Influence of Cameroon Pidgin-English on the linguistic and cultural development of French

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Oct 20 14:52:33 UTC 2007


Influence of Cameroon pidgin-english of the linguistic : Who is mbout or
tchop -broke-pot !

[Yaoundé - Cameroun] - 19-10-2007 (George Echu)

Cameroon is a Central African country where 247 indigenous languages coexist
side by side with two official languages (English and French), and a lingua
franca (Cameroon Pidgin English). Linguistic borrowing, interference, code
switching, loan translation, and other manifestations of language contact
characterize this particularly dense multilingual sit uation. In fact, the
languages mutually exert some influence on one another. Such influence may
be from the official languages to the indigenous languages.Assia,bend
skin,came-no-go,dokta,gnama gnama,hope eye,kontchaf,mbanga
soup,mouf,ngengerou, nkane,poto -poto,tchotchoro,tchop -broke-pot,water
fufu,tchouquer.

*

Introduction
*

Cameroon is a Central African country where 247 indigenous languages coexist
side by side with two official languages (English and French), and a lingua
franca (Cameroon Pidgin English). Linguistic borrowing, interference, code
switching, loan translation, and other manifestations of language contact
characterize this particularly dense multilingual sit uation. In fact, the
languages mutually exert some influence on one another. Such influence may
be from the official languages to the indigenous languages (Bitja'a Kody,
1998), from the indigenous languages to the official languages (Echu, 1999;
Kouega, 1998; Zang Zang, 1998), from the indigenous languages to Cameroon
Pidgin English (Menang, 1979), from the official languages to Cameroon
Pidgin English (Schneider, 1966; Mbassi Manga, 1973), from Cameroon Pidgin
English to the official languages (Kouega, 1998), from Cameroon Pidgin
English to indigenous languages or from one official language to the other
(Mbangwana, 1999; Kouega, 1999).



This paper focuses on the influence of Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE) on the
linguistic and cultural development of the Fre nch language. Various studies
carried out on the French language in Cameroon reveal the presence of CPE
loans not only in spoken French but also in local Cameroonian newspapers,
and literary works. The rapid expansion of CPE as a lingua franca in
Cameroon undoubtedly has an important role to play in this process, given
the gradual appropriation of this language by Francophone Cameroonians.

The study is divided into four main parts. The first part surveys the
language situation in Cameroon, shedding light on the multilingual nature of
the country as well as on the place of French and CPE. The second part is a
presentation of the methodology and corpus used for the work, while the
third part focuses on the lexical influence of CPE loans on French. Finally,
the fourth part probes into the semantic and cultural value of CPE loans.


*

1. Overview of Language Situation
**

1.1. Multilingualism in Cameroon
*

Cameroon is a multilingual country comprising 247 indigenous languages, two
official languages and Cameroon Pidgin English (see Breton and Fohtung,
1991; Boum Ndongo-Semengue and Sadembouo, 1999). Although *Ethnologue *(2002)
puts the number of indigenous languages for Cameroon at 279, these figures
are challenged by scholars such as Wolf (2001) for not being an accurate
reflection of the current language situation, more so since dialects of the
same language are sometimes considered as different languages. Of the four
major language families of Africa, three are represented in Cameroon. They
are the Afro-Asiatic, the Nilo-Saharan and the Niger-Congo.



Languages belonging to the Afro-Asiatic and Nilo -Saharan families are spoken
in the north of the country. Niger-Congo languages, which are the most
highly represented in Cameroon, are spoken in the southern region. The
languages of wider communication are Fulfulde, Ewondo, Basaa, Duala, Hausa,
Wandala, Kanuri, Arabe Choa, CPE (Breton and Fohtung, 1991: 20) and French.
In all, three lingua franca zones can be distinguished in Cameroon: the
Fulfulde lingua franca zone , the Pidgin English lingua franca zone and the
French lingua franca zone (Wolf, 2001:155). Such a division should not be
taken to be rigid,  given the overlap observable in terms of language use.



The Fulfulde lingua francazone covers the Adamawa, the North and the Far
North provinces of Cameroon where it served as the language of Islam as far
back as the 17th century. CPE is widely used not only in the North-West and
South-West provinces (Anglophone provinces), but also in the Littoral and
West provinces. As for French, its role as a language of wider communication
is traced to the post-independence period, following the gradual but massive
acquisition of this language by Cameroonians of all walks of life. Thus
apart from the three northern provinces (where Fulfulde thrives as a lingua
franca) and the two Anglophone provinces (where Pidgin English is the *de
facto *lingua franca), French plays this role in the rest of the other five
Francophone provinces 2.



