Aspects Of Yukuben Noun Phrase – Complete project material


The main focus of this research work is a discussion of some aspects of Yukuben Noun phrase. In this chapter, we shall look at the historical background, socio cultural profile which include their culture, socio-linguistics profile, occupation and religion. This chapter will also give information on the geographical location and genetic classification of the Yukuben people. It will also discuss about the scope and organization of study, theoretical frame work for the analysis of our data, method of data collection and then attempt a brief review of our chosen frame work, the Government and Binding theory.


The history of Yukuben is traced back to the time before independence. We are told that the colonial masters enslaved people.

The Yukuben people were said to migrate from Ìdèn in the north neighboring Cameroon due to slave trade.

The name Yukuben means “the child of a witch”. It was said that one of the slave refused to work and was beaten, suddenly the bees started trooping out from no where and scare the slave traders away. Because of this, they were known to be “the child of a witch”.

British colonial master created a boundary that led to the parting or division of Yukuben speakers to Taraba State and Cameroon.

British and French shared the land through colonies and thereby we have Yukuben in Nigeria, and Yukuben in Cameroon.


The Yukuben people are headed by king called the “Ùdèng Uchun of Uhumkhigi land”. He is assisted by a group of chiefs called “Bàgbàn”.

The administration of Yukuben Land is pictured into village heads who report to distinct heads and they in turn report to king, the “Ùdèng Uchun”.


Yukuben language is located in Takum local government area between Katsina Ala and Gamana rivers, about 20 villages in Taraba State and also spoken in Cameroon.

Yukuben region in Nigeria is west and central Africa which is located within Taraba State (Benue – Plateau).

In Cameroun, it’s region is North West Province, Menchum division, west of Furu – Awa, near Nigeria border.

The Yukuben people are surrounded by various hills with various names: Kichi ènì Sabo, Ìyà, Kchenésìty Òlúkò, Kàlákìr, Ìtò.


The specific population of the Yukuben people cannot be determined, but according to the population census in (1992), the population in Nigeria is 15,000 in all countries 15,950. In Cameroon, their population was 950 (Breton 1986). Presently, their population in Nigeria is 23,000, in all countries 25,000.


The socio cultural profile of the Yukuben people focuses on their culture, how they use language in society (Socio-linguistics), occupation and their religion.


The culture of the Yukuben people has to do with their way of life, marriage, festival, food and drinks, dressing and houses. All these will be discuss one after the other. MARRIAGE

The major social institution among the people is marriage institution. They start their marriage ceremony with the family introduction. The husband’s family will provide palm oil in Calabash and cock to their in laws. Bush meats are also presented.

When everything has been approved by the in laws, a date for the wedding ceremony is now fixed. On the wedding day, the husband family have to make their favourite wine known as Bùrùkùtù out of guinea corn and add honey to it. Both families and well wishers drink, dance, merry and celebrate on the wedding day.


Unlike other ethnic groups celebrate their festivals, Yukuben people also celebrate their own festivals.

The Yukuben People celebrates series of festivals, but the most common festival among them is the masquerade festival called “Oohgum” when it is singular and “Eegum” when it is plural in their language.

This masquerade festival is used to appease their gods. They believe that, this masquerade protects and bless them. This masquerade festival is celebrated annually (every year). During this period, all Yukuben speakers all over Nigeria come home to celebrate this festival. Their local drinks called “Bùrùkùtù” is used to celebrate this festival.

Another festival which is celebrated among the Yukuben people is “Khichun” festival. This festival is celebrated annually among the hunters and farmers.

Another festival which is celebrated among Yukuben people is called Kukyib (festival) Kamang (Circumcision) which means circumcision festival. The age at which a child can be circumcised among the people is from 10-15 years. FOOD AND DRINKS

Their major food is maize, guinea-corn, cassava, plantain, yam, rice transformed into “Tuwo” usually called “Buna” by the people.

Their major drink is called “Beson” usually made from guinea corn, also known as Bùrùkùtù. DRESSING

They put on weaved cloth known as “Ukya” in Yukuben language which is mainly put on by the women. “Ukya” is known as Aso ofì by the Yorubas. Their men put on what is known as “Ìsáng” in their language. This Ìsáng is made using back of the tree beaten until it become soft and tender.       HOUSES

The major building structures of the Yukuben people is the hay and the mud buildings, although there are some buildings made from blocks and cements but are few  in number.


Austin defines socio linguistics “as the study of language in relation to society”. That is the study of language as it affect and is affected by socio-relatives, how language affects the society and how the society affects language.

Socio linguistics is also defined as the effects of any and all aspect of society including cultural norms, expectations and contexts on the way language is used.

The sociolinguistics profile of Yukuben comprises the status

of their language, what they use their language for (language use), their alternate names e.t.c.

