Official Bilingualism in Cameroon and the Option of Text Translation: English Words and Expressions in Original Official Policy Texts in French

Blasius Achiri-Taboh, Willie H. Kemegni, Elsie S. Chebe


Besides the over 280 national languages of Cameroon, there exist English and French as its constitutionally sanctioned status-equal official languages from its last colonial encounters with Britain and France that actively ended at the dawn of the 1960s. However, the effectiveness of the acclaimed policy of official bilingualism has been disputed in several studies, citing imbalances in the use of the two languages and resulting tensions that have degenerated into the now commonly discussed so-called “Anglophone crisis.” In this article, we demonstrate that, in preference to a language policy that protects and promotes national languages as enshrined in the constitution, the said official bilingual policy was instituted and has been prompted to date, to showcase protection of the identity of the minority Anglophone population, the latter having opted, at independence in 1961, to join the then already independent Republic of Cameroun with a majority Francophone population, in a federation. Reviewing work on the imbalance in official language usage and the specific nature of the use of English in policy discourse, we further show that an instrumental use of English to the detriment of the genius of its constitutional equality with French has gradually moved to include an appeasement role in the face of the said growing tension.


Anglicism, appeasement, bilingual policy, Cameroon, code-switching, English, equal status, French, national language, official bilingualism, official language, text translation

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