This paper examines language use and religion, paying special attention to the languages of religious practices and the factors that determine the choice of these languages in a given polity. The data are drawn from a series of Friday congregational prayers in the main Mosque of the city of Maroua, the headquarters of the Far North region of Cameroon, an area where the Islamic faith has a high concentration of worshippers. For lack of an appropriate sociolinguistic framework of analysis, the structural-functional approach proposed by Kouega (2008a) was used. Sketchily, this approach consists in segmenting a religious service into its constituent parts and checking what language is used in what part and for what purpose. The analysis of the data collected reveals that a Friday Prayer service is divided into some 15 parts and the dominant language used is Arabic. One other language cited, exclusively for sermons and announcements are Fulfulde, a widespread northern Cameroon lingua franca. The choice of these languages is determined by a variety of factors: Arabic is the liturgical language associated with Islam, while Fulfulde is the language of the Imam, that of the Muezzin and a vehicular language in the neighbourhood.
Key words: Islam, Cameroon, language in religion, language policy, language use, multilingualism.
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