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Documenting the Bafut (Grassfields Bantu, Cameroon) Royal Honorific System

 

Language Bafut (ISO639-3:bfd), , , Ngemba (ISO639-3:nge)
Depositor Ayu’nwi Ngwabe Neba
Affiliation University of Buea
Location Cameroon
Deposit ID 0271
Grant ID SG0159
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online

 

Summary of the deposit

The collection includes recordings of songs, their performance and other activities in which royal honorifics are used in both speech and gesture.
Recordings include different versions of the Bafut National Anthem (Mban), now sung and performed by a very limited few.

 

Group represented

Bafut speakers, members of the various traditional administrative structures.

 

Language information

The Bafut Royal Honorific System is one of several registers used by Bafut speakers when addressing members of the various traditional administrative structures. The various honorific systems differ depending on who is the speaker, whom the speakers talk about and the purpose of speech. The Royal honorific language is used on the Fon, among the princes or princesses in traditional rites and sacrifices and relic songs. The Bafut Royal honorific system has the same grammar as the system, but different vocabulary. The vocabulary for Fon is often metaphorical and provides an insight into what is culturally taboo (e.g. the Fon dying, eating, being ill) and how this is expressed. For example, a Fon is ‘missing’ (dead), has ‘fireflies’ (eyes) and ‘rattles’ (feet) and can ‘swim’ (walk).

The honorific system is a package of verbal language and gestures (soft and low pitch, stooping and hand clapping, etc) an embodiment of social values and a form of social deixis that enriches linguistic structure with social function, thus providing us with an insight into the worldview of the Bafut community.

 

Deposit contents

Recordings include different versions of the Bafut National Anthem (Mban), a praise song for the Fon, the elderly Queen, which is rich in honorifics and contains only a few words of Modern Bafut. It is now sung and performed by a very limited few.

 

Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Neba, Ayu’nwi Ngwabe. 2013. Documenting the Bafut (Grassfields Bantu, Cameroon) Royal Honorific System. London: SOAS University of London, Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/2196/00-0000-0000-0002-6249-F. Accessed on [insert date here].

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