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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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8 Conclusion

← 68 | 69 →8 Conclusion


Camfranglais is a composite linguistic phenomenon that can be viewed in ­different ways. Depending on context and instance of use, it can be used as a sociolect, a register, or a speech style. It changes very quickly, and its vitality is maintained mainly by a dominantly male urban youth. It is highly ­interwined with Popular French, local and foreign languages, as well as Pidgin English and English. Independence and the reunification of former British and French Cameroon sped up the creation of Camfranglais, with the following factors playing a key role: 1) multiethnic communities in plantation agriculture zones, in areas of high economic activities, as well as well as in the political capital with a high number of civil servants from different ethnic origins; 2) widespread partial competence competence in Pidgin English; 3) audio-visual liberalization and the virtual media; 4) globalisation; and 5) the emergence of a youth hip-hop culture.

Camfranglais can be viewed as “an urban youth language instantiating youth identity on a discourse level” (Kießling and Reuster-Jahn ibid: 78). The use of Camfranglais now extends beyond youths to become a marker not only of ­urban identity but of a Cameroonian identity as well, given it is hinges much on ­Popular French. The key feature of Camfranglais is the manipulation of ­lexical items from French, local languages, Pidgin English, English and foreign ­languages. It is used in informal settings as a departure from the strictures of formal or academic French. Viewed in this way, Camfranglais is...

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