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KAMTOK

KAMTOK. The English-based PIDGIN of CAMEROON, widely used for at least 100 years. When the Germans annexed the region in 1884, they found it so well established as a LINGUA FRANCA that they produced a phrase book in pidgin for their soldiers. Its speakers usually call it pidgin or country talk and linguists refer to it as Cameroon(ian) Pidgin (English), but recently the media has begun to use Kamtok, to stress that it is local and useful, despite having no official status. It is the easternmost of a group of pidgins and CREOLES in West Africa that includes Gambian AKU (Talk), Sierra Leone KRIO, Ghanaian Pidgin, and Nigerian Pidgin, and is a mother tongue on plantations, in some urban settlements, and in families where the parents speak different languages. It is, however, rarely if ever the only mother tongue. Kamtok has various forms, reflecting the age, education, regional provenance, mother tongue, and linguistic proficiency of its users. Its literary use is complicated by three different sets of orthographic conventions: semi-phonetic (Wi di waka kwik kwik), English-based (We dee walka quick quick), and FRENCH-based (Oui di waka quouik quouik). It has been used by the media, in Bible and other religious translation, and in creative writing, uses that may lead to standardization. It has relatively high prestige, and is preferred informally among Africans of different ethnic groups, ranking just below French and English as a vehicle for mobility from rural villages into modern urban life. The former British West Cameroon has extensive influence from Nigerian Pidgin and STANDARD ENGLISH, while in the east there is more influence from French.

Features

(1) Pronunciation. Kamtok is non-RHOTIC and syllable-timed. It has seven vowels /i, e, ɛ, a, ɔ, o, u/ and four diphthongs /ei, ai, au, oi/. General English central vowels are replaced, SCHWA becoming /a/ as in /fada/ for father, /ʒ/ becoming /ɔ/ as in /tʃɔs/ for church, and /ʌ/ becoming /a/ or /o/ as in /graunat/ for ground-nut and /bɔt/ for but. Centring diphthongs are reinterpreted, so that beer is /bia/, air is /ea/ or /e/, sure is /ʃua/. Consonant clusters tend to be simplified, as in /tori/ for story, /maʃ/ for smash, or to be broken up by an instrusive vowel, as in /sipia/ for spear and /sikin/ for skin. (2) Grammar. Plurality is assumed from context, as in tu pikin two children, or indicated by the third-person plural pronoun dem, as in ma pikin dem my children. Time and aspect are either deduced from the context or indicated by a number of auxiliaries: a bin go I went; i go go he will go; we wan go we almost went; wuna di go you (plural) are going; yu sabi chop you habitually eat. Adjectives and verbs are structurally similar: a big I'm big, a waka I walk, a go big I'll be big, a go waka I'll walk, som big man a big man, som waka man a walker. Serial verbs are widely used: I ron go rich di haus kam He ran as far as the house and came back. Questions are marked by intonation alone (I no go kam? Will he/she not come?) or by a question initiator followed by a declarative form (Usai i bin go? Where did he/she go?). (3) Vocabulary. Most Kamtok words are from English, but many have been widened in meaning: buk a book, letter, anything written; savi buk (‘know book’) educated. There are many loan translations from local languages: krai dai (‘cry die’) a wake or funeral celebration; tai han (‘tie hand’) meanness. Non-English vocabulary relates to culture and kinship: ngɔmbi a ghost, spirit of the dead, danshiki a tunic-like shirt, mbanya co-wife in a polygamous family, mbombo someone with the same name as someone else, njamanjama green vegetables. See WEST AFRICAN PIDGIN ENGLISH.

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Lederman, Leon Max

Leon Max Lederman (lĕd´ərmən), 1922–, American physicist, Ph.D. Columbia, 1951. He was a professor at Columbia until he became director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. (1979–89). In the early 1960s, Lederman and co-researchers, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger, developed the neutrino beam method for studying weak interactions and used it to make discoveries about elementary particle physics, including a new type of neutrino (a particle with no detectable electric charge or mass that moves at the speed of light). This led to the development of a new scheme for classifying families of subatomic particles. In 1988, Lederman, Schwartz, and Steinberger were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery.

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