Cameroon has been described as “Afrique en miniature” (with over 200 distinct national languages) as regards sheer linguistic complexity.
Francamglais, as it tends to be called by its adolescent speakers today (p.c. Gardy Stein) – is a hybrid language spoken in the big cities of Cameroon, Douala and Yaoundé.A thorough discussion of the many issues surrounding cultural identity and language use in contemporary Cameroon, Dr Peter Vakunta offers a cogent argument for the recognition of Camfranglais as a legitimate literary language.
In Cameroon, French and English are official languages, and over 250 other languages are spoken, making communication difficult without a common language. Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after the reunification of Francophone Cameroun and Anglophone Southern Cameroons. It became fashionable in the late 1990s, due partially to its use by popular musicians.
Official bilingualism was guaranteed, as formulated in article 1, paragraph 3 of the constitution of 1996. The reality, however, is drastically different. Official bilingualism (Echu 1999a, 1999b) is very imbalanced, due to the predominance of francophones on the political and administrative scene, many of whom cannot speak English.
In order to move up the social or professional ladder, it is absolutely necessary for anglophones to become bilingual in French, whereas francophones do not have to become bilingual in English. Eventually, many pupils in the francophone area leave secondary school without being able to hold a conversation in English
The genius of Camfranglais is that it integrates Non-French lexical items into a French morphosyntactic frame: “sa structure morphosyntaxique a surtout l’ossature du français”.
(Roland Kießling, University of Hamburg - 2003 )
PIECE 2. TASK. READ THE article from 2007 below: Full text click at the headline and share your opinions at the option of a new interlanguage.
Multilingual Cameroon has awoken to a new linguistic reality characterised by reconstructing linguistic identities in order to fit in the global space. This is seen in more and more urban Francophones pursuing English medium education and the Anglophones consolidating their identity alignment to the English language. From a sociolinguistic perspective, this paper evaluates the prominence and implications and prospects of this rush for English education in contemporary urban Cameroon.
The case study method and cost-benefit analysis confirm that there is a fast growing interest in English medium education and the beginnings of English as an L1 in urban Cameroon. The result is a paradoxical sociolinguistic outcome: first of all, there is a shift by the majority Francophone group, who are shifting from a predominantly French medium to an English medium education, principally for economic benefits. Secondly, the Anglophones are increasingly shifting to English as an L1, without losing French as they live in basically French-speaking urban zones.
This state of language shift implies that there will subsequently be bilingualism without diglossia in Cameroon's two official languages, and loss of the long-standing French language hegemony in Cameroon. At the same time, this shift threatens Cameroon's ancestral languages, forcing them increasingly into attrition and possibly endangerment.
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