Aspects Of Negation In Kaninkon – Complete project material



1.1     Introduction

This research is aimed at describing an aspect of syntax of Kaninkon language. And our focus is negation in the language.

Kaninkon is a language spoken in Jema’a local government area of Kaduna State, Nigeria. The native speakers call themselves kyung (Kaninkon). Although, the Kaninkon is not a major group in Nigeria, yet the speakers are found in various part of Nigeria, especially in the Northern part of the Country.

The Kaninkon people are among the indigenous tribe of Jema’a local government and Kafancha area in particular. The areas they occupy traditionally has border with Kagoro to the North-East, Bajju to the north, Kagoma to the West, Numana and Mada to the South. They are brothers with Nindem and Kanufi who are also to the South East.

In this chapter, we shall discuss the historical background of the speakers, the geographical location, social cultural profile of Kaninkon people and the genetic classification of the speakers together with the aims and objective of this research. In this chapter also, we shall be reviewing G – B syntax and relevant literatures on negation as a syntactic process in human language. And also, we shall mention the scope and organization of the study, statement of the research problems and research questions.

1.2     Historical Background

According to oral history, the Kaninkon is said to have originated from Katsina State, Nigeria. They may probably descend from the Kaita family in the present day Katsina State. This might have been made known from oral history passed down from our forefathers. Evidence of this origin can be noticed from the characteristics of both the Kaninkon and Hausa of Katsina. One of such features is the tribal mark. And the mode of burial was the same; both decorated the perimeter of the grave with broken pots.

The initial migration involved many clans but probably due to inter clan conflicts only two clans constitute the Kaninkon. They are Turan and Ngbechio. It is believed those who migrated from Katsina finally settled in a place called Gwok in the present day Gwong (Kagoma).

In the course of the conflicts already mentioned, other clans migrated further leaving behind the two clans at the present day geographical location-Gyannek (Bakin Kogi). The other break away clans may constitutes the other neighbouring people with the Kaninkon who share similarities in the language and culture.

1.3     Geographic Location

Kaninkon people are in Jema’a local government area of Kaduna State, which till date remains their home. The community is surrounded by seven (7) districts, such as: Ung-fari district, bakin-kogi districts Ung-Baki district, Amere district, Goska district, Ambam district, Dangoma district.

1.4.    Socio-Cultural Profile

Culture is defined as the total way of life by which group of people in a particular geographical location is identified. Kaninkon people have their distinct cultural and traditional belief, which are expressed in their mode of dressing, occupation, religion, festivals, and marriage of Kaninkon people.

1.4.1  Dressing

Dressing is an important aspect of any culture by which one is identified as belonging to a particular cultural group. In the olden days, the Kaninkon men started covered their body with leaves. The used of leaves was to cover their private part of their body. As time went by, the used of skin was also introduced by both the men and women of Kyung (Kaninkon) people to cover their private part of their body. The kyung man graduated from the used of animal skin as dresses to ‘bante’ and ‘rig’ as clothing. Men used Bante while women used ‘rig’. ‘Bante’ was a pieces hand woven clothes cover round the waist and in between the legs. Bids and cowries decorate the rig.

As a result of advent of Europeans, the Kaninkon finally advanced to the use of modern clothes.

1.4.2  Religion

Before the advent of Europeans, the Kaninkon people were idols worshipers. But as a result of coming of Christianity, traditional religions beliefs pave way and at the moment, there are two main religious – Christianity and Islam. Islam is restricted to only one district – Dangoma district, the rest of the chiefdom can be said to be about ninety percent Christians only few people still belong to traditional religions.

1.4.3  Festivals

The major festivals used to be a celebration of the death of an old person, marriage and initiations. Festivities were reserved for the dry season especially for the month of March to early May. In Kaninkon land, if an old person died in the rainy season, there would be the normal drumming and little celebration but the proper celebration would be shifted to the dry season. There was also a big festival of celebration known as Dung. It takes place occasionally not every year.

