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Documenting endangered languages of the Bazou subdivision in Cameroon


Language Kwa’, Nsiteu
Depositor Rachel Ayuk Ojong Diba
Affiliation The University of Buea
Location Cameroon
Collection ID 0685
Grant ID IPF0405
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Forthcoming
Landing page handle


Summary of the collection

This project will document endangered languages of the Bazou subdivision of Cameroon: Kwa’, Nsiteu, and the Goze-Goshimdjang-Lek dialect complex. None of these languages has previously been the focus of documentary work, and all are endangered. Kwa’ and Nsiteu, in particular, are highly endangered and will be prioritized. In addition to producing standard documentary products, research will also be conducted in the area of ethnopragmatics of these three languages. Another result of the work will be an improved understanding of the overall linguistic situation of the understudied Bazou area where other endangered languages may remain to be discovered.


Group represented

Bazou is a subdivision located in the West Region of Cameroon, that consists of 63 villages, among which are Bazou, Kouba and Moya, whose languages are Goze, Nsiteu, and Kwa’ respectively, the focus of this project. The name Bazou comes from the Baze expression for walking because of the long migratory marches caused by frequent internal conflicts commonly referred to as the Bamilike wars. In recent years, after the Bamileke wars, the Bazou area has been politically reunified under the authority of the King of Bazou. This has co-occurred with an increasingly uniformitarian language ideology that aims to erase traces of past linguistic diversity throughout the Bazou territory. These conflicts have thus endangered the languages of this region with many inhabitants hiding their real linguistic identities and hiding under the lingua franca of the region, Medumba The economy of Bazou is like many rural regions in Cameroon mainly based on agriculture and trade.


Collection contents

The corpus of the project comprises a sociolinguistic documentation of the Bazou language ecology with sociolinguistic interviews with speakers of the target languages
A good number of hours of audio recordings of spontaneous interactions.
A. In a first phase, all recordings will be provided with a basic “sociolinguistic annotation” which implies annotating (in French) (i) what languages are used by individual speakers, (ii) topics discussed, (iii) free translation in French of entire conversational turns, and (iv) features of the interactional context (location of interaction, who is speaking to whom, presence of other people: this information will be provided soon after the recording is made by the participant who wears the microphone).
B. Selected recordings will be further annotated adding free translations in French at the level of individual sentences. This might prove fundamental to address issues of ethnopragmatics.
C. A more restricted set of recordings will be annotated in further detail. The main goal of such annotations will be to contribute to sketch grammars.
1. At least 8 hours of audio and video recordings of oral histories, folktales, and similar genres delivered in as monolingual a language mode as is natural for speakers (4 hours per target language). A selection of these recordings will be chosen for full annotation.
2. At least 8 hours of conversation among speakers who are all able to use Kwa’ or Nsiteu in a setting designed to maximize use of these languages instead of other local languages (4 hours per target language). A selection of these recordings will be chosen for full annotation.
3. At least 4 hours of verbal art or dance performances recorded during cultural events. If the Nsiteu or Kwa’ speaker community have limited or no occasions of this kind, I shall increase the recorded hours for oral histories and conversation accordingly.
4. At least 30 hours of recordings of elicitation sessions (wordlists, phrases, and basic sentences; 15 hours per target language). All will be annotated, but the degree of refinement of both the transcriptions and of the glossing will vary depending on the stage of knowledge of the language’s phonology.
5. Sketch grammars of the target languages, possibly to be published in an appropriate journal or journals.
6. Basic lexicons of the target languages with translations into locally appropriate languages.


Acknowledgement and citation

Users of any part of this collection should acknowledge the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) as the funder of this project.

Ojong Diba, Rachel Ayuk. 2022. Documenting endangered languages of the Bazou subdivision in Cameroon. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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