Aspects Of The Verb Phrase Of Yiwom Language – Complete project material



This work is on the Yiwom verb phrase. Yiwom is one of the major languages spoken in Plateau State. It is spoken in three local government areas, namely: the Lantang north local government area, Mikang local government area and Shendam local government area. Yiwom language can also be called ‘Gerka’ and the speakers are referred to as the ‘Gerkawa’.


According to oral history, Gerkawa came into existence as a result of coming together of the Yiwom people who migrated from Jos to Gerkawa in order to start faming. Gerkawa was a very thick forest occupied with trees and leaves which was later used for faming before they came about Yiwom. Gerkawa is the real name of the people while their language is Yiwom language. The Yiwom people were formally under Shendam local government but they were later given their own local government known as Mikang local government area. The Yiwom language can also be called Gerka language.

Gerkawa is located in the northern part of Mikang local government area of Plateau state in Nigeria. Gerkawa is in the middle of the local government area. It is easily accessed from Jos, Lantang and Shendam towns.


1.4.1 Cultural Practice.

Culture is a particular society or civilization, especially considered in relation to its beliefs, way of life or art. Culture must be studied directly by studying behaviour, customs, material culture and language and so on.

The aspect of Yiwom that we shall discuss here covers their language, festivals, religion, marriage rites, types of food they eat and jobs they engage in. The Yiwom people named the place they migrated to as Gerkawa while their language is Yiwom and this Yiwom means ‘’Leaves’’.    Religion And Festivals Of Yiwom People.

African traditional religion (ATR) was the indigenous religion of the Gerkawa people at the initial stage. The coming together of Christianity and Islam into the area started to see the conversion of the people to these two religions. Today, the predominant religion of the Yiwom people is Christianity. The following religions are practised by Yiwom people, namely:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • African traditional religion (ATR).

CHRISTIANITY: This is the major religion practiced by the Yiwom people and it is the predominant religion today because they have about 65% among the speakers.

ISLAM: Islam is being practiced by few of the speakers and we have about 20% which are Muslims among the Yiwom people.

AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION (ATR): Although, (ATR) was the indigenous religion of the Gerkawa at the initial stage but it is now practiced by minority. We have about 15% that are traditional believers.


There are various festivals in Gerkawa, these festivals include harvest festivals, installation of chiefs among others and masquerade festivals. All these festivals is celebrated around December and January and it is being performed by the Idol worshippers. The two basic festivals the Yiwom people engage in are masquerade festivals and harvest festivals.     Marriage Rites.

In Gerkawa, marriage procedure is an interesting one. They practice two system of marriage which is the church and mosque. Families may also exchange daughters for their sons. The Yiwom people have traditional marriage too but the major marriages practiced are church and mosque marriage.  Other Cultural Practices.


In Gerkawa town, the favourite food of the people is tuwo with draw soup. This can be prepared with fish, meat or chicken if available but they also eat food like rice, beans, millet and yam.


The mode of dressing in Gerkawa land is the general northern mode of dressing that is, wearing of ‘’babariga’’ by men while the women put on Ankara wrapper with ‘’buba’’ but in the olden days, they put on ‘’bante’’. It is very compulsory for the women to cover their hair.


The Yiwom people engage in farming because farming is their major occupation. They also engage in trading and government work. Yiwom people are friendly to strangers.


The Yiwom people found it very interesting and happier when a new child is given birth to. They see it as a source of joy among themselves, the naming is done on eight days in the morning or evening time where a lot of people come together to dine and wine. Prayer is been done by pastor or Alfa and the family members of the father and mother are invited on that day. When somebody is deed among Gerkawa, the corpse is washed immediately, wrapped in a white cloth and prayed for the corpse before taken to the cemetery. The corpse is normally buried immediately after the prayer.


The Gerkawa has culture which they hold onto traditionally. Circumcision is not done for the female child but very compulsory to circumcise the male child.

1.4.2   Socio-Linguistics Profile

Yiwom language is used as a means of communication in schools, churches and market place. Yiwom language is spoken in Mikang local government area of Plateau state. Though it was said that Hausa language has in one way or the other contributed to the death of many languages spoken in Northern part of the Nigeria. Hausa is used as the medium of instruction in schools while English language is learned as the target language.

Socio-linguistically, the status of Yiwom language is low. In other words, it is a minority language owning to the dominant of Hausa language speakers in the community. Furthermore, the speakers of Yiwom language are few compare to those speaking a majority language: Hausa. Another reason is the fact that it does not quantify to be a language of instruction in schools rather it is used as a means of communication in schools.   Attitude of Neighbours to Yiwom Language.

