The Aspects Of Gunganchi Noun Phrase – Complete project material


Gunganchi Language and its Speakers

1.0     General Introduction

In this chapter, we shall investigate the Gunganchi language and its speakers, historical background of Gunganchi speakers sociocultural profile of the people, scope and organization of the language, theoretical framework, data collection method and analysis, as well as the review of the chosen theoretical framework.

1.1     Historical Background

Language is the fabrics that ties every member of the society together, which serves as an instrument used by man for specific  and distinguishable purpose. More interestingly, linguistics has been the discipline that studies human languages solely for the purpose of preserving them most especially preventing them from going into extinction. Therefore, this long essay has been meant for that purpose to study Gunganchi so as to explore the possibilities of saving it from dying.

Indeed, the focus of this research work is to shed light on the various structure, as well as the function of noun phrase in Gunganchi language. Thus, the area covered in this  research are brief discussion on some phonological concepts such as sound, tonal, and syllable inventories of the Gunganchi language, as well as some syntactic concepts which are phrase structure rules’ lexical categories, basic word order and sentence types. Also, the research work addresses some transformational processes attested in the language, and these include focusing, question formation, refletivization and passivization etc.

The Gunganwa people i.e. speakers of Gunganchi are commonly based in Kebbi state, the home of Argungu international fisting and cultural festival which came into existence in 27th August 1991. It was carved out of the former Sokoto state with it’s headquarters in Benin Kebbi. Historically, Gunganwa people came from an Island called “Gungun”, they got the name “Gunganwa” from “gungun” which means water, and “ganwa” means people, who were surrounded by water. In Hausa language any land that is surrounded by water is called “gungun”. However, Gunganwa is an adopted name for the Bareshe people and their Hausa neighbouring people. There are discrepancies among the various accounts on the historical origin of the Gunganwa people. A tradition reveals that Gunganwa warrior called Kachira who allied himself with the Hausa Soldiers that migrated to the one extreme north and eventually settled with his co-fighter in the present day Yauri town. Another contradictory version reveals that, Sangoni warriors who came from Mali to exercise territoria control eventually settled in Yauri Local Government area of Kebbi state and part of Lopa and Loru gunganwa neighbouring areas.

Another legend states that, they are hunters who migrated from Kastina state on an hunting expedition. From the foregoing it is crystal clear that there are multitude accounts on the ancient legendary of the Guganchi people. The Yauri local government has an estimated population of females and males, Male (38,205) while females is (36,709) with the total population of (74,916). They have another name called among themselves which is ‘turesha’. This name is only used by the native speakers. They enjoy tropical climate which is characterized by two major temperating. The hot and cold temperature. The vain begins in May/June and ends in October with the heaviest fall occurring in July and August. The extremely cold harmattan period usually accompanised by clusty wind and fog of alarming intensity, prevails in November, December and January.

1.2     Geographical Location of the Gunganchi Speakers

The Gunganchis are located in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State between the landscape of Niger to the west and Sokoto to the north. They pread alluvingly over a vast expanse of Sahehian land of approximately 36.229 square kilometers representing 3.9% of the total land area. The Gunganch is occupying an area between the latitude 100 and 130 15’ N and ongitude 30 30 E. The total population of the speakers is conservatively put at 2.766 people in the 2007 census.

1.3     Socio-Cultural Profile

Every community has it’s distinct ways of life. The way people eat, what they wears, their mode of marriage, etc. differ in various societies. The Gunganchi people. Just like every community have their distinct culture and tradition.

1.3.1  Occupation

Gunganchi people are dominantly farmers and pre-dominantly fisher-men, they practice both subsistence and commercial forms of farming but they are majorly on cultivation of land, growing of crops for the sustainability of their household. They also engage themselves in fishing using a fishing cage – called “Suru”.

1.3.2  Religion

Gunganchi tribe are mostly Muslim, they also have few pagans and idol worshippers. These religion diversities make the people of Kebbi state live in peace with one another.

