ALCAM [871, 872, 873, 874, 875] of the Donga Mantung
and unclassified ALCAM [885, 886] of the Menchum Division
Edward Brye & Elizabeth Brye
B.P. 1299 Yaoundé
PART I: RAPID APPRAISAL
1.1 Names and Origins
1.2 Locations and Populations
1.3 History of the People
1.4 Linguistic Classification
1.5 Previous Research
1.6 Purpose and Objectives of the Survey
2.1 Rapid Appraisal
2.2 Eastern Beboid Survey
3. RESEARCH RESULTS
3.2 Ncane [ALCAM 873]
3.2.1 Dialect Situation
3.2.3 Attitudes Toward Neighboring Languages
3.2.4 Language Vitality and Viability
3.2.5 Language Development Potential
3.3 Nsari [ALCAM 874]
3.3.1 Dialect Situation
3.3.3 Attitudes Toward Neighboring Languages
3.3.4 Language Vitality and Viability
3.3.5 Language Development Potential
3.4 Bebe [ALCAM 871]
3.4.1 Dialect Situation
3.4.3 Attitudes Toward Neighboring Languages
3.4.4 Language Vitality and Viability
3.4.5 Language Development Potential
3.5 Kemezung [ALCAM 872]
3.5.1 Dialect Situation
3.5.3 Attitudes Toward Neighboring Languages
3.5.4 Language Vitality and Viability
3.5.5 Language Development Potential
3.6 Mungong 
3.7 Cung 
4. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
PART II: RECORDED TEXT TESTING
A. Texts used for RTTs
B. RTT Individual Scores and Group Test Results
C. Maps of Eastern Beboid
This report describes a preliminary sociolinguistic survey (rapid appraisal) conducted February 19March 5, 1999 in the Northwest Province of Cameroon on five speech varieties known to be part of the Eastern Beboid language cluster and two unclassifed varieties suspected of belonging to the cluster. The research was conducted by Edward and Elizabeth Brye of SIL and Dr. Domche-Teko Engelbert, head of the Department of Linguistics and African Languages at the University of Dschang.
This research, which was conducted as part of an overall goal of assessing the need for literacy development in national languages was part of a larger study of the whole Beboid Cluster. While the rapid appraisal was being carried out with the Eastern Beboid family of languages, another sociolinguistic research team was surveying the Western Beboid family (see Hamm, et al. 1999).
We are grateful for the welcome received from regional and local government, church, and traditional leaders, without whose cooperation and participation this mission would not have been possible. Special thanks go to the Senior Divisional Officer at Nkambe as well as the Subdivisional Officers at Nkor and Misaje for their assistance.
As is normal for languages that have not yet been standardized, a variety of names with various spellings have been used to refer to the languages which were the subject of this study. In our group interviews, we asked the people to indicate the name of their language as well as the name of their people. Responses often differed from one location to another, even though those giving the various responses claimed to speak the same language.
table 1, we provide a summary of the responses that speakers of each of the
speech varieties studied gave for the names the people call themselves (name of
people) and the name of their language, as well as from whom or where they
trace their origins.
|ALCAM/Ethnologue Names||Name of People||Name of Language||Origins|
|Ncane/Ncane||Ncane||Ncaná, Djebébéñ||Tikari, Mbot|
|Bebe/Bebe||Bimbwa, Bínaa||Naami||Tikari, Kinka Mountain|
|Kémézuñ/ Kemezung||Badzungu, Bakwei||Kémézuñ, Diábékwálé||Tikari|
Table 1: Self-reported origins and names used by the speakers of the Eastern Beboid speech varieties to refer to themselves and their language
Throughout this report, to avoid confusion, we will refer to the languages by the names used in the Ethnologue and, generally, rather than call the people by the names they use for themselves, we will refer to them as the people of (village) or the speakers of (language). We make one exception to this. Since a language committee is actively working to standardize and promote literacy in the Noone language, we will use the spellings they are using, which are, according to David Lux, SIL linguist based in Lassin, as follows:
The five languages of the Eastern Beboid cluster as well as the two unclassified languages are divided across three administrative divisions of the Northwest Province of Cameroon. Nooni is spoken mainly in the Bui Division and the other Eastern Beboid varieties are spoken in the Donga-Mantung Division. The unclassified varieties of Mungong and Cung are located in the Menchum Division.
The dirt road from Nkambe to Misaje took roughly 45 minutes to drive by four-wheel drive vehicle. Due to work done on the road, this time was reduced by almost half during our second survey trip. Misaje is at the crossroads of two major roads, the first being the Ring Road that runs east and west from the major town of Nkambe and the second leading northward to Dumbo toward the Nigerian border.
Travel conditions make certain villages more accessible than others. Among Ncane-speaking villages, for example, the largest village of Nkanchi is motorable from Misaje. The research team drove from Misaje to Nkanchi and then to Chunge where we left the vehicle to trek southward through Nfume. After trekking through Nfume, the path eventually forked to the right toward Bem or, to the left, toward Kibbo. (On the follow-up survey in November and December, the bridge prior to Chunge was down, necessitating an additional 25-minute trek in each direction.) Two and a half hours would be required to trek round trip from Chunge to either Bem or Kibbo. In other words, only Nkanchi (the largest Ncane village) is accessible by four-wheel drive; all other villages require trekking.
populations for each of the language varieties surveyed is represented in the
following table. (Note: the reported total population figure for Nooni speakers
exceeds the sum of the figures for the villages, because it takes into account
the large number of speakers reportedly living outside the Noni area.)
|Language||Villages||Reported Populations of Villages||Total Reported Population for Language Group||1987 Census||1987 Census Total for Nooni Group||1999 Census Estimate||1999 Census Estimate Total for Group|
|Din (including Bamti)||6,000||4,149||5,850|
|Mbinon (incl. Ncini)||2,000||1,861||2,600|
|Akweto (incl. Bakenchine)||5,000||2,137||3,000|
|Bebe||Bebe-Jama (=Kitte, incl. Mayokila)||1,652||2,660||816||1,862||1,150||2,625|
|Bebe-Jatto (incl. Sabongida)||1,008||1,046||1,475|
Table 2: Self-reported and census population figures by language and village for the Eastern Beboid speech varieties1
The research team visited all of the above-mentioned locations except the Ncane-speaking villages of Chunghe and Nfume. There were no passable roads into Bem, Kibbo, Kwei, Bebe-Jama, or Bebe-Jatto. The team had to trek between 30 and 90 minutes each way from the end of the road to reach these villages.
Speakers from all of the language varieties surveyed, except Cung, traced their origins to the Tikari people (see table 1 in section 1.1). The Cung people said they came out of Kwofat, the forest bordering Dumbo. Nsari (Sali) speakers in Akweto specified that they had originated from the Dumagudu-Tikari people of the Gongola state of Nigeria, and Mungong speakers claimed they came out of the forest with the Noni.
Dieu and Renaud (1983) in the Atlas Linguistique du Cameroun (also referred to as ALCAM) list the languages and their codes as follows: Bebe , Kémézuñ , Ncane , Nsari , Nóóné . The unclassified varieties are assigned the tentative codes of  for Muñgóñ and  for Cuñ. ALCAM provides the following linguistic classification for the Eastern Beboid cluster:
Niger-Kordofan, Niger-Congo, Benoue-Congo, Bantou, Jarawan, Tivoide, Ekoide, Nyang, Beboid, East Beboid.
Grimes (1996) provides the following descriptions, including name, alternate name(s), code, location, linguistic classification, and other comments, for each of these languages (listed alphabetically):
BEBE (YI BE WU) [BZY] West of Nkambe and north of Ring Road, west part of Ako Subdivision, Donga-Mangung Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid, Eastern. Survey needed.
CUNG [CUG] Northeast of Wum, west of Nkambe, Menchum Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Unclassified. May be Eastern Beboid. Survey needed.
KEMEZUNG (DUMBO, DZUMBO, KUMAJU) [DMO] Northwest of Nkambe, southwest corner of Ako Subdivision, Donga-Mantung Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid, Eastern. Survey needed.
MUNGONG (MUNGOM) [XMN] Northeast of Wum, west of Nkambe, Menchum Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Unclassified. May be Eastern Beboid. Survey needed.
NCANE (NCHANTI, NTSHANTI, CANE) [NCR] In and south of Misaje village, western Nkambe Subdivision, Donga-Mantung Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid, Eastern. Survey needed.
NOONE (NONI, NOORI) [NHU] 35,000 (1991 D. Lux SIL). Northwestern Kumbo Subdivision, Bui Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid, Eastern. 25% to 50% literate. Work in progress.
NSARI (AKWETO, PESAA, SALI) [ASJ] On both sides of Ring Road between Misaje and Nkambe, western part of Nkambe Subdivision, Donga-Mantung Division, North West Province. Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Beboid, Eastern. May be intelligible with or bilingual in other Eastern Beboid languages. Survey needed.
Previous published research into Eastern Beboid languages include works by Hombert, Hyman, and Richards and are listed in the references section.
In both his theses, Richards cites works dealing with the linguistic classification of the Beboid languages. At one time (1970s) Nooni, Ncane, Bebe, Kemezung, and Mungong were classified together as one language (see Richards 1981:138,140).
The primary purpose of this survey and its follow-up study (see Part II) was to help SIL workers in the Nooni language project to clarify the boundaries and extendability of their work in relationship to the other Eastern Beboid language varieties.
In addition, our research team's objectives in this rapid
1. To make a preliminary assessment of the intercomprehension and attitudes among the speech forms currently classified under East Beboid  in ALCAM and as possibly Eastern Beboid in the Ethnologue.
2. To assess the vitality of these speech forms in terms of the use of other languages, the interest in language development, and other sociolinguistic factors.
3. To get an idea of the level of multilingualism in Eastern Beboid speech varieties, as well as in other neighboring non-Beboid languages and the language of wider communication (LWC), Pidgin English.
In this survey we employed the approach referred to as rapid appraisal (see Bergman 1991, and Stalder 1996). We conducted group and individual interviews using questionnaires and collected a list of 126 words from each village surveyed, using the ALCAM word list (see Dieu and Renaud 1983:132133).2
A rapid appraisal survey seeks information in the following three domains:
1. Dialect situation. What are the dialects of the languages being studied and what are the speakers' perceptions of the degree of intercomprehension between groups? Speech varieties might be dialects of the same language if:
a. the speakers perceive them as such and/or
b. the speakers indicate that no prior contact or exposure to speakers of the language is necessary in order to understand it.
If not, the varieties might be separate languages for which comprehension is more or less easily acquired due to linguistic similarity and/or the degree of contact between speakers and the other varieties. Finally, a word list comparison using lexicostatistics also helps predict the degree of intercomprehension based on lexical similarity.
2. Multilingualism. What is the approximate level of comprehension and oral competence in the vehicular language or languages, as well as in languages geographically or linguistically close?
3. Vitality and viability of the language. What would be the potential success of a project to develop the local language? This may be revealed by the speakers' own indications of the languages they use in each of the domains of their daily lives. For example, a key indicator of the vitality of a specific mother tongue is whether or not it is actively used in the home (between parents and children, as well as between siblings) and in the village (in conversations between speakers of the mother tongue, as well as during traditional meetings). It is also very important to obtain an idea of the attitudes that members of the community hold toward the idea of developing the mother tongue.
