The Koro-Ija Noun Phrase – Complete project material



This chapter focuses on the General Background to the study, the historical background, social-cultural profile, cultural values, Genetic classification, and Data collection, Analysis of the data and Review of the chosen framework.

1.1     General Background to the Study

Nigeria is a multi-lingual country-blessed with about 512 languages (Gojeh, Jatau and Mammah 1998). Spoken within and outside the country, but only few of these languages have been committed to writing. Interestingly, this work is ultimately targeted at ensuring that Koro-Ija language, a language without orthography occupies it dignified position by way of making explicit what is implicit about the language in record time.

This study focuses on the aspects of Noun phrase of Koro-Ija language. The language is spoken in some parts of Plateau, Kaduna and Niger States.

It is spoken by the population of about 150,000 speakers. (Gordon 2005). They are majorly known as Rugo among themselves, the language is predominantly spoken in ija-koro village, Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State.

The Koros people are administered by clan hands and they are assisted by the chivies. The migrated from Zana emirate i.e the Kingdom of Kwararafa which date back to 19th century also by Gordon (2005). The person that led the migration was called Najaja. He is a hunter, Ija-Koro was derived from his name. His fact that the place is comfortable for him, which is known as Koro.

As an introductory, chapter, I shall focus firstly on the historical background of Ija-Koro, Socio-cultural Background, Genetic Classification, Scope and Organization of the study, Theoretical framework and Brief Review of the Chosen Framework, Data Collection and Data Analysis.

Bearing in mind that a community without a written orthography is tantamount to a society without an identity.

My mission is that after, putting forward my contribution, this language (Koro-Ija) will be able to compete favourably with the superior ones that have wider representation. I hope that my target shall meet the need for which it is intended.

1.2     Historical Background

There exist many versions of the origins of the Koro-Ija language. Some primary and secondary sources of oral bases, assured monolithic origin for the Koros. However, all these contradictory versions reflect migrations and interrelations.

According to Na’ibi and Hasan in their book ‘A chronicle of Abuja’

‘Another popular legend of the Koros claimed that they were evidently influenced by the attempt to link their origin to the universal perspective and centres of old civilization. This legend claimed that one Koro and his younger brother Jukun were born east of Mecca and settled in “Apa”, which became the capital Kwararafa Kingdom. He was blessed with four children named Igala, Nupe and two daughters, Igbala in turn begot Alago and Idoma, one of the daughters of Jukun begot. Ankwe (Gojeh and Jatau 1998:9).

From linguistics evidence of some Koro the legend of Koro and his brother Jukun were not from Mecca. Infact, some Koro, Kanun, Jukun and Arab do not belong to the same linguistic group as evidenced in the recent linguistics classification of Gordon (2005).

The above legend contradicts the oral account narrated by Sarkin Muhammed Yawa, the present village head and 14th chief of Ija-Koro village.

According to him, a group of Koro people left Zaria area on a hunting expedition to old Abuja Emirate, years before the Hausa Zazzau came to Abuja (Suleja) under the leadership of Shiwoyi who later became the first chief of Ija-Koro. They later discovered that the land was blessed with thick foliage and more games, they decided to settle very close to the forest, close to the Kata (Gbayi) people who they met there and who also welcomed them without any rancour or bitterness.

1.3     Socio-Cultural Profile

The Koros are known for unshakable peace and unflinching tolerance even with other distinct neighbours. The ideal life of the Koros are tolerance and respect for others, which they believe are indispensable for survival and productivity. The puzzle of Koro social psychology attracts scholarly interest to examine the binding forces. Other groups are most comfortable with them for their human relations, accessibility, peace and docility.

They are identified through joking relations, common facial marks sharing of foods, traditional/ cultural consultation, moving together in the market or social occasion and sometimes forging common origin.

1.3.1  Cultural Values

Cultural values are the cherished tradition and ethos, which are desirable to their society and taken as normative civilization.

They are expectations and practices that make life meaningful and anticipation of better tomorrow. One observable cultural value of these people is good mind and behaviour and predisposition to work as demanded.

They values submissive character discipline, pre-disposition to obey orders and fulfill responsibilities. This is re-enforced through organization of age- grades, favour for the behavoured and punishment for the deviants. They also love organizing their societies with a structural authorities some of which are religious and some administrative.