The two official languages, English and French, came into the Cameroon
linguistic scene in 1916 when Britain and France divided Cameroon into two
unequal parts after defeating Germany in Cameroon during the First World
War. The new colonial masters then sought to impose their languages in the
newly acquired territory, both in the areas of education and administration.
This led to the solid implantation of the two languages between 1916 and
1960, a situation that was reinforced after Cameroon became independent. At
Reunification in 1961, English and French became the two official languages
of Cameroon as the country opted for the policy of official language
bilingualism.
*



1.2. The French Language in Cameroon
*

Although an official language since 1960 when the country became
independent, the presence of French in Cameroon can be traced as far back as
1916 when France became one of the administering authorities of the country.
The French who obtained four-fifths of the country, administered it as an
independent territory, while the British annexed their share to neighboring
Nigeria. In the new French territory referred to as 'French Cameroon' French
was not only taught in schools but was also used for administration
throughout the colonial period. Language policy during the French colonial
period favored the development of the French language in every respect.



Thus while French was promoted at school, indigenous languages were banned
from the school system (see Stumpf, 1979; Bitja'a Kody, 1999). At
independence, French was logically adopted as the official language of the
country, not only because the linguistic diversity of the country did not
permit the emergence of an indigenous language likely to play the role of
official language but also for reasons of national unity. French thus became
the language of education, administration, politics, culture, the media,
etc, and consequently the language of communication for an important
component of the population. Couvert (1983: 31) sums up the historical
evolution of the French language in Cameroon in the following manner: a)
1919-1944 – French becomes progressively the language of administration and
of communication between the French colonialist and Cameroonians in
such  situations
as the administration, the army and master/servant relationships, b) 1944-
1961 – French is both the official and vehicular language in urban centers,
c) 1961- 1972 – French is one of the two official languages in Cameroon (the
other one being English) but it is mostly used in East Cameroon, d)
1972-1982 – reinforcement of the position of the French language within the
framework of the policy of official language bilingualism.



Renaud (1976: 23) distinguishes four main varieties of French spoken in
Cameroon: *dialectes régionaux et de "quartier" *(regional dialects), *français
commun *(ordinary French)*, argots **(slang) **and français langue étrangère
*(French as a foreign language). According to him, regional dialects are
spoken by illiterates and school dropouts, while ordinary French is spoken
by those who have limited educational background – usually incomplete
secondary education.



 In view of the present day evolution of the language, these varieties are
rather difficult to distinguish. In reality, one may talk of Standard
Cameroonian French (SCF) used in formal situations such as the school
context, newspapers, radio, television, administrative offices, etc, and
Cameroon Popular French (CPF) which is used mostly for informal everyday
communication by illiterates and semi-illiterates alike. Both varieties of
French borrow lexical items not only from CPE but also from Cameroon English
and the indigenous languages. The French language in Cameroon fulfils at
least six different functions: official language, second language, mother
tongue, vehicular language, school language and foreign language (Ongue ne
Essono, 1999: 287).



Although Onguene Essono attributes such a wide spectrum of functions to
French, these functions can basically be subsumed into three: official
language, language of wider communication and mother tongue. As an official
language, the French language dominates the educational system and
administration. Demographically 80% of Cameroon is French-speaking. As the
main language of instruction, an overwhelming majority of schools in
Cameroon use French as the medium of instruction. French domination is
equally felt at the level of administration where both oral and written
communication is almost exclusively carried out in French, the language of
the majority. Thus, given its geographical spread, French is used in all
spheres of life, be they formal or informal. Findings obtained from a
linguistic survey carried out between 1977 and 1978 indicate that 87% of
children interviewed in the Francophone provinces speak French (cf. Koenig
et al., 1983: 94-95).



