Introduction

This provisional Yamba-English dictionary has been compiled primarily for speakers of the Yamba language in order to stimulate interest in the use of the written language. This dictionary will also be useful to non-speakers of the Yamba language who desire to study or learn the language. The dictionary will also serve as a repository of cultural terms and information which may otherwise be lost as the language evolves and develops over time. While dialect differences exist from one village to another, there has therefore been that need for a reference dialect. For its ease, the Mbem dialect was selected to be used as a base but the essential unity lies in the use of the General Alphabet for Cameroon Languages adopted in Yaoundé on March 9, 1979 for the unification and harmonization of the alphabets of Cameroon languages.

The dictionary contains more than 3,300 entries and sub-entries. Each entry consists of the citation form of the Yamba word (verbs are cited in the imperative form but glossed in the infinite form in English), the part of speech, and the translation of the meaning. Synonyms, plurals, and variants are indicated where appropriate. There are about 30 illustrations included in the relevant entries. It should be noted that Yamba is not a noun-class language.

The linguistic classification of Yamba is Niger-Congo, Atlantic-Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantoid, Southern, Wide Grassfields, Narrow Grassfields, Mbam-Nkam, Nkambe. The ISO 639-3 language code is yam. Alternate names for the Yamba people include Bebaroe, Boenga Ko, Kakayamba, Mbem, Mbubem, Muzok, and Swe’nga.

The Yamba language is spoken by some 80,000 people inhabiting the central part of the Nwa Sub-Division in the Donga Mantung Division, located in the North West Province in Cameroon. It is worth noting that more than half the Yamba population is resident outside the area with large numbers of them in the Adamawa and Western Regions, as well as on the Mambila plateau in neighbouring Nigeria.

There are several dialects of Yamba: Gom, Mfe, Nkot, Ntong, Kwak, Mbem, Ngung, Bom, Sih, Nwa, Ntim, Gamfe, Rom, Gwembe, Saam, Fam, and Yang.

The Yamba value their language; all ages use it in various settings. Literature has been written in Yamba. In addition, radio programs and videos have been produced in the language. Mbem is a reference dialect and many also speak French.