This paper provides an initial description of the absentive morpheme siiy in Lamnso', a Grassfields language (East Ring Narrow Grassfields) with over 125,000 speakers spoken primarily in the Bui Division of Cameroon (Lewis 2009). The central claim is that siiy is used to indicate someone's physical absence, and is commonly used in requests, but is also used in reporting and narrative contexts. In requests with siiy, the requester must be the absentee (i.e. the absent person), who makes the request in the presence of the requestee before leaving. Importantly, in both requests and reporting/narrative contexts the absentee remains unexpressed in the clause where the absentive morphology appears and is understood from the context. The data relating to spatial absence that are presented here introduce a previously undescribed aspect of Lamnso' grammar. Typologically, this is a type of absence that has not been discussed in the literature of areally and genetically related Bantoid languages. Further, although the concept of absence is unquestionably a grammatical property of the languages of the world, Lamnso' differs from other reported cases of spatial absence in that the absentee remains unexpressed.
Selected Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference on African Linguistics: African Languages in Contact
edited by Bruce Connell and Nicholas Rolle
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