2.2 Eastern Beboid Survey
Our team conducted group interviews and collected or verified already existing word lists in three Ncane villages (Nkanchi, Bem and Kibbo), three Nsari villages (Akweto, Kamine, and Mbissa), two Kemezung villages (Dumbo and Kwei), two Bebe villages (Bebe-Jama and Bebe-Jatto/Sabongida), and the villages of Mungong and Fat/Cung. In addition, we interviewed a group of six Ncane speakers and also the chief of the village of Nfume when they were present for the market day in the Noni village of Lassin on February 21, 1999. We also collected a word list of Nooni (for comparison purposes) in Lassin3 and interviewed groups of Nooni speakers in the Asha quarter of Nkor, in Din, and in Djottin. Our normal procedure when collecting a word list is to have two or three speakers of the variety being studied present, in order that each word can be verified to make sure that it is correct. Ideally, a group interview should have 1520 people including elders and an equal number of men and women both old and young. The groups we interviewed ranged in size from 1 to over 20 speakers, and most groups were mostly, if not completely, male. There was usually a mixture of older and younger people present. We also conducted interviews with a variety of church and school officials.
Table 3 presents a summary of the interviews conducted:
|Language||Village||Date||Approx. Number of Males||Approx. Number of Females||Approx. Total Present||Church Interviews||School Interviews|
Table 3: Summary of Interviews Conducted
This section is a summary of survey results for each of the language varieties studied. For each variety we will look at the following domains: Dialect situation, Multilingualism, and Vitality and viability. First, however, we present the results of the lexicostatistical analysis.
As described in section 2.1, our team collected an ALCAM list of 126 words from thirteen locations. We submitted the lists to a lexicostatistical comparison using the WORDSURV program (see Wimbish 1990). We grouped apparent cognates together, enabling the program to produce the similarity percentage and variance matrices shown in tables 4 and 5. An analysis was also done including the Western Beboid varieties (the subject of a future report). The western variety of Mashi (Naki) showed an unusually high percentage of similarity with the eastern varieties so is included in tables 4 and 5.5
Note that both Mungong and Cung, currently unclassified in ALCAM and described in Ethnologue as possibly Eastern Beboid, have quite high percentages of similarity with all the varieties here. This is especially true between Mungong and the Ncane and Nooni varieties.
75 76 Cung (Cung)
81 83 79 Mashi (Naki)
85 84 75 87 Kwei (Kemezung)
86 85 75 86 99 Dumbo (Kemezung)
81 83 75 82 80 80 Mbissa (Nsari)
83 83 74 82 83 83 98 Kamine (Nsari)
83 83 74 82 83 83 98 100 Akweto (Nsari)
78 79 83 80 82 82 87 86 86 Mungong (Mungong)
78 78 83 77 80 79 83 84 84 94 Kibbo (Ncane)
78 78 83 77 80 79 83 84 84 94 98 Nkanchi (Ncane)
78 78 80 77 79 79 83 84 84 91 96 98 Bem (Ncane)
71 72 75 75 76 75 79 79 79 89 87 88 90 Nooni
Table 4: WORDSURV similarity percentages (based on apparent cognates) for Eastern Beboid and Mashi
The following matrix shows the amount of variance possible for each of the above percentages based on the range of error which must be allowed for. Thus, when the variance is accounted for, the percentage of similarity between Bebe-Jama and Cung, for example, is actually somewhere between 66.6% (758.4) and 83.4% (75 + 8.4).
8.4 8.3 Cung (Cung)
9.0 8.5 9.3 Mashi (Naki)
7.2 7.3 8.1 7.8 Kwei (Kemezung)
7.3 7.4 8.3 8.0 2.8 Dumbo (Kemezung)
8.4 8.3 8.5 8.9 8.3 8.3 Mbissa (Nsari)
8.1 8.2 8.5 8.9 7.9 7.9 3.9 Kamine (Nsari)
8.1 8.2 8.5 8.9 7.9 7.9 3.9 0.0 Akweto (Nsari)
8.4 8.4 8.2 9.1 8.1 8.2 7.7 8.0 8.0 Mungong (Mungong)
8.3 8.3 8.1 9.7 8.1 8.3 7.6 7.9 7.9 4.4 Kibbo (Ncane)
8.3 8.3 8.1 9.7 8.1 8.2 7.6 7.8 7.8 4.4 1.6 Nkanchi (Ncane)
8.3 8.3 8.1 9.7 8.1 8.3 7.6 7.8 7.8 5.3 3.5 3.2 Bem (Ncane)
8.6 8.6 8.5 9.9 8.5 8.5 8.1 8.3 8.3 6.3 6.0 6.2 5.5 Nooni
Table 5: Variance or range of error matrix
A word list comparison serves only as an initial indicator of the relationships existing between speech forms (Grimes 1989:4.1.9). According to Bergman (1989:8.1.6), if the lexical similarity percentage at the upper confidence limit, or highest possible similarity percentage after the variance figure is added, is below 70%, separate language programs are needed. If it is 70% or higher, further data is needed. This implies both intelligibility testing and sociolinguistic data.
All of the above similarity percentages are above 70% even before the range of error figure is added, indicating clearly the need for further research. In the remainder of section 3, we present the sociolinguistic data obtained through our group and individual interviews. In Part II of this report, we present the results of the first phase of intelligibility testing carried out beginning in November of 1999.
As presented in section 1.1, speakers of Ncane call themselves Ncane and name their language Ncaná or Djebébéñ. All of the groups interviewed agreed that the language is spoken in the five villages of Nkanchi, Nfume, Chunge, Bem, and Kibbo. They also agreed that the people of Nkanchi, Nfume, and Chunge all speak the same and that those of Bem and Kibbo speak slightly differently. The people of Bem, however, said that those of Kibbo speak exactly as they do, whereas the Kibbo people claimed that the Bem people speak slightly differently than they do. Lexical similarity percentages between word lists from Bem, Kibbo, and Nkanchi are all high (i.e., still above 90% even at the low end of the range of error).
Languages within the Eastern Beboid
There seems to be a widespread degree of intercomprehension between Ncane and Nooni. In all the interviews the people said that when speaking with someone from Noni, each can use his mother tongue and be understood by the other. Young children are not able to understand the other language variety, however; comprehension is acquired through contact which occurs in the markets and through intermarriage. (Both Ncane and Nooni speakers said that intermarriage between the two groups is frequent.)
In all Ncane interview locations except Bem, the people described the same type of communication pattern (i.e., each using the mother tongue, but not young children) with regards to Nsari. In Bem, the people said that they must use Pidgin when talking with Nsari speakers.
In Nkanchi, interviewees claimed that with the people of Mungong, adults can use their mother tongue and each can understand the other. In the other Ncane villages, however, the people said that they must use Pidgin with the people of Mungong.
In all the Ncane interviews people agreed that they must use Pidgin in order to communicate with speakers of Bebe and Kemezung.
Ncane speakers use Pidgin English to communicate with speakers of the Western Beboid language varieties of Naki, Bu, Missong, and Koshin, indicating that lower intercomprehension exists between Ncane and these languages.
Again, the Ncane use Pidgin in order to talk with speakers of all the non-Beboid language varieties surrounding them.
Languages of Wider
In all the Ncane villages surveyed, people use Pidgin on a daily basis, especially with foreigners either living in the villages or visiting them and at the markets. English is the language of instruction in the schools, and both Pidgin and English are used in the churches as languages of wider communication (LWCs). The Scriptures are available in English. In all the villages, the groups reported that the youth speak Pidgin better than the rest of the population.
Other LWCs which a few Ncane speakers use are French, Fulbe, and Hausa.
Although the Ncane profess to understand Nooni and they admit that they share a common culture and tradition with the Noni people, they are unwilling to learn to read and write in Nooni. They believe their languages are separate, as evidenced by the fact that their young children cannot understand the other language when they hear it. In all three villages, when asked whether they would like to learn to read and write in Nooni or would like their children to, people answered no. And when asked which languages apart from their own they would choose to read and write, they all named English first. None mentioned Nooni as a possibility.
Following is a summary of how those interviewed report their language use in different domains, the attitudes they express toward their language, and some factors related to viability of the language with a view towards its potential for development.
In the general community, the mother tongue holds the principal position in the domains of home, work (fields), and among friends. It is also used some at local markets. Pidgin English is used primarily for communication in contexts where non-Ncane speakers are present.
In the schools, English is taught and its use strongly encouraged. Some primary school children do, however, speak with one another in Ncane on the playground.
The churches use English and Pidgin, translating prayers, sermons and songs into Ncane.
In public domains, for traditional religious ceremonies, regional council meetings and public announcements, Ncane speakers use their mother tongue.
Attitudes toward the Mother Tongue
Attitudes toward the mother tongue are positive. Speakers expressed a strong interest in learning to read and write Ncane. They want to preserve their culture. Some also expressed a desire to be like the neighboring language group (Noni) whose language is being written.
Language Maintenance and Shift
All the Ncane groups interviewed, with the exception of Bem, said that their youth are not using any other language more than their mother tongue. The people of Bem admitted that their youth might be using Pidgin more than the mother tongue, but they, along with the other Ncane groups interviewed, said that their youth feel good about their language. All admitted, however, that their youth tend to mix the mother tongue with Pidgin, and most felt that this was bad. Parents felt their children did not or should not speak to them in Pidgin. Children always use the mother tongue when speaking to parents.
These factors presently point more toward the maintenance of the mother tongue rather than a shift towards Pidgin or any other language.
Ncane speakers indicate a strong interest in developing their language, particularly as a means for preserving their culture. A secondary school teacher and linguistics graduate from the University of Yaoundé, Mr. Kimbi Nathan, has done preliminary linguistic studies of the language. These include a grammar and tonology, a preliminary dictionary and alphabet, a primer, and translations of the Lord's Prayer and Apostle's Creed6. On May 1, 1999 the Ncane (Nchaney) Literacy Association (NCHALA) met to formally organize itself and elect executive members to the language committee.
School attendance varies considerably among the Ncane-speaking villages in which we conducted interviews. In Nkanchi, the village closest to the town of Misaje, most children attend both primary and secondary school. The people of Kibbo claim that all their children go to primary school and about half go on to secondary school. However in Bem, which is the village the furthest away from Misaje and is accessible only by a 3-hour round trip trek from where the motorable road ends, less than half the children are enrolled in primary school and very few continue on to attend secondary school.
In general, it appears there would be an educated and motivated Ncane-speaking population ready to support a language program in their mother tongue.
According to Watters (1990:6.7.1), there are three factors that particularly affect the nature and development of language programs: the homogeneity of the linguistic community, their openness to change and development, and the presence at the local level of a middle-aged leadership. We follow with a discussion of these three factors in the context of the villages surveyed.
The social cohesion factor:
homogeneity of the linguistic community
Ncane speakers agree that there are five Ncane villages: Nkanchi, Nfume, Chunge, Bem, and Kibbo. People of Nkanchi, Nfume, and Chunge speak exactly the same, whereas those of Kibbo and Bem speak slightly differently. All except the people of Bem said that they share the same or almost the same origins with each other, as well as with the Noni. The people of Bem said they do not have the same origins and are not one people with the Noni, but they speak almost the same language as they do. Many of the Ncane villages are cut off from one another during times of heavy rains when the streams and rivers rise. The people of Kibbo, however, said they manage to cross streams at such times by laying sticks down, and the people of Bem said that even when they are cut off from other Ncane villages, they can reach Nkor and Lassin (Noni villages) by way of the main route.
From the standpoint of religion, the Christian denominations represented in the Ncane villages include Roman Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian. All the villages have a few Muslims among the foreigners living there, and all have some who practice traditional religion. The religious profile of the Ncane community also closely resembles that of the Noni community.
