Towards an Areal grammar of Lower Fungom (Abar [mij], Fang [fak], Koshin [kid], Kung [kfl], Mbu' [muc], Mundabli [boe], and Naki [mff])
Good, Jeffrey Principal Investigator
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The Lower Fungom region of Cameroon is one of the most linguistically fragmented areas of one of the most linguistically diverse countries on the planet. In an area around half the size of Chicago, one finds at least seven indigenous languages, five of which are not spoken elsewhere. The region's languages are not well studied, and their names--Abar [mij], Fang [fak], Koshin [kid], Kung [kfl], Mbu' [muc], Mundabli [boe], and Naki [mff]--are virtually unknown, even to other linguists working in Cameroon. These languages are clearly related to the Bantu languages that dominate Subsaharan Africa, but the details of their genetic affiliations otherwise remain largely obscure. Based on the results of fieldwork conducted since 2004, it has become clear that an important feature of the Lower Fungom region is the nature of the communicative network holding among its thirteen villages that has allowed such extensive linguistic diversity to flourish. Thus, in addition to the traditional issues encountered when doing grammatical description and comparative work on any group of understudied languages, a second set of questions is raised when conducting fieldwork in Lower Fungom regarding the sociolinguistic and historical forces that have created such extreme diversity within such a small area. This project will, therefore, continue the research already begun on the grammar and lexicon of the languages of Lower Fungom and extend it by adding a sociolinguistic and anthropological component to the work.The project will result in the creation of a sociolinguistic survey of the region as well as detailed documentation and description of three of its speech varieties that are only minimally described.