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

<< Postcolonial innovations and transformations: Putting language in the forefront

Popular but approximative Standard English equivalences in Cameroon English usage. The controversy

Valentine Ubanako Njende (The University of Yaounde I)



The increasing spread and use of English around the globe has caused many purists to express worries about the fate of the language especially among non native speakers . Many of them consider non native varieties as 'errors', 'imperfections' etc. Taking the Cameroonian experience as a classical example, their arguments seem baseless as within the Cameroonian variety, there exist some localisms which are more expressive than existing popular standard English equivalences. Although these standard English forms are popular and considered prestigious, they remain very approximative and do not give a world view of the exact socio-cultural and political situation of Cameroon.

In this paper we are out to show that due to the expressive nature of Cameroon English, its elegance and adaptability to suit the immediate environment and respond conveniently to the communicative needs of its users, it stands out as a prestigious variety to be incorporated by other non native users and most especially standard English as some terms stand as better substitutes to the well-known and popular standard English equivalents which unfortunately are not very expressive. Hence 'Francrisis' and 'Mammy Water' for example express the notions of broke and mermaid better and thus could be better substitutes.

The situation in Cameroon is thus unique as there is a continuous process of creating many new terms that are more expressive and precise. This is done through the processes of borrowing, coinages, creation of neologisms, semantic allocations, transfers and shifts. All of these have gone a long way to give Cameroon English the identity it deserves and made it stand tall as a variety in its own right.

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

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-10