If such a high percentage was recorded more than 20 years ago, there is no
doubt that the situation has witnessed some positive evolution, given the
growing literacy rate in Cameroon in particular and the Sub- Saharan African
region in general. As an official language of the country, French is
acquired primarily within the formal school environment, a fact supported by
the literacy rate of the country that stands at 65% and the school
attendance rate that stands at 70% (cf. Chumbow & Simo Bobda, 2000: 46).
These figures indicate that a good number of Cameroonians can read and write
French and/or English. Several Francophone Cameroonians who live in urban
centers can also speak French acquired mainly in informal situations. Thus,
in the absence of a lingua franca that ensures nationwide communication, the
French language functions as a language of wider communication in towns and
cities of the Francophone part of the country3. As the dominant official
language and one of  the most widely spoken languages in the country, the
French language not only exerts varying degrees of influence on the other
languages but is also open to influence from these languages, among them
CPE.
*



1.3. Evolution of CPE
*



What scholars today generally refer to as CPE has been variously termed
"Cameroon Creole" (Schneider, 1960), "Wes-Kos" (Schneider, 1963), "West
African Pidgin English" (Schneider, 1967), "Cameroon Pidgin (CamP)" (Todd,
1982), and "Kamtok" (Ngome, 1986). Other non-scholarly appellations such as
"bush English" , "bad English" and "broken English" have equally been used
to describe this language. The latter appellations have been based on the
widespread belief that Pidgin English, be it of the Cameroonian variety or
other existing varieties such as Nigerian Pidgin English and Ghanaian Pidgin
English, is a simplified form of English used mostly by non-educated people
in some of the former British colonies of West Africa.



The name "Cameroon Pidgin English" (Féral, 1978; Menang, 1979) has so far
gained a lot of popularity at the level of scholarship and consequently most
linguists carrying out research on Cameroon today have adopted it. The
adoption of this terminology makes it relatively easier to define this
language as the Pidgin English used in Cameroon, as opposed to varieties
used in other countries. The birth of CPE is often traced as far back as the
18th century when English traders and missionaries set foot on the coast of
West Africa. Pidgin English developed to guarantee effective communication
in the area of trade and evangelization. After the abolition of slave trade
at the beginning of the 19th century, this language continued to expand all
over the coastal region. It was used by some of the newly freed slaves who
settled in Fernando Po, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and later moved to the
Cameroonian coastal town of Victoria where they worked for the Cameroon
Development Corporation (an agro-industrial complex created by the Germans
in July 1884).



 The numerous road and railway construction projects where the colonialists
practiced forced labor also ser ved as a fertile ground for the growth and
development of CPE. Given that these work sites brought together people from
diversified ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, Pidgin English was the only
language that could facilitate communication. Consequently, throughout the
German colonial period in Cameroon (1884-1916), Pidgin English continued to
be widely used.

Following the Franco-British occupation of Cameroon as of 1916, CPE
witnessed a new period of its history. In British Cameroon, where it was
mainly spoken, English and the indigenous languages enriched its vocabulary.
Then with the birth of the Federal Republic of Cameroon on October 1, 1961,
CPE further experienced French influence, as well as influence from the
local languages of French-speaking Cameroon.



Thus in the mid sixties, 85% of CPE terms came from English, 13% from
indigenous languages and 2% from other languages, including French and
Portuguese (Schneider, 1966: 5). By the early seventies, this situation had
changed significantly: 80% of CPE lexicon was English-based, 14% came from
indigenous languages, 5% from French and 1% from other languages (Mbassi
Manga, 1973). Such a drastic change can be attributed to the political
evolution of the country, since Cameroon moved from a federation to a
unitary state in which both Anglophones and Francophones henceforth had
freedom of movement. Presently, CPE is no longer perceived exclusively as a
lingua franca of the Anglophone  population, but as a language with a
possible national dimension giv en that its influence is felt in several
major towns of the eight Francophone provinces where it is also spoken
(Féral, 1980: 46). In urban as well as rural areas, CPE is used in churches,
in market places, in motor parks, in railway stations, in the street, as
well as in other informal situations.



 In fact, this 'no man's language' continues to be very present in the daily
socioeconomic lives of the people, serving as a bridge between Cameroonians
of various walks of life. Although *Ethnologue *(2002) estima tes its
speakers at 2 million people, the number is quite conservative when one
takes into consideration the numerous potential Francophone speakers and
immigrants of Nigerian and Ghaniain origin scattered all over the national
territory. Like French, CPE is one of the most widely used languages of
wider communication in Cameroon. During the colonial period, it enabled
European colonizers to interact with the indigenous population and
facilitated communication among people from various ethnic groups in social,
economic, and religious contexts.



Today, it remains the language of daily interaction in informal situations
and one of the preferred languages of popular music. It is used in humorous
situations and for making jokes. It is equally used to express certain
taboos, for instance when discussing love and sex in public. As far as the
varieties of CPE are concerned, Féral (1980: 5) is of the opinion that there
are two main varieties: one spoken by Anglophones and the other spoken by
Francophones.