The neighbouring villagers of Yiwom speakers have a good communication with the speakers of Yiwom people due to their good character in terms of hospitality, friendliness and peace keeping. As a result, they have a positive attitude towards the language. Due to these reasons the neighbouring villagers speaks Yiwom language which is not even their own native language.

Conclusively, Yiwom language has a positive attitude within it speakers.


According to Derek Fivaz and Patrica E. Scott (1977), Gerka was classified under Plateau group (platoid). The Plateau group is a sub group of the Afro-Asiatic. The classification is diagrammatically shown below.

 Genetic classification of Yiwom (Fivaz and Scott, 1977:319).


This research is aimed at discussing the Verb phrase of Yiwom language using the Government and Binding theory. This research work is divided into five chapters which are relevant aspect of the theory of syntax.

Chapter one which is the introductory part include: the General background of the study, the historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification of the language, scope and organization of study as well as the theoretical frame work, the data collection method and data analysis and lastly, a brief review of the chosen frame work.

Chapter two shall focus on sound inventory, the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure rule, lexical categories, basic word order and sentence types.

Chapter three contains the main aspect of the study which is the Yiwom verb phrase. In this chapter, the nature of verb phrase in Yiwom language and the processes that are attested will be discussed.

Chapter four will examine the transformational processes such as focus construction and passivization.

Chapter five which is the last chapter will present a brief summary of the whole research and also the conclusion and recommendation based on such finding.


The theory to be adopted in this research is the government and binding theory in the analysis of verb phrase in Yiwom language.


The study of Yiwom language is very important because to be the best of our knowledge, no work of this type has been done on it. This work will therefore help in preventing the language by committing it into writing and providing an orthography for it. It will also promote future work on this language as the present work can be used for further research into the language.


In a research, the kind of data to be collected determines the techniques to be used in collecting them. The data used in this research work are based on contact method, using oral interview and Ibadan word list of basic items.

In this research, two literate native speakers of the language were used to collect the data. Hence, questions were asked in English language and answers given in Yiwom language.

Particulars Of The Informants.

NAME: Mr. Michael Krombet.

AGE:     50 years.

SEX:      Male.

OCCUPATION: Military personnel.

RELIGION: Christianity.


OTHER LANGUAGES SPOKEN: Hausa and English language.

NAME: Mrs. Cecilia Michael.

AGE:      37 years.

SEX:       Female.


RELIGION: Christianity.


OTHER LANGUAGES SPOKEN: Hausa, English and Lantang language.


In order to have accurate analysis for this research, the Ibadan four hundred word list was used to elicit equivalent meaning of the items in Yiwom language.

Also, the frame technique used in this research is by framing of sentences in English language and the translation of these sentences into Yiwom language by the informant. This enables the researcher to determine the actual underlying form of a word, constituent and possible syntactic classes to which each word belongs to in Yiwom language.


The theory to be used in the analysis of verb phrase in Yiwom language is the Government and Binding theory (GB). This theory is a modular deductive theory of universal grammar which posits multiple level of representation related by the transformational rule. Government and Binding theory was formulated by Noam Chomsky in (1981).

Sanusi (1996:21) explain that government and binding theory greatly dominates proliferation of transformational rule: passive, verb-number agreement, question formation, equi-NP deletion, raising permutation, insertion etc.

Heyman (1991:13) defined government and binding theory as a theory of universal grammar which is the system of all the principles that are common to all human languages. Government and Binding theory is otherwise known as principle and parameter theory. In Government and Binding theory, the grammar is a continuous interaction between component and sub-theories embodying different component and sub-theories embodying different principle and parameters.


Horrocks (1987:29) stated 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. These sub-theories are:

  1. X-bar theory
  2. Case theory
  3. Government theory
  4. Control theory
  5. Binding theory
  6. Bounding theory
  7. Theta theory

The above listed sub-theories are diagrammatically represented below to show the inter-relationship among them.

1.12.1     X-Bar Theory

Based on the appropriate analysis, for this research work, X-bar is the theory to be adopted for comprehensive analysis.

According to Cook (1988:103) a theory of the phrase structure of the D-structure of the sentence is defined as the X-bar theory. Lamidi (2000:150) states that X-bar theory is based on the theory of phrase structure. It defines the nature of the type of syntactic categories available to any language. The central notion of X-bar theory is that each of the major lexical categories (noun, verb, preposition, and adverb) is the head of a structure dominated by a phrasal node of the same category. X-bar theory defines possible phrase structure configurations in language.

Horrocks (1987:39) also states that the core of X-bar theory is the recognition of the fact that most phrase have ‘’head’’ upon which other elements in the constituents are dependent. Chomsky (1981:29) says that representation at each syntactic level is projected from the lexicon, in that they observe the sub-categorization properties of lexical items.

