Languages of Cameroon

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Languages of Cameroon
Official languages French, English
National languages 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, two Nilo-Saharan languages, and 173 Niger–Congo languages
Sign languages American Sign Language (Francophone African Sign Language)
Lingua franca(s) French, English, Camfranglais, Cameroonian Pidgin English
Knowledge of French in Cameroon in 2005, according to the OIF.[1] In 2005 18% of the population were "real" French speakers and another 26.8% were "partial French speakers". Both figures are estimations.
Map of Cameroon's official languages. Blue: French speaking regions and countries. Red: English speaking regions and countries. White: Bilingual Spanish and French speaking country (Equatorial Guinea).
Map of the region's indigenous languages.

Cameroon is home to nearly 250 languages.[2] These include 55 Afro-Asiatic languages, 2 Nilo-Saharan languages, 4 Ubangian languages, and 169 Niger–Congo languages. This latter group comprises 1 Senegambian language (Fulfulde), 28 Adamawa languages, and 142 Benue–Congo languages (130 of which are Bantu languages).[3] French and English are official languages, a heritage of Cameroon's colonial past as a colony of both France and the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1960. Eight out of the ten regions of Cameroon are primarily francophone, representing 83% of the country's population, and two are anglophone, representing 17%. The anglophone proportion of the country is in constant regression, having decreased from 21% in 1976 to 20% in 1987 and to 17% in 2005, and is estimated at 16% in 2015 (whose 4th census should take place in 2015).[4][5]

The nation strives toward bilingualism, but in reality very few Cameroonians speak both French and English, and many speak neither[citation needed]. The government has established several bilingual schools in an effort to teach both languages more evenly, however, in reality most of these schools separate the anglophone and francophone sections and therefore do not provide a true bilingual experience.[6] Cameroon is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie. German, the country's official language during the German colonial period until World War I, has nowadays almost entirely yielded to its two successors. However, as a foreign language subject German still enjoys huge popularity among pupils and students, with 300,000 people learning or speaking German in Cameroon in 2010. Today, Cameroon belongs to the African countries with the highest number of people with knowledge of German.[7]

Most people in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest provinces speak Cameroonian Pidgin English as a lingua franca.[8] Fulfulde serves the same function in the north, and Ewondo in much of the Center, South, and East provinces.[9] Camfranglais (or Frananglais) is a relatively new pidgin communication form emerging in urban areas and other locations where Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians meet and interact. Popular singers have used the hybrid language and added to its popularity.[10]

Education for the deaf in Cameroon uses American Sign Language, introduced by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster[citation needed].

There is little literature, radio, or television programming in native Cameroonian languages. Nevertheless, a large number of Cameroonian languages have alphabets or other writing systems, many developed by the Christian missionary group SIL International, who have translated the Bible, Christian hymns, and other materials. The General Alphabet of Cameroon Languages was developed in the late 1970s as an orthographic system for all Cameroonian languages.

In the late 19th century, the Bamum script was developed by Sultan Ibrahim Njoya to write the Bamum language.[9]

Official languages[edit]

R.
1
2
-
-
-
-

Literacy in official languages
according to the 2005 census[11]
(population of age 12 and above)
Language %
French (total) 57.6 6,405,981
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[12]
R.
1
2
-
-
-
-
-

Literacy in official languages
according to the 2005 census[11]
(population of age 15 and above)
Language %
French (total) 57 5,566,339
English (total) 25 2,448,914
   French only 45 4,401,333
   English only 13 1,283,908
   French and English 12 1,165,006
   Neither French nor English 30 2,909,664
   Undetermined 1 85,568
Total 100,00 9,845,479[13]

Literacy in French for individuals of age 12 and above rose from 41.3% to 57.6%[14] between 1987 and 2005 while that of English rose from 13.4% to 25.3%.[15] The global proportion of individuals literate in official languages has thus markedly increased between 1987 and 2005, rising from 53.3% to 71.2%.[16]

In 2005, the probability to be literate in French while being anglophone was 0.46 while that of being literate in English while being francophone was 0.20, resulting from the predominant status of the French language in Cameroon as a whole.

