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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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7 Camfranglais in a historical perspective


As suggested by Kießling and Reuster (2006), urban youth languages and varieties are distinct from other phenomena that give rise to languages, such as pidginisation and creolisation, as well as from language contact phenomena like codeswitching.

Camfranglais in Cameroon is not the outcome of what Kießling and ­Reuster-Jahn term “referential emergency,” which they explain as “an ­urgent need of ­communication in situations where interacting groups have no ­common ­language, but need to create one, which is the prototypical scenario of ­pidginisation and creolisation.” This communicative function is covered by French and ­Pidgin English, as well as by regional lingua francae in Cameroon. This study puts forth the argument that the rise of Camfranglais is due to the desire to create an unmarked urban youth identity. This unmarked identity is contrasted with marked ones like those attached to Mboko, Pidgin English and local languages. Indeed, Mboko is viewed as a language variety of thieves and ­rascals, and Pidgin English appears to be for the uneducated and for ­Anglophones in Cameroon. It should also be noted that Camfranglais offers (urban) youths the possibility of an ethnic-group neutral language. Speaking Camfranglais is now an expression of a Cameroonian (youth) identity.

As has already been established, Camfranglais is an outgrowth of a high language contact situation. It arose in the dense language contact situation of the Littoral region of Cameroon, and many previous researchers have identified the Douala seaport as one on its main foyers. In the birth...

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