1.3.2  Governance / Administration of Koros

The unit of authority starts with the household under its house head called ‘Pinwada” or “Ikpunkuya”. The household heads are answerable to the clan-head (ebe-tuko) or ward head.

They are also answerable to the village head (Ezmela), all the village heads are answerable to the chief (Osu) who might even be the village head. The Osu or Ghere-Ghabin is turbaned like and emir since colonial days.

The committed leadership attracted the administration of Arab and European writers and remarked that they were world famous in governance better than European, Asia or American systems.

However, the Koro system or government was purely Confederal arrangements for sporadic consortium against invaders. In attempt to account for the semi-autonomous nature of the village groups, some informants simply submitted that they were kingdoms independent of external control and reduced over big settlement into a kingdom.

1.3.3  Religion and Festivals

The Koros are dominantly traditional worshippers with every families having its own ancestral shrine. There were also clan shrines (ebe-tukwo). Town shrine and individual or town cults and sanctuaries (ashma ukuk) many pre-colonial polities were purely exercising cultural and religions control of tribes while excluding non-tribe even in the dame settlement. Hence, individuals and families paid more allegiance to their king and cultural cum religions heads.

Festivals are organized to unite their entire king far and near, and their chief priests regarded as rulers or their tribe only, but without defined territory.

Till now, the Koros are culturally vibrant. There is also an annual festival called Kuye, it is celebrated to commemorate the death of Nayaja, the great hunter who emancipated the Koros from the shackles of hukdas and led them to their, present location. An antelope most be castled as the festival rites or atonement. However, some of these festivals have reduced in importance because of the influence of western education.

1.3.4  Marriage Rites

Just like any other tribe or language, marriage is a sin-qua-non (necessity) to human existence; hence, it is unavoidable to any society. It is the only universal approach to procreation. The koros engage in union through secret negotiation between the family of the bride and the groom initially, the groom and the bride are secluded from this arrangement. This is so because, premarital intercourse is forbidden in Koro tribe.

Marriage ceremony here is garnished accomplished with different traditional display among which is the physical combat between young boys, unlike in other parts of Nigeria where marriage is celebrated in the daytime. In Ijakoro, celebration galore starts at night with intriguing traditional dances maiden (s) are on ground to entertain guest with terrific dance step. There is a traditional method during marriage rites called “keep chance” this is employed when the stage is overcrowded.

One distinctive thing about their marriage is that a girl of 14 or 15 may be given out in marriage.

Finally, every father in Koro sees it as a pride to witness the marriage of his son. The father may cast a cause on the son, if he decided not to marry as at when due or at the appropriate time.

1.3.5  Burial Rites

Death is accompanied just like any other tribes with sorrow and agony people gather at the village square. The relations come out in mass with their various masquerades and they were traditionally expected to dance till down, before the deceased will be curial to the grave, the masquerades jumps over the corpse sever times.

Relatives, friends, sons and grandsons spray money on the corpse as transport for his journey to his ancestors. A masquerades shout indicates readiness for the burial.

The corpse will be carried shoulders high in readiness for the grave. The specialists known as “Abuyo” are waiting for the corpse behind the graveside to do the burial proper.

Another specialist waits at the inner room of the grave waiting for the corpse. Finally two negative are called to bid the corpse goodbye.

Seven nights of dancing and a formed ceremony will be inaugurated as final valedictory service.

1.3.6  Attitude and Cultural Beliefs

The people of Ija-koro were noted for their rich and catchy culture. The language cultural ethnics and values advocate for a no limit “respect”. To them, “agrey hair can’t be purchased from the market”.

The community is a place away from home i.e the hospitable spirit of its inhabitant is inestimable. Apart from this, the moral principle of its people transcends the materialistic ethos of our time.

Their maids are not allowed to involve in premarital sex because it is an abomination (in the past, but not absolutely this day). This contradicts what is obtainable in this morally decaying society.

All these fascinating qualities were in evidenced or seen in the informant’s unselfish disposition to render assistance whatever the need arises.

1.4     Geographical Location

The Koros are found in the federal capital territory, Abuja (FCT), Niger and Kaduna States respectively. In Kaduna State they live together in Kagarko Local Government Area (LGA) in Koro and Jere Chiefdom. In Niger State, they live together in Kuta, Chanchanga and Suleja. In FCT, they live in the whole of Bwarri and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).

