Slang and Colloquialism in Cameroon English Verbal Discourse

By Epoge, Napoleon Kang | International Journal of Linguistics, March 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Slang and Colloquialism in Cameroon English Verbal Discourse


Epoge, Napoleon Kang, International Journal of Linguistics


Abstract

The study investigates features of slang and colloquialism in Cameroon English verbal discourse which have been created through the following processes - coinage, semantic extension, clipping, reduplication, double subjects, and pidgin-induced structures. It observes that these features of Cameroon verbal discourse are a quintessential development for the identity of non-native varieties of English around the world. The study contributes to the production of feature supplements to the usage of contemporary English in non-native settings. It recommends the codification of this linguistic inventiveness, especially among the young and lively people, in quest of fresh, original, pungent expressions to rename ideas, actions and entities in Cameroon English. All these juvenile qualities combine to give free reign to the impulse to play with the language, making it creative and refreshing.

Keywords: Slang, Colloquialism, Cameroon english, Verbal discourse, Reduplication, Coinage, Double subject, Semantic extension, Clipping

1. Introduction

Languages change all the time irrespective of whether we are aware of this or not. For instance, all the computer and internet terminology which we use all the time now did not exist some twenty years ago, simply because a browser and downloading did not yet exist in people's lives, and a mouse meant a totally different kind of thing, a small grey animal and not a pointing and clicking device (Schneider 2011). Furthermore, the ability to speak two or more languages is extremely widespread or has even become a norm. So in many contexts it is normal for a language to exist side by side with one or more other languages in the region, or in the minds of multilingual individuals. Such languages are said to be in contact with each other, and, quite naturally, they influence each other in many ways. As a consequence of this contact, pattern-forming habits in the minds of speakers are taken over from one language context into another, and many of them become firmly integrated in a newly emerging linguistic system. This applies to the "New Englishes" of Africa and Asia, which tend to have been shaped to some extent by contact with the indigenous tongues of the region. This phenomenon enriches the expressive potential of English, like that of any other language. New sounds or newly adopted patterns allow for further means of expression in the recipient language.

Cameroon is a multilingual country wherein 286 indigenous languages co-exist side by side with two official languages (French and English) and four major lingua francas: Mongo Ewondo (spoken in the Centre and South regions where speakers of the Fang-Beti language group are found), Arab Choa (spoken in the Far North region), Fulfulde (spoken in the Adamawa and North regions) and Pidgin English (dominantly spoken in the South West, North West, West, and Littoral regions) (Chia 1983). As a result of this, linguistic borrowing, interference, code-switching, loan translation and other manifestations of language contact characterize this particularly dense multilingual situation. 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 official languages (Echu 1999), from the indigenous languages to Cameroon Pidgin English (Mbassi Manga 1973), from Cameroon Pidgin English to the official languages (Kouega, 1998), and from one official language to the other (Mbangwana 1999, Kouega, 2005).

2. The English Language in Cameroon

Although English in Cameroon has been functioning as an official language since October1961, when British Cameroon reunited with French Cameroon leading to the renaming of the country as the Federal Republic of Cameroon, the presence of English in Cameroon can be traced as far back as 1916 when British became one of the administering authorities of the country. …

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