The Adim Noun Phrase – Linguistics

The Adim Noun Phrase



1.0 General Background

This research work focuses on the Noun phrase of Kaningkon language. However, this chapter introduces us to the language understudy, Kaningkon language. It also introduces us to the socio-cultural profile of the speakers of the language; the culture and beliefs, occupation, mode of greetings, the common foods of the people and the geographical location of the language.

This chapter will also examine the scope and organization of the work, Method of data collection, Data Analysis, Genetic classification and the theoretical framework chosen for the analysis of the research.

1.1. Historical Background

Kaningkon language has several other alternate names like; Kaningdom Nindem, Kaninkon, Kaninkon-Nindem, Ninkyob-Nindem and Ninkyop. Kaningkon language is one of the languages spoken in jema’a local government area of Kaduna state, Nigeria ( Ethnologue, 2009). The towns where the language is spoken in jema’a local government include the following; Gértì, Àgúáférí, Bàkín-Kogí, Béíshòp, Gósíkà, Àmèrè, Nìndèm and Zànkán. The speakers of kaningkon language are about 12,000 as at 2008 (Ethnologue, 2009). Oral tradition has it that the speakers of the language are normally referred to as Ninkyop among themselves, which means rich person. Kaningkon people are said to have migrated from a place called Àngòláfò in the present day Katsina state of Nigeria. They are settled today in villages in Jema’a local government of Kaduna state, Nigeria. The villages include; Gértì, Àgúáférí, Bàkín-Kogí, Béíshòp, Gósíkà, Nìndèm, Àmèrè and Zànkán

Despite the fact that they are scattered in different villages, they still see themselves as one. They have a festival called Dunde Ninkyop that they usually celebrate together up till date. They are always proud to be referred to as Ninkyop

The speakers are still proud of their language and tribe. However, the language is not normally used in the church where there are other languages. It is not also being used as a means of instruction in both primary and post primary schools. The lingua franca is Hausa language.

1.2. Geographical location

Kaningkon is spoken in Jema’a local government of Kaduna state, Nigeria. Jema’a local government is located in Kaduna state between the latitude of 9° 11°and 9° 30°N and on the longitude of 8° 00° and 8° 30°E. Kaningkon is located in the southwestern part of Jema’a local government. Kaningkon shared boundary with Kagoma in the south, Maigizo in the east, Godogodo in the west, kafanchan in the north and Nassarawa state in the south. Below is the Jema’a local government map showing Kaningkon.

1.3. Socio-cultural Profile

This unit shall focus on the socio-cultural profile of Kaningkon people. These shall include; the festival, marriage ceremony, occupation, mode of dressing, mode of greeting, administration, food and tourism attraction.

1.3.1. The festival of the Kaningkon people

The oral tradition also reveals that the only festival common to the Kaningkon people is called Dúndè Ninkyop. This festival started in the year 1999 after the crisis that claimed a lot of lives. The crisis occurred among the Kaningkon people in April, 1999. According to oral tradition Dúndè Ninkyóp is celebrated every year to appease god. It is used to seek forgiveness over the sin of the 1999 crisis.

The ceremony lasted for three days. It usually started on the last Friday of April with fasting and prayer. On Saturday there will be prayer session followed by cultural dancing. The Saturday celebration will end with feasting among the celebrants and well wishers. On Sunday which is the third day, everybody will go to church for prayer and thanksgiving, because they are predominantly Christians. This festival usually attracts people from in and outside the country. Governors, senators, business men and women, even the president are usually the guests.

Prior to the 1999 crisis, the festival that are rampart are chieftaincy title, coronation, funeral ceremony and marriage ceremony.

1.3.2. Administration among the Kaningkon people

The head of the Kaningkon is called Tum Ninkyóp. He is one of the autonomous chiefdom in Kaduna state. He is supported by chiefs.

1.3.3. Religion of the Kaningkon people

The religion that is common to the Kaningkon people is Christianity.

1.3.4. Mode of dressing

The dressing of the Kaningkon people is unique. This is because for a Kaningkon man to be completely dressed, he must put on a cap, a short sleeve and a nicker.

1.3.5. Marriage ceremony among Kaningkon people

Just like any other African people, there is dating and courtship period among the Kaningkon people. Oral tradition has it that, the most interesting aspect of their marriage is the traditional aspect of the marriage.

The groom’s family will pay dowries to the bride’s family when the groom announces his intention to marry a particular girl. The dowries include; goats, fowls and wine. The elders will be invited from both the bride’s and groom’s family to pray for the couple. Traditional dance will then follow. They will thereafter proceed to the church for prayer and thanksgiving.

1.3.6. Occupation of the Kaningkon people

The dominant occupation of the Kaningkon people is farming. The farming is for both subsistence and commercial purpose. Every members of the family is involved in the farm work.

The major crop they grow include rógo (cassava), chó (corn), pitat (guinea corn), and dóya (yam).

1.3.7. Greetings among the Kaningkon people

The mode of greetings of the Kaningkon people is honorific in nature. The younger people will kneel for the elders when they are greeting them. Some of their greetings are.