Socioeconomically, Ncane speakers, as well as Nooni speakers, are mostly subsistence farmers or traders. Foreigners who have moved into the Ncane speaking villages for business, government, or farming purposes number only a handful.
In summary, the Ncane-speaking community appears to be homogenous and, at the same time, closely resembles the Noni community.
Openness to change
All the Ncane villages have development committees which engage in such activities as road and bridge construction and maintenance, classroom repairs, and agricultural and water projects.
There is a dispensary in Nfume which Ncane people visit when ill. For critical cases, they go to Misaje, Nkambe, or Lamso.
An important factor in determining the viability of a language project, is the presence of a middle-aged leadership. All the Ncane interviewees reported that they have leaders living in the villages and that these leaders are between the ages of 25 and 60. All were confident that when present leaders are gone there would be others to take their places.
The Ncane-speaking community fits Watters' description of a changing community in that it is homogenous, open to change, and has a strong presence of a middle-aged leadership. A changing community is the type most ready for a mass literacy program (see Watters 1989:6.7.7).
Although the Ncane people, for the most part, admit to a high degree of acquired comprehension of Nooni, Nsari, and Mungong and they feel they share common origins with the speakers of these varieties, they also see themselves as a distinct people with their own language. The mother tongue is vital and is being maintained, and the Ncane have positive attitudes towards the idea of developing their language.
Nsari, or Sali as the people themselves call their language, is spoken in the villages of Mbissa, Kamine, and Akweto (including Bansobi and Bakenchine quarters). All those interviewed agreed that there are no differences in the way the language is spoken in these villages.
Languages Within the Cluster
Comprehension of Ncane and Nooni by Nsari speakers varies according to location. In Mbissa and Kamine, which are the Nsari villages closest to the Ncane area, the people claim that they can understand and be understood by Ncane people when each uses their mother tongue. In Kamine, the people also claim to understand Nooni in this way. According to those interviewed in Kamine, each speaker usually needs to slow down his speech to be well understood, and young children are unable to understand the other variety.
In Akweto, on the other hand, the people say that they are unable to understand Nooni and that, with respect to Ncane, only some who have taken the time to learn it are able to understand it. Contact with Ncane speakers at the market and through intermarriage results in some people being able to understand Ncane. (Those interviewed in both Kamine and Akweto indicated that intermarriage between Ncane and Nsari speakers is quite common.) When we conducted the group interview, which was in English, a Ncane speaker was present to help interpret the questions for the Nsari speakers. He did not speak Nsari, so he translated our questions into Pidgin. He said that if he were to speak in Ncane the people would not understand him.
In both Kamine and Akweto, Nsari speakers reported that, with few exceptions, they must use Pidgin to communicate with speakers of Bebe and Kemezung. Neither inherent nor acquired comprehension appears to be present. Only in Mbissa have some people learned these two languages. In all the villages, people must use Pidgin to communicate with the people of Mungong and Cung.
Western Beboid Languages
When Nsari speakers talk with speakers of the Western Beboid speech varieties, both parties use Pidgin because their languages are not mutually intelligible, nor have many people learned the other variety.
Neighboring Non-Beboid Languages
Nsari speakers use only Pidgin when communicating with neighboring non-Beboid language groups, indicating that there is no intercomprehension, either inherent or acquired, with speakers of these other language varieties.
Languages of Wider
Pidgin English is widely used and understood as a language of wider communication (LWC) for Nsari speakers. Those interviewed reported that it is used daily or almost everyday in the village, and the youth are the best speakers of it. The group interviewed in the village of Akweto said that the use of Pidgin in families is common, due to intermarriage. Pidgin and English are both spoken in the schools and in churches. In the village of Kamine, people use Pidgin in traditional religious ceremonies when outsiders are present.
Attitudes toward the neighboring language varieties of Nooni and Ncane vary greatly between the two villages of Kamine and Akweto, probably because contact with these speech forms and thus comprehension of them is different in each location. The people of Kamine have a positive attitude towards both Ncane and Nooni. They would be interested in learning to read and write in either of these languages and would also like their children to learn them. Apart from their own language, they would choose to read and write first in Ncane and secondly in Nooni.
The people of Akweto, who are more isolated and further away from Ncane and Nooni speaking areas, are not interested in learning to read and write in either Ncane or Nooni. They say, It would be very difficult (i.e., to learn either of these languages). They deny being one people with either of these groups even though they share the same origins with them. Apart from Nsari, the language they would first choose to read and write is English.
In the general community, Nsari speakers use their mother tongue in the home, at work (in the fields), and with friends the same age. At school recesses the school children also use the mother tongue, sometimes along with Pidgin.
In the churches, the mother tongue is used for prayer and singing and for translating the sermon and Bible reading.
In the public domains, Nsari speakers use the mother tongue for public announcements, regional council meetings, and traditional religious ceremonies.
toward the Mother Tongue
Attitudes toward the mother tongue are positive. The people expressed a desire to read and write their language and said they would like their children to learn to read and write it as well. They feel that Nsari will be better understood than Pidgin. The interviewees in Kamine also expressed an interest in learning to read and write in Nooni, saying, It is the same language. They expressed a similar interest in learning to read and write Ncane.
Language Maintenance and Shift
For the most part, since the mother tongue still holds a prominent place in the home and workplace, it does not appear that Nsari is in danger of being replaced by another language. Neither of the groups interviewed felt that the youth are beginning to speak another language more than they speak the mother tongue. However, in Akweto the people did say that some of their youth feel the mother tongue to be inferior and therefore choose to speak Pidgin in order to portray themselves as civilized. Both groups also admitted that the youth tend to mix their mother tongue and Pidgin or English. Adults do not like this, nor do they like it when their children speak to them using Pidgin because they fear that the Nsari language will be lost.
In all three villages, there is a significant presence of foreigners, many of them coming from the north to cultivate the fertile soil. Nsari speakers use Pidgin to communicate with these people, but according to those interviewed in both Kamine and Akweto, the foreigners who stay in the area eventually learn Nsari. This indicates that the trend is in the direction of language maintenance rather than a shift away from the mother tongue.
Although nothing has ever been written in Nsari and there is not yet a language committee, the people said they are interested in learning to read and write their mother tongue. The people of Akweto felt they would need someone to come and teach them. Learning to read would be difficult, they said, but worth the effort because Nsari would be better understood than Pidgin.
Most Nsari children attend primary school, but due to poverty, few, except in Mbissa, which is close to Misaje, go on to secondary school. This low educational level among Nsari speakers could have a negative effect on the viability of a literacy development project. Hatfield and Lewis (1996:4243), referring to Fishman's (1991) discussion of social dislocation, maintain that when ethnolinguistic minority groups are disadvantaged in terms of education and economic opportunity, they tend to shift toward a majority language and culture which offers more societal rewards.
On the other hand, a literacy development project in the mother tongue, particularly a program such as PROPELCA where the mother tongue is used in the first years of primary school, could improve educational results. The two primary school teachers whom we interviewed, one in Kamine and the other in Akweto, both expressed an openness to the idea of the mother tongue being introduced as a language of instruction in the primary schools. Even though neither teacher was a Nsari speaker, they said they would encourage Nsari use in the classroom and by their instructors.
The social cohesion factor: homogeneity of the
In most respects, the three main Nsari villages are homogenous. Linguistically, they speak exactly alike. They also all claim to have descended from Tikari origins. Religiously, the villages are also similar in that they claim to have many Christians and many followers of traditional religion. Many who claim to be Christians also follow traditional religion, they say, because traditions must not be abandoned. All the villages have some Muslims living in them as well. Socioeconomically, most Nsari speakers are farmers.
Geographically, however, although the three main Nsari villages are not terribly distant from one another, and they all come under one administrative subdivision (Misaje), the village of Akweto is more drawn to the town of Nkambe (for schooling, marketing, etc.) and the other two villages are more drawn to Misaje. The Kinte River rises during rainy season making access between Nsari villages, particularly Akweto and Kamine, difficult. Although there are roads connecting the villages, most people do not own vehicles. Taxis shuttle people between Nkambe and Misaje, but trekking is also common. Akweto to Kamine is an hour and fifteen-minute trek.
Relationships between Akweto and Kamine are not good, according to the group interviewed in Akweto. Historically up to the present, the two groups have disputed each other's claim to the leadership of the group.
Openness to change
Both Nsari villages interviewed have committees for development. Current activities include maintaining the roads, schools, and water supplies.
When Nsari people are ill, they go to the dispensary; those in Kamine and Mbissa go to the clinic in Misaje whereas those in Akweto go to Nkambe.
In Kamine, village leaders are between 35 and 50 years old, but in Akweto they are older, between 50 and 66. Leaders from both these locations live in the village. Mbissa leaders live either in Mbissa or in Misaje, which is very close. In all three villages, everyone is confident that when present leadership is gone there will be others immediately ready to inherit their responsibilities.
For the most part, the Nsari language group fits Watters' description of a changing community, the type most ready for mass literacy. The community is linguistically, religiously, and economically homogenous, even if geographical and historical factors tend to pull them apart. The language group as a whole seems open to change and is actively pursuing it. Leadership lives in or near the villages and is mostly middle-aged, except in Akweto where leaders are slightly older.
The 6,900 speakers of Nsari see themselves as forming a distinct language group with no dialectal differences in their speech. However, they admit that the relationship between Kamine and Akweto is strained, and they claim to have different levels of comprehension of and interest in the neighboring Beboid languages because of their different locations. Although Pidgin English is widely used and understood as a LWC, the mother tongue still holds a prominent place in the daily lives of Nsari speakers and does not seem in danger of being replaced anytime soon. Nsari speakers express an interest in seeing their language developed.
The 2,600 speakers of the language known as Bebe (ALCAM 871) call their language Naami. It is spoken in the villages of Bebe-Jama (including the quarters of Bebe-Kitte and Mayokila) and Bebe-Jatto (including Sabongida). The two groups we interviewed agreed that the people of Bebe-Jatto/Sabongida speak only slightly differently than the people of Bebe-Jama. When asked where their language is spoken best, the group interviewed in Sabongida named their own location, whereas the Bebe-Jama group said, It's all the same.
Languages Within the
Bebe speakers from both Bebe-Jama and Sabongida (Bebe-Jatto) said that when talking with Kemezung speakers, both they and the Kemezung can use their mother tongue and each understand the other. Young children, however, cannot understand the other language variety when they hear it, which is indicative that comprehension is probably acquired as a result of frequent contact with each other. The people of Bebe-Jama said that they also can use Bebe with Nsari speakers and at the same time understand Nsari when it is spoken. Again, though, this is probably learned comprehension since young children cannot understand. (Note: the Nsari speakers we interviewed said that they use Pidgin, not the mother tongue, when speaking with Bebe speakers.) The people of Sabongida said they use Pidgin with Nsari speakers.
With speakers of all the other Eastern Beboid language varieties, Bebe speakers use Pidgin to communicate, indicating that intercomprehension, either inherent or acquired, does not exist to any significant degree.
To communicate with speakers of all the Western Beboid language varieties (i.e., Naki, Bu, Missong, and Koshin), Bebe speakers also use Pidgin.
The Bebe speakers of Bebe-Jama said that they use Bebe with speakers of the Mbembe language, a group with which they also frequently intermarry. In other words, when a Bebe speaker and a Mbembe speaker are talking, each uses his mother tongue and they understand one another. Young children around age six, however, are not able to do this, which is not surprising since the two languages are not closely related linguistically. It appears the two groups share a high degree of acquired comprehension.
