I’ve seen this in Cameroon – French is, technically, my first language, but for the first few weeks in country, my “French” was translated into “French.” As I now call it, that’s French-French to Cameroonian-French. I was incomprehensible. I understood what was being said to me, or I thought I did. In time, I changed – I had to. It’s the inflection, the diction, the choice of words, the syntax, the prosody, the sentence length, word order, ways to get attention, non-verbal sounds to punctuate phrases…
It’s not the same language.
I see it now as general, amorphous “French” for the basic structure – and there’s the French-French, the Cameroonian-French, the Senegalese-French, the Malagasy-French . . . they’re all different.
(And why shouldn’t they be? It’s obvious enough for Belgium and Québec).
But Africa was colonized.
The marks are there. Senegal was more closely held for longer – the French is closer to French-French in accent. Cameroon got passed over from Germany. French is different – the culture, too, is different.
And then there’s Anglophone – as PCVs, we defined at least three (basic) languages in the Anglophone (previously British-held) provinces of Northwest and Southwest. “Grammar” is the “Queen’s English,” or so they say. (Grammar – reductive; it’s language without culture or any social attachments. Pejorative? True? The way English was taught in former colonies (and is still), it’s the generic, over-arching Language. This Is. How could something so authoritative have meaning to real people, terre-à-terre?)
Anglophone. Not quite grammar, or – it is “grammar”, but we call it something else. English? No. That’s British-English. “Anglophone” is, like Cameroonian-French, related to accent, inflection, diction, syntax, vocabulary… it’s neither British nor American English nor any other Western form. We Americans were not always well-understood speaking American English.
So what did we do?
We spoke Anglophone.
(And many volunteers who lived in the NW and SW learned and spoke pidgin, as well as other local languages – as a visitor to the Anglophone regions from my own francophone province, I didn’t go further than Anglophone and a few phrases in pidgin).
It’s reflexive, now.
This is what we do.
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