Wáà súnà ‘good morning’

Yáà nsórí ‘good afternoon’

1.3.8. Common food among Kaningkon people.

The common food that the Kaningkon people cherished most is ‘Túo’. This is made from chó (corn) flour.

Other foods include rógo (cassava), pitat (guinea corn) and dóya (yam). These foods are grown in large quantity in the area.

1.3.9. Tourist attractions of Kaningkon people

The only tourist attraction that usually brings people from far and near to Kaningkon kingdom is called Dúndè Nínkyòp. The celebration of Dúndè Nínkyòp attracts people from all works of life to their kingdom. Governors, senators, top government workers, business men and women are always the guests. It also attracts people from outside Nigeria.

1.4. Sociolinguistic profile of Kaningkon language

Oha (2009) defines sociolinguistics as the study of the relationship between language and society, of language variation, and of attitudes about language. Kaningkon language is one of the several languages spoken in Jema’a local government of Kaduna state, Nigeria. The language is being used among the native speakers within themselves. The attitude of the native speakers towards the language is positive. The language is the language of communication in any social gathering that involves only the Kaningkon people. Such gatherings include political gathering, village meeting, naming ceremony, funeral ceremony and so on. The language is socially active within the native speakers. This is the only hope that is saving the language from death.

However, wherever the language has contact with other languages like Ayu, Yeskwa, Anib, Fyem languages and so on, in the same local government, the preferred language is usually Hausa which is their lingual Franca. Kaningkon language does not have wider coverage. That is, it does not extend beyond the region (Jema’a local government of Kaduna state, Nigeria).

1.5. Genetic Classification of Kaningkon Language

Genetic relationship is the usual term for the relationship which exists between languages that are members of the same language family (Wikipedia, 2008). Kaningkon language belongs to Southwestern Platoid language under the Benue-Congo a sub-family of Niger-Congo language family (Blench, 1998). 1.6. Scope and organization of the study

This research work focuses on the noun phrase of Kaningkon language. The whole work shall consist of five chapters in all. The chapters are divided as follows.

Chapter one shall focus on the introduction to the work. Under this chapter, we shall examine the general background, the historical background, geographical location, sociocultural profile and the genetic classification of the language. The chapter shall further examine the scope and organization of the study, the theoretical framework, data collection and analysis. We shall also review briefly, the chosen theoretical framework.

Chapter two shall focus on the basic phonological and syntactical concepts of Kaningkon language. Under these, we shall be examining the sound inventory and syllable structure of the language. We shall also look at syntactic concepts like phrase structure rules, lexical categories, phrasal categories, basic word orders and sentences.

Chapter three shall examine the noun phrase of Kaningkon language which is the focus of this work. We shall examine the position of noun within the Noun phrase, such as the modification of Noun phrase by adjective, determiner and preposition. The chapter shall also look at the syntactic roles of Noun phrase in a sentence.

In chapter four, we shall focus on the transformation processes such relativisation, negation, question formation and reflexivisation.

Chapter five shall give the summary and conclusion of the work. This chapter shall also include the recommendation that is relevant to the development of the language.

1.7. Theoretical framework

According to Sanusi(1996:18 ), some of the earlier formal theories of grammar that have been developed and used as methodological tools for analyzing language data include the following; Traditional or Classic Grammar, Structural or Taxonomic Grammar, Systemic Grammar, Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG) and Government and Binding (GB) theory. Such theories are used as theoretical framework or methodological tools for analyzing language data (Sanusi, 1996)

The Government and Binding (GB) theory shall be used in this work to analyze the noun phrase of Kaningkon language. Government and Binding theory is chosen because; it seeks to capture the similarities between different categories of lexical phrases by assigning the same structure to them (Cheryl, 1999:5). We shall examine the Government and Binding theory in details subsequently

1.8. Data Collection

There are two types of data collection, the informant method and introspective method (Sanusi, 1996:15). The method used in collecting data for this work is informant method. Informant method is a method whereby a native speaker of the language under study provides relevant linguistic information about his language (Sanusi, 1996:15). Our informant is Mr. Williams, Emmanuel. He is a native of Àmèrè in Jema’a local government of Kaduna state, Nigeria. He is thirty years old. He spent nineteen years in his home town. He works with Nigerian police force in Ilorin.

We make use of ‘Ibadan wordlist of 400basic items’. In addition to this, frame technique was also used. Frame technique is a technical word for sentences prepared in English to get syntactical structure of the language understudy (crystal, 2008). Unstructured oral interview were also used in collecting data. This is to enable us get detail information about the sociocultural profile of the language.

1.9. Data analysis

The data in this work were taken from the informant and analysed using the Government and Binding theory. The Kaningkon noun phrase will be critically analysed using the theory mentioned above.

