International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.
Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian
CiteScore 2018: 1.10
SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.062
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.933
Multilingualism in religious settings in Cameroon: the case of the UEBC-Espérance parish in Yaoundé
This paper examines how religious institutions exploit available linguistic resources to perform their rites. The Espérance parish of the Union des Eglises Baptistes au Cameroun [Union of Baptist Churches in Cameroon] offers two church services on Sundays i.e. the Fulfulde service and the French-Duala service. These church services were observed for a number of weeks and the information obtained from pastors, church elders and choir leaders were used to design a questionnaire, which was later filled by 20 regular members of this church. The data thus collected were analyzed, following the model devised by Kouega (2008a). Sketchily, it is a structural-functional model which consists in segmenting a religious service into its constituent parts and checking what language is used in what part and for what reason. The analysis revealed that many languages are used in this parish as well as other parishes of this religious group. In the Fulfulde service, Fulfulde (a major lingua franca dominant in the three northern provinces of Cameroon and spoken in the area stretching from Senegal through Cameroon to Sudan) is used for all church activities (e.g. Invocation, Confession of Sins, Sermon etc) except Scripture Reading where French, the country’s official language, comes in. In the French-Duala church service, Duala (a minor lingua franca used in the littoral area of the country) and French alternate, with the substance of the message expressed in French repeated in Duala. In both services, songs are performed in these languages as well as several other heritage languages including Banen, Giziga, Mofu, Nyokon, Tupuri etc. The reasons underlying the choice of these languages include, among others, the historical background of this church group in the country, the involvement of a given ethnic group in the running of the church, the numerical weight of a given ethnic group in the parish, and the availability of religious materials in a given language.