Todd (1982) is, however, not of the same opinion. She distinguishes five
varieties of CPE: Bamenda CamP, Bororo CamP, Coastal CamP, Francophone CamP
and Liturgical CamP. Our opinion is that there are four distinct varieties
of CPE: the Grassland variety spoken in the North-West province, the Bororo
variety spoken by the Bororo, the Coastal variety spoken in the South-West
province and the Francophone variety spoken by Francophones. What Todd
considers as the Liturgical variety is, in our opinion, nothing other than a
register peculiar to the religious context.

**

* 2. Methodology and Presentation of Corpus ** *

**In carrying out this study, we collected a list of sixty (60) recurrent
lexical items from  CPEobserved in French usage in Cameroon. In other words,
the corpus retained is made up of CPE words that one hears often in CPF,
reads in Cameroon newspapers in French such as *Le Messager Popoli*,
*L'Expression
de Mamy Wata *and *Patrimoine *and comes across in Cameroon popular music or
in Cameroon literature in French.



Their va rious contexts of usage (whether oral or written) were analyzed.
Then, we investigated the extent of their usage in French by consulting
French dictionaries, glossaries and encyclopedia so as to verify the degree
to which the French language has absorbed the lexical items in question.
Furthermore, we examined the semantic and cultural influence of the CPE
loans studied on the target language. In constituting our corpus, some
existing lexical inventories were quite instrumental to the study.



This is the case of the *Inventaire des particularités lexicales du français
du Cameroun *(Inventory of Lexical Peculiarities of Cameroon French),
otherwise known as IFA, published by Gervais Mendo Ze, Jean Tabi Manga and
Rachel Efoua-Zengue in 1979, which is the first doc umented inventory of
lexical peculiarities of the French language in Cameroon (cf. Mendo Ze et
al., 1979). This inventory contains 22 CPE loans.



Later inventories such as the IFA inventory of 1983  contain 27 CPE loans,
while the IFA inventory of 1988 contains 28. Our participation,  since 1998,
in the IFACAM II (Inventaire des Particularités Lexicales du français en
Afrique - Cameroun) project, which focuses on the preparation of an
inventory of lexical peculiarities of the French language in Cameroon, has
been quite instrumental in the constitution of the present corpus. In
carrying out this exercise, we did however encounter some difficulties, such
as determining in certain cases which loans are of CPE origin and which are
of indigenous language origin. In fact, given that some indigenous language
terms get into the French language via CPE (e.g. *njoh *, *mbout*, *nyanga*),
it was not easy deciding where to classify them.



However, considering the fact that this category of words came to be known
and widely used in Cameroon through CPE, it was therefore agreed that they
could effectively be considered as CPE loans. In other cases, certain
lexical items are used across several indigenous languages, as well as in
CPE, such that issues relating to their origins become not only uncertain
but also problematic. Once more, our guiding principle here for considering
them as CPE loans is that they came to be widely known to the public and
borrowed by French through CPE. In a few cases, we were unable to trace the
origin of certain lexical items. However, given that research in this area
is still in its embryonic stage, issues relating to the origin of such loans
will certainly be clarified with time.



The lexical items presented below constitute the corpus for this study. *Africa
gin *: (other indigenous names ar*e **arki**, fofo **and odontol*) from the
English compound noun 'African gin'. Locally brewed alcoholic drink made
from fermented corn, cassava or palm wine. This term was widely used during
the French colonial period in Camer oon, especially after the Second World
War. Today, it is more and more replaced by loans from Cameroonian languages
such as *fofo *and *odontol*. Source of loan: novel by Oyono (1956a:
20). *arata
*: (other appellations are *aratha, arata die *or *arata tchop die *) from
the English word 'rat'. Name given to poison used to kill rats that infest
households.



This product, which probably comes from neighboring Nigeria, was first seen
in the local markets in the early 1990s. Thus the loan was first noticed in
the French

language during this period. Source of loan: Cameroonian newspaper in French
*Le Messager Popoli*, N° 555 of 22 Feb. 2001, p. 4. *assia *: interjection
used to express compassion; courage. This loan is generally used in CPF and
its usage can be traced as far back as the late 1970s. Source of loan:
Cameroonian newspaper in French Le *Messager Popoli*, N° 569 of 12 Apr.
2001, p. 3. *bad luck *: (also called *balok *or *barlok*) bad luck or ill
luck. This loan is commonly used as an interjection expressing astonishment
or surprise in daily communication, and its usage in CPF can be traced back
to the 1970s.



