Journal of West African Languages

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Ideophones in Bafut Ideophones in Bafut


Reduplicated words that vividly depict sensory imagery are very conspicuous among languages of the Grassfields region of Cameroon. The prolific use and expressive potential of such reduplicated words simply reflect the ways that speakers construct, interpret and negotiate meanings. Despite their pervasiveness in these languages, increasing research and grammatical descriptions document very little on them thereby limiting the understanding of their functions and uniqueness in each language. This paper adds data to the literature on ideophones by describing ideophones in Bafut, focusing on their structural properties. With reduplication at the core of their formation, they mostly intensify the meanings of other words while some designate entities. Their functions and syntactic properties are not suggestive of a separate word class as is the case in other languages. Rather, Bafut ideophones show ties with other word classes, as well as audible sounds and actions performed by the entities that they designate. Some of the ideophones display an iconic relationship between sound and meaning. This study also shows that the reduplication of morphemes to form designations for small creatures that come in swarms is a process which is not limited to Bafut alone but cuts across a group of languages in the Grassfields.


Volume Number 45.1
Topic #1 Ideophones
Author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Language English
Language Family Grassfields
Subject Language Bafut

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