1.10. Brief review of the chosen framework

Government and binding theory has been chosen as the framework for the analysis of Kaningkon noun phrase. Government and Binding (GB) theory was introduced by Chomsky (1981). The theory explains the universal Grammar. Udofot (2009:146) explains that Government and Binding theory is an advanced form of universal grammar. According to Udofot (2009), it is a more generalized model of grammar. It studies the grammar of languages in general, not individual language grammar.

According to Radford (1988:401), Government and Binding theory is a modular deductive theory of grammar that posits multiple levels of representation related by a transformational ‘move alpha’ (move α). Cheryl (1999:5) claims that GB seeks to capture the similarities between different categories of lexical phrases by assigning the same structure to them. According to Udofot (2009:149), as a result of the organization of GB into modules, GB is said to have modular character.

Government and Binding theory is organized into sub-theories more technically known as modules. Horrocks (1987:29) opines that, the core grammar of a given language is derived from the interaction of sub-theories of universal grammar. These sub-theories are inter-related that each of them can account for grammaticality and ungrammaticality of any sentence.

The sub theories (modules) of Government and Binding theories are; x-bar (x’) theory, bounding theory, government theory, theta theory (θ-theory), case theory, binding theory and control theory. We can graphically represent the interaction between the sub-theories of Government and Binding as follow, as adapted by Yusuf (1998:23) from sell (1985) and cook (1988).

1.10.1. The x-Bar Theory (X’-Theory)

Akmajian et al (2008:215) says that the basic idea of x-bar is that phrasal categories (eg VP, PP, NP, AP) all have heads that belong to the same category as the phrasal category. The core of the x-bar theory is the acknowledgement of the lexical categories such as Noun, Verb, Prepositions, Adjective, as the head of phrase. This head projects to their phrasal categories like Noun phrase (NP), Verb phrase (VP), Prepositional phrase (PP), Adjective phrase (AP). The head of the projection is zero (X°). Heads are terminal nodes. They dominate words.

Haegeman (1994:105) explains that X’ theory distinguishes two further levels of projection. Complements combines with X to form X’ projection; adjuncts combines with X’ to form X’ projections. Specifier combines with the topmost X’ to form the maximal projection XP (Haegeman, 1994:105).

In X’ theory node will continue to reduce from phrasal category to give the final satellites on the node.


Spec X’

X’ Adjunct

X° Complement

Fig 1: Adapted from Yusuf (1998:33).

In the above schemata, X can be taken as the variable, which represents the lexical category (such as noun, verb, preposition etc), XP is the maximal projection that stands for the lexical categories, noun, verb, adjective or preposition which are the head of their phrases. XP projects to specifier and X’. X’ projects to X’ and an adjunct. And finally projects to X° (zero bar) and complement. The XP is the maximal projection, while the X’ is the intermediate projection and the Xº is the zero bar level which is the lexical category. We can exemplify this using a Noun phrase in Kaningkon language.

Man art tall.

‘The tall man’.


Spec N’

Det N Adj p

Det Adj ‘

Ø róm se gɔgɔgɔ

Man the tall

‘The tall man’.

In the above example, N’ [róm] ‘man’ head the phrase and Adjp is its adjunct.

In Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG), the phrase structure rule is.


But under X-bar, a sub-theory of Government and Binding theory, the phrase structure rule is as follow.

CP→ Spec C’

C’ → C IP

IP→ Spec I’

I’ → I VP

VP → Spec V’

V’ → V (NP)(PP)(Adv P) (Lamidi, 2000).

1.10.2. The Theta Theory (θ- Theory)

Okolo (2008:78) says that the function of θ- theory is to explain how syntactic structure determines the assignment of θ-role to a particular constituent of a sentence. In other words, θ-theory shows θ-roles as assigned to the argument of a sentence. A θ-role assigned to a constituent within the predicate (verb phrase) is called internal θ-role while a θ-role assigned to the subject of a sentence or outside the predicate (verb phrase) is called an external θ-role (Cheryl, 1999). The internal θ-role is an internal argument while the external θ-role is an external argument. The role assigned to a noun by the verb is the thematic relation between the noun and the verb. Argument is the noun phrase in a sentence, the subject noun phrase and the object noun phrase. The Object Noun Phrase is the Direct and the Indirect object. For example,

[ róm zá sir mu kàsúwá ].

Man buy yam in market.

‘The man bought yam in the market’.

[ róm zá sir mu kàsúwá ]

Subject direct object indirect object.

The following are the common theta roles; Agent, Patient, Source, Instrument, Goal, Locative, Theme, Benefactive and Experiencer (Yusuf, 1998).

Agent: the agent θ-role is an actor that performs the action in a sentence eg.
[ aúdù wῦ jŏn ].

Aúdù kill goat.

‘Aúdù killed the goat’.

Aúdù is the actor (agent) in the above sentence.

Patient: the patient role suffers the action in the sentence. Eg.
[ bàlá ru ɣwamù ].

Bàlá beat wife.

‘bàlá beats his wife’

[ ɣwamù ] ‘Wife’, suffers the action.

Source: this is the entity from which motion takes place.
[bàlá ru ɣwamù pε jɔ∫ɔ ].

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