Horrocks (1989:99) also states that X-bar theory tells us that a lexical head (X) its complements form a constituent (X1) and that any specifier of this form with a high level constituent becomes (X11).

1.12.2        Case Theory

According to Cook (1988:34) explains that case theory deals with the assignment of a particular ‘‘case’’ to noun phrase in the sentence.

Kristen (1991:496) states that case theory deals with the principle of case assignment to constituents. The basic principle is that case theory is assigned under government, the choice of case being determined by the governor in any given example. For example, V or P may be virtue of governing NP, assign say accusative case to that constituent. In the context of GB theory, the essential point is that there can be no case-marking without government; un-governed position cannot receive case.

The three common cases under Government and Binding theory are;

  • Nominative case assigned by tensed INFL
  • Accusative case assigned by verb
  • Oblique case assigned by prepositions.

1.12.3     Government Theory

Government theory deals with the relationship between the head of a construction and those categories depending on it (complements).

Cook (1988:36) refers to the government theory as a particular syntactic relationship of high abstraction between a ‘governor’ and an element that it governs. In other words, government ensures that the word gets an appropriate case.

Yusuf O. (1998:140) says Government theory is a principle theory in that, it is a long known fact of grammar that a verb governs its object (where the object could be NP, PP, and CP—) while the pre/post position governs its object verb. Also, Madjaer (1991:495) says Government theory is concerned with the relationship between a head and its complements, and defines relationship in other sub-theories.

1.12.4       Control Theory.

According to Carnie(2007: 412-43), control theory deals with the subject of infinitival clauses. It deals with the way in which sentences with verb taking infinitival complements that have null. Subjects are constructed or come about. Control structures are structures in which relationship holds between a subject or the matrix plus the subject of an embedded infinitival clause. It focuses on an element called PRO, sometimes called big ‘PRO’ to contrast it with the PRO. PRO is restricted to the subject position in non-finite clauses.

PRO can only occur in the subject position of non-finite clauses; it is banned from all objects and subject position of a finite clause as there is no governor for its position (Carnie 2007: 412-413).

1.12.5     Binding Theory

Madjaer (1991:46) refers to binding theory as a theory that is concerned with the systematic domain in which NP can and cannot be constructed as co-referential.

Yusuf O (1998:45) in his own view states that binding theory is concerned with the relationship of NP participants in the sentence. Precisely, could sum NP be related to another NP by being co-referential in the sentence.

Chomsky (1988:52) submits that binding theory deals with the connected among noun phrases that have to do with such semantic noun properties as depends or reference, including the connection between the pronouns and its antecedents. The implication of the above definition is that binding theory deals with the co-referential relationship among NPs in the same sentence. That is how NPs co-referred or co-indexes one another in a simple sentence.

NPs that are argument are assumed to fall into one of these three categories.

  • Anaphors
  • Pronominal
  • Referential expressions.

ANAPHORS: – These are the type of NP that must have antecedents. They depend on one for existence in some definite place in the sentence. Reciprocals and reflexive pronouns fall under this class.


Bidemi hurts herself.

‘’Herself’’ in the above sentence refers back to Bidemi, therefore Bidemi is the antecedent which license its existence.

PRONOMINALS: – These are NPs that lack specific lexical content and have only the features; person, number, gender and case. They either refer to individual independently or co-refer to the individuals already mentioned in a given sentence.


Ladi greeted his father.

‘’His’’ may refer to the individual denoted by Ladi or another individual not mentioned in the sentence.

REFERENTIAL EXPRESSIONS: – These are NPs lexical heads which refers to something. Referential expression is also known as R-expression and they are NPs with lexical ability to refer to something without necessarily having any antecedent to license their existence.


Mariam says Bola should be flogged.

‘’Mariam and Bola’’ in the above example denotes two different persons. That is they are not co-referring each other.

1.12.6       Bounding Theory.

This theory aims at limiting the displacement of constituents by transformational rule of move α.

According to Horrocks (1987) it is a way of constraining the movement rule move α.

Movement rule within the GB theory is assumed to the following.

  • An extraction site, i.e., where an element is being removed.
  • A landing site, i.e., where the element moved to.
  • An intervening gap, i.e., the space between the extraction between the extraction site and the landing site of an element.

Bounding theory do not only monitor the extraction and the landing sites for an element but it also placed or constraint and limits on the element that can be moved, where it can be moved to and how far the element can be moved.

1.12.7        Theta Theory.

Kristen (1991:493) states that θ theory deals with the functional relationship between a predicates and its argument. It is concerned with the ‘’themat


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