Indigenous languages[edit]

Some of the common languages native to Cameroon include:

Name Speakers
Abo
Afade
Aghem
Akoose
Akum
Ambele
Arabic, Chadian 171,000
Atong
Awing
Babanki
Bafanji
Bafaw-balong
Bafia
Bafut
Baka
Bakoo
Bakole
Bakundu-balue
Bakweri
Baldamu
Balo
Balundu-bima
Bamali
Bambalang
Bambili
Bamenyam
Bamiléké
Bamukumbit
Bamoun
Bamumbu
Bamunka
Bana
Bangandu
Bangolan
Bangwa
Bansop
Barombi
Bassa
Bassossi
Bata
Batanga
Bati
Bebe
Bebele
Bebil
Beezen
Befang
Bekwel
Beti
Bikya
Bishuo
Bitare
Bokyi
Bomwali
Bu
Bubia
Buduma
Bulu
Bumbung
Busam
Busuu
Buwal
Byep
Caka
Cung
Cuvok
Daba
Dama
Dek
Denya
Dii
Dimbong
Doyayo
Duala
Dugwor
Duli
Duupa
Dzodinka
Efik
Ejagham
Elip
Eman
Esimbi
Eton
Evand
Ewondo
Fali
Fang 111,000
Fe'fe'
Fulfulde
Fungom
Gaduwa
Gavar
Gbaya
Ghomala
Guiziga
Hausa 25,000
Kenyang[17]
Kotoko
Mambila
Massa
Mousgoum
Mousseye
Medumba
Meta'a
Moghamo
Mundani
Nda'nda'
Nso'
Tikar
Toupouri
Wuté
Yabassi
Yamba

Mousgoum, Massa, Kotoko, and Mousseye are spoken on the Logone River in the Far North.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Estimation of number of French speakers worldwide. Archived 2010-01-20 at the Wayback Machine., Francophonie.org
  2. ^ Kouega, Jean-Paul. 'The Language Situation in Cameroon', Current Issues in Language Planning, vol. 8/no. 1, (2007), pp. 3-94.
  3. ^ Neba 65.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-03-16. 
  5. ^ "Portail de données du Cameroun, Analyse de Données". Cameroon.africadata.org. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  6. ^ DeLancey and DeLancey 51.
  7. ^ "Wenn Deutsch gleich Zukunft heißt", Dw.com, 29 Nov. 2010
  8. ^ DeLancey and DeLancey 220.
  9. ^ a b DeLancey and DeLancey 192.
  10. ^ DeLancey and DeLancey 131.
  11. ^ a b "Troisième RGPH (2005) - Alphabétisation". Bucrep.cm (in French). p. 220. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  12. ^ "Les dynamiques démolinguistiques au Cameroun de 1960 à 2005" (PDF). Odsef.fss.ulaval.ca. p. 77. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2016-03-16. 
  14. ^ "Dynamique des langues nationales et officielles au Cameroun de 1987 à 2005" (PDF). Erudit.org. p. 13. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  15. ^ "Dynamique des langues nationales et officielles au Cameroun de 1987 à 2005" (PDF). Erudit.org. p. 12. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  16. ^ "Les dynamiques démolinguistiques au Cameroun de 1960 à 2005 : un éclairage à travers les données des recensements" (PDF). Odsef.fss.ulaval.ca. p. 56. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 
  17. ^ "Kenyang". Ethnologue.com. Retrieved 2017-08-26. 

Sources[edit]

  • DeLancey, Mark W., and DeLancey, Mark Dike (2000): Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon (3rd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press.
  • Neba, Aaron, Ph.D. (1999). Modern Geography of the Republic of Cameroon, 3rd ed. Bamenda: Neba Publishers.

External links[edit]