1.4.4  Occupation

Farming was the major economic system of kyung people like any other traditional agriculturist. The Kyung traditional agriculturist involved the division of labour according to sex and age.

1.4.5  Marriage

Marriage ceremonies could take place at any time in Kaninkon land. On marriage, baby girls could be Bathrobe right from birth. That is, if a girl was born, a father could say ‘this girl will be a wife to my son and like joke, if interest continuous this could eventually happen and did happen a lot.

1.5     Genetic Classification Of Kaninkon

Kaninkon is a language, which is under Benue – Congo language family. According to oral source, the language has about 60, ooo speakers.

The genetic tree below shows the origin of Kaninkon language from Niger – Kordofania plylum.


1.6     Statement Of The Research Problem

The target of this research is to analyze negative Sentences in Kaninkon Language. Therefore, this work is primarily focused on negation in Kaninkon Language and our aim also to identify the various negative constructions and negative markers in the language, their position in sentences and how they are used in the Language.

1.7     Aims And Objectives

The purpose of this work is to carry out a syntactic analysis of Kaninkon language with a focus on the syntactic process known as negation. Our aims and objectives in this research work include:

  1. To identify the various negation markers in Kaninkon.
  2. To explain what negation is all about in a language.
  • To discuss how negation is used in Kaninkon language.
  1. To also discuss the transformation processes used in deriving negations in the language.

1.8     Research Questions.

Based on the aims and objectives of this work, we shall attempt to give answers to the following research questions.

  1. How many negative markers are attested in Kaninkon.
  2. Where do negative markers occur in a sentence
  • To also discus transformational processes used in deriving negative constructions in the language.
  1. What are the transformational processes in the language.


This work is limited to negation in Kaninkon language and its divided into five chapter. Chapter one deals with the introductory which includes general introduction, historical background, geographical location, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, aims and objectives, research questions, scope and organization of the study. Chapter two deals with literature review, here, we shall review the chosen frame work- that is the government and Binding theory of syntax also known as G.B syntax and explain its relevance to this work.

Chapter three focuses on negation as a syntactic process in Kaninkon language, showing among others, the various positions of negation markers can occupy in Kaninkon language. Chapter four shall deals with transformational processes in Kaninkon such as passivization, relativisation, and focus constructions in relation to negation. Chapter five will summarize, conclusion and references of the work.

1.10   Data Collection

The method used in this research work for our data collection is direct translation method from English Language base on the Ibadan 400 word-list.

Data elicitation was carried out by direct interview with language helpers with the proceedings audiocassette. The frame techniques were employed during data collection.

1.10.1              Field Methodology

Informant 1:         Mallam Bako Galadima

Occupation:          H.R.H, chief ruler

Age:                      72 years old

Religion:               Christianity

Language spoken apart from Kaninkon: English and Hausa

Number of year spent: 21 years

Informant 2:         Alkali A qweh

Occupation:          Police officer

Age:                      44 years

Religion:               Christianity

Language spoken apart from Kaninkon: English and Hausa,

Number of year spent in Kaninkon: 30 years

1.11   Data Analysis

To ensure an efficient data analysis in this research, all the data collected were carefully transcribed. The morphemes that make up the phrases and sentences were carefully glossed. The data collected were used according to how the native speakers used them without imposing any extraneous rules or norm.

1.12   Review Of The Chosen Frame Work –Gb Syntax

The framework adopted for this research is the government and Binding  (GB) theory, which is known as principles, and parameter theory. This is the theory, which captures the similarities, which exist between different categories of lexical phrases by assigning the same structure to them rather than having different phrase structure rule for NPs VPs e.t.c.

According to cook (1988:86), “the theory of government and Binding theory is an interlocking arrangement of principles and sub theories which interact in many different ways”. Radford (1988:419), “transformation as the rule that deals with the act of changing the structure of one sentence to another structure through the concept of movement known as move alpha (move – α).

This theory (G.B) was developed to correct the lapses in transformational generative grammar.

