Documentation of Bakola of Cameroon, Promotionsvorhaben Nadine Borchardt

Borchardt's Phd project is part of a DoBeS project (documentation of endangered languages) documenting Gyeli, the language of the Bagyeli (also called Bakola in certain areas) hunter-gatherers know as “Pygmies” in southern Cameroon. There are about 4000-5000 speakers of this “Bantu A80” language scattered in an area of at least 12.500km2. Due to massive ongoing changes in the environment such as an oil pipeline from Chad to the coast, the construction of the biggest port for central Africa and logging of the primary rain forest, animals become scarce so that the Bagyeli are forced to adopt an agricultural lifestyle. In this process of becoming more sedentary and changing their subsistence strategy from hunting and gathering to farming, the Bagyeli are also adopting the languages of the neighboring farmers.
The documentation project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and brings together both linguists and professional filmmakers. This cooperation allows to produce high quality audio and video recordings of various genres of text: folktales, proverbs, dances, storytelling events, songs, procedural discourse, and basic conversational situations such as greetings, daily activities, food gathering, specialized vocabulary (plant and animal names, herbalist and hunting techniques as well as stories, music and rituals to build relationships among humans and with the spiritual world), etc.
These recordings are in the process of being archived and made available to the speech community, to other researchers and the general public. Furthermore, the linguists in the team aim at providing a multimedia dictionary, a grammar, text collections and materials for the speech community as well as training in fieldwork and recording techniques for Bakola community members and student interns. The filmmaker is producing a documentary on the work of the linguists and the situation of the Bagyeli.
As to the Phd project, Borchardt is writing a grammar about one of the Gyeli dialects whose speakers are in contact with Bulu speakers, a farming Bantu community. Besides, she is interested in comparing cognitive concepts such as numerals, spatial relations, colors, etc. between hunter-gatherers and farmers.

Principal investigators
Güldemann, Tom Prof. Dr. phil. (Details) (African Languages)

Volkswagen-Stiftung (VW)

Duration of project
Start date: 03/2010
End date: 02/2013

Last updated on 2022-08-09 at 15:07