Yukuben language which is also locally known as uhumkhigi is said to be the real name of the people and it is mostly (the name) preferred in Cameroon. The name Yukuben is derived by the people of Takum, Jukun people.


Yukuben language is used in various ways, it is used for social activities like: Education, trade communication, entertainment (local), greetings. It is also used in Religion, (Both in Traditional and Christianity). Some of the social activities are enumerated below:

  1. EDUCATION: They use English language as their language of Education from Primary Level to Senior Secondary School Level. They use English to teach their students both written and orally.

They also use Yukuben language for education at the primary level (Primary 1-6) and also at Junior Secondary School Level (JSS 1-3) Although, it is an oral language, they teach their students orally.

  1. TRADE: Yukuben language is used as trade language both in Nigeria and Cameroon. In Nigeria, they use Jukun [Jbu], Kuteb [Kub], or Hausa [hau]. In Cameroon, they also use Jukun Takum [dyu] or Cameroon Pidgin [wes].
  2. COMMUNICATION: Yukuben language is used for communication among the people. They use it for communication in the family (at home) and also among other people (the Yukuben’s).
  3. ENTERTAINMENT: Yukuben language is also used locally for entertainment among the people. It may be during festival, marriage, party (especially at primary school level) and so on.
  4. GREETINGS:  Yukuben language is also used for greeting among the people.
  5. Religion: Yukuben language is used in traditional Religion and in Christianity.
  6. Traditional Religion: Yukuben language is a language of incantation, to worship their gods, to pray or make request from their gods, to praise their gods etc.
  7. Christianity: Yukuben language is used in the church for various purposes. It is used to praise God, used to conduct their church service, used for announcement, used to pray and so on.


Yukuben language is a language, it is not a dialect. It is not a written language, but an oral language. The language is not a bedroom language, that is, the speakers have the privilege of speaking it anytime.

Yukuben speakers are said to be multilingual in nature, apart from Yukuben, they also speak other languages like Jukun and Hausa. Few people that are educated among them speak English (in Nigeria). Yukuben speakers speak Yukuben among themselves but when they come in contact with the Jukun’s, they speak Jukun and also if they come in contact with the Hausa’s, they speak Hausa to communicate.

Yukuben language is also said to have dialectal variants known as “Líssà,” Shìbong” “Fété.

Yukuben alternate names both in Nigeria and Cameroon is Ayìkiben, Balaabe, Balaaben, Borítsu, Gohum Nyìkobe, Nyìkuben, Unhum, Ochum, Uuhum-Gigi, Uhumkhigi


The Yukuben people strongly belief in respect for elders, they are always treated with due courtesy from the young ones. They are friendly and they also entertain visitors.

The Yukuben people do not have group identification (e.g tribal mark) used to identify them from other people e.g Jukun and Hausa, unlike the Kanuri people, ̣Òyó, Òndó and other ethnic group, which have group identification.

There is inter marriage among the people, that is, they can marry from any ethnic group.

There is no economic factor like good roads, pipe borne water and electricity.


The major occupation among the Yukuben people is Farming. Apart from the educated people among them who are involve in commercial activities like Banking, teaching and so on. The Yukuben people are mainly farmers. They produce cash crops such as groundnuts and cotton. Crops such as maize, rice, millet, sorghum, cassava, guinea-corn and yam are also produced.

For their secondary production (that is changing of raw materials into finished goods) they produced soya beans, palm oil, palm wine and honey. They export crops and sell to other parts of Taraba State.

The Yukuben people also involve in livestock production activities like poultry production, rabbit breeding and pig farming. Other occupations such as cloth weaving, carpentry, bricklaying, mat-making, carving, and blacksmithing are also carried out among the people.


Before the advent of European missionaries, Yukuben people were idol worshippers. At the advent of the European missionaries, a great number of them got converted.

Presently, the major religion among the people are Christianity and Traditional. For the Christians among them, they have different churches, for example E.C.W.A, Catholic, Deeper life, C.R.C.N and so on are present in their locality.

What they worship traditionally is known as “Idola masquerade”. Other idols of the people are “Oohgum” which they belief it protects against witchcraft, “Khima” is said to be “the god of thunder” and it is used against thieves, and also “Bahmbre” which is also used against witchcraft and thieves.

Yukuben people did not embrace Islam, there is no Muslim among the people talk less of having a mosque.


Genetic classification of language is based on the assumption that languages are originated from a common ancestor. The essence of the genetic classification of Yukuben language is to trace the origin of the language and show its relationship to other languages.

Yukuben language belongs to the Jukunoid Phylum. The Jukunoid is a sub-family of the Benue-Congo which originated from Niger-Congo phylum of the Niger-Kordofanian language family.

Below is a language chart which shows the language genetic classification.


This research work will examine the Noun phrase of Yukuben language. The research work is divided into five chapters of relevant aspects of the theory of syntax.