Source of loan: novel by Beyala (1987: 15). *bayam sellam*: (also written *
bayam-sellam*) from the English verbs 'to buy' and 'to sell'. Noun used to
refer to a market woman who buys foodstuff in rural areas and retails it in
the cities. This loan entered CPF in the 1980s when the role of female
foodstuff retailers became increasingly important in the economy. In the
1990s, its usage spread from CPF to SCF as leading politicians and statesmen
used it in their discourse in the absence of a more appropriate Standard
French equivalent. Source of loan: novel by Beyala (1998: 21) and
Cameroonian newspaper in French *L'Expression de Mamy Wata *, N° 167 of 4
Jan. 2001, p. 11) *benam*: (synonym is *bend skin *) from the English verb '
*to bend'.*



Motorcycle used as a means of passenger transport in urban areas. This
lexical item entered CPF  current usage in the early 1990s when the economic
crisis intensified in Cameroon following a major political crisis in the
country in 1992. The motorcycle became a major means of transport in urban
areas like Douala when traditional means of transport such as the yellow cab
were forced by the radical opposition political parties to go on strike.
Source of loan: generally used in daily oral communication. *bend skin *:
from the English words 'bend' and 'skin'. Signifies: a) a type of music and
dance from the Bamileke region; b) motorcycle used as a means of passenger
transport in urba n areas. This lexical item first entered CPF through the
domain of music and dance in the early 1990s, where it signified a new type
of music from the Bamileke region in the West province that was danced by
bending one's chest forward while allowing the buttocks to protrude behind.



This posture of the dancer was soon likened to that of the passenger who sat
on a motorcycle with his/her chest forward and buttocks backwards, whence
the name *bend skin *given to motorcycles used as a means of passenger
transport in urban areas. Source: oral usage where it refers to a particular
type of music or dance, or a motorcycle used for commercial purposes. *ben
-skinneur*: from the English words 'bend' and 'skin'. This name is given to
the driver of a motorcycle used as a means of passenger transport in urban
areas.



The term is used especially in CPF by young urban dwellers, and can be
traced back to the late 1990s. Source of loan: Cameroonian newspaper in
French *L'Expression de Mamy Wata *, N°175 of 1 March 2001, p. 3. *bitter
cola **:* (also called *bita cola *or *mbita cola *) from the English words
'bitter' and 'kola nut'. It is a type of kola nut that has a sour taste, and
believed to serve as a form of viagra. The scientific name is *gasima kola *.
Its presence in CPF can be traced back to the 1970s. Source of loan: oral
discourse, especially in the socioeconomic domain. *born house*: from the
English words 'born' and 'house' (house in which a child has been born).
Refers to a ceremony organized following the birth of a child.



During this ceremony, which usually takes place in the home of the parents
of the newborn baby, friends and well-wishers are invited. The word *born
house *found its way into CPF in the 1990s with the spread of this social
practice in Francophone urban centers. It is used frequently in oral
communication among people of different ethnic backgrounds. *came-no-go*:
from the English words 'come', 'not' and 'go' (that which comes and refuses
to go away). It refers to a persistent kind of skin infection caused by an
animal parasite. This loan entered CPF in the early 1990s when the parasite
was first observed in Cameroon.



Source of loan: Cameroonian newspaper in French *Le Messager Popoli*, N° 557
of 1 March 2001, p. 6. *djambo*: (also *ndjambo *) game of gambling in which
playing cards are used. This loan has existed in CPF since the 1960s when it
was used in Douala and some other Francophone urban centers especially among
gamblers. It is frequently used in oral communication. Source of loan: oral
context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 156. *dokta *: (also *dokita*) from the
English word 'doctor'. It refers to a medical doctor or by extension any
other member of the medical corp. Its introduction into CPF dates from the
1960s. Source of loan: novel by Mongo Beti (1974: 94) and some oral sources
observed in everyday interaction. *fever grass*: from the English words
'fever' and 'grass'. Refers to a type of herb used as a tisane for curing
fever and malaria.



The presence of this term in CPF dates from the 1990s, and the term is used
in oral communication. *fufu*: (also *foufou *and *fou-fou *) dough made
from ground cassava, and used as staple food in many parts of Cameroon. The
word is believed to be a West African Pidgin English loan from Twi 'fufuu' (
*The Concise Oxfo rd Dictionary*, 1999, p. 571).



