Bamenda is in the smaller part of the country that used to be a British colony, therefore they speak English here…well, sort of. I’m trying to redirect a lifetime of listening to Ebonics into meaningful communication. When I walk down the street here, I need to greet people with a variation of English words and phrases. This is extra complicated because I’ve spent the last 16 months greeting everyone on the street in French. My default language when speaking to an African (or Swiss for that matter) is French, mainly because I can actually understand Cameroonian French better than Camerooninan English. It seems France did a much more thrrough job of enforcing good grammar in their colonies than Britain.
Examples of English here:
- Greetings are “Mowning”, “Aftanoon”, “Evening”, or “Allo”. (Not sure about that last one, but it reminds me of a fun scene in the movie “Labyrinth”.)
- You can ask “How fo you?” or just “How?” …and that little bit of Native American-ness gets me giggling.
- Exiting a taxi is “Drop me here”.
- “Gimme” is a perfectly acceptable request from an adult.
- “You’re welcome.” is not a response to a thank you, but a show of hsopitality.
- “We are togeder” is a compliment meaning we are friends now.
- I learned this from a guard near my house in Yaoundé. Each time I go to work or return from my lunch break. “You are going?” and “You are coming back?” never gets old. If you ever want to know which direction I went…he’s sure to know.
There is a pidgin (mixed language) language here that uses English words with it’s own phrases and grammar, but I’m just talking about English. Here’s my first-day attempt at an example sentence in Cameroonian English.
“I dun get him come out, but he go back like flash.”
I had that sentence checked by a mostly-Cameroonian. 🙂
Now I go sleep now fo teach tomorrow.