The first chapter is the introductory aspect which includes the historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, Geographical location, scope and organization of study, Theoretical framework, data collection, data analysis and a brief review of the chosen framework.

The second chapter will focus on sound inventory, the basic syntactic concepts such as phrase structures rules, lexical categories, basic word order and sentence types.

The third chapter will focus on the main aspect of the study which is Noun phrase.

The fourth chapter will examine the transformational processes attested in Yukuben language.

In the last chapter, we shall have a brief summary of the whole research and draw conclusion and recommendation of the findings.


The theoretical framework that will be adopted in this work is the Government and Binding theory (GB syntax) of transformational grammar.


The theory is a modular deductive theory of Universal Grammar (UG) which posits multiple levels of representation related by the transformational rules (move-alpha). However, it is a more advanced theory of Universal Grammar, Sanusi (1996:19-21).

Sanusi (1996:21) explained that GB theory greatly eliminates proliferation of transformational rules like passive, affix-hopping, question formation, equivalent NP deletion rule, raising, insertion and so on. GB theory is otherwise known as principles and parameters theory. In GB theory, the grammar is a continuous interaction between components and sub theories embodying different principles and parameters.

Since GB is a modular deductive theory of grammar, it has some sub-theories within which transformation operates.

According to Horrocks (1987:29) stated that the core grammar of a given language is derived from the interaction of sub-theories of UG. These sub-theories are inter-related that each of them can account for grammatically or ungrammaticality of any sentence.

The sub-theories are listed below.

  • Case theory
  • X-bar theory
  • Government theory
  • Binding theory
  • Bounding theory
  • Theta theory
  • Control theory

All the sub-theories of GB operates in a modular form because the theory itself is referred to as a modular deductive theory of grammar.

The above sub-theories are represented below to show the interrelationship among them.

X-bar theory                      the projection                          Lexicon

D-structure                         principle

The projection principle, which projects the characteristics of lexical entries onto the syntax, connects D-structure to s-structure and connects the lexicon to logical form (LF) by specifying the possible contexts in which a particular lexical item can occur.

The X-bar theory will be adopted for comprehensive analysis for the research work.


Chomsky (1986:3) is of the opinion that X-bar theory is one or another of its variants, lexical entries can be limited to minimal forms with indication of no more than inherent and selectional features and phrase structure rules can apparently be dispensed with entirely a highly desirable move for familiar reasons.

Cook (1988:94) explains that X-bar syntax replaces a large number of ‘Idiosyncractic rule’ with general principles. It captures properties of all phrases, not just those of a certain type and bases the syntax on lexical categories that links with entries in the lexicon.

The X-bar theory brings out what is common in the structure of phrase. The head of the system (X-bar) is the recognition that syntactic categories (lexical categories) are projected from lexical items which these lexical ends, that is Noun phrase, verb phrase, Adjectival phrase and prepositional phrase.

The head of the projection is zero projection (X0). Heads are terminal nodes, they dominate the words. X-bar theory distinguishes two levels of projection. Complement combines with X to form XI projection (X1   X): YP. Adjunct combines with X to form projection (X, XI: YP). The specified combines with the topmost X to form the maximal projection XP (XP spec: XI).

From the above diagram shown above, the linear order of the constituent with respect to the head of the projection is not universally fixed.    However, as proposed in Chomsky (1986a) every maximal projection (XP) has a specifier of XP position, the intermediate XI projection serving as XP’s core where the core consists of the head (X0) and the compliment which can be maximal projection on its own.

The D-structure in GB requires a description of the phrase structure and this is achieved by the X-bar syntax, an elaboration of earlier phrase structure syntax. This syntax also integrates the lexicon with syntax being concerned, as it is, with the characteristics of lexical categories e.g. Noun, verb, preposition etc. and the properties of the lexical items of which it is composed.

The functional relationship between the parts of a sentence is specified in GB through theta roles (similar to fill mores’ semantic cases). Thus in a sentence such as “The girl gave the man a book”. There are three theta roles: “the girl” refers to the initiator or agent of the action, “a book” refers to that thing that is affected by the action, and “the man” refers to the entity receiving the thing.

One principal function of government, in Chomsky’s theory, is to ensure that a word is assigned the proper case.

The move alpha among the numerous transformational rules under T.G is the only one retained in new GB theory while others are considered differently.


The means of data collection in this research work is data elicitation with the Ibadan 400 basic items and the use of frame technique. The Ibadan 400 word list contains some lexical items in English which are translated into Yukuben language.

The method of data collection was contact method or informant method. The informant is multi-lingual; he speaks his native language fluently (Yukuben), English, French, Hausa and Jukun. The Ibadan 400 work list and some phrases and sentences were used to elicit information from our informant and his responses are tape recorded and translated and tone marked for study.

Below are some information about my informant.

Name: Kuru Adamu Ihaku-Imgbe

Age: 50 years

Sex: Male

Occupation: Teaching


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