 The word* **fufu **exists* in CPF since the 1970s. It is used in everyday
discourse as a synonym of the French *word **couscous*. Source of loan: oral
source in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 198. *fufu corn*: from the English word
'corn fufu'. It refers to a type of fufu made from corn. *Fufu corn *is one
of the staple dishes of Cameroonians from the North- West province. Although
it has existed in CPE from time immemorial, its presence in CPF dates from
the 1990s. Source of loan: CPF oral usage . *gnama gnama*: (also written *nyama
nyama*) small; person or thing of little value or importance.



 This word used both as a noun and as an adjective made its way into CPF in
the early 1980s through oral usage. Source of lexical item: Cameroonian
newspaper in French *L'Expression de Mamy Wata *, N° 175 of 1 March 2001, p.
5. *hope eye**:* from the English 'open eye' (the act of opening one's
eyes), which means 'the act of intimidating' or 'making people fear'. The
word *hope eye*, very common in the oral usage of young urban speakers of
CPF, dates from the 1970s. Source of loan: oral context in *Equipe IFA*,
1983, p. 233. *juju*: (other appellations are *juju kalaba **,
ndjounjou**, ndjoudjou
**or **ndjounjou kalaba *) mask made from calabash (whence the name *kalaba*)
and worn es pecially by children for entertainment performances; masquerade;
ugly person. The use of this term is common among young people. Its date of
entry into CPF is uncertain. Source of loan: oral context in *Equipe IFA*,
1983, p. 329. *katika*: from the English word 'caretaker'.



 The word refers to a security guard in charge of a public place like cinema
hall, recreation ground, casino, etc. It entered current CPF usage in the
late 1980s among young urban dwellers, as expressed essentially in oral
discourse. *kelen kelen**:* local variety of spinach used for preparing a
type of sticky soup. The scientific name of this vegetable is* **corchorus
olitorius**.* Basically used in the CPF spoken around Douala in market
places, its usage dates from the 1970s. *kolo *: one thousand CFA francs.
The word *kolo *entered CPF spoken in Douala through bandits and highway
robbers in the late 1960s. Today, it is not only used in the CPF of young
city dwellers but also in Camfranglais, a local slang. Source of loan: oral
context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. *263. **kontchaf*: from the English words
'corn' and 'chaff'.



It refers to a local dish prepared by mixing corn and beans cooked in palm
oil. Although the use of this term is recurrent in urban contexts
(especially in prison circles where the dish is consumed almost on a daily
basis), its date of entry into Cameroon French is uncertain. *kpa coco*:
from Bakweri 'kpa' and English 'cocoyam'. Name used for a local dish
prepared from cocoyam or cassava paste wrapped in cocoyam or plantain leaves
and cooked with palm oil. It is a staple dish among the Bakweri of the
South-West province, but also commonly found among other ethnic groups of
the coastal region such as the Banyangs, the Basaas and the Bakokos.

 Among the Bakweris, it is generally eaten together with *mbanga soup*. The
first Cameroonian speakers of French who got into contact with this  term
are civil servants and military personnel who served around Buea in the
1960s. Today, given that *kpa coco *is a national Cameroonian dish, the use
of the term is gaining currency not only in CPF but also in SCF. *makala *:
doughnuts made from corn, beans or cassava. A highly appreciated dish for
breakfast, it is usually eaten together with beans or with maize porridge
known *as **pap*. Its presence in CPF dates from the 1950s around the Douala
region.



Source of loan: oral context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 289*. **mallam*:
comes from the Hausa word *mãlam(i) *and refers to a scribe who possesses
in-depth knowledge of Islam, or a highly respected member of the Muslim
community. In the Cameroonian context, the word is commonly used to refer to
a traditional medicine man from the North of Cameroon. It is this extended
meaning of the word that is used in CPE since the 1960s. Source of lexical
item: novel by Mongo Beti (2000: 151). *mami-wata*: (other common spellings
are *mamiwata*, *mamie water *and *mamy wata *) from the English words
'mammy' and 'water' (mother of the water). Refers to mermaid; a very
beautiful woman. The word has been used in oral contexts in CPF since the
early 1960s. Source of loan: Dooh-Bunya (1977: 270). *mandjanga**:* variety
of small smoked prawns used in cooking in order to give flavor to local
dishes. Its use in CPF dates from the 1970s. Source of loan: oral context in
*Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 294. *manjunga**: (also majunga**)* a type of
relatively inexpensive and popular red wine (originally of French origin)
bottled in Cameroon.