With all other neighboring non-Beboid language groups, Bebe speakers of both Bebe-Jama and Sabongida (Bebe-Jatto) use Pidgin to communicate. The people of Sabongida also use Pidgin to communicate with Mbembe speakers.
Languages of Wider
Bebe speakers use Pidgin everyday in their villages, but mainly to communicate with non-Bebe speakers. As is usually the case, youth are the best Pidgin speakers.
The Bebe speakers we interviewed have a positive attitude toward the Kemezung language. When asked which language, apart from their own, they would choose first to read and write, the people of Sabongida named the language of Kwei-Kemezung. Although the people of Bebe-Jama, in response to the same question, named three LWC's (French, English, and Hausa), they did respond yes when specifically asked if they would be interested in learning to read and write in Kemezung. They also responded positively to the idea of learning to read and write Nsari.
In the general community, the mother tongue is used exclusively in the home and in the fields. It is used alongside Pidgin among friends of the same age, at the local market in Bebe-Jatto, and on the school playground at Bebe-Jama.
Children use Pidgin on the school playground in Bebe-Jatto. People also use Pidgin at the large markets and the dispensary where they often encounter non-Bebe speakers, and they use Pidgin with the few foreigners who live among them.
The mother tongue, English, and Pidgin are all used in the churches. The Catholic catechist interviewed in Sabongida (Bebe-Jatto) said that use of the mother tongue is encouraged in the Catholic church.
The mother tongue is used in the public domain, for public announcements, traditional religious ceremonies, and regional council meetings.
Attitudes toward the Mother
Attitudes toward the mother tongue are positive. The people said they would like to learn to read and write in their mother tongue and they would like this for their children as well. The people in Bebe-Jama expressed the desire to be able to write a letter to a friend and have him understand it. They also said that their youth feel good about their language because it gives them an insider language in which they can keep secrets from others.
Maintenance and Shift
Nothing points to any significant amount of shift toward either a LWC or a neighboring language. Although the people, especially the youth, speak Pidgin everyday in the village, the mother tongue is still the primary language used in the home and in the fields, and among friends of the same age. The people do not feel that their youth speak any language more than they speak the mother tongue. The youth do tend to sometimes mix Pidgin or English into speech when using the mother tongue, but this practice is discouraged by the adult community.
Although there has not yet been any significant effort on the part of Bebe speakers to develop their own language, they express an interest in it. When asked if they would be interested in reading and writing in their mother tongue and having their children learn to read and write it, the two Bebe groups interviewed both responded positively. The people of Bebe-Jama stated that they would like to be able to send a letter to a friend and have it understood.
From more than half to about 75% of Bebe children attend primary school, but very few go on to secondary school due to poverty and isolation. All the Bebe villages are several hours trek from the nearest secondary schools in Misaje and Nkambe. As in the case of the Nsari (see section 3.3.4), the low educational level of Bebe speakers could translate into lack of viability for a program to promote literacy in the mother tongue.
The social cohesion factor: homogeneity of the
The Bebe-speaking community is basically homogenous linguistically, geographically, and economically. The language is spoken in two principal locations: Bebe-Jama (including the quarters of Bebe-Kitte and Mayokila) and Bebe-Jatto (including Sabongida quarter). These villages are not accessible to each other or other language groups except by footpaths. Contact between the two villages is frequent enough; however, that speech differs only slightly. During heavy rains the people construct hanging bridges which keep them from being completely cut off from others. The Bebe people are mostly subsistence farmers.
Although they also have frequent contact with speakers of Kemezung so that they can each use their mother tongue and enjoy mutual comprehension, the speakers of Bebe do not consider themselves to be one people or to share any origins with these people. Neither do they consider themselves to be one people with any other neighboring group.
Some foreigners have moved into the Bebe villages for farming, grazing, or trading, but they number very few.
Religiously, the two Bebe villages differ in profile. Bebe-Jama claims that the largest religious group in their village consists of followers of traditional religion and that Muslims form the next largest group. They consider the Christians to be few in number. In Bebe-Jatto, however, there are many Christians and only a few Muslims and followers of traditional religion. With the exception of a Catholic catechist in Sabongida (Bebe-Jatto), we did not interview any other religious leaders in either village.
Openness to change
In Bebe-Jatto there is a development committee which oversees road and bridge maintenance. In Bebe-Jama, however, the committee that exists lacks leadership and is inactive.
In both villages a middle-aged leadership is present and the people feel that when these leaders are gone there will be others to take their places.
Even though all conditions are not fully met, the Bebe language group can still be described as basically a changing community. Although the religious profile of the two main villages differs, the community is homogenous in most other respects. Bebe speakers are open to change, even if they are not fully active in pursuing it. The middle-aged leadership is present.
Bebe speakers form a distinct language group that seems to enjoy learned intercomprehension with the neighboring Eastern Beboid languages of Kemezung and, to some extent, Nsari. Some have also learned Mbembe, a non-Beboid language. Although Bebe speakers use Pidgin on a daily basis, it is mainly to communicate with non-Bebe speakers. The mother tongue holds a prominent place in the domains of home, work (fields), and community. It is also used in churches. The Bebe people express an interest in learning to read and write in their mother tongue, but have shown no initiative up to this point. They have also expressed openness to the idea of becoming literate in Kemezung or possibly Nsari.
The Kemezung language is spoken by approximately 4,575 speakers in two villages located just south of the Nigerian border in Cameroon: Dumbo (which also has a significant Fulani and Hausa population7) and Kwei. We interviewed groups in each location and both agreed that the two villages speak Kemezung only slightly differently from each other.
Languages Within the
Groups interviewed in both Dumbo and Kwei said that when a Kemezung speaker talks with a Bebe speaker each one uses his mother tongue and both are able to understand and be understood by the other. Children age six and younger, however, cannot understand the other variety which indicates that comprehension is learned. Some Kemezung speakers in Dumbo also communicate relationship with Nsari speakers, each using his/her mother tongue. Others, however, must use Pidgin to communicate with Nsari speakers, as they must with speakers of all the other Eastern Beboid language varieties.
Western Beboid Languages
To communicate with speakers of all the Western Beboid language varieties, Kemezung speakers generally use Pidgin, although some people in Kwei understand Koshin. Those interviewed in Kwei indicated that Kwei came from the Koshin area. They also said that they most often intermarry with the Mache, whom they described as being the people from Koshin, Missong, and Bu.
Both lexicostatistics and group interview responses from the survey among the Western Beboid languages reveal a link with the Naki language (which includes the village of Mashi), not with Koshin, Missong, or Bu. Hamm et al. (1999:20) recommend that Naki be reclassified as Eastern Beboid. Regarding Naki speakers, they state:
history shows their link to the village of Bebe-Jatto (speaking Bebe, an Eastern Beboid language). Naki's situation seems clear as it relates to other languages. It is lexically close to the languages of Bebe and Kemezung in the Donga-Mantung Division but quite far from other Western Beboid languages (Hamm et al. 1999:19).
Kemezung speakers use Pidgin to communicate with all the non-Beboid language groups bordering theirs.
Languages of Wider Communication
The people of Dumbo said they use Pidgin everyday, and youth are the best speakers of it. The people of Kwei said they use Pidgin, but not daily.
There is some intercomprehension between Kemezung and Bebe due to contact, and Kemezung speakers indicate a positive attitude towards Bebe. When asked if they would like to read and write this language, the people of Kwei answered yes, because they are nearer to us. Kemezung speakers in Dumbo did not indicate that they would be willing to read and write in Bebe, however. They felt that the Bebe people would probably like to read Kemezung.
In answer to the question, Apart from your own language, which languages would you choose to read and write? Kemezung speakers chose only LWC's (French, English, and German). Both groups interviewed also said that although they understand Bebe, the Kemezung are not one people with the Bebe.
In the general community, the mother tongue holds the principal position in the domain of the home, while it is used along with Pidgin at work (fields), among friends, at markets, and at the dispensary.
In the schools, English is the language of instruction, but when at recess the children also use Pidgin and the mother tongue with each other.
The churches use English and Pidgin, but they tend to translate prayers, sermons, and songs into the mother tongue for better understanding.
In public domains, for traditional religious ceremonies, regional council meetings and public announcements, Kemezung speakers use their mother tongue and Pidgin.
Attitudes toward the Mother
Attitudes toward the mother tongue are positive. Kemezung speakers would like to read and write in their mother tongue and to have their children learn it also.
Language Maintenance and Shift
The people in Kwei said they do not use Pidgin everyday in the village, but those interviewed in Dumbo indicated that they do use it everyday. In Dumbo there are many foreign immigrants who come to farm and trade, resulting in the Kemezung speakers there using Pidgin to communicate with them.
In both villages, however, speakers said they do not believe their youth, who tend to be the best speakers of Pidgin, are speaking Pidgin or any another language more than they speak the mother tongue. The youth do tend to mix Pidgin and the mother tongue. Interviewees in Dumbo said this is not good, but those in Kwei indicated it could be good because it shows they understand what they are learning in school.
In summary, although there are a few indicators of potential language shift, most factors presently point toward the maintenance of the mother tongue. The situation should continue to be monitored since the majority of the Kemezung-speaking population lives in Dumbo and has daily contact with non-Kemezung speakers.
There has been no effort as yet on the part of the Kemezung people to develop their language, but when asked if they would like to learn to read and write in their mother tongue, the people said, yes.
More than half of the primary school age children in Dumbo attend school, but only about half the children of that age in Kwei go to school. In both villages very few children continue on to secondary school. Those who finish secondary school tend to return to the village because they cannot find work. This situation, similar to that found in the Nsari and Bebe speech communities (see sections 3.3.4 and 3.4.4), again brings up the question of whether a language program in Kemezung would be viable.
The social cohesion factor: homogeneity of the
The homogeneity of the Kemezung-speaking community is somewhat difficult to assess based on the data we have. Linguistically, the group is very similar, with only slight differences between the speech of those in Kwei and those in Dumbo. In most other aspects there could be significant differences between the communities in the two locations.
Geographically, the two villages are connected only by footpaths and are somewhat cutoff from one another during heavy rains. A hanging bridge makes it possible for people to cross the river, but it is dangerous and people drown (four or five in the last year).
Economically, we would guess that the two communities are quite different, since Kwei is a relatively isolated village and Dumbo is more metropolitan with businesses, trading, and a mixed population.
As for religion, both villages claim to have many Christians. With the large presence of foreigners, Dumbo also has many Muslims, but there are none in Kwei. What was not clear from the interview in Dumbo, however, was whether there are Kemezung speakers who are Muslim or whether it is only foreigners who make up the Muslim population.
Openness to change
Dumbo has a development committee that takes care of roads and bridges. No such committee exists in Kwei.
Village leaders, ranging in age from 2880, tend to live in the village (at least in Kwei), and Kemezung speakers feel that when these leaders are gone there will be others to take their place. We did not find out whether the majority of the leaders are older, younger, or in between.
Kemezung speakers form a distinct language group but seem to have acquired a significant degree of intercomprehension with the Bebe language. They also have a positive attitude towards this other language. The mother tongue is presently being maintained and seems to hold a prominent place in the lives of Kemezung speakers, but with the large presence of foreigners in Dumbo, this should continue to be monitored. The people express some interest in seeing their language developed, but they have not, up to this point, taken any intitiative to make this happen, nor is the group as a whole actively involved in any kind of community development that we were made aware of. School attendance, even at the primary level, is on the low side, which could prove problematic for a literacy development effort.
