Leon Max Lederman

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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.


(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 (1922– ), U.S. Nobel laureate in physics. Lederman was born in New York City, where he earned his B.S. at the College of the City of New York (1943), and his M.A. (1948) and Ph.D. (1951) in physics from Columbia University, an education interrupted by service in the U.S. Army (1943–46). He was a faculty member of the physics department of Columbia University (1946–79) and professor from 1958, during which period he was director of the department's nevis Laboratories at Irvington-on-Hudson (1961–78) and collaborated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (cern). He was director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois (1979–89) and professor of physics at the University of Chicago from 1989. He joined the Illinois Institute of Technology as Pritzker Professor of Science (1994). His research concerned the nature of the subatomic world and in particular the identification of subatomic particles, most frequently by measurements or observations using particle accelerators. His major experiments involved the discovery of a long-lived neutral "K" particle, the failure of mirror symmetry in the properties of pions and muons, and a second type of neutrino. Lederman and his colleagues at Columbia University, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger, were awarded the Nobel Prize (1988) for the demonstration of the doublet structure of leptons and the discovery of the muon neutrino. His many honors include membership of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Medal for Science (1965), and the Wolf Prize in Physics (1983). He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Weizmann Institute and collaborated closely with Professor Haim Harari of this institute. He had a great interest in scientific education, as is evident from his many contributions to local, national, and international institutes and commissions. He is coauthor of many successful books for general readers including Quarks to the Cosmos (with David Schramm, 1989), The God Particle (with Dick Teresi, 1993), and Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe (with Christopher Hill, 2004).

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]