This word has been in existence in CPF since the colonial period when French
traders introduced red wine in Cameroon. Source of loan: oral context
in *Equipe
IFA*, 1983, p. 289. *massa*: from the English word 'master', meaning 'sir'
or 'master' and used as a title to show respect for the person referred to.
Although this loan is increasingly used nowadays in satirical newspapers
like *L'Expression de Mamy Wata *, its presence in CPF dates from the 1960s.
Source of loan: novel by Mongo Beti (1974: 206), Mongo Beti (1974: 227) and
the Cameroonian newspaper in French *L'Expression de Mamy Wata*, N° 168 of
11 Jan. 2001, p.4. *matango*: refers to palm wine or raphia wine. The use of
this loan in CPF can be traced back to the 1970s. Source of loan: oral daily
usage. *mbanga soup **:* from the CPE word 'mbanga' (palm nuts) and the
English word 'soup'. Refers to a type of soup prepared principally by using
palm nut juice. Like *kpa coco*, the use of *mbanga soup *can be traced from
the early 1960s.



It is used mainly in oral contexts. *mbout*: abbreviated from CPE *
mboutoukou, *which means 'a good for nothing person' or 'a weakling'. Mainly
used by young people, this loan exists in CPF since the 1970s. Source of
loan: oral context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 306. *mini-minor*: refers to a
young woman who has not yet attained puberty; very young prostitute. Present
in CPF since the early 1960s, this loan is mainly used in oral contexts.
Source of loan: oral context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 313. *motorboy*:
(also *written **moto boy **or motor-boy*) from the English words 'motor'
and 'boy' (a boy who works for motor cars or lorries). Refers to a lorry
driver's assistant. This word exists in CPF since the 1960s. Source: oral
context recorded from popular radio program 'Avis de recherche' and
from *Equipe
IFA*, 1983, p. 319. *mouf*: get out; go away.



This interjection is used in jovial contexts, especially among young people.
A lexical item very popular among students, its presence in Cameroon French
can be traced as far back as the late 1970s. Source of loan:  novel by Mongo
Beti (1999: 101) and the Cameroonian newspaper in French *L'Expression de
Mamy Wata*, N° 167 of 4 Jan. 2001, p.11. *moukala *: albino. Used in CPF
since the 1960s, its usage is predominant in oral contexts. *moumou*: deaf
and dumb person. Present in CPF since the 1960s, the term is used mainly in
oral contexts. *ndjama ndjama *: local variety of huckleberry which is
cooked and eaten with corn fufu.



 Its scientific name is *solanium nigrium. *The term is used in everyday
oral contexts, and its usage in Cameroon French can be traced back to the
early 1960s following the contact between Francophones and Anglophones. *
ndjinja*: (also written *djindja*) from the English word 'ginger', meaning
'ginger' or 'difficult'. Predominantly used in oral contexts among city
dwellers, its presence in CPF can be traced to the early 1970s. Source of
loan: Cameroonian newspaper in French *L'Expression de Mamy Wata *, N° 175
of March 2001, p. 5. *ngengerou *: (also *nguengerou *) derogatory name for
albino. This loan has been frequently used in CPF (oral contexts) since the
1960s. Source of loan: *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 333. *ngomna*: from the
English word 'governor', meaning 'administrator' or 'government'. The
word *ngomna
*was first observed in CPF in the early 1980s.



Source of loan: short story by Abega (1982: 13). *ngrafi*: from the English
word 'grassfield'. It is generally used to refer to someone who comes from
the North-West or West province. Although its presence in CPE is relatively
old (since the colonial period), its usage as a French loan dates from the
late 1980s. *njangsang *: tropical fruit that is used as a condiment. The
scientific name is *ricinodendron heudrolotii*. The presence of this term in
Cameroon French dates from the 1960s. It is frequently used by market women
in their commercial transactions and also in the food industry in the
absence of an appropriate French equivalent. *njangui*: from Basaa or Duala
*njangui*, referring to a cooperative system of financial contribution
wherein members benefit in turns.



