Topics in Eleme Grammar


The Eleme language of South-eastern Nigeria presents with several linguistic features divergent from those characteristic of other Cross River languages. Details are given of Eleme phonology, noun phrase morphology, copular constructions and verb group morphology. Among the features examined are indiscriminate phonological variation and elision of phonological segments characteristic to Eleme speech; the distribution of independent pronouns, and pronominal affixes across a large number of tense aspect distinctions; and the extensive use of morphological reduplication, including 'infixation' of subject agreement markers in reduplicated stems. A typological overview of constituent order and suggestions for future research conclude this grammatical sketch of a largely undocumented language.

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IMPORTANT: Since this dissertation was written, many errors have been discovered in the text. While analysis of much of the data remains correct, inaccuracies in transcription and consultant descriptions undermine the final work. This work is therefore not available here.

The headings below reflect the content of the individual chapters of the dissertation. A summary of what is contained in each chapter is also given.

Ethnography and Linguistic Background

Eleme, Population, Eleme Society, Genetic Affiliation, Previous Linguistic Description, Characteristics of Cross River Languages.


Inventory of Distinctive Segments, Tone, Phonological Alternations, Syllable Structure, Elision.

Nouns and Noun Phrases

Nouns, Demonstratives, Number, Possessors, Attributive Adjectives.


Subject Pronouns, Object Pronouns, Reflexives and Reciprocals.

Copular Constructions

Predicate Nominals, Predicate Adjectives, Predicate Locatives.

Verbs and Verb Phrases

Tense, Aspect, Agreement Suffixes, Auxiliaries, Reduplication, Verb Forms.

Typological Overview

Constituent Order in Main Clauses, Other Typological Parameters, Language Summary.