Mungong, or Djue Mungong as the speakers refer to their own language, is spoken only in the village of Mungong by 1,2001,500 speakers. Mungong residents say they were originally Noni people living in the forest. They came out from the forest with the other Noni, some who went to Din and others to Djottin, and the administration settled them in their present location. Mungong speakers say that they are one people sharing the same origins with both the Nooni and Ncane-speaking peoples and that they share the same language as both these groups. Even children as young as age six understand Nooni and Ncane, they claim. Mungong speakers also say that with the people of Cung, both adults and young children, can speak their mother tongue and each will understand the other. They claim that they do not, however, share the same origins with the people of Cung. (Note: The people of Cung agree that they do not share the same origins and that adults can speak their mother tongue and still understand one another, but they disagree that children age six and under can understand Mungong.)
The mother tongue continues to hold a prominent place in the lives of the people of Mungong. They use it in the home and with friends the same age. Children speak it with one another during school recess, and adults use it in traditional religious ceremonies and for public announcements. In the churches, the mother tongue is used alongside Pidgin and English for prayers and songs. The sermon, although usually given in Pidgin, is also sometimes translated into the mother tongue.
There have been no efforts to develop the mother tongue, but Mungong speakers say they would be interested in becoming literate in their mother tongue and would like their children to do so as well. They would also like to learn to read and write in Nooni, Ncane, and Lamso (a language spoken around the nearby town of Kumbo and which has some written materials).
Although the mother tongue continues to be maintained for the most part, there are some indicators that language shift might be beginning to occur in Mungong. Those interviewed expressed the concern that Mungong youth may be using Pidgin more than their mother tongue and that they are mixing Pidgin with the mother tongue. Adults fear that the youth will lose their language and no longer be able to communicate secrets in the presence of strangers. After responding that the youth were using Pidgin more than the mother tongue, however, some said that in the village, the youth are mostly inclined to their local dialect. And when asked how the youth feel about their mother tongue, the group said that they are happy about it. The group also said that among the adults not everyone uses Pidgin everyday.
In the group interview, people expressed the opinion that not quite all of Mungong children attend primary school, but in his individual interview, the director of the Community School of Mungong said that he does not have the impression that most Mungong children are in school. He feels they are roaming the streets. Everyone agreed that very few students go on to secondary school and that, even of those who finish school, most have difficulty finding jobs so they end up returning to the village.
In the Community School of Mungong, even though English is encouraged and the local language avoided in the classroom, the mother tongue is sometimes used in Classes 1 and 2 to explain concepts the children find difficult to grasp in English.
Mungong has a committee for development that takes care of road maintenance and clean-up, as well as bridge construction and maintenance.
Most village leaders live in the village. All the really old ones are dead, but there is a leadership presence above age 35, and the people feel that there will definitely be new leaders to take the place of the present leadership when these are gone.
In summary, although it is currently listed as an unclassified language in ALCAM, lexicostatistics and the people's own reports on shared comprehension and origins with other Eastern Beboid languages suggest that Mungong be classified as Eastern Beboid. Given the particularly strong identification they admit to having with the Noni and their claims of intercomprehension even among young children, it could be that Mungong should even be listed as a dialect of Nooni.
The speech variety called Cung is spoken only in the village of Fat (also called Cung), which has about two thousand inhabitants. Of the language varieties studied in this survey, Cung seems to be the furthest removed linguistically from all the others. The people of Cung report sharing intercomprehension with speakers of both Mungong and Koshin (a Western Beboid language spoken in the Lower Fungom area of the Menchum Division). Those we interviewed claimed that when a Cung speaker talks with someone from Mungong or Koshin, each person is able to speak his mother tongue and be understood by the other. However, the fact that children around the age of six are not able to understand the other variety indicates that this is a result of learned comprehension. The people of Cung do not consider themselves to share the same origins with either the people of Mungong or Koshin, but they do feel they share a common culture with the people of Koshin.
The people of Cung use Pidgin with speakers of all the other Eastern Beboid languages. They say they understand Kemezung, but the Kemezung speakers do not understand them.
The group interviewed in Cung said they came originally from Kwofat in the forest area bordering Dumbo. They intermarry with a variety of other Beboid groups, including people from Mungong, Koshin, Dumbo, Ncane, and Noni. They also intermarry with the people of Bum and say that many Cung people can speak Bum. In fact, in the group interview, when asked what language Cung speakers use when talking with someone from Bum, the group replied: We can speak Bum. We are mixed. They also noted that for public announcements and regional council meetings they use Bum to be general. When asked which languages, apart from their mother tongue, they would choose to learn to read and write, they chose first Bum, then Mbuk, and lastly Mungong, mentioning also English and French. Interestingly, when asked if foreigners come to live in Cung, the group mentioned that there are only a few and these come from Lamso (Kumbo). They said nothing about the Bum.
The mother tongue still holds a prominent place in the lives of the Cung people. It is used in the home and between friends of the same age, including by children on the school playground. The people feel that their youth are happy with their language and speak it more than any other language. They do not feel that the youth are mixing Pidgin or English with the mother tongue. The adults would like their children to learn to read and write in Cung, because, It's our own language.
The people of Cung know of nothing written in their language, although they say that someone from Djottin once came and wrote some things in it. But the person never returned and the chief never saw what was written.
About three fourths of Cung children attend primary school, but very few go on to secondary school. Those who do finish school usually return to the village. Pidgin is used everyday in the village with the youth being the best speakers of it.
There are many Christians and Muslims in Cung. The one church leader present to give us an interview was an elder. In the services in his church, English and Cung are used. This elder feels that church members express an interest in having religious materials in the mother tongue. Use of the mother tongue is encouraged in this church of about 65 members.
The village does not have a development committee of any kind. Cung leaders live in the village and range in age from 30 to over 40. The people feel that when these leaders have passed on there will be others to take their place.
In summary, lexicostatistics would suggest that Cung is definitely a Beboid language, although it is unclear as yet whether it is best classified with the eastern or western cluster.8 Linguistic and sociolinguistic factors point to a distinct and presently vital language. There are some reasons to doubt, however, that a program to develop and promote literacy in Cung would be viable. The language is spoken in only one village, and the Cung admit that they are mixed with Bum speakers and use the Bum language quite a bit. This may indicate the potential for eventual language shift. The fact that few Cung speakers go beyond primary school and that the community has no committee for development also does not speak promisingly for the success of a mother tongue language development project. We would recommend that the Cung speakers' comprehension of Mungong, Koshin, and Bum be investigated more closely to see if written materials might possibly be shared with any of these groups.
High lexical similarity combined with sociolinguistic data (i.e., self-reported comprehension, language use patterns, and attitudes) from this rapid appraisal survey suggests a significant degree of intercomprehension between Nooni, Ncane, and Mungong. Intercomprehension also occurs between some speakers of Nsari and these languages, as well as between some speakers of Nsari, Bebe, and Kemezung, and possibly between speakers of Kemezung and Naki (Mashi). Finally, Cung has ties with Mungong, the Western Beboid language of Koshin, and the non-Beboid language of Bum.
In nearly every instance where speakers claim there is intercomprehension, lexical similarity falls between 8095%. It is therefore quite probable that intercomprehension is the result of a combination of inherent intelligibility based on similarity and acquired intelligibility due to frequent contact between these groups through intermarriage, at the local markets, and in Misaje. Brown (1998:17) refers to this phenomenon as bidialectalism or multidialectalism.
We recommend that Recorded Text Testing (RTT) be carried out to verify these self-reported claims of understanding by measurably observing comprehension. We suggest three separate RTT studies involving the following groups of speech varieties:
2. Nsari-Bebe-Kemezung-Naki (Mashi)
In light of the language development efforts already underway in Nooni, we
recommend that the first RTT study be carried out as soon as possible. This
will give those involved in Nooni standardization efforts an estimate of the
potential for extendibility of literature produced in Nooni, and it should also
clarify whether and how many separate but cooperative projects are needed so
that cooperation can be initiated immediately.
In light of the recommendation of the rapid appraisal survey (Part I) that Recorded Text Testing (RTT) be carried out as soon as possible between the Nooni, Ncane, Nsari, and Mungong speech varieties, the same team that did the first survey returned to Eastern Beboid November 22December 7, 1999. Our purpose was to further clarify language boundaries and the potential for extendibility of Nooni literature to the three other speech varieties.
Intelligibility testing using RTT was the research procedure we employed. This method is based on a model developed by Eugene Casad (1974) that involves eliciting and recording autobiographical narrative texts (or equivalent) generally lasting 23 minutes each. Questions for measuring comprehension are inserted into the stories to make test tapes of each speech form.
We elicited stories in the Nooni, Ncane, and Nsari speech varieties. We did not elicit a text of the one-village language variety of Mungong, since residents there claim to possess a high level of comprehension of all neighboring speech varieties and have a positive attitude toward learning other languages (especially Nooni and Ncane). These factors indicate that Mungong is not likely to be developed apart from one of these other varieties.
We obtained texts in the Nooni-speaking village of Nkor, the Nsari-speaking village of Akweto, and the Ncane-speaking village of Nkanchi.
Nkor is the centrally located town of the Nooni-speaking area and also the seat of the subdivisional headquarters for Bui. It is the southernmost village of Nooni's lower dialect and, therefore, nearest to the northernmost village of the upper Nooni dialect villages to the south.
From Nkor, which is considered a crossroads location
for all other Noni villages, a Nooni hometown text with questions inserted in
the appropriate sections of the tape were recorded by SIL literacy worker
Michael Andrus. Mother tongue speakers of Nooni, all involved in the Nooni
language project, edited and read the text and questions. Julius Kijah wrote
the text, which represented a composite of two texts he had written previously
for literacy tone tests. Jonah Ngwang edited this text so that what had been
written would sound more conversational when spoken. The text was then recorded
with Alfred Njinyeh reading the story aloud in this conversational manner.
Comprehension questions for this story were created and discussed by the entire
team until everyone came to a consensus about the line-by-line translation.
These questions were then read aloud by Jonah Ngwang and recorded.
The Nooni Language Committee representatives, who are from various Nooni-speaking villages, were confident that this story represented normal Nooni conversational speech and would be easily understood by anyone who understands Nooni.
A cassette recording of the story with comprehension questions inserted, as well as a script and translation in English were all delivered to the SIL members of the research team in Yaoundé for review before the team went out. In order to test this test tape, we administered a hometown test to Nooni mother tongue speakers living in Yaoundé who use their language on a daily basis. Following are the results:
1. A female speaker of Nkor answered 10 of the 12 questions correctly.
2. A male speaker of Lassin answered all 12 questions correctly.
3. A female speaker of Lassin answered all 12 questions correctly.
From these initial results, we therefore concluded that the Nooni text and comprehension questions were sufficiently understandable so that at least 10 but probably all 12 of the questions would be useful for the field research. We considered this displaced hometown test of the Nooni text and questions to be as valid as carrying out a hometown test in one of the Noni villages. (Note: When we later used the Nooni hometown test onsite in Noni villages, however, we discovered that Nooni speakers missed the third and sixth comprehension questions more frequently than the others. So, although we did not eliminate these questions prior to playing the comprehension tapes in the Nsari, Ncane, and Mungong villages, we dropped them from the final tabulation.)
Since the SIL teams had indicated that Nooni speakers claimed there were only slight differences in pronunciation between the upper and lower dialects, we did not obtain a hometown text from the upper Nooni dialect.
