuch as borrowings whose form has not been altered exist, the greater majority of borrowed items have undergone phonological, morphological as well as semantic modification. Some of the ­unmodified borrowed lexical items include:

Table 3: Some unmodified borrowings in Camfranglais


Origin and original meaning

Camfranglais meaning


Pidgin, “please”



Pidgin, “to ask/ ask for”

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