A usage-based grammar of Cuvok with focus on documenting the endangered social role of blacksmiths of the Tchouvok community

A usage-based grammar of Cuvok with focus on documenting the endangered social role of blacksmiths of the Tchouvok community

Language: Cuvok (ISO639-3:cuv)
Depositor: Ndokobai Dadak
Location: Cameroon
Deposit Id: 0367
ELDP Id: IGS0267
Level: Deposit

Summary of deposit
Cuvok is a Central Chadic language spoken in the Far North Region of Cameroon. Tchouvok traditional society pivots around blacksmiths, who play a number of other key social roles: doctor, metalworker, mortician, mind-reader, and midwife. With the introduction of Islam, Christianity and modernism, the knowledge possessed by the blacksmith is no longer transmitted to the younger generation. This documentation project is integrated into my PhD research, which aims at a usage-based grammatical description of Cuvok. Much of my corpus is composed of video recordings. Ethnographic notes complement my annotated texts.

Group represented

Language information
Cuvok (Cuv) is a Central Chadic language spoken by about 5000 people (source: Ethnologue) near Zamay in Tchouvok in Mokolo subdivision of Mayo Tsanaga, Far North Region of Cameroon. Dieu and Renaud (1983: 357) have assigned to this language the code number (181) and gave the following classification: Afro-asiatic, Chadic, Central-west, Wandala Mafa group, Mafa-South. Ethnologue (Grimes 1988b: 171) proposed a similar classification: Afro-asiatic, Chadic, Biu-mandara, A. Bura- Mandara, Mandara-Matakam, Matakam (Mafa). Cuvok speakers live in one small native community surrounded by big language communities like Mafa and Mofu-gudur. The language is being spoken in the following quarters of Tchouvok: Bulyak, Wisambak, Gàdáká, Mekélék, Mukshey, Wayam Tazay, Ndurey, Matarpas, Merew, Maram, Zemndék Metergwed, Medere, Mazday. There are some Tchouvok people scattered in Mbele near Garoua in the North region

Other information
The main outcome of this project is video recordings in natural settings as much as possible of scenes where the social roles of blacksmiths are clearly stated out, transcribed and annotated using tools like ELAN, FLEX accompanied with metadata recorded using Arbil. All these materials should be archived with open access. We will have a total of 40 hours of recordings. The analysis of this body of narration, description, presentation and conversation about the various activities of blacksmiths and of recordings of day to day spoken Cuvok will be the source for my dissertation PhD on a usage-based grammar description. As mentioned above, my thesis will not be an old-fashioned grammar, but a usage-based one informed by a lot of texts collected in natural settings. I also plan to make a contrastive analysis of the blacksmiths’ “code” as they appear in their social activities and the non-blacksmiths’ code. This analysis may reveal not only a lexical discrepancy but may indicate the difference in the perception of the world.


Resources online and curated


Ndokobai Dadak
Affiliation: The University of Maroua, Cameroon

Deposit Statistics

Data from 2017 April 30 to 2017 April 30
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Showing 1 - 10 of 24 Items

Recorded on: Unspecified

procedural craft- pot making: The scene shows a process of pot making. the video is a conversation with two women in Ndurey, a Tchouvok neighbourhood. They are making big pots meant to store water or millet beer.

Recorded on: 2015-11-05

The video shows a scene of fortunetelling. Very early in the morning we visited Mtsila the spritual master of the blacksmith in Tchouvok. We walked from his house to his "office". His office is a space that he has prepared under a small tree. The spirits are represented by stones which are kept and protected. the first thing he did was to remove his shoes in respect of the spirits. Then, he will unveil the stones which are covered by big stones. He started by counting all the stones and he asked for libations pouring before doing his work. He is assisted by his son who is learning the work of his father.

Recorded on: 2015-01-06

Dans ces deux vidéos prises à Medere un quartier de village Tchouvok, Kuzeɗey Kebehey un jeune forgeron et Ndatawa Benjamin sont en train de fabriquer des objets divers pour faciliter le travail des villageois. Tahbai Pierre mon assistant y est egalemet pr'esenté dans une conversation explicative avec Kuzeɗey Kebehey à propos du travail de la forge.

Recorded on: 2015-10-30

This video has been recorded in Balyak, a Tchouvok neighbourhood where all the blacksmiths of the Tchouvok community are said to be originated. We started by visiting the family of Ngecme, our host of the day and after some words of greetings he took us to his forge. Once in his forge he set the bellows and and got help from one of his son to start his work. He was very happy to explain to us what it takes to work on metals.

Recorded on: 2015-01-18

Cette vidéo presente Demgədar Slamdzarma l' une des dernières femmes forgerons qui jouent le rôle de sage femme et fait accoucher la plus part des femmes dans le village. Nous l'avons rencontrée juste quelques minutes après qu'elle a fait accoucher une femme dans son quartier. elle essaie d'expliquer dans la vidéo comment elle fait ce travail et son désir de laisser sa connaissance à d'autres femmes forgerons.

Recorded on: 2015-10-28