The Verbs of Planting and Harvesting in Khana Language (Warife)

The Verbs of Planting and Harvesting in Khana (Warife)


This work examines the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana language spoken by the Warife community in Oruk Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. The research focuses on the verbs of planting and harvesting and the co-occurrence possibilities between the verbs and crops in the language. The analysis of this co-occurrence possibilities was carried out through a selection of the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana and the result of the analysis shows that the verb of planting in Khana is just one. The degree of selectivity does not vary from plant to plant, unlike the verbs of harvesting that vary from plant to plant due to the processes involved in harvesting different crop types. As a result of the semantic restrictions placed on the possible co-occurrence of the verbs of harvesting with some plants, a violation of this restriction results in the formation of deviant constructions in Khana.




In this chapter, the background to the study, Warife people and the language, statement of the problem, research objectives, research questions, significance of the study, scope of the study, research methodology and linguistic classification of Khana language are considered.


All natural languages have a number of features which make them distinct and of such features is the verbs of planting and harvesting.

The verbs of planting and harvesting are parts of language – dependent lexical information. The verb used for or to associate with plants varies from one crop to the other. Many languages have this feature of verbs of planting and harvesting and Khana language is not an exception.

The term verb can be explained traditionally, formally and functionally. Traditionally, a verb is a doing or an action word, from a formal stand point, a verb is a grammatical element that is morphological contrast explicable in tense (time reference), aspect, voice, mood, person and number.

Lyons (1979) views verbs as terms which express action.

Pearson (1977:27) defined verbs as “word that expresses an action or quantity predicted. Gleason (1979:89) confirms that almost all the language of the world have verbs, occurring in their sentences.

According to him, such verbs whether simple or complex, may have certain “grammatical methods such as tense aspects and mood”.

Ndimele (1979:99) also points out that “the verb is typically the most important word in the predicate area of the sentence”.

From the above definitions of the verb, we can agree that verbs are the only words in the grammatical categories of any language which can express action or show the state of being. It is also pertinent to note that verbs are very important in sentences to the extent that without them, a sentence can not express a complete meaning.

This work seeks to examine the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana.


The Warife community is situated at the South Eastern part of Akwa Ibom State, Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria consist of four major ethnic groups namely, Ibibio, Annang, Oro and Ekid and this groups are however identified by their unique cultural belief and inheritance. However, the Warife people belong to the Annang ethnic group. The name Warife is used in two different ways respectively, firstly, it is used to refer to the people living in Warife community. Secondly, it is used to refer to the village of the land occupied by the Warife people.

The actual name of the land is “Wiisoe” being interpreted in Ibibio as “Ikot Ediam” cause of the abundance of the plant called ‘Ediam’ in the land.

The people of Warife speak a language called Kana which is a language different from Annang. There is some degree of unilateral or non-mutual intelligibility between the Warife people and their neighbours. The Warife people are said to be bilinguals in that they understand and can speak the language of their neighbours which is Annang, their neighbours can not understand them.

The Khana language is spoken by approximately 300,000 people according to the 1992 national census figures released by the National Population Bureau. It is one of the four major languages of Rivers State. It is used in the media (radio and television) for news bulletins and “special educational programmes” such as (aliisכ) ‘our era’. Furthermore, it has been included in the Nigerian languages curriculum of the Department of Linguistics and African languages at the University of Port Harcourt. The language is also supposed to be taught as a school subject in the first three years of primary school within kana speaking areas according to the current national policy on indigenous languages in primary education.


Greenberg (1966) classified kana under the Ogoni group of Cross River 2 within the Benue-Congo branch in the Niger-Kordofanian phylum. More recently, Faraclas (1989) has classified kana as part of the Delta-Cross sub group of Cross-River, as shown in figure 1 below. However, there are some indications from kana, such as the presence of numeral classifiers and locative marking that the “Ogoni group” may be genetically closer to Ejagham (Ekoid, Southern Bantoid) than to Cross River.

Fig. 1: The genetic classification of kana

Niger – Congo

Benue – Congo

Cross River

Bendi Delta – Cross

Central Delta Kegboid Lower Cross Upper Cross

Khana Gokana Baan Eleme

(Suanu Ikoro, 1996)


So far, much works have not been done in the language, and this can threaten the existence of the language. The inability of language speakers to pass the language to the younger – generation lack of proper documentation of a language can pose a great danger to the language. It is imperative to properly document a language for posterity and educational purpose.

This research seeks to undertake a study of ‘the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana language: a structural analysis’ in Oruk Anam Local Government area of Akwa Ibom State.


The questions that this work will attempt to answer include:

i. Which group of crops do the verbs of planning select to co-occur with in Khana language?

ii. Which specific crops do the verbs of harvesting select to

co-occur with?


The purpose of this work is to examine the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana language and the group of crops they select to co-occur with.


This work is restricted to analyzing the verbs of planting and harvesting in Khana language apart from references to other relevant materials where necessary.


The study is significant to students and researchers in that it will enable them to find useful information on the topic considered. The findings of the study are expected to remind students on the selection of verbs that co-occur with different crops.

The study is also significant, in the sense