Their population was given by Barret (1992) as 45,000 (Gordon 2005). There was no estimate for the Koro of Nassarawa State in Parda, Keiru and Keffi LGAS. The population of the Koro of Niger was conservatively put at 150,000 in 2007.

1.5     Economy

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Koro’s economy. Commercial and subsistence farming are dominant. Yam and Maize are the major article of trade. The land has varying proportion of Silica, Salt, Nitrogen and phosphorus. It is alluvial and sticky in the paddy areas and sandy on the up lands and fertile. They make plants grow well.

The boom in agricultural production is related to the fertility of soils. It is interesty to note here that faming in this region is of great antiquity. The ethnobotanical and archaeological findings suggest that farming date back to 3,000 BC.

However, agriculture here did not possess the rich potentialities that belonged to it in the other regions Agricultural produce are sold in a weekly market called Ija-Koro market.

1.6     Education

It is beyond the shadow of doubt that, the issue of Western education in today society if dominant and nearly unavoidable Ija-koro, a small speech community in Tafa Local Government Area of Niger State is exampled forms this so called nomenclature.

The land of literacy is very low among the Koros to the extended that nearly 85% of the Ija-Koro people can neither read nor write.

Since the languages have not been committed to writing there is a very clear indicates that, it is not a language of education. Contrarily, it possible for a Koro teacher to code-mix i.e adapts his/ her native language in teaching. This is to ensure clarity and brevity in explanation.

1.7     Relationship with Neighbouring Town

The immediate neighbouring towns and villages to Ija-Koro include Koro-Zuba and Ija-bwari. They are friendly with their neighbour it usually attracts something good to them.

The Koro people find it extremely easy to interact with neighbours since they were mostly polyglot. Apart from this, the similarities in lexical items of the people and their neighbour bridges the gap of communication barrier commercial linkage is established at a very convent form.

1.8     Genetic Classification of Ija-Koro Language

Languages are related to one another, some are more closely related while others are distantly related. On the basis of these relationships, languages are classified into families or phyla, within each family various sub-division can still be established.

The classification of African languages, distinguished four major groups called phyla namely: Afro-Asiatic, Niger-Kordofanian, Nile-Shoran and Khoisan. Only three of these families are represented in Nigeria majority of Nigeria languages belong to Niger-Kordofanian phylum which coincidentally is my major concern.

Koro-Ija is a sub-division of Niger-Kordofanian what is Genetic classification?

It is the sub-grouping of all relevant languages into a genetic. This is away of classifying all languages that are related into one group, domain or Node.

A node is a group of language that are closely related to the other than to any language outside the group.

The other group Niger-Congo has more than 1,000 languages and they have about 180million speakers while Kordofanian over area of concentration is Benue-Congo which is a sub-group of Niger-Kordofanian where over language of specification is found.

Meek quoted by Gojeh, Jatau and Mamah (1998:18) classified it simply as:

“Nigerian semi-Bantu with no further Finenent Gordon’s (2005) linguistics family tree tracs Koro to have originated from among the Niger-Congo group of languages through the Atlantic Congo, Volta-Congo, Benue-Congo, Plateau Western to North Western Koro.

1.9     Scope and Organization of the Work

This project describes the structure of Noun phrase in Koro-Ija language. It aim at studying the language and to know more about Koro-Ija language as much had not been written about it. It is in view of this that I decided to study the aspect of Noun phrase in Koro-Ija language.

This research work is divided into five chapters, chapter one deals with general background, historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, Theoretical framework, data collection and data analysis, scope of study and brief review of chosen framework.

Chapter two covers the basic phonological concept i.e sound inventory, tonal system and syllable structure and basic syntactic concepts which included, phrase structure rules, lexical categories, basic word order and sentience types.

The third chapter deals with the syntactic focus area that is Noun phrase of Koro-Ija language, function of Noun phrase.

Chapter four is all about the syntactic transformational processes that occur in the language such as focus construction, Relativization, Passivization, question formation and negation.

The last chapter, which is the fifth deals with Summary, Conclusion, Recommendations and References.

1.10   Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework of this research project is based on the generative grammar popularized by Chomsky and other linguist. This helps in the description of word found in the language as in the analysis of the data collected from the native speakers with the use of descriptive grammar.

The syntactic part of this research is based on the Government and Binding theory, which incorporate the theory of the structure of phrases known as x-bar syntax. This is aimed at expressing general phrase structure of all human language rather than features that are particular to one part of a language or to a single language.

