Analysis Of Trends And Perspectives In Language Ecology And Sustainability In Multilingual Contexts: Case Study Of English As Minority Official Language In Cameroon



Abstract

The bilingual situation in Cameroon and the status of English as a co-official language with French constitutes a unique and fascinating case for sociolinguistic investigation. This study analyses the trends, perspectives and sustainability of language ecology in bilingual context of Cameroon. It explores the arrival of English in Cameroon in the 18th century and examines its growth, status and functions from colonial days, through colonialism and to post-colonial present day. Language
ecology and sustainability is the study of interactions between any given language and its environment and how it is sustained. The study is significant in contributing to new field of language ecology; providing the trends, perspectives and factors leading to the sustainability of English as a minority Official Language (mOL) in bilingual Cameroon. It also examines the attitude of Cameroonians towards language dynamics other than their mother tongue and the drifting preferences or choices in situation of usage. How has the phenomenon of English Language ecology been evolving in Cameroon and what measures can be taken to guard and sustain its existence as Official Language? What are the factors that promote or hinder its evolution in this context? What is the future of English in Cameroon? We hypothesized that in a bilingual context, there may be factors that favour the growth of minority language as against a Majority Official Language (MOL). The real environment of English in Cameroon is the population that uses it as one of its codes. We evaluate the country’s diversity within specific socio-political settings created by the processes of use. We used Haugen’s (1972) Theory of Language Ecology to study the interaction of English language in the Cameroon environment. Data was collected with the help of questionnaires, observations and interviews in the four linguistic zones and these were cross-examined alongside documents and statistics collected as secondary sources on English language dynamics in Cameroon. The findings reveal that in Cameroon, English language is increasingly developing, despite the fact that it is considered as mOL, its number of speakers and users has grown and it has extended from the two main regions of the country to the eight Francophone regions. The statuses and perceptions of English as mOL have considerably changed. The study ends with reasons for the continuous survival of English within this linguistic imbalance of official equals.


Key words: language ecology, trends, theories, minority, official bilingualism, environment






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