Greetings in Cameroonian Pidgin English

I asked Nyango how to say “hi” in Cameroonian Pidgin English.  Here’s what she wrote:

Most people will greet you in pidgin with "How na?" which is actually "How now?" and actually means: "How are you?" "What’s up?". A lot more will say: "Good morning" or what ever the time of day is. Most people do go around saying "Hi" and "Hello" these days even if they speak only Pidgin English. By the way, the response to "How na?" is "Ah fine" or "Ah dey" which is I am well, or I am okay. They will probably tell you if they are not well if they are familiar with you.

"Hi" is becoming a common greeting due to the influence of American television programs and Nollywood (Nigerian) movies.

I also asked Nyango if Cameroonian Pidgin English is called Kamtok (which I read online).  Here’s what she replied:

If there is something like "Kamtok" then it is a new coinage. "Kam tok" is pidgin English for "Come and Talk" or "come and say it", come and tell (us, me, etc).

Thanks for sharing Nyango!

Nyango M. Nambangi works with the Minnesota African Women’s Association. She’s kindly sent us many songs from Cameroon to share on Mama Lisa’s World.

This article was posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011 at 2:49 pm and is filed under Cameroon, Cameroonian Pidgin English, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Greeting Customs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Greetings in Cameroonian Pidgin English”

  1. Tokambak Says:

    Kamtok is short for “Cameroon talk”. The name has been around for a very long time but not all people are aware of it, as the conversation with your friend shows. There are sevrral varieties of Kamtok. Much of it sounds like the pidgin spoken in Nigeria (minus lots of words and phrases that are unique to each). The structure of both pidgins is very similar. I found a website that has some good info: http://kamtok4740.blogspot.com.au/?m=1

  2. Pidgin Boy Says:

    Kamtok is, strangely speaking, a term coined by linguists to refer to Cameroon Pidgin English. It dates back to the 1970s and especially to Loreto Todd’s initial work on Cameroon.

    No speaker of Pidgin in Cameroon would identify with it. I am often shocked to see Cameroonian linguists (all of whom speak Pidgin excellently) use the ghost name “Kamtok” in their research.

    Linguists should not take the arrogance to name languages the way they want … that privilege belongs to the speaker of the language.

  3. Nyango M. Nambangi Says:

    Pidgin Boy has said it all. The arrogance of naming a language spoken by another group of people has “colonial master” undertones to it. In all decency, those using the term Kamtok should always be honest enough to point out that it is not what the speakers call it and Cameroonian linguists should know when to exercise ownership and not perpetrate a falsehood in the name of academic research. Pidgin English, West African Pidgin, etc. is what we Cameroonians call it. I actually put the question out on Facebook today and no Cameroonian respondent recognizes nor relates with the term “Kamtok”.

  4. Lisa Says:

    Nyango asked many of her friends in Cameroon who speak Cameroonian Pidgin English. They all agreed that people in Cameroon call the language Pidgin English.

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