Towards a linguistic analysis of conative animal calls in Babanki and Bum (Grassfields languages of Cameroon)

  • Alexander Andrason University of Cape Town
  • Pius Akumbu CNRS, INALCO


This article offers a systematic analysis of conative animal calls (CACs) in Babanki and Bum—two Central Ring Grassfields Bantu languages of North-West Cameroon. The authors analyze the semantics, phonetics, morphology, ecolinguistics, and cognancy of 39 Babanki and 20 Bum CACs and conclude the following: (a) in both languages CACs largely instantiate the prototype of a CAC with regard to semantics, phonetics, and morphology; (b) several linguistic properties exhibited by CACs have their source in the ecosystems inhabited by the respective communities of speakers; (c) the similarity of the CACs in Babanki and Bum is low and their cognancy minimal despite the two languages being closely related.


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Author Biographies

Alexander Andrason, University of Cape Town

Alexander Andrason is a researcher at the Center for African Studies at the University of Cape Town. He holds a PhD in Semitic Languages (University Complutense in Madrid), a PhD in African Languages (Stellenbosch University), and a PhD in General Linguistics (University of Iceland). He specializes in cognitive linguistics, linguistic typology, grammaticalization theory, language contact, and critical pedagogy. He speaks some thirty living languages and has an extensive knowledge of various ancient languages. His language interests include the Afro-Asiatic, Indo-European, Khoe, Niger-Congo, Nilotic, and Turkic families.

Pius Akumbu, CNRS, INALCO

Pius W. Akumbu is a researcher at Langage, Langues et Cultures d’Afrique (LLACAN), a research unit of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and INaLCO University that specializes in the study of the languages and cultures of Africa. His research focuses on the documentation and description of Grassfields Bantu languages of the North-West and West Regions of Cameroon, language revitalization, and languages in education policy in Africa.