Nkanchi, which is the largest Ncane-speaking village, was the location we chose for eliciting and recording the Ncane text. Cornelius Kilo, the same man who had been selected by his fellow villagers to give us a word list earlier in the year, was again appointed to supply an anecdotal story from his personal experience. He did so in the presence of the available middle-aged leadership who confirmed the quality of the story. Our team elicited a suitable text of 2021 phrases lasting roughly a minute and a half. The text was recorded and then questions were designed. This tape became the hometown test to acquaint Ncane speakers with the testing process prior to listening to the Nsari and Nooni stories. Later this tape was adapted with Nooni and Nsari questions and used to test comprehension of Ncane in these two language groups.
During this process, we did not succeed in keeping all observers away. Although we asked them to leave, a few young people remained as we discussed with the group leaders (who would not be tested) the details of the story and the comprehension questions. We asked that these young people not speak to others about what they had heard and told them they could not participate when we came back to administer the RTT testing, as this might skew results, but we cannot be sure this didn't happen. We waited five days after eliciting the text before returning to the Nkanchi to administer the RTT testing.
Akweto is one of the two largest Nsari-speaking villages. According to the rapid appraisal, there is daily contact between the speakers of Akweto and those of its sister village of Kamine, and residents of both villages affirm that there is no variation between the villages in their pronunciation or speech patterns. Our survey team elicited the text from Alphonse Nchamwe, a 24-year-old father with two preschool children, who had been raised in Akweto. He had lived 6 years in Nkambe, the nearest large town, to complete high school studies. At the time we met him, he was available to participate during his break from classes from the GTTC (Government Teachers Training Course) in Nkambe.
Before administering the text tapes, we verified them by making a copy of the story and then inserting comprehension questions into pauses. The questions were translated into the local variety where testing would take place, then inserted into the text. Each question would immediately follow a section of the story containing the answer to that question. A duplicate was made of the text.
The hometown test provided the occasion to verify that the comprehension questions were understandable. Twelve questions were asked for the Nooni hometown, but after about half of the respondents consistently missed the correct answers to questions 3 or 6, these questions were excluded from the final tabulation of results. (Ideally, the exclusion of comprehension questions due to frequent miss rates would take place prior to the creation of a final test tape.)
No comprehension question was missed so often during the hometown testing that it could not be included during testing in villages of other languages.
We returned to one representative village of each dialect of the two largest speech varieties, Nooni and Ncane, as well as to two villages of Nsari and the village of Mungong.
1. Nkor (representing Nkor, Lassin, Mbinon)
2. Din (representing Din, Djottin, and Me)
1. Nkanchi (representing Nkanchi, Nfume, and Chunge)
2. Kibbo (representing Kibbo and Bem)
Results from the rapid appraisal had revealed two dialects of Ncaneone dialect consisting of the relatively isolated villages of Kibbo and Bem (with slight differences in pronunciation between them) and the second, larger dialect that included Nkanchi, Nfume, and Chunge. Since Bem was nearest to Noni, reported normal comprehension with Nooni without requiring prior contact was high. Moreover, Bem's shared lexicostatistical similarity with the Nooni word list was the highest (90%) of all the villages within the entire Beboid Cluster. It was therefore assumed that the village of Bem would score higher on the Nooni RTT than Kibbo. Due to proximity and intermarriage shared by Nooni speakers and those of Bem, it could be extremely difficult to find speakers to meet the qualifications for taking the test.
Nkanchi, being by far the largest village and considered by Nkanchi people to be the center of Ncane (although geographically it is the northernmost village), was selected to represent the other Ncane dialect from among the string of three successive villages, Nkanchi, Nfume, and Chunge.
1. Akweto (representing also Bansobi, a quarter of Akweto)
2. Kamine (representing also Mbissa)
Akweto and Kamine residents claimed to speak exactly the same, but we did testing in both in order to measure potential variations in comprehension of Nooni and/or Ncane due to distances. Akweto is further than Kamine from the Ncane and Nooni language areas.
Nsari is a language spoken in three main villages with quarters that together create a swath of Nsari-speaking communities from Akweto near Nkambe to the sparsely populated but sprawled-out village of Mbissa near Misaje. Since Kamine is the village in the geographical center of the Nsari language group, it provided us a representative benchmark about what results could be expected in Nsari villages to the west or east of it.
Akweto, on the other hand, would provide us with an understanding about Nsari comprehension furthest from the Nooni/Ncane/Mungong language situations.
This is a one-village language with the village and language both called Mungong.
In each location except Mungong, we tested 10 adults. In order to obtain an accurate cross section of the entire village population, we always attempted to find five men and five women, both older (35+) and younger, to participate in the testing. We did this by asking the village chief or, in his absence, his appointed representative to identify qualified village residents. Each participant was to have been born in that village and raised by parents who were also from that village.
Prior to testing, each participant was asked to identify his birthplace, where he was raised, and the language(s) and village(s) of the parents. We asked also where the mother of the speaker was from, as, in most cases where the mother is the primary caregiver, her speech would have a major influence on her child's speech during the formative years. Those potential participants who claimed to have had no or limited contact outside of the village were included in the recorded text survey. The adolescent age group was the youngest to take the text testing.
Those who were qualified were asked to listen to the recording of their mother tongue. It was not expected that this test would measure their comprehension of their mother tongue but rather that it would be an opportunity for them to become acquainted with the process of listening to a story while wearing headphones and answering questions. This was also an occasion to ensure that the subject understood what was expected of him. Those who did not get at least half of the questions correct were dismissed from taking comprehension tests of other languages.
Special Considerations for Akweto:
In order to find 10 qualified participants in Akweto, we had to test 15 people. Five Akweto residents scored below 50% correct on the hometown test in Nsari, which is an unusually high percentage, especially considering that the speaker who gave us the text was from Akweto. Only one of the first four women qualified after the hometown test. (Women were the first to be tested.) There are at least three possible explanations. Since testing took place at the chief's palace with the chief and six to eight other men present, the women might have felt intimidated by the presence of these men and lost concentration. Another possible explanation is that the voice of the rival chief of the Nsari village of Kamine recorded on the Nsari hometown test tape might have been a distraction to any participants (men or women) from Akweto. Since Akweto residents claimed during their group interview earlier in the year that there had been a schism over the rightful authority over the entire Nsari-speaking area, their hearing the voice of the rival chief from Kamine might have caused them to feel threatened or, at least, distracted. A third possible explanation for the low scores among the women is that a woman who had sustained severe cuts due to a knife fight appeared outside the chief's palace shortly after the testing began. Her presence attracted a growing crowd outside of the palace where we were doing the testing, and was very likely a disturbing distraction to these first participants.
We believe that one or more of these attitudinal or circumstantial factors explains, if only in part, why the testing took nearly twice as long as it did in any of the other villages during the entire survey trip. Those who were not distracted were able to qualify for their hometown and, therefore, were able to listen to the Nooni and Ncane test tapes. The aggregate RTT results (average mean) differed only 0.5% from those of Kamine; and both Nsari-speaking villages had a high (82 and 109 percentage) standard deviation in their comprehension of Nooni. What is questionable is that the scores from Akweto for the Ncane test tape were so much more variable than the scores from Kamine. For a further discussion of possible explanations for this variation, see the results, section 7.
English translations of the biographical stories and comprehension questions that made up the recorded texts can be found in appendix A.
In each village, we administered the hometown test first, followed by the two test tapes in alternating order from one participant to the next. This was done to eliminate fatigue as a factor affecting test performance.
In two locations we administered group RTTs rather than testing 10 individuals one at a time. Simons (1979:25) points out that although administering the tests to a number of individuals is optimal in that it yields more information, to find out the upper potential of the group, group tests are an appropriate and efficient alternative.
We assumed that the Ncane speakers of the remote village of Kibbo, which is also near Noni, would score high for their hometown as well as for Nooni but would have little exposure to Nsari and thus would score even lower than the Nkanchi speakers already tested. For this reason and in the interest of time (to reach Kibbo required a 90-minute trek uphill), we administered a group RTT with the Nsari test tape (the Nooni tape was administered to individuals). In the one-village language group of Mungong (estimated population of 1,2001,500), we administered only group RTTs with all three test tapes (Nooni, Ncane, and Nsari).
Table 6 presents the group scores obtained by each village for each of the test tapes. (Hometown scores are not included.) A detailed rendering of individual scores (including hometown) and additional information obtained during testing are located in appendix B.
|Comprehension of:||By speakers of:||Group Score9||StdDev.%|
Individual scores represented as a group performance percentage, called the mean, and the average individual variance from that group mean, called the standard deviation, are the two primary considerations for interpreting RTT results.
The percentage is based on the mean (average) after totaling the individual scores, then dividing by the number of individuals tested. The sum of these individual scores, when divided by 10 (the number of participants), converts into the percentage of the group's comprehension of the text. This percentage is indicative of a group's overall or general understanding of the language of the recorded text. Such a percentage is useful for interpreting the potential for using a common literature. In a discussion on interpreting intelligibility scores, Grimes states:
At threshold levels high enough to guarantee good communication from the central dialect to its periphery (usually 85% or above), it is reasonable to speak of the dialect cluster as a single LANGUAGE from the linguistic point of view. Speech varieties that come together at only 70% or below are too distinct to qualify as the same language. In between, 70% to 85%, is an area of MARGINAL intelligibility where some communication is satisfactory and some is not. The threshold depends on the risk associated with not communicating well; the final criteria are not purely linguistic. (J. Grimes 1995: 22)
Another indicator of group understanding of a text is the variation of individual scores in relation to that overall group mean (average). The distribution of the individual scores for a given group of tests is known as standard deviation. If the standard deviation of RTT scores for one community is greater than 15%, this probably indicates bilingualism (Grimes 1987:50). Put another way, such a widespread distribution of scores is likely attributed to the variation from one individual to another in exposure and opportunity to learn the language, a phenomenon called acquired intelligibility. When one speech variety is highly similar to another, comprehension scores are usually more consistent from one individual to another and the standard deviation is therefore lower, indicating inherent intelligibility.
A high percentage of comprehension and a low standard deviation (below 15%) are indicative of potential inclusion in a single language development project if group attitudes are also positive. When the percentage of comprehension falls within the critical range, then standard deviation and sociological factors become important considerations for determining a language's potential for being grouped with the language of the RTT.
Results indicate that Kamine, with an aggregate mean of 85% comprehension of Ncane and a standard deviation of only 6.6%, could probably be included in a Ncane language development project. Mbissa, though not part of the rapid appraisal group interviews (only one speaker was interviewed) or the RTT research, would probably average a score at least equal to Kamine's 85% since it is the Nsari-speaking village nearest to the Ncane language area.
Akwetos situation differs from that of Kamine and Mbissa. Akweto's score of 82.5% comprehension of Ncane, which is just 2.5% lower than that of its sister village of Kamine, means that it also falls at the upper limit of the 7085% range. However, the standard deviation of 21.3% is significantly higher suggesting that comprehension of Ncane increases with exposure and that certain residents of Akweto have probably had less exposure to Ncane than others.
There are at least two possible explanations for the different standard deviations between the two villages. One explanation might be the disruptive testing situation in Akweto, which is described previously in section 6.4. This may have caused some test participants to score lower than they normally would have, thus resulting in a higher standard deviation of the scores. An alternative possible explanation for the low standard deviation in the scores from Kamine is the relative complexity of the Ncane text as compared to the Nooni text. This might also offer some explanation as to why Nooni speakers' scores on the Ncane text were so much higher than the Ncane scores for the Nooni text.10
Since Akweto is the Nsari village most distant from the Ncane language group, its residents would, for practical reasons, have less of an opportunity to benefit from a Ncane language development program. Akweto also does not view itself as being one people with either the Ncane or the Noni. However, the daily contact reportedly shared by residents of Akweto and Kamine might contribute to the success of Akweto's gradual inclusion in a Ncane project. Nsari could be included in a language development project with Ncane, but not with one in Nooni. All of these above factors are important considerations for interpreting the facts and deducing conclusions.
