Is ‘Camfranglais’ A New Language? A Review of Current Opinions

  • Valentine Njende Ubanako The University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon
Keywords: Cameroon, Camfranglais, linguistic situation, new language


The language-contact situation in Cameroon, where hundreds of ethnic languages coexist with two official languages and a number of lingua francas, continues to evolve and to produce new usage trends and patterns. One of the outcomes of the dynamism of the linguistic situation in Cameroon is the emergence over the last three decades or so of a new linguistic phenomenon that some researchers have styled “Camfranglais” for the simple reason that it comprises a combination of elements drawn from Cameroon indigenous languages (“cam”), from French (“fran”), and from Pidgin English (“anglai”). What precisely this French acronym refers to in linguistic terms remains fairly controversial as some researchers see in this phenomenon the emergence of a new language while other evidence suggests that ‘Camfranglais’ is certainly a new speech form but not a new language in the strict sense of the term.

This paper sets out to review some of the current opinions about Camfranglais with a view to determining if Camfranglais can be considered a language in its own right or simply as a new speech form which can be said to form a continuum with mainstream Cameroon English. It equally highlights the complexities that render this linguistic phenomenon so elusive to definition.


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