|Cameroon Pidgin English|
2 million L2 speakers (1989)
Cameroonian Pidgin English, or Cameroonian Creole, is a language variety of Cameroon. It is also known as Kamtok (from 'Cameroon-talk'). Five varieties are currently recognised:
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.
The terms "Cameroonian Pidgin", "Cameroonian Pidgin English", "Cameroonian Creole" and "Kamtok" are synonyms for what Cameroonians call Cameroon Pidgin English. Many speakers are unaware that this language is different from English proper. It is a variety of West African Pidgin Englishes spoken along the coast from Ghana to Cameroon. It is a vehicular language that has been in active use in the country for over 200 years. It came into being in the Slave Trade Years (1440 to early 1800s). It preceded English in Cameroon: the first Baptist missionaries who arrived in Cameroon in 1845 and introduced formal education in English, had to learn Pidgin. A few decades later during the German annexation period (1884–1914), Pidgin resisted a German ban. It took flight when it became a makeshift language used in German plantations and undertakings by forced labourers who were drawn from the hinterland and who spoke different indigenous languages. With time it passed into use in the market place, and was adopted by Baptist missionaries as the language of their evangelical crusade. For many years, it has been used on school playgrounds and campuses and in political campaigns, and today it is forcing its way into spoken media. (For a comprehensive description of its linguistic features and its place in the language ecology of Cameroon, see amongst others, Kouega 2007 and 2008).
Like most West African languages, Kamtok has seven vowels, with two mid vowels: open and closed (Schneider 1966:14-17). Schneider spells the mid vowels as closed ey and ow vs. open e and o but Todd spells them as closed e and o vs. open eh and oh.
The palatal approximate /j/ is written y, the palatal affricates /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ are written ch and j, and the palatal and velar nasals /ɲ/ and /ŋ/ are written ny and ng (Schneider 1966:12-14). Some of these consonants, such as /r/ and /l/, are not distinguished by speakers who lack such distinctions in their local substrate languages (1966:225-229).
|Plosive||p b||t d||t͡ʃ d͡ʒ||k ɡ|
The basic pronoun system of Kamtok distinguishes three persons and two numbers. In most cases, the shape of the pronoun does not change to show grammatical function. Two exceptions involve the first person singular, where a serves as a subject clitic on verbs, as in mi, a mos go 'I must go', and ma is the possessive pronoun, as in ma beli 'my stomach'. The other major exception is -am in place of i or dem as an object suffix on verbs, except when the referent is human, as in a go was-am 'I'll wash it'. (Schneider 1966:64-68). Acrolectal speakers, however, are more likely to use dei for dem in subject position and ohs for wi in object position (Todd, n.d.).
|1st||mi, a, ma||wi|
|3rd||i, -am||dem, -am|
The rendition of a short passage from English to Cameroon Pidgin:
The boy who came yesterday was annoyed that he was not accepted. After a quarrel with me, he went off sorry for himself. We were later told that he told our boss that he was rejected because I hated him. The boss later called me to his office and questioned me about the reasons I refused to take in the boy in question and I told him. Tanga (the boy) was noted as a notorious thief and he is a mischief in the community.
The boy whe cam yesterday be vex say them no gri yi. After whe yi quarrel with me, e comot go, sorry sorry. After them be tell we say e go tell wah boss say we no take yi because i hate yi. Wa boss bin call me for yi office, and question me for know the reason why i no take the boy. I tell yi the truth. That boy Tanga na tif man and no some very bad boy for quarter.
In pidgin unlike in English, 'S' is not used at the end of nouns to mark their plural state. Instead, this is what is used: