LINGUIST List 12.2422

Mon Oct 1 2001

Disc: Review of Wolf, English in Cameroon

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Hans-Georg Wolf, Reply to review of Wolf, English in Cameroon, 12.2297

Message 1: Reply to review of Wolf, English in Cameroon, 12.2297

Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 12:02:19 +0100
From: Hans-Georg Wolf <>
Subject: Reply to review of Wolf, English in Cameroon, 12.2297

As the author of English in Cameroon, I would like to briefly reply to
G. Leitner's review of it (Linguist 12.2297).

I appreciate Leitner's detailed summary and more or less favorable
evaluation. What pains me, though, is his misapprehension of the
"cultural-model approach." He writes: "Had he [Wolf] argued more
succinctly ... that metaphors transcend pragmatics and lead into the
belief systems of a community, one would see more light at the end of
this study." Yet on pp. 13-15 of English in Cameroon, I emphasize the
close relation between Lakoff and Johnson's cognitive theory of metaphor
and the notion of "cultural model," as developed by Quinn and Holland
(1987). Qua definition (see English in Cameroon: 13-14; Quinn and
Holland 1987: 13, 16) cultural models are "taken-for-granted models of
the world" and organize cultural knowledge. So cultural models clearly
have something to do with "the belief system of a community," and I had
hoped to have been sufficiently explicit on that. - In fact, Leitner
earlier writes "Wolf makes use of his cultural models - defined as
social practices and beliefs." So saying later that I did not argue
succinctly that "metaphors [i.e., cultural models] transcend pragmatics
and lead into belief system of a community" is quite surprising.
In fact, and here I come to Leitner's criticism that I did not use
contextualization as a bridge between a "formal-functional" and
"cultural-functional" approach, these cultural models are indeed part of
the contextualization process (see English in Cameroon: 273), and a
higher frequency of lexical items ("formal-functional") in Cameroon
English is ascribed to underlying cultural differences
("cultural-functional"), that is, to "the conceptual grounding of these
items" (English in Cameroon: 275).
Furthermore, I do not reject "quantitative empirical methods," as
Leitner writes; I only put these methods in a constructionist
metatheoretical perspective (which is apparently not shared by Leitner).

I acknowledge that it would have been wiser to use the FROWN corpus,
which is more recent than the Brown corpus, or, even better, a
combination of the FROWN and the FLOB corpus (both compiled by Christian
Mair and his team at Freiburg University). In a forthcoming article, (to
appear in Lucko, Wolf, and Peter (eds.)), I have changed my basis of
comparison accordingly.
A final point to conclude with: The reference "Simo Bobda (1994)
'Lexical innovation processes in Cameroon English'," listed as
"missing" by Leitner, can be found on p. 341 of my bibliography.

Kind regards,

Hans-Georg Wolf

Humboldt-Universit´┐Żt Berlin
Institut f. Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin

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