1.3.3  Housing

The factors determining the building of houses in Gunganchi land are war and farming activities. The Gunganchi people used to live in huts. The major building structure is the hay and the mud building. Those using mud for their building are the civilized among them. Till date, they are still using mud in building their houses.

1.3.4  Marriage

Presently, there are three kinds of marriage practices in Gunganchi land: Ilamic, Christian and traditional marriage, but, in the olden days, the dominant one was Islamic marriage. Gunganchi people practice both the monogamous and the polygamous forms of marriage. If someone gives birth to a baby girl, a man will visit the birth place and show his interest. So, when she grows up, they will farm for her parents and do everything to please them. Moreover, the boy will go along with Guinea corn but no bride price is needed.

1.3.5  Festival

They also celebrate a number of festivals among them is ‘Idembu’ which is called the millet festival. During this festival, goat’s blood or any other bush animal is used to sacrifice to their higher god called ‘Ijigo’. This festival brings all Gunganchi speaking communities together.

1.3.6  Education

Before the advent of the western education, the Gunganchi people had a way of teaching moralities, respect and skills within their communities. The education of their children is of uttermost importance because, they believe that an uneducated mind will definitely die as an ignorant, and will be problematic to himself and the community in general. They thereby teach and impart moral knowledge to their children right from birth, and as they grow, they provide an avenue of giving them skills training.

1.3.7  Administration

In Gunganchi community, they appoint an elderly and respected person as king. The coronation is celebrated in an orderly and elaborate manner. The king them becomes the paramount ruler of the land who presides over the social, economic and cultural of the peoples.

1.4     Genetic Classification

According to Greenberg (1966: 8) African language belongs to various families, and there are four maingroups namely, Niger-Kordofanian, Afroasiatic, Nilo Saharan and Khoisan. The Gunganchi language is said to be classified under the Niger-Congo family, belonging to the group of Kainji. The following diagram (Fig. 1) shows the genetic classification of the language.

1.5     Scope and Organization of the Study

In this research, the general overview of noun phrases in Gunganchi language will be discussed. This research work is divided into five chapters of relevant aspects of the theory of syntax.

The first chapter is the introductory segment which includes the general background of the study of the speakers, the historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, the scope and organization of the study, the data collection method, data analysis and the  brief review of the chosen theory are also examined.

The second chapter, shall focus on basic phonological concepts such as sounds inventory, tonal inventory and syllable inventory, the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure rules and lexical categories. The third chapter will focus on the main aspect of the study, which is the noun phrase of Gunganchi i.e. the structure of noun phrase and their functions in the language. The fourth chapter, will examine the transformational processes such as focusing, question formation, passivisation and reflexivization etc. which are attested in the language. The last chapter of this research work, which is chapter five, will present a brief summary of the whole research findings, draw conclusion and recommendations based on such finding.

1.6     Data Collection

This research was made possible through the help of bi-lingua language helper. However, the Ibadan four hundred word list and some sentence construction were used to extract necessary information from the language speaker. The method of collection was through direct translation from English language to Gunganchi language However, bi-lingual approach was used because the informant speak more than one language which include: English, Gunganchi and Hausa languages. More so, the informant is a native speaker of Gunganchi.


Name:         Muaza Bagudu

Age:  54 years

Occupation:          Military Officer

Address:     Kebbi state

Native Language: Gunganchi

1.6.1  Data Analysis

In order to have accurate analysis, Ibadan four hundred wordlist with an equivalent meaning in Gunganchi language was used. Also, the frame technique was used, which deals with phrasal and sentential constructions in English language directly translated to Gungachi language with the assistance of the informant. This made it possible to determine the actual underlying form of a word, constituent and possible syntactic classes to which each word belongs to in Gunganchi language.