This section pertains to the deductions that can be drawn from the previous results and, as such, serve as a basis for the section of recommendations. These conclusions are based on the entire study, including both the rapid appraisal and RTT surveys. In this way, informed conclusions about language use and eventual decisions about language development can be made.
From the data, the main conclusions we can draw are:
Multiple Centers (Ncane and Nooni)
There are at least two centers in the Eastern Beboid Cluster: Noni and Ncane. Ncane is the linguistic center and is geographically central to Noni, Nsari, and Mungong surrounding it (see map in appendix C). The center in Noni has to do with (1) population and (2) personnel available for linguistic consulting. The features of these centers are elaborated below:
Ncane is geographically central to the Eastern Beboid speech varieties (Nooni, Ncane, Mungong, and Nsari) located north of the ridge that separates it from Noni. For the most part, Ncane is positively perceived by the other groups. Nkanchi, Ncane's largest village and the only one certain to be accessible by vehicle, is located close to Misaje where clans from all the Eastern Beboid languages north of Noni live, namely, the Nsari, Ncane, Kemezung, and Bebe language groups.
Ncane is also linguistically central to Ncane, Noni, Mungong, and Nsari, since it shares the highest lexical similarity percentages with the other speech varieities and is best understood by them. Although Ncane speakers claimed to be one people with the Noni, group interviews revealed a preference or, rather, an insistence for their own language development project for reasons owing to the preservation of their culture and the perception that their language is distinct.
Noni is the population center of the entire Beboid Cluster, being the largest language group with a population equal to or exceeding that of Ncane, Nsari, and Mungong combined. Motorable roads pass by or through each Noni village, enabling intercommunication of Nooni speakers. However, the Nooni language area is separated from all other Eastern Beboid languages by a ridge to the north, and the only Beboid language adjacent to Nooni is Ncane.
SIL language workers are located in the Noni villages of Lassin and Nkor. The SIL team consisting of David and Cindy Lux and Mike and Kay Andrus are accessible and would be available to meet with Ncane speakers about language development issues.
Discussion: Ncane and
For several reasons, it appears that neither the Ncane nor Nooni language groups could be expected to use the other's written form at this point in time:
Mungong is a one-village language group whose speakers claimed during the group interview earlier in the year that they understand and speak the languages surrounding them. The residents of Mungong recognize that their relatively small population has an interest in and needs to learn the neighboring languages. Mungong speakers claimed a high level of comprehension of both Nooni and Ncane, and at that time claimed a greater identification with the Noni people. But after listening to the Nooni and Ncane texts during the group RTT, the Mungong group affirmed their greater affinity toward Ncane and the nearby Ncane-speaking village of Nkanchi.11 Nevertheless, the Mungong group holds a positive attitude toward both Nooni and Ncane and shares a high percentage of lexical similarity with both varieties. Mungong could be included in a Ncane project, or perhaps the one in Noni.
Nsari's low comprehension of Nooni means that it cannot be included in the Nooni language project. But its 82.585 percent mean comprehension score and positive attitude toward Ncane mean that it probably could be included in a Ncane language development project. A possible exception to this generalization is Akweto.
Nooni Text (English translation)
12. I will tell you something. Some time last year, Bofila and
her friend went to work on her new farm.
Question: With whom did Bofila go to her new farm?
Answer: With her friend.
Question: When did she acquire her first field?
Answer: Last year.
3. The farm was
very large. It was full of trees and weeds. As they went and started working,
Tabas wife suddenly arrived at the farm and asked them what they were
Question: What happened when they started working?
Answer: Taba's wife came to the farm and asked them what they were doing there.
4. Bofila replied, We are working corn. The soil here
is very good.
Question: What was the quality of the soil?
Answer: It was very good.
5. As Bofila replied like that, she
replied, Who showed you this place?
Question: Who questioned Bofila about her new farm?
Answer: Taba's wife.
Bofila replied, The landlord showed it to me. The woman said,
Please, I beg you, leave this farm quickly because it is my
Question: What did Tabas wife finally say to Bofila?
Answer: Please leave this farm. It's mine.
7. Bofila saw that it
was not good for her to quarrel with the woman.
Question: What was Bofila's reaction when Taba's wife questioned her about the farm?
Answer: She saw that it was not good to quarrel with the woman, so/and she went away.
89. She then left with her friend and returned home. She went
and begged for a new farm and worked corn there and it did very well.
Question: What happened when/after Bofila surrendered the farm to Tabas wife?
Answer: She begged for a new farm; she went back home with a friend.
Question: How was her first harvest from her new farm?
Answer: It was very good.
10. She invited people to go and
harvest the corn. Many people went and harvested the corn and carried it to her
Question: What did Bofila do to get the yield to her house?
Answer: She invited people who then helped to carry the corn.
Bofila was very glad, cooked food, and fed the people who helped to carry
Question: What did Bofila do to the people who harvested and carried the corn?
Answer: She cooked food and fed them.
Bofila had a lot of corn eaten and also sold some and had money with which she
could buy her other household needs.
Question: What did Bofila do to get/obtain things in/for her house?
Answer: She sold some corn and bought her household things with her money.
Ncane Text (English translation)
1. I am a hunter.
Question: What is the man's profession?
Answer: He is a hunter.
2. I (do) go to
the market (where) I buy wire.
Question: Where does he get wire?
Answer: At the market.
34. When I see an animal track, I
trap. When I catch an animal like a hedgehog, I will kill it. When I catch a
hare, a porcupine
Question: Name two animals that he catches.
Answer: Hare, hedgehog, porcupine.
(and/or) When I see
an antelope, I'll cut it with a machete/cutlass.
Question: What does he do when he sees an antelope?
Answer: He cuts it with a machete.
6. When I see an animal above me (i.e. that's more than I can
handle) I ask/beg somebody to shoot it with a gun.
Question: What does he do when he sees an animal above him (i.e. an animal that is more than he can handle)?
Answer: He askes somebody to shoot it with a gun.
(Then) They carry it home.
Question: Where do they take the animal?
8. When the animal is butchered, I share
Question: What happens next?
Answer: It is butchered and shared.
911. I give part (of it) to the man who helped me. I
take part (and) eat it with my family. I take part, and I sell it.
Question: Name the three ways the hunter shares the animal.
Answer: Shares some (9) with the man who helped him shoot it, (10) with his family, and (11) takes some to the market to sell.
12. I buy hunting
materials. (i.e. at the market with the money)
Question: What does he buy?
Answer: Hunting materials.
13. That's all.
Nsari Text (English translation)
By Alphonse Nchamwe of Akweto village. Age 24. Male. Husband with two children. Raised in Akweto. Did 6 years of high school in Nkambe (nearest large town). Identified by school authority of GTTC (Government Teachers Training Course) at Nkambe.
1. I am the first son of my father. I am 24 years old.
Question: How old is the man?
Answer: 24 years old.
years ago, I got married.
Question: What happened five years ago?
Answer: He got married.
3. I come from the same village as my
Question: Where does his wife come from?
Answer: From the same village (as the husband).
4. We have two children. There are 10
of us in my father's house.
Question: How many children does the man's father have?
5. I am the first son.
Question: How is this man related to the father?
Answer: As his first son.
67. As the eldest son, I will take care of my
fathers house and for the education of my brothers (means sisters,
Question: As the first son what two things must/will he do:
Answer: (a) Care for his father's house/property.
(b) Look after the education of his brothers (sisters included).
It is not easy to get a job.
Question: What is not easy?
Answer: Getting a job.
9. Since there is a high/great need for
teachers in Cameroon, I decided to enter teachers training.
Question: Why did he decide to go to the teachers school?
Answer: Because there is a great/high need for teachers in Cameroon.
After completing teachers training I will continue with studies.
Question: What will he do after going to school for teachers training?
Answer: He will continue his studies.
11. I would like
to teach in secondary school. Even if I dont have/get a job after
teachers training, I will come back and teach my brothers (and
Question: What will he do if he does not get a job?
Answer: He will come back and teach his brothers (sisters also understood as siblings).
Din 4 and Din 5 use
Nooni, English, and Pidgin in the home.
Din 7 is a mother tongue speaker of Nooni, yet got only 5.5/10 correct on the hometown text but got almost a perfect score (11/12) on the Ncane text!
Din 9 is a wife of the chief.
Of the 10 participants, all who were born in Din, half were men and half were women, with four being over 35 and six being 35 or younger.
Performance of Din in relation to Ncane
Average (Mean): 11.1 of 12=92.5%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 0.86 (7.89%)
A chief of Din was present for all but two of these. This chief is father of the president of the Din Literacy Council for Nooni.
Nooni Results in
Nkor 2, 4, 6 use
Nooni and English in the home.
Nkor 5 speaks both Nooni and Nso at home.
All 10 participants were born in Nkor; half were men and half were
Five were over 35 and 5 were under 35.
Nooni speakers were tested only for their comprehension of Ncane.
Performance of Nkor
in relation to Ncane RTT:
Average (Mean): 10.9 (of 12)=90.83%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 1.19 (10.98%)
Ncane Results in Nkanchi
All 10 participants were born in Nkanchi of which five were men and the other five were women; of the 10, five were over 35 and five were under 35.
Performance of Nkanchi in relation to Nooni RTT:
Range of percentage correct, considering margin of error:
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 0.95 (12.16%)
Average (Mean): 7.8 of 10=78%
Performance of Nkanchi in relation to Nsari RTT:
Range of percentage correct, considering margin of error:
Average (Mean): 7.0 (of 11)=63.64%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 1.37 (19.63%)
Nkanchi 3 states that his wife is from Kamine.
Nkanchi 7 doesnt travel much but occasionally travels where there are church functions.
Nkanchi 9 states, My wife is from Nooni area. Both Nooni and Ncane used in the home.
All 10 respondents from Nkanchi except for #9 use only Ncane in the home.
Cane Results in
Of the 10 participants, five were men and five were women. Four were 35 or older and six were under 35.
Kibbos understanding of the
Average (Mean): 7.9 (of 10)=79%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 1.35 (17.09%)
Kibbos understanding of
the Nsari RTT:
No individual Nsari RTTs were administered in Kibbo, but the group results indicated 6 responses of 60 questions being correct for an average (mean) of 60%.
Kibbo 6 and Kibbo 10 use both Ncane and Pidgin in the home. All other respondents speak only Ncane at home.
There were none who tested the hometown who failed to qualify to continue taking the Nooni RTT.
Nsari Results from
The 10 participants were born in Akweto, and all of them use only the Nsari/Sali language at home. Of the 10 participants, seven were men and three were women; three were 35 or over and seven were under 35.
Akweto 1 said he
thought that the Ncane language was Nooni, although he repeatedly said that he
didnt understand Nooni.
Akweto 6 said that Ncane resembles Sali. She goes once a week to Misaje, where she hears Ncane, but where she uses Pidgin to talk to Ncane speakers.
Akwetos understanding of
the Nooni RTT:
Average (Mean): 3.05 (of 10)=30.5%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 2.5 (81.95%)
understanding of the Ncane RTT:
Average (Mean): 9.9 (of 12)=82.5%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 2.105548 (21.27%)
Results from Kamine
Since Kamine is a village in the geographical center of the eastern Beboid-cluster (with the exception of Nooni), respondents here were asked about their exposure to other languages. Their responses were as follows:
Kamine 1 uses Nsari, Pidgin, and English grammar at home.
