Camfranglais, Francanglais, or Francamglais (portmanteau of the French adjectives camerounais, français, and anglais) is a vernacular of Cameroon, consisting of a macaronic mixture of 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. It is most popular in the high-density urban centres where anglophones and francophones meet. Camfranglais has caused concern for educators, who worry that the language blend may hinder acquisition of regular French and English and may be seen as a shortcut around true bilingualism. Studies are underway over Camfranglais, which some academics consider to be on its way to becoming a proper language.
Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after the reunification of Francophone Cameroun and Anglophone Southern Cameroons. It is believed to have originated in the markets, ports, schools, and sports stadiums of Cameroon's larger cities. It became fashionable in the late 1990s, due partially to its use by popular musicians. Camfranglais continues to be used in music today, in the work of musicians like Koppo, Krotal, and AkSangGrave, as well as by writers such as Kalalobe and Labang.
Today, Camfranglais sees widespread unofficial use in the Cameroonian education system. Though Cameroon claims both French and English as official languages, elementary schools teach in only a single language. Thus, elementary pupils are surrounded by others that primarily speak the same language. It is not until secondary school that learning the other becomes mandatory. This helps explain why Camfranglais sees use in secondary school environments, as it is the first time that many students from different linguistic backgrounds begin to attend the same schools. Furthermore, Camfranglais is a hidden language, mainly used by speakers as a way to hide their conversations, or appear mysterious to others. As such, it has grown rapidly within the Cameroonian secondary school system, where students use it to communicate without being understood by outsiders.
While it is sometimes classified as a pidgin language,[who?] this is inaccurate. 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. As a whole, Camfranglais sets itself apart from other pidgins and creoles in that it consists of an array of languages, at least one of which is already known by those speaking it. For instance, while it contains elements of borrowing, code-switching, and pidgin languages, it is not a contact language as both parties can be presumed to speak French, the lexifier. Numerous other classifications have been proposed, like 'pidgin', 'argot', 'youth language', a 'sabir camerounais', an 'appropriation vernaculaire du français' or a 'hybrid slang'. However, as Camfranglais is more developed than a slang, this too is insufficient. Kiessling (2005) proposes it be classified as a 'highly hybrid sociolect of the urban youth type', a definition that Stein-Kanjora (2015, p. 263) agrees with.
Camfranglais has been accepted and embraced by Cameroon's urban youth population, particularly on the internet. In fact, this acceptance has created what some consider to be a 'Camfranglais Cult' among the youth. While the reasons for this are many, Stein-Kanjora posits that by choosing it over French, English, or indigenous languages, the youth are able to form a modern, urban identity, separate from the colonial and tribal connotations of older languages.
Camfranglais is predominantly used by youth between the ages of 12 and 26. Additionally, although the number of female speakers is growing, the language is mainly used and developed by males, at least partially due to active exclusion of women by male speakers.
|Tu go où?||Tu vas où?||Where are you going?|
|Je vais te see tomorrow.||Je vais te voir demain.||I will see you tomorrow.|
|J'ai buy l'affci au bateau.||J'ai acheté ceci au marché.||I bought this stuff at the market.|
|Il est sorti nayo nayo.||Il est sorti très lentement.||He went out very slowly.|
The aim of the article is to overview Camfranglais, a highly hybrid sociolect of the urban youth type in Cameroon's big cities Yaoundé and Douala, This language variety serves its adolescent speakers as an icon of 'resistance identity' (Castells 1997), i.e. they consciously create and constantly transform this sociolect of theirs by manipulating lexical items from various Cameroonian and European sources, in an effort to mark off their identity as a new social group, the modern Cameroonian urban youth, in opposition to established groups such as the older generation, the rural population and the Cameroonian elites who have subscribed to the norms of 'la francophonie'. The linguistic strategies preferably applied in this lexical manipulation, i.e. phonological truncation, morphological hybridization, hyperbolic and dysphemistic extensions, reflect the provocative attitude of its speakers and their jocular disrespect of linguistic norms and purity, clearly revealing its function as an anti-language (Halliday 1978). From a socio-political perspective, the creation of Camfranglais represents the appropriation of an imported language, French, under strong pressure of an exoglossic language policy which excludes the majority of the population from national discourse and upward social mobility. Being born as an anti-language, Camfranglais seems to be growing into an icon of the emerging new 'project identity' (Castells 1997) of modern Cameroonian urbanity.
This paper discusses word formation processes in Camfranglais, a composite language developed by Cameroon secondary pupils to communicate among themselves to the exclusion of non-members. To render their language mysterious and reinforce incomprehensibility, they use various techniques of word formation such as borrowing from various languages, coinage, shortening, affixation, inversion, idiomatic formation and reduplication, to name only these few.