Research Key

Language Use and Identity: The Case of Camfranglais on Cameroonian Music ‘Si Tu Vois Ma Go’ and on the Market Field ‘Mboppi’ In Douala

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Qualitative research
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Descriptive statistics
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This study investigates the impact of Camfranglais on Cameroonian popular music and on the market field Mboppi in Douala.

The research was driven by the hypotheses that there is declining use of the official languages (English and French) due to the creation of the New Urban Slang ‘Camfranglais’ by Cameroonian teenagers and there is a predominant use of Camfranglais in some areas such as music and market.

Another hypothesis made was that this New Slang Language seems to be a mark of identity and of cultural recognition of young Cameroonian.

In order to verify these hypotheses, we made use of three main research instruments which were interviews, observations and analysis of one Cameroonian lyric.

The interviews assessed the prominent use of Cam franglais in the market field among young traders.

The observations were to see how they used Camfranglais when selling their commodities and interacting with their customers.

The close-analysis of ‘Si tu vois ma go’ was to comment on the relevance of Camfranglais on Cameroonian popular music and to determine the choice of this slang language by the Cameroonian artist Koppo.

It is recommended that the Government should see how to emphasize on the frequent use of this New Urban language via conferences and media and to see whether this can be recognized as a third Cameroonian language.




This research aimed at investigating the influence of Camfranglais on Cameroonian music ‘si tu vois ma go’ and on the market area Mboppi in Douala.

In this light, this chapter is designed to present the general introduction, the background of the study, the aim of the study, the objectives, the research questions, the research hypotheses, the significance of the study, the scope of the study, the structure of the research and then the definition of key terms.

First of all, we cannot put our focus on the music without knowing what it means. According to the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary, music is defined as a pattern of sounds made by musical instruments, singing or computers, or a combination of these, intended to give pleasure to people listening to it.

An accurate and concise definition of music is fundamental to being able to discuss, what we understand as being music. Many authorities have suggested definitions, but defining music turns out to be more difficult than might first be imagined.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines music as the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds to produce beauty of form harmony, and expression (1992).

However, music genres are known as noise music. The problem of music is further complicated by different conceptions of music in different cultures.

Thomas Clifton defines music as an ordered arranged of sounds and silences whose meaning is preventive rather than denotative…

According to Jean Polino (1975:3), music is an art or entrainment is a total social fact whose definition varies according to era and culture. Nattiez however (1990:17) described music according to a tripartite semi-logical scheme similar to the following: Poietic process and esthetic process where there is a producer, a sound, a listener.

The list of definitions is not exhaustive, but what we have to note is that many people like music for different reasons: some easily learn the language through music, other like music for enjoyment, the rest for ethical purposes.

And also it is through music, that some writers started expressing their thought, their anger, their revolution for the malpractices of the world.

We have, for example, Fran is Bebey a Cameroonian writer, musician artist, who did not only write but was a revolutionary’s musician? People do not only portray things they hate in society, they even show their identities, their cultures and where they belong to.

In fact, in Cameroon due to the melting pot of languages, some musicians have chosen to create a particular language nearest to their brotherhood so that everybody should identify himself or herself. Amongst those musicians, we have Lapiro De Mbanga, Koppo, and Stanley Enow etc.

They chose to sing so as to portray their feelings, their identities and some malpractices of their country. We cannot forget the fact that they use different languages but it is the same continuum.

This is known as Francanglais or Camffanglais. In addition, Lapiro De Mbanga came first with ‘Mboko Talk’.

This latter was not Camffanglais, because most words were in Pidgin English since he came from Mbanga, the place is known as the melting pot of languages, and the most influential was Pidgin English and the local language.

So, those terms ‘Camfranglais’ and Mboko Talk are still studied up to now and they seem confusing people.

The essential note to take into consideration is the fact that ‘Camfranglais’ is made up of most French borrowings and neologism while ‘Mboko Talk’ is made up of most Pidgin words.

Background to the study

Contact between people speaking different languages can have a wide variety of outcomes.

In some cases only a few words are borrowed; in others, whole new languages may be formed. The results of such contact differ according to several factors, including the length and intensity of contact between the groups;

the types of the social, economic, and political relationship between them; the functions which communication between them must serve; and the degree of similarity between the languages they speak.

In this, we can easily understand the origin of a new urban slang in Cameroon: Camfranglais. Camfranglais or Francanglais as it is popularly referred to, has had varying statues and perceptions over time. The literature dates its probable origins to the 1970s (de Feral 1989:20; Kiebling 2004:4).

When talking about the origin of Camfranglais, what is meant is how and when it was created. In this regard, several opinions have been advanced in different studies on this matter.

One of the oldest of such studies is by Tiayon- Lekoubou (1985:50) who posits that Camspeak, as he then called it, was at that time an argot used by young rascals and criminals, especially in and around the Douala Seaport.

For Lobe Ewane (1989:34), it was created by students at the University of Yaounde, which was at that time the only University in Cameroon and consequently a melting pot for students from all over the country who came to Yaounde to pursue University education. This University opened its doors in 1962.

In a comparatively recent study, Kouega (2003:525) has a similar view as Lobe Ewane, while he believes that Camfranglais was the creation of Secondary school students rather than university students.

Historically, the origin of Camfranglais can be traced to 1970 or slightly before. In Cameroon, French and English are official languages, and over 250 other languages are spoken, making communication difficult without a common language.

Camfranglais first emerged in the mid-1970s after the reunification of Francophone Cameroun and Anglophone Southern Cameroons. The point of origin may have been the markets, ports, and sports stadiums of Cameroon’s larger cities.

It became fashionable in the late 1990s, due partially to its use by popular musicians. Camfranglais is, at least in part, a by-product of the language learning process.

Seen this way, Francophone learners of English, in attempting to speak English, tend to fall back on (Francophone) Pidgin English, which had been well established for many decades, even in remote areas of the country, due to the presence of British traders and later missionaries between 1400 and 1800;

this explains why there tends to be greater correspondence with Pidgin English than with (Cameroonian) English in Camfranglais; seen from this perspective, Camfranglais is an outgrowth of code-switching and code-mixing patterns that have become fixed on emblematic lexical items.

This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in places where there is significant contact between speakers of Pidgin English and speakers of Cameroonian French. So, our focus will be put on the immediate causes of Camfranglais and its effectiveness on Cameroonian music and amongst sellers from Mboppi market.

Statement of the problem

It has been proved for the past years; research has been done on this particular hybrid language called Camfranglais by some linguistic teachers.

They were always doing research to understand the creation of Camfranglais, its sudden adoption by young Cameroonians, its impact on the academic sphere and on music, but not on its immediate causes and the advantages and disadvantages it brings on through ‘music’ and ‘commerce’.

This research, therefore, seeks to understand the reasons for its creation and impact on Cameroonian music and on the market.

Aim of the study

This research seeks to understand the influence of Camffamglais on music and in the market field Mboppi in Douala.

Objectives of the study

This study deals with the following objectives:

  • To understand the essence of Camfřanglais in Cameroon and among linguists
  • To understand its rapid creation by Cameroonians teenagers,
  • To examine its impact on music and in the market field.
  • To bring out some relevance in our today’s academic purposes and performances.

Research question

This research is guided by the following question:

  • How important is Camfřanglais in Cameroon and among linguists?
  • To what extend is the creation of Camfřanglais by Cameroonian teenagers?
  • How does this New Urban Language impact popular music and the market?
  • What is the relevance of Camfřanglais among youth?
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