Kamine 2 states, I never travel to Noni area.
Kamine 3 uses Sali, Lamso and Limbum at home. States, I travelled in Kumbo and Nkambe only for schooling.
Kamine 5 I use Nsali and Pidgin at home.
Kamine 6 I travel to Misaje and Mbembe. I understand this language because it is nearby. I use Nsari and English at home.
Kamine 7 has a diploma and states, I meet Ncane speakers in the (Misaje) market. At the age of 19, I used to go to Lassin for market (days) for (the) five months when I was in Kibbo. Since then, I have visited there for only two days. Uses Sali and Pidgin at home.
Kamine 8 uses English and Nsari at home. He states that, I know some Nooni because Ncane rhymes with Nooni.
Kamine 9 uses only Nsali in the home but he states that, I travelled in the Nooni area one year ago.
Kamine 10 uses Sali, Pidgin, and English in the home and states about Nooni that, This is the first time I have heard this language [Nooni].
All 10 participants were born in Kamine; six were men and four women. One participant was 35 years of age and all others were younger.
understanding of the Nooni RTT:
Average (Mean): 3.1 (of 10)=31%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 3.41 (109.92%)
Performance of Kamine of Ncane RTT:
Average (Mean): 10.2 (of 12)=85%
Margin of Error (Standard Deviation): 0.68 (6.64%)
RTT Group Results from Mungong
What follows are the results of the comprehension testing of recorded texts from Nooni, Ncane, and Nsari played to a group of 20 adults plus children assembled in the group RTT session. About half were men and half women.
The three cassettes were played in the following order: Nooni, Ncane, and Nsari. It was assumed that Mungong speakers would understand Ncane better since this was the largest language group nearest to Mungong and was also the dominant language group surrounding the Misaje market.
Only a few faces registered comprehension when the Nooni text was being played to the group. A school teacher and other leaders of the village answered perfectly. When asked if the others (pointing to some of the women) understood, the men answered, They understand! When the text was replayed section by section with comprehension questions following (in Ncane), the group scored 7.5 of 10 for an estimated 75% comprehension of Nooni.
While the Ncane text was played, almost everyone in the group nodded their head in affirmation that they all were understanding the story. At the end of the text, they again nodded their heads amidst laughter that suggested, We get it. And then one man started to summarize. All 12 comprehension questions were answered correctly by the group. After responding, they were asked if they seem to understand Ncane better than Nooni. To this, the people responded, Exactly. We are together. We are neighbors.
The group response was less enthusiastic to the Nsari tape. Some of the people were concentrating in order to understand the text better whereas others just seemed less interested. But in the aggregate, at least some people were able to respond correctly to all 10 questions. After the group RTT questioning, they affirmed that they normally use Pidgin if they must speak with Nsari speakers. Insofar as their contact with Nsari speakers is relatively frequent (at the Misaje market and the Nsari-speaking village of Kamine which is not far from Misaje), they are evidently able to understand the language, though this varies from individual to individual.
Notes taken by: ___________________ Date:_______________________
Interviewer: ______________________ Time:_______________________
Researchers present: _______________ # of people interviewed: Male: _____ Female:_____
Information: Village (note on the map):______________ ________________
Reported Population: ________________ Interior: ____________________ Exterior: ________________
- Name of the people: - Name of the language:
Origins of the people? ___________________________________________________________________________
- Villages (with use of a map of the area)
In which villages is your language spoken?
In which villages is a different language spoken?Name of village: Name of language: Where do people speak
differences in accent/tone/etc.
Are there dialects of your language? Y / N. List them:
Linguistically related speech varieties: intercomprehension
Slowly/ normally Does a
child of 6 understand
One people Same origins? Bebe S / N Y / N S / N Kémézuñ S / N S / N Ncane S / N S / N Nsari S / N S / N Nóóné S / N S / N S / N
Eastern Beboid plus Non-linguistically related speech varieties: Multilingualism
You speak They speak Slowly/ normally Does a child of 6 understand One people Same origins? Naki Y / N S / N Y / N Bu S / N Missong S / N Koskin S / N S / N Lamnsó Ü S / N Limbum S / N Mbembe (Tigon) S / N Kuó (Oku) S / N Njikun S / N Kom S / N Bum (Bom) S / N S / N S / N
Which of these languages do you understand the best?
Which of these languages do you understand the least?
Do you speak Pidgin everyday in your village?
Who speaks Pidgin the best?: youth adult men adult women
VITALITY AND VIABILITY
Migration and intermarriage
With whom do you most often intermarry?-Restrictions?
Do children attend Primary school? All More than 1/2 Less than 1/2 Very few
Secondary school? All More than 1/2 Less than 1/2 Very few
- Are there children who come from other locations to attend school here? Y/N
- Are there many? Y/N
- Do young people return to the village or prefer to live in town after finishing school? Why?
FOREIGNERS: Do foreigners come to live here? Why?
From where? Are there many?
If they stay in your village, what language do you speak with them?
Which languages are used most often in the village?
MT Pidgin English DOMESTIC In the home With friends
In the field At the local market At the big market At the dispensary SCHOOL During recess In class Instruction PUBLIC Traditional religious ceremonies Announcements Regional council mtgs
[ Key: MT=Mother Tongue P=Pidgin E=English ]
CHURCHES: Prayers Songs Sermon
Are there Many / Few Christians in your village?
Many / Few Muslims?
Many / Few Traditional religion followers?
Of these groups which group is the largest?
Language Shift: Indications
Do the youth from here speak another language more than they speak the MT? Y / N
How do the youth feel about their MT?
Do you think the youth mix the MT with Pidgin or English? Y / N Is this good or bad?
If your child speaks Pidgin to you, how does it make you feel?
Standardization efforts What has been written in your language? (For example, songs, prayers, portions of the Bible, or other books?)
Are you interested in reading and writing in your MT? Is there a literacy program for your language (MT)?
If someone wanted to learn your language and have the respect of all people, in what village would he live?
Where is your language spoken the best?
In what dialect of your language (after your own) would you choose to read and write?
Noni Aghem MT Would you like your children to learn to read/write in... Would you like to learn to read/write in Why?
Apart from your own language, in which languages would you choose to read and write?
1st 2nd 3rd
Watters three sociolinguistic factors
A. Homogeneity of the linguistic community (social cohesion)Are there certain villages, that are cut off from the others during the rainy season, preventing people from going to the market or participating in celebrations?
B. Positive attitude towards changeDo people go to the dispensary when they are seriously ill? If not, why not?
Is there a committee for development here? What are their current activities or projects?
C. Presence of leadership between 35 and 50 years old at the local level- Where do most of the leaders of the village live?
- Approximately how old are they?
- When these leaders are gone, will there be others to take their place?
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR CHURCH LEADERS
Church Name/Denomination: Language Group:
Pastors name: Village:
What is your Mother Tongue? Do you speak the local language? No
A Little Well
The majority of this village is: Christian Muslim Traditional Other
Are there other Christian denominations? If yes, which ones? Which is the largest?
When was the largest church established in this village?
How many people attend your church services regularly?
Language Use in the Church
During church services, in which language is the Bible read?
How many people own their Bibles in your congregation? Very few Half Most
Which language(s) are used for:
Are there meetings for youth? Y / N Which language is used?
- Bible reading? Is it interpreted into the MT? Y / N Why?
- Announcements? Are these interpreted into the MT? Y / N Why?
- The Sermon? Is it interpreted into the MT? Y / N Why?
- How? Prepared in advance
Phrase by phrase
In resumé form at the end
Are there Bible studies? Y / N Which language is used?
Does the presence of foreigners in the service require you to use another language? Y / N Which language?
Are there people who dont understand the languages used in church? Y / N Who?
What religious materials exist in the MT?
What do you think about the use of Pidgin (or other LWC) in church?Is the use of the MT encouraged by the leaders of this church? For the services? Y / N
For other meetings? Y / N
Do members of your church express interest in - Reading and writing in their MT? Y / N
- Having religious materials in the MT? Y / N
Is a translation of the Bible into their MT absolutely needed? Why?
Would you be willing to work in close collaboration with the other denominations on a Bible translation project?
What contribution do you feel you could make to a translation project?
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR SCHOOL OFFICIALS
School Name: Language Group:
Instructors name: Village:
What is your MT?
How long you have been living in this village? Do you speak the local language?
Up to which level are courses offered in this school? How many students are in each class?
Primary School Secondary School
Class 1: Form 1:
Class 2: Form 2:
Class 3: Form 3:
Class 4: Form 4:
Class 5: Form 5:
Class 6: Upper 6th:
Class 7: Lower 6th:
How many of the students belong to the MT language group?
Most More than 1/2 Less than 1/2 Few
What are the largest language groups represented in this school? 1. 2. 3.
Do you have the impression that most of the MT students come to school?
From how many kilometers away do the MT students come to school?
Do many students continue their education after finishing school here?
Where must they go to continue their education?
Which language do you use most often in class?
Which language do the students use when they dont understand something?
Do you sometimes use their mother tongue?
Which language(s) do you use most often during recess to speak with the children?
During recess do children from (language group) speak to each other in their MT?
During recess, in what language do the children from (language group) speak to the children from other villages?
Do you think it is helpful for children to learn to read and write in their own language?
Would you like to see the MT introduced as a language of instruction in the school?
Would you be willing to assist in a MT teaching program?
After English, what language would you choose as a language of instruction for the school in this village?
What role would you be able to play in the development of the MT language for classroom use?
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1According to the 1987 Census Publication (Demo 87:5), between 19761987 Cameroon experienced a 2.9% annual growth. Assuming that the same 2.9% rate of growth has continued over the past 12 years and applies equally throughout the country, we can estimate the 1999 population based on the 1987 figure. There is no way of knowing if there has been significant immigration or emigration of the speech communities since 1987. Also, these figures do not include populations speaking the language outside of the village (in cities).
2The ALCAM word list which we used was a revised version with 6 additional words. The exact list can be obtained from the Cameroon SIL Survey Department.
3Lassin is where the Nooni Literacy Center is located. Representatives from all the major Noni villages have formed the Nooni Language Committee and are working together to standardize the language. We collected lists from six Noni locations, but noted that dialectal variations are minimal. This confirms the opinion of the language committee. Therefore, we are using only the Lassin list in our lexicostatistical analysis of Eastern Beboid.
4Ncane speakers from various Ncane villages were in Lassin for market day.
5As is explained in section 3.5.2, the research team which conducted the simultaneous study of Western Beboid languages recommends that Naki be reclassified as Eastern Beboid.
6A phonology done by SIL linguist Russell M. Richards was published in 1991. (See references.)
7Although we asked the question in our group interview, we did not get a clear idea as to the percentage of Dumbos population which is non-Kemezung.
8A future study will look at this more closely.
9Except where the group testing method was used, the mean score for the group is presented.
10However, B. Grimes (1989:4.1.21) points out that intelligibility between dialects is usually not equal in the two directions. This should also be kept in mind when considering the fact that Ncanes comprehension of Nsari is about 20% lower than Nsaris comprehension of Ncane.
11Cindy Lux suggests as a possible explanation for this the fact that Ncane has sometimes been referred to as Lower Lower Nooni. Perhaps the Mungong people were not making a distinction in their minds between Nooni and Ncane when, in the first interview, they claimed to closely identify with the Noni people and to share origins with them. This hypothesis would seem to be confirmed by the fact that during the group RTT some Mungong residents thought they were hearing Nooni the first time they heard the Ncane text.