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Title: Yamba: A Morphosyntactic Study of the Basic Sentence
Authors: Nassuna, Nzenge Lucia
Keywords: African Languages
Niger-Congo Languages
Atlantic-Congo Languages
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: Université de Yaoundé I
Abstract: This study has been inspired by both immediate and long term objectives which are academic, scientific and political. Our most immediate objectives are scientific. The very lirst thing any learner of linguistics has to discover is the very complex nature of language - of any language. He is given a list of features that any language must manifest. I-le is told for example that, amongst others, language is primarily vocal, miat manifest duality of patterning, discreteness and structure. He is told that while each language is unique all languages are similar. All this boils down to one thing. Any language utterance can be broken down into successively small units li-om the largest, the sciitence, down to tlic smallest, the phoneme. Thcsc uuils can be identified and given labels corresponding to the various levels and ranks of analysis. There must be implicit rules which govern the way smaller units are combined to form larger ones. The discovery of such rules is what we may broadly call morphosyntax. The morphosyntactic study of a language is scientifically arid acatlemically very exciting for any student aspiring to become a linguist and I think Yamba deserves this scientific attention. The scientific objective of this study is therefore to describe the morphosyntax of Yamba in order to determine how Yaiiiba is morphosyntactically unique and yet morphosyntactically similar to other languages that have been studied before. The long-term objectives orthis study are closely linked to the significance ofthe study both from a personal and political point overview. From a political standpoint, it is the explicit policy of the governinent that Cameroonian children should receive their primary school education in their respective mother languages. The problem here is that, due to negative attitudes, the study and writing of Cameroonian languages was neglected in favour of the colonial languages. Hence, before this policy can be put into effect lingiiists must get down to study these various languages and create relevant didactic iiiaterial to be used in the schoo1s.A morphosyntactic study of Yamba constitutes a major step towards the description of the language and eventual creation of relevant didactic nlrtterial. Fro111 a pcrsonal standpoiiil, some of us the non-native speakers of Yamha, are through social constraints, called upon to intergrate into the Yamba community. We think the study of this lanbwage analytically may help us to understand the Yaniba community better; a language is a very conspicuous “identity card” of its speakers.
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