Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Cultural Dynamism and Language Contact

Pidginization of the French Language in Cameroon

George Echu (University of Yaounde I, Cameroon)



Since the 1980s, some studies carried in Cameroon (Dang, 1986; Chia, 1990; Chia and Gerbault, 1992) seem to support the idea that Pidgin French is a speech reality in the country. Chia and Gerbault (1992) consider Cameroon Pidgin French and Camfranglais as two new speech forms of city dwellers in French-speaking Cameroon.

Refuting the existence of Cameroon Pidgin French, our study posits that Cameroon Popular French and Camfranglais are two pidginized local varieties of French that have developed in Cameroon, the first out of the necessity to communicate among people from heterogeneous backgrounds and the second as a secret code among young people. In fact, the two varieties of French come about through two distinct pidginization processes - one involuntary and the other voluntary. In spite of this basic difference, the two varieties have much in common in terms of users and their linguistic structure. And because both varieties are still undergoing pidginization, they may not be aptly considered as pidgins in their own right.

In all, the two pidginization processes operational in the two varieties clearly illustrate the relationship between language contact and cultural dynamism, the two speech forms being an expression of the culture of the highly multicultural Cameroonian setting.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-09-22