Chapter 1. Bridging Linguistic Barriers; Uniting Cultures: Official Bilingualism in Cameroon and Canada


Nguh Nwei Asanga Fon
Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU), Famagusta, North Cyprus

Part of the book: Bilingualism and its Benefits


The Westphalian system is characterized by many linguistic and ethnically heterogeneous states. Globalization and rapid urbanization have rendered most cities across the globe more cosmopolitan. Diversity can be a blessing and a curse depending on the ability of a country to harness its potential. When mismanaged, diversity can engender racism, ethnonationalism, and xenophobia within a country which can ignite political instability or secessionist struggles involving violence like the cases of the Sudanese Civil war (1983-2005) and the Catalonia Crisis (2017-2018). An efficient means of managing linguistic and ethnic diversity is through the institution of official bilingualism. In countries with linguistic diversity and ethnic pluralism, official bilingualism can be used to appease ethnic, cultural, and linguistic tensions, instil a sense of unity and solidarity, and act as a catalyst for national integration. This chapter examines the concept of official bilingualism and its application in the administration with reference to two of the world’s most prominent examples of countries practising official bilingualism: Cameroon and Canada—the only two bilingual countries with membership in both the Commonwealth and la Francophonie.

Keywords: official bilingualism, biculturalism, cultural integration, linguistic cohabitation, unity in diversity


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