Cameroon Languages

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Description[edit | edit source]

Both English and French are official languages of Cameroon, although French is by far the most understood language (more than 80%). German, the language of the original colonizers, has long since been displaced by French and English. Cameroonian Pidgin English is the lingua franca in the formerly British-administered territories. A mixture of English, French, and Pidgin called Camfranglais has been gaining popularity in urban centers since the mid-1970s. The government encourages bilingualism in English and French, and as such, official government documents, new legislation, ballots, among others, are written and provided in both languages. As part of the initiative to encourage bilingualism in Cameroon, six of the eight universities in the country are entirely bilingual.

In addition to the colonial languages, there are approximately 250 other languages spoken by nearly 20 million Cameroonians. It is because of this that Cameroon is considered one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world. [1]

Literacy in official languages according to the 2005 census (population of age 12 and above)[2]

Rank Language Percentage # of population
1 French (Total) 57.6 6,405,981
2 English (Total) 25.2 2,802,794
- French only 46.0 5,112,479
- English only 13.6 1,509,292
- French and English 11.6 1,293,502
- Neither French nor English 28.8 3,199,221
Total 100.00 11,114,495

Cameroonian Pidgin English, or Cameroonian Creole, is a language variety of Cameroon. It is also known as Kamtok (from 'Cameroon-talk'). It is primarily spoken in the North West and South West English speaking regions. Five varieties are currently recognized:

  • Grafi Kamtok - Spoken by those in the grass fields and often referred to as 'Grafi Talk'.
  • Liturgical Kamtok - Spoken by the Catholic Church for three-quarters of a century.
  • Francophone Kamtok - Spoken by those mainly in towns such as Douala and Yaoundé, and by francophones talking to anglophones who do not speak French.
  • Limbe Kamtok - Spoken by those mainly in the southwest coastal area around the port that used to be called Victoria and is now Limbe.
  • Bororo Kamtok - Spoken by the Bororo cattle traders, many of whom travel through Nigeria and Cameroon.

Cameroonian Pidgin English is an English-based creole language. About 5% of Cameroonians are native speakers of the language, while an estimated 50% of the population speak it in some form. [3]

Camfranglais, Francanglais, or Francamglais, is a vernacular of Cameroon, containing grammatical and lexical elements from Cameroonian French, Cameroonian English and Cameroonian Pidgin English, in addition to lexical contributions from various indigenous languages of Cameroon. The language blend is common among young people in the country, and rivals Cameroonian Pidgin English ("Creole") as the country's most common lingua franca. Speakers are already fluent in either English and French, and as such it is not used in situations where both parties lack a common tongue. [4]

Word List(s)[edit | edit source]

For word list and help researching in Cameroonian records, see:
French

Cameroonian Pidgin English

Camfranglais

Alphabet and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

French

Cameroonian Pidgin English

Language Aids and Dictionaries[edit | edit source]

French

Cameroonian Pidgin English

Camfranglais

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Cameroon," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameroon#Languages, accessed 31 March 2021.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Languages of Cameroon," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Cameroon#Offical_languages, accessed 31 March 2021.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Cameroonian Pidgin English," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameroonian_Pidgin_English, accessed 31 March 2021.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Camfranglais," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camfranglais, accessed 2 April 2021.