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Digital Narratives of Belonging as Anglophone or Francophone in a Cameroon Online News Forum

Eric A. Anchimbe
Published Online: 2016-12-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0027


Using readers’ comments on an online news forum (The Post newspaper), this paper describes patterns of belonging to the historical (colonial) linguistic in-group anglophone and out-group francophone in Cameroon. These groups emerged from the British-French colonisation of the country after WW1, with anglophones representing the former British colony and francophones the French. My focus is on the use of eight plural pronouns and how they index in-group or out-group belonging. Four of the pronouns, we, our, us and ourselves are used inclusively to create a solid anglophone in-group through the narration of a common (colonial) history, linguistic background (the use of English) and experiences. The other four, they, them, their and themselves refer predominantly to francophones as an out-group that must be differentiated from the close-knit anglophone in-group. I illustrate how, in defending the boundaries of these groups, the commentators autobiographically narrate the life trajectories of their in-group, highlight its values and interrogate the moral stance of the out-group. They benefit from the digital space which provides anonymity and closes the geographical distances between them. Overall, the anglophone in-group narrative emerges as an autobiographical narrative within the bigger (national) autobiographical narrative of the country, into which it often opens and is sometimes integrated.

Keywords: narratives of belonging; inclusive pronouns; exclusive pronouns


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About the article

Received: 2016-05-16

Accepted: 2016-09-08

Published Online: 2016-12-01

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2016-0027.

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© 2016 Eric A. Anchimbe. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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