Making Sense of Language Use in Foreign Soap Operas: The Case of Bamenda Market Women

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Date: Fall 2020
From: Research in African Literatures(Vol. 51, Issue 1)
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Document Type: Article
Length: 7,784 words
Lexile Measure: 1550L

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Abstract :

This article examines some Bamenda market women's responses to the domination of English and French used in the broadcast of foreign soap operas in Cameroon. Foreign soap operas, locally referred to as series by some of the Bamenda market women, became increasingly popular among women after the liberalization of the audiovisual sector in the year 2000. Although popular, these series are broadcast in English and French and some women find it difficult to understand the official languages used in broadcasting their preferred series. English and French are official languages because of Cameroon's colonial history, and they are used to resolve the lingual complication that blocks communication across ethnic groups with different vernaculars. English and French thus provide the possibility of a unifying language, but especially as mediated through foreign soaps, they seem "external" to the lived experiences of popular classes whose principal language for daily communication purposes is Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE). Thus, this article argues that the English and French spoken in the broadcast of foreign soap operas are used by viewers to unite them, but at the same time, the viewers' negotiation of these languages exposes some women from the English-speaking regions to the problem of Anglophone marginalization. The article poses the following question: what do "subaltern" ("everyday") women do with the imposed official languages, and how do they make sense of the languages used in the broadcast of transnational soap operas? The methodology combines linguistic and cultural studies based on fieldwork in Bamenda, Cameroon.

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Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A640013592