1.7     Review of the Chosen Theoretical Framework

Government and Binding Theory (GB) will be used in the analysis of Gunganchi Noun Phrase. Due to the fact that it brings what is common and constitute the structure of phrase; this theory is a modular deductive theory of universal grammar (UG) which posits multiple levels of representation related by the transformational rule “move alpha” (Sanusi, 1996: 19-21).

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

Sub-Theories of Government and Binding

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 or ungrammatically of any sentence (Horrocks, 1987: 29).

These sub theories are:

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

1.7.1  X-Bar Theory

The x-bar theory defines possible phrase structure configurations in language generally. The central notion is that, each of the major lexical categories (noun, verb, preposition, adjectives) is the head of a structure dominated by a phrasal node of the same category e.g. noun: noun phrase; verb: verb phrase (Cook 1988: 32).

Chomsky (1986), in is analysis, says that every maximal projection has a specifier of an XP position, which with the intermediate bar projection serving as the XP’s core. The core consists of the head X0 and the complement which can be a maximal projection itself.

Then, we can say that the maximal projection (x-bar) is another full name for full phrasal category associated with a particular lexical category as the head of that phrase. this theory is represented by this phrase structure rule:


Spec        X’

X             Adjunct

X0           Complement

X” which is equal to XP is the maximal projection. It has a specifier position. The X0 is the  head of the phrase and it can subcategorise for complement and adjunct.

1.7.2  Projection Principle

Chomsky (1981: 29) state that representation at each syntactic level is projected from lexicon, in that they observe the sub-categorization properties of lexical item; projection principle requires lexical properties to be projected to all levels of syntactic representation i.e. a lexical item projects from its zero bar level to one single bar level, which is optional, then to double bar level. The zero bar level is referred to as the core projection level, the single bar level is referred to as the intermediate projection level and the double bar  level is referred to as the maximal projection level.

The illustration is shown below:

X”     Maximal projection level

X’     Intermediate projection level

X0      Core projection level

1.7.3  Principle of Head Parameters

Cook (1996: 150) says that, inflectional phrase are built around functional heads, which may contain lexical materials such as morphological ending but are not required to contain lexical material.

The top levels of the sentence have been unified with the rest of X-bar theory. The maximum level of sentence is called inflectional phrase (IP) in X-bar theory.

1.7.4  Case Theory

Case theory deals with the principle of case assignment to constitutes. Chomsky  (1986) assumes that all NPs with lexical content are assigned (abstract) case. Abstract case is usually distinguished from case as an overt inflectional category by the use of an initial capital letter. The basic idea is that, case is assigned under government, the choice of case being determined by the governor in any given example. Government is a traditional notion involving the delimitation of the sphere of influence of a particular category with respect to adjacent categories.

Adjancency is also one of the requirements of case assignment. This is to say that case assignees and case assignors must be contguous with no barrier blocking the discharge of the (abstract) case (Yusuf, 1998). In government and binding (GB) theory, the case are said to be assigned under Government as:

  1. Nominative cases – assigned by tensed inflectional
  2. Accusative – assigned by Verbs
  3. Oblique – assigned by preposition

Nouns or adjective do not assign any case. Furthermore, on the assignment of case, all phrases that have phonetic content must have case or else they are ill formed. This corollary is known as the case filter which is only detachable in the phonetic form. Case filter states that NP without a case assigned should be filtered out.


+ lexical

– case

The case filter in this case says that, any NP without a case assigned should be filtered out. Finally, according to (Cook, 1988: 87) case theory recognizes two case assignments:

  1. Inherent case assignment (that is assigned at the deep structure level).
  2. Structural/Abstract: case assignment is at the surface structure level.