Government and Binding theory postulate seven sub-theories of the theory of grammar. The structures generated at various levels are constrained by a set of theories, which define the kind of relationships possible with a grammar

The sub-theories of government and binding theories are given below (cook, 1988:87):

  1. X -bar Theory
  2. Theta Theory

iii.      Case                     Theory

  1. Binding               Theory
  2. Bounding Theory
  3. Government Theory

vii.     Control                 Theory


Horrocks (1987:101) Sate that “X-bar theory provides principle for the projection of phrasal categories from lexical categories and imposes conditions on the hierarchical organizations of categories in the form of general schemata: the central notion of X-bar theory, according to Horrocks  (1987:102), is that each of the major lexical categories (noun, verb, preposition and adjective) is the head of the same category (noun; NP, verb; VP, preposition; PP and Adjective; adjp) in essence, it defines possible phrases structure configuration in language.

Carnie (2007:155) “says that, the name “X-bar theory comes from the original mechanism for indicating intermediate categories”. N’ was written N’ with a bar over the letter. The over bar is the origin of he “bar” in the name of the theory. X is a variable that stands for any category (N, Adj, VP, e.t.c.) also, X-bar theory projects from the core projection level to the maximal projection level. This is illustrated below:

X”     maximal projection level.

X’     intermediate projection level.

X       core projection level.

Cook (1988:86), “explains that X-bar captures properties of all phrases, not just theory of a certain type, and its bases the theory on lexical categories that link with entries in the lexicon.” Lamidi (2000:105), “say that the head is the keyword in a phrase and the word can be pre-or post modified “. In essence, the head of a phrase is very important in X-bar theory and the parameter that distinguishes languages that incorporate the head of the phrase to the right or left is known as head parameter”. If it is head first, we have the schemata below:

X’               X0 complement.


X0                   Comp

If the head last, then we have the following:

X’               X0 complement.


Comp                            X0

Cook (1988:87), “In X-bar theory, the lexical categories remain the basic symbol. The phrases in which they are incorporated are shown by the addition of bars to the original symbols. This is exemplified below (Lamidi, 2001:150)”. The boy (NP):


Det                          N

The                        Boy

Drink milk (VP):


V                            N’

Drink                     Mil


Horrocks (1987:101), “states that θ – theory is concerned with the assignment of thematic roles to sentential constituent. θ – theory posits that a word can assign a number of different theta roles (semantic roles that things play in a sentence, e.g actor/agent is for the doer of an action, patient/theme is the thing affected).

“The main principle of θ – CRITERION which requires each thematic role to be uniquely assigned, i.e each constituent denoting an argument is assigned just one    – role and    – role is assigned to just one argument – denoting – constituent. For example (Kirsten, 1991:493):

John went to the market by car.


Spec            l’



N1                                  VP

N0 (past)               Spec         V’

John                              NP

V              N’                          PP

Go      location N0           P’                      NP

Market       P0                         N

In the illustration above, verb phrase assigns: Agent role to the subject NP, verb assigns patient role to the object of the verb and preposition assigns location role to its NP.


Kirsten, (1991:496), “explains that theory regulates the distribution of phonetically realized NPs by assigning abstract case to them. It deals with the principle of case assignment to constituents”. Horrocks (1987:103), “opines that the basic idea is that case is assigned under government, i.e, the choice of case is determined by the government in any sentence. A lexical head ‘X’ may be said to govern its sisters in X-bar and certain of their complements. Thus, NP subject is assigned normative by INFL; verb assigns accusative case to object of the verb, while preposition assigns oblique case to its object.”

“One of the most important principles of case theory is case filter, which states that any S-structure that contains an NP with lexical context but no case is ungrammatical (Kirsten 1991:407) formally represented case filter as.”

*            NP

+           Lexical

– Case


This theory is concerned with the relationship of NP participants in the sentence. Horrocks (1987:105), states that, “it is concerned primarily with the conditions under which NPs are interpreted as co-referential with other NPs in the same sentence. There are three types of NPs, which are relevant to the binding theory.

These are:

  1. Anaphors
  2. Pronominal


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