Njerep Language

Njerep (Njerup) is a Mambiloid language spoken in the Adamawa Region of Cameroon. Njerep is a language that is essentially extinct, with only a handful of people who cannot speak it fluently. Although word lists and grammatical information have been collected from these people, the information remains very limited.

Njerep is considered an endangered language under the UNESCO language endangerment index. The study of this language in the early 2000’s shows that there are only six speakers of this language remaining, all of whom live in the Somié village located along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. Of these six speakers, only one can converse in the language. The others ones can only speak it minimally. The youngest person of the speakers was born in the 1940s, and it is not likely that it will survive past the current generation. Njerep is no longer spoken on a daily bacis. Instead, they use it to  maintain  secrecy in conversation. A study in 2007 determined only 4 people spoke this language. They were all elderly people. The Mambila language, also known as Mvop, has instead supplanted Njerep in casual use.

Though the Njerep people currently reside in Somié village, it is widely understood that the Njerep immigrated to that location. Geographically, Somié village is located on the Tikar Plain of Cameroon. The approximately 2,500 inhabitants of Somié are not only Njerep, but also a wide variety of immigrant groups including the Liap, Ndeba, and Mvop people. Though oral accounts of how these groups immigrated to the Tikar plain are often contradictory, it appears that three or four waves of immigration led to the population of this area. It is likely that the Njerep people immigrated to the Tikar Plain from some region of the Adamawa Plateau, possibly from the Djeni Mountain (also shown as Aigue Mboundo on some maps).

Njerep appears to be related to the extinct Kasabe, the extinct Yeni, and the endangered Twendi. Njerep appears to have been mutually intelligible with Kasabe, though not with Twendi.

Njerep falls under the broad classification of one of the Mambiloid languages. Mambila, the largest language in the Mambiloid grouping, has about twenty different dialects, loosely divided into East Mambila and West Mambila dialect clusters. Linguistic analysis suggests that Njerep may fall under the East Mambila cluster. However, it remains contested whether or not Njerep and its related languages should comprise its own unique grouping.

Intense efforts to record and characterize Njerep began in 2000. However, by the year 2000, Njerep had already been in terminal decline for some time. Thus, knowledge of Njerep vocabularies and grammars remains quite fragmentary.[1] Unfortunately, the lack of fluent speakers makes it unlikely that the incomplete record will ever be significantly amended.


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