Obituary: Professor Maurice Tadadjeu, PanAfricanist and One of Cameroon’s Finest Linguists, Dies

The death has just been announced of one of Cameroon’s finest linguists, Professor Maurice Tadadjeu. According to sources close to his family, he died this morning, 30 December 2012, as a result of a heart attack.

Born in 1950, Professor Tadadjeu Maurice Tadadieu was on the staff of the Department of African Languages and Linguistics, University of Yaounde I, Cameroon, since 1977. Among other things, he will be remembered for his untiring actions in the areas of language planning, mother tongue education and, most importantly, the promotion and development of endogenous African languages.

A specialist in language planning and mother tongue education, Professor Tadadjeu was a major player in the Projet de recherche opérationnelle pour l’enseignement des langues au Cameroun (PROPELCA) which, since 1978, has proposed mother tongue education programmes in Cameroon, following what he called the extensive trilingual model. His various contributions have been instrumental in Cameroon Government’s current policy of mother tongue education. His extensive trilingual model of language planning for Cameroon has continued to inspire discussions and further proposals in the area.

He was a founding member of the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN), which is a specialized institution of the African Union, in charge of language issues on the continent. He was also Coordinator of one of ACALAN’s core programmes, namely the Pan African Programme for masters and PhDs in African Languages and Applied Linguistics (PanMapal). Since February 1996, he was Chairman of the National Association of Cameroonian Language Committees (NACALCO/ ANACLAC), a Federation of local language development associations. In 1998, he initiated the BASAL (Basic Standardization of All unwritten African Languages) project, intended to provide every unwritten African language with a minimal standard written form within the next 15 years, with the participation of some 3000 linguists.

He was also founder of the Bishop Albert Ndongmo Institute and the United Africa Institute (both training institutes) and of Radio Yemba (a community radio), all based in his home town of Dschang.

Of his over 60 scientific publications, including at least eight books, he co-authored the General Alphabet of Cameroonian Languages (1979), which remains a major reference for endogenous language development in Cameroon and Le défi de Babel au Cameroun (1990). Here is a list of some of the books (cf. http://www.ethnologue.com/show_author.asp?auth=7537)

In 2005, he was awarded the Linguapax prize.

Outside the world of linguistics, Professor Tadadjeu was widely known as a strong advocate of PanAfricanism, especially of The United States of Africa. He served as consultant to various international institutions such as SIL, UNESCO, the African Union and the World Bank.

Charles Tiayon | 12 /30/2012 | Metaglossia Blog

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