Summary of deposit This corpus constitutes a rich and diverse multimedia collection of Gyeli/Kola language use, centering around culturally relevant activities of Central African “Pygmy” forest foragers in Cameroon. It includes a wide variety of text genres, such as natural conversations, procedural texts, folk narratives, interviews, music and dance, and elicitation and experimental data. The collection encompasses video and audio recordings of diverse topics and everyday situations of language use, for instance hunting, building traps and traditional huts in the rain forest, collecting wild honey, skinning and preparing hunted animals, making musical instruments, traditional music and dances, healing ceremonies, and conversations about changes in the environment and lifestyle. Data was collected in 2010-2014 by Daniel Duke (PhD student at Leiden University), Nadine Grimm (née Borchardt, PhD student at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin at the time), Maarten Mous (PI, Leiden University), Emmanuel Ngue Um (Researcher, Université de Yaoundé I), and Christopher Lorenz (student of image composition and cinematography at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg at the time). The team concentrated on different Gyeli/Kola dialects that emerge through contact with different neighboring languages: - Daniel Duke: Gyeli dialect in the Kwasio contact zone - Nadine Grimm: Gyeli dialect in the Bulu contact zone - Emmanuel Ngue Um: Kola dialect in the Basaa contact zone Christopher Lorenz supported video recordings in all contact zones in his role as cameraman.
Gyeli/Kola language and speech community The Gyeli language [ISO 639-3: gyi], also known under the name Bakola and many other spelling varieties such as Bagyele, Bajele, Gyele, Bogyiel, or Bagieli, is a Narrow Bantu (A801) language of the Makaa-Njem group (Gordon 2005, Maho 2009) in southern Cameroon. Speakers call themselves and their language Bakola in the northern part of the language area and Bagyeli in the central and southern part. Following Bantuist traditions, we refer to the people as Bagyeli and Bakola (depending on where the data was collected), dropping the Ba- prefix when we talk about the language Gyeli or Kola. Estimations of the Bagyeli/Bakola population vary from 2,200 (Renaud 1976 :28) to 5,000 (Ngima 2001:215). Although they speak a Bantu language, they are not Bantu ethnically, but "Pygmy" forest foragers who have lived in symbiosis with sedentary Bantu-speaking communities over a long period of time. The Gyeli/Kola language as it is now spoken is closely related to Kwasio with its two dialects Mabi and Ngumba (also A80), the language of their former patrons. The Gyeli/Kola speaking area extends over approximately 12,500 square kilometers (4,800 square miles) in southern Cameroon which the hunter-gatherers share with Kwasio and communities of seven other Bantu A languages whose speakers are culturally different in their subsistence strategies of farming and fishing: Batanga and Yassa (A30), Basaa and Bakoko (A40), and Bulu, Fang, and Ewondo (A70). As everybody in the area, speakers are multilingual and easily master around five languages. Which languages an individual is fluent in depends on the specific areas they have grown up and lived in and that, in turn, mostly depends on family relations and personal relations with the farming Bantu neighbors. The Bagyeli/Bakola have spoken a distinct language variety that is not mutually intelligible with any of the other neighboring Bantu languages for centuries, presumably since the Bantu migration (Bahuchet 2012). Now, however, they are shifting to the languages of their Bantu neighbors as a consequence of massive changes in their environment. In 2015, central Africa's largest deep-sea port was inaugurated off the shore where the Bagyeli/Bakola live, following the construction of an oil pipeline from Chad that cuts through the rainforest. This industrial development and related extension of infrastructure leads to a rapid deforestation. As the hunter-gatherers do not find enough animals in the forest anymore, they are forced to adopt low scale farming activities or day labor in rubber and palm oil plantations or in town. This shift in subsistence strategies also entails a shift in language since the Bagyeli/Bakola have closer contact with other Bantu groups now, share activities with them that they had not shared before. Also, the Gyeli/Kola language is of low prestige as it is associated with a backward lifestyle and a lack of education, reflecting the overall low social and economic status of the “Pygmy” hunter-gatherers in Cameroonian society.