Cameroonian Pidgin English is an English-based creole language. About 5% of Cameroonians are native speakers of the language, while an estimated 50% of the population speak it in some form.
The terms "Cameroonian Pidgin", "Cameroonian Pidgin English", "Cameroonian Creole" and "Kamtok" are synonyms for what Cameroonians call Cameroon Pidgin English. Many speakers are unaware that this language is different from English proper. It is a variety of West African Pidgin Englishes spoken along the coast from Ghana to Cameroon. It is a vehicular language that has been in active use in the country for over 200 years. It came into being in the Slave Trade Years (1440 to early 1800s). It preceded English in Cameroon: the first Baptist missionaries who arrived Cameroon in 1845 and introduced formal education in English, had to learn Pidgin. A few decades later during the German annexation period (1884–1914), Pidgin resisted a German ban. It took flight when it became a makeshift language used in German plantations and undertakings by forced labourers who were drawn from the hinterland and who spoke different indigenous languages. With time, it invaded the market place and was adopted by Baptist missionaries as the language of their evangelical crusade. For many years, it has been used on school playgrounds and campuses and in political campaigns, and today, it is forcing its way into the spoken media scene. (For a comprehensive description of its linguistic features and its place in the language ecology of Cameroon, see amongst others, Kouega 2007 and 2008).
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