Duala language

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Douala
Duālā
Native toCameroon
EthnicityDouala, Mungo
Native speakers
(87,700 cited 1982)[1]
Most speakers live in Douala, the biggest city of Cameroon, which has since grown more than four times as big.
Dialects
  • Duala proper
  • Bodiman
  • Oli (Ewodi, Wuri)
  • Pongo
  • Mongo (Muungo)
Language codes
ISO 639-2dua
ISO 639-3dua
Glottologdual1243  Duala
olib1234  Oli-Bidiman
A.24–26[2]
Jo
Native toCameroon
Regionaround Douala
Native speakers
None
Douala-based pidgin
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
GlottologNone
A.20A[2]

Duala (Duala: ɓwambo ba duālā; also spelt Douala, Diwala, Dwela, Dualla and Dwala) is a dialect cluster spoken by the Duala and Mungo peoples of Cameroon. Douala belongs to the Bantu language family, in a subgroup called Sawabantu. It is a tonal language with subject–verb–object word order. Maho (2009) treats Douala as a cluster of five languages: Douala proper, Bodiman, Oli (Ewodi, Wuri), Pongo and Mongo. He also notes a Douala-based pidgin named Jo.

History[edit]

The origins of Duala come from the migrations of the Duala people during the sixteenth century from the Congo River Basin to the coastal areas of southern Cameroon.[3] While it is a Bantu language, Guthrie estimates that it only retained as little as 14% of the roots of Proto-Bantu.[4]

Alfred Saker, a British missionary and linguist, completed in the first translation of the Bible into Duala in 1870. After the German colonization of Cameroon in 1885, the Basel Mission promoted Duala as a lingua franca in southern Cameroon with support from the German authorities.[3] In particular, Julius von Soden, the Governor of Cameroon in the 1880s, supported Duala as a recognized lingua franca in the colony, although he maintained that German should be the language of instruction in schools for brighter pupils. In 1903, the Basel missionaries launched a monthly journal titled Mulée Ngéa.[5]

The missionaries' focus on using Duala in areas that did not natively speak Duala was viewed as dangerous by colonial officials, as they feared it would lead to ethnic conflict by elevating Duala to a prestige language. Since Duala was also being used by the missionaries in their mission schools, it was difficult for Cameroonians to become educated and obtain business, teaching or government positions without knowledge of the language. This reinforced German officials' fears of the Duala ethnic group gaining too much power. Therefore, upon becoming Governor of Cameroon, Jesko von Puttkamer decided to suppress Duala and other local languages such as Ewe and promote German in the colony instead. Puttkamer blamed the Protestant missionaries for the lack of German language use in Cameroon, and pressured them to stop using Duala in their schools and official communications. In 1897, he began pressuring them to switch to German, and later praised the Catholic missionaries in the territory for using German.[6]

In 1910, Governor Theodor Seitz issued an ordinance establishing governmental control over all educational establishments in the colony, including those run by missionaries. The ordinance enforced the use of German in schools and forbid the use of all other European languages. It also limited the use of Duala by missionaries to the traditional lands of the Duala people in order to prevent the spread of the language, as the German government wanted to prevent communication between local groups in the case of a revolution.[7]

After World War I, eastern Cameroon was mandated by the League of Nations to France and western Cameroon was mandated to the United Kingdom. The French government ordered that only French could be used in schools in 1920. The British allowed the use of Duala by missionaries and schools, but English-medium schools became the norm due to the colonial governmental influence and the lack of written materials in Duala. By the 1950s, this meant that Cameroonians were using English as an instructional language and Duala as a "church" language, even if Duala wasn't their mother tongue. Through the 1960s and 1970s, as Cameroon gained independence, Duala remained in use only in religious and informal contexts, as the missionaries continued to use it and develop Duala texts for religious use.[8]

Current Use[edit]

University programs in Yaoundé and Douala, as well as many local lycées, offer classes in Duala and other local languages. Duala is also used on an unofficial ad hoc basis in other schools as a medium of primary instruction to facilitate understanding. The television channel Dan Broadcasting System airs programs in Duala. However, it has been observed that attempts to introduce Duala and other local languages into schools have received some resistance from locals, as they do not view it as helpful for socio-economic development.[9]

Popular culture[edit]

The song Soul Makossa, as well as pop songs that repeated its lyrics, internationally popularised the Duala word for "(I) dance", "makossa".[10] The song Alane by artist Wes Madiko is sung in Duala and reached #1 position in at least 10 European countries.

Alphabet[edit]

Uppercase A B Ɓ C D Ɗ E Ɛ F G H I J K L M N Ŋ Ɲ O Ɔ P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Douala alphabet
Lowercase a b ɓ c d ɗ e ɛ f g h i j k l m n ŋ ɲ o ɔ p q r s t u v w x y z

Bibliography[edit]

  1. E. Dinkelacker, Wörterbuch der Duala-Sprache, Hamburg, 1914. [Duala - German dictionary]
  2. Paul Helmlinger, Dictionnaire duala-français, suivi d'un lexique français-duala. Editions Klincksieck, Paris, 1972. [Duala - French dictionary]
  3. Johannes Ittmann, edited by Emmi Kähler-Meyer, Wörterbuch der Duala-Sprache, Dictionnaire de la langue duala, Dictionary of the Duala Language, Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, 1976. [Duala - German - French - English dictionary. The preface evaluates ref. 1 above as terse, but good, while ref. 2 has missing and erroneous tone marks.]
  4. Johannes Ittmann, Grammatik des Duala (Kamerun), Verlag Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, 1939. [A grammar of Duala.]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douala at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Jouni Filip Maho, 2009. New Updated Guthrie List Online
  3. ^ a b Appiah, Anthony; Louis Gates, Henry Jr. (2010). Encyclopedia of Africa. Oxford University Press. p. 386.
  4. ^ Fage, John (2013). A History of Africa (4th ed.). Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 25. ISBN 9781317797272.
  5. ^ Gérard, Albert S. (1986). European-language Writing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 621.
  6. ^ Orosz, Kenneth J. (2008). Religious Conflict and the Evolution of Language Policy in German and French Cameroon, 1885-1939. Peter Lang. ISBN 9780820479095.
  7. ^ Gwanfogbe, Mathew B. (30 April 2018). Changing Regimes and Educational Development in Cameroon. Spears Media Press. pp. 27–33. ISBN 9781942876236.
  8. ^ Robinson, Clinton D. W. (31 July 2013). Language Use in Rural Development: An African Perspective. De Gruyter. pp. 114–117. ISBN 9783110869040.
  9. ^ Jones, Mari C. (2015). Policy and planning for endangered languages. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 199. ISBN 9781107099227.
  10. ^ "TRANS Nr. 13: George Echu (Yaounde): Multilingualism as a Resource: the Lexical Appropriation of Cameroon Indigenous Languages by English and French". Inst.at. Retrieved 2017-07-06.

External links[edit]