1.7.5  Government Theory

In essence, government theory deals with the relationship between a head and its complement and it also describes relationships in other sub theories Chomsky (1986: 17) says of an empty category that “A noun-prominal empty category must be promptly category is exempted from government. Therefore, Chomsky defined proper government as: ‘b’ is properly governed by ‘r’ if it governed by ‘r’ and a certain kind of connection holds between ‘r’ and ‘b’. He further said that, ‘r’ properly governs ‘b’, if ‘r’ governs ‘b’ or antecedents governs ‘b’. The configuration is as follow:

In the above configuration, ‘r’ governs ‘b’ and ‘y’ when ‘b’ and ‘y’ are sisters to ‘r’. ‘b’ can C-command ‘b’ i.e. they govern each other. It is obvious that, crucial to the concept of ‘government is the issue of C-commands. It is the relationship between an element and other elements it is “superior to” but does not dominate.

Government can be recognized if they are adjacent, and adjacent is contiguity i.e. it implies that there must be no blocking between a governor and its governee.

1.7.6  The Binding Theory

According to Malmjaer (1991: 46), “the binding  theory is a theory that is concerned or deals with the syntactic domain in which NPs can or cannot be constructed as” co-referential in the sentence”. Binding theory is one of the most important constructs in the system. It is concerned primarily with the conditions under which NPS are interrupted as co-referential with other NPs in the same sentence.

Binding theory is concerned with the categories to be bound and free in defining the domain in which binding takes place (Horrocks, 1987: 2) for the purpose of binding theory,NPs that act as arguments are assumed to fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Anaphors
  2. Prominals
  3. Referential expressions


These are NPs whose reference is necessarily determined by sentence internally and which cannot have independent reference. Reciprocal and reflexive pronouns fall into this class e.g. Emmanuel loves himself.

Himself in this sentence is referring to the subject NP Emmanuel.

Prominals: Prominal are NPs that lack specific lexical content and have only the feature; persons, number, gender and case unlike anaphors. They may either refer to individuals independently or core for to individual name. e.g. Ade says Tolu should be flogged.

Referential expression: This is otherwise know as R-expression. As the name implies, they are noun phrases (NP) with lexical ability here is excluded e.g. Tunji says Bimbo should be sent out Tunji and Bimbo are different persons, even when the same name is used twice, the most natural interpretation is one where two different people are involved.

Bayo said Bayo must be flogged. It must however be admitted that, co-reference here is a possibility, but the sentence so interpreted is stylistically highly marked revealing something of the speaker’s attitude.

1.7.7  The Bounding Theory

The Bounding theory is concerned with the way movement rule (move r) can be constrained (Cook 1996). In essence, it deals with the limitation to be placed on the displacement of constituents by the transformational vale scheme move r. The location from which movement takes place does not have to be ‘adjacent’ to the landing site but it must be ‘subjacent’.

1.7.8  Theta Theory

This is a term that stands for thematic roles and their syntactic realization as specific argument of a predicate. This theory says, “that one argument must correspond to each thematic role and vice-versa i.e. an NP must correspond to each thematic role” Chomsky (1986: 4). Argument, in this context, refers to the noun phrase which is of two types, subject and object noun phrases. The object is further divided into two parts, which are direct and indirect objects. The thematic role is also a role that assigns functions to arguments. The common thematic roles are: agent, patient, goal, location, sources, experience and benefactive.

1.7.9 Control Theory

Control theory is the transformational analysis of sentence with verbs taking infinitival complements that have null subjects understood as co-referential with an NP in the main clause (Horrocks, 1987: 31).

Trask (1993: 62) defined “control as module of grammar that deals with the phenomenon of a verb phrase complement that has no overt subject and consequently interpreted semantically as having some determiner phrase (DP)appearing somewhere within the sentence or an arbitrary (unspecified). Determiners phrase that function as its “subject” or “controller”. A non-overt subject DP of the infinitival clause is technically represented within GB framework by a distinct ‘empty category’ called. PRO.

Riemsdjik and Williams (1983: 132) “the abbreviation PRO has been devised to stand for a phonetically null pronoun that occupies the subject position of infinitives in control theory”.


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