The word *njangui *is used as a synonym of the French word *tontine*, but
less frequently used tha n the latter by Cameroonian speakers of French. Its
presence in CPF dates from the 1990s. So urce of lexical item: oral context
in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 329. *njoh*: (also *ndjo*) from Basaa or Duala *njoh
*, meaning 'free of charge'. Speakers of CPF have used the word *njoh *since
the 1960s. Source of loan: oral context in*Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 329.*nkane*:
(also *nkané*) prostitute; brothel. Its presence in CPF dates from the 1960s
in the metropolitan areas of French-speaking Cameroon. Source of loan: oral
context in *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 335. *nyanga*: from Ewondo or Basaa *
nyanga*, meaning 'elegant'. Speakers of CPF have used the word *nyanga *since
the 1960s.



It is predominantly used in oral contexts. Source of loan: *Equipe IFA*,
1983, p. 340. *nyangalement*: from Ewondo or Basaa *nyanga *, meaning 'in an
elegant or seductive manner'. To this root has been added the French suffix
'*-*ment' (equivalent to the English '-ly') used in the derivation of
adverbs from adjectives. The word *nyangalement *is a very recent creation
in CPF. At moment, it is usedessentially by a cross-section of young urban
speakers of CPF, and  French *Le Messager Popoli*, N° 554 of 20 Feb. 2001,
p.8. *paf*: (also *pap *) maize porridge prepared locally and consumed
together with doughnuts. This loan has been used both in CPF and SCF since
the 1970s. Source of loan: oral context from *Equipe IFA*, 1983, p. 349. *pasto
*: from English 'pastor'. It is an affective way of referring to a pastor.



The use of this loan in CPF dates from the 1960s. Source of loan:
Cameroonian newspaper in French *Le Messager Popoli*, N° 566 of 3 April
2001, p. 2. *poto -poto *: mud; valueless. The presence of this word in
Cameroon French dates from the 1940s during the French colonial period.
Source of loan: novel by Oyono (1956b: 107), Oyono (1956b: 113) and the
Cameroonian newspaper in French *Patrimoine*, N° 8 of October 2000, p. 3. *
sabitout*: someone who knows everything; pretentious person who claims to
know everything. The presence of *sabitout *in CPF is relatively recent,
dating from the late 1990s. Source of loan: Cameroonian popular music. *sita
*: (also written *sista*) from the English word 'sister'. Affective
appellation for a woman in general, irrespective of the relationship that
exists between the speaker and the person referred to. This loan has been
used in CPF since the 1960s.



Source of loan: novels by Mpoudi-Ngolle (1990: 33) and Mongo Beti (2000:
85). *small no be sick *: (also written *simol no bi sik *) from the English
words 'small', 'not', 'be' and 'sick' (small is not sick). It is used to
refer to a rub of Asian origin generally used to cure body pains, and
locally believed to cure several ailments including influenza. This loan
entered CPF in the early 1990s through hawkers in the major towns and cities
of Cameroon. It is basically used in oral communication during commercial
exchanges. *tchotchoro *: small; someone of no importance. Speakers of CPF
have used this loan since the 1980s. Source of loan: oral contexts. *tchop
-broke-pot*: (also written *tchop brook pot*) from the English words 'chop',
'broke' and 'pot'. It refers to a glutton or an extravagant person. This
loan entered CPF in the late 1980s. Source of loan: Cameroonian newspaper in
Frenc h *Le Messager Popoli*, N° 5 of 11 June 1993, p. 10. *tchouquer*: from
the CPE word *tchouk*, meaning 'to pierce'. In CPF, the verb *tchouquer *means
'to have sexual relationship with a woman'.



This loan entered CPF in the 1960s through a local French slang known as 'le
français makro' used by some Douala city dwellers. Source of loan: musical
tune "Marche arrière" by Petit Pays, 1996. *washman*: from the English words
'wash' and 'man'. This compound word refers to a house worker in charge of
laundry. The presence of this loan in Cameroon French can be traced as far
back as the 1940s during the French colonial period. It was used not only by
the indigenes but also by the French, and believed to have come from Ghana
and Nigeria. Today, it is no longer in current French usage. Source of loan:
novels by Oyono (1956b: 111). *water fufu *: (also written *watafufu*) from
the English words 'water' and 'fufu'. Refers to a type of fufu made from
cassava paste fermented in water. The presence of this loan in CPF dates
from the 1970s. Source of loan: current CPF everyday usage in the market
place and restaurants. For purposes of illustration, some of the utterances
collected or recorded in the course of the research appear at the end of the
work as an annex.



*George Echu*

*University of Yaounde I*

**

This paper was presented at *Cultures in Motion: the Africa Connection *, an
international conference

which took place at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville from February
5-9, 2003.


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