This theory proposes that there are certain modules, which conspire to tell a native speaker of a language that a grammar is correct. There are various segments that work together to let a speaker know that his grammar is right, these segments are called modular grammar some of these modules are: projection principle, x-bar theory, theta theory, case theory, binding theory, bounding theory, control theory, government and binding theory.

All these modules conspired to show that there is something universal about languages the government and binding theory incorporated all these together to show the relationship between the modules of grammar under the Government and Binding theory is shown below, this shows the relationship between the principles and sub-theory of Government and Binding theory.

1.10:1Government and Binding Theory

Government and Binding Theory (GB) will be used in the analysis of noun phrase in Koro-Ija language. This theory is a modular deductive theory of universal grammar (UG), which posits multiple levels of representation related by the transformational rule (moved). However, it is more advanced theory of Universal Grammar. Sanusi (1996:19-21)

Haegman (1991:13) defined Government and Binding theory as the 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 parameters theory. In GB theory, the grammar is a continuous interaction between component and sub-theories embodying different principles and parameters.

Again, Sanusi (1996:21) explained that Government and Binding Theory greatly eliminates proliferation of transformational rules, like passive, affix-hopping, verb-number agreement, question formation, equi-NP deletion, raising, permutation, insertion e.t.c.

Government and Binding theory operate through the Modules of grammar like Government, case, theta, control, binding, and bounding and x-bar theory.

1.10.2 Sub-Theories of Government and Binding

Horrock (1987:29) stated that, the lore grammar of a given language is derived from the interaction of sub-theories of Universal Grammar. There sub-theories are inter-related that each of them can account for grammatically or ungrammaticality of any sentence. These sub-theories are:

x-bar theory

Case theory

Government theory

Control theory

Binding theory

Bounding theory

Theta theory

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

X-bar Theory                 The projection                   Lexicon

X-bar Theory

Base on appropriate analysis for the research work, x-bar is the theory to be adopted for comprehensive analysis.

Chomsky (1986:3) is of the opinion that x-bar theory in one or another of its variants, lexical entrails can be limited to minimal from with indication of no more than inherent and selection 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 large number of idiosyncratic rule with general principles, it capture properties of all phrases, not just those of a certain type, and it bases the syntax on lexical categories that link with entries in the lexicon.

Haegman (1994:104) stated that x-bar theory is the part of grammar regulating the structure of phrase.

Webelbum (1995:18) however, explained that, x-bar theory is the central Module of the principle and parameters approach in syntax.

A phrase in x-bar syntax always contains at least a head as well as other constituents Cook (1988:94).

The head of the projection is zero projection (x0) heads are terminal modes, they dominated words x-bar theory distinguishes two level of project complement combines with x to form x1 projection X’ to from X’ projection (X ® X’. YP). The specified combines with the topmost X’ to form the maximal projection XP (XP spec; X’)

Indeed, it is shown above that, the liner order of the constituent with respect to the head of the project is not universally fixed.

However, as proposed in Chomsky (1986a) every maximal projection (XP) has as specified of XP position, the intermediate X1 projection serving as XP’s core where the cone consists of the head.

(X0) and the compliment, which can be a maximal projection on it own.

Due to the fact that, X-bar theory bring out, what is common and constitute the structure of phrase. X-bar theory will be the applicable theory to be used in the analysis Koro-Ija Noun phrase.

1.11   Data Collection

Samarin (1967:43) say:

“The kind of corpus a field researcher obtains is determined by the purpose and techniques he adopts in his data collection”.

The focus of this research is largely and primarily for language description.

There are two types of data collection they are:

Information method

Introspective method

The introspective method is kind of method where by the investigator serves as his or her own informant.

The informant method is a type that relies on the knowledge of the native speaker of the language understudy for purpose of collecting data.

In this research work the method I used is informant approach, I was able to visit the village called Ija-Koro in Tafa Local Government of Niger State. During the visitation I was able to come across two competent native speakers of the language (Koro-Ija). Below are pieces of information about the informants.

Name:                   Jubril Galadima

Sex:                      Male

Age:                      40years

Occupation:          Teacher

Number of years spent in the village: Since birth

Name:                   Alhaji Mohammed Bawa

Sex:                      Male

Age:                      65years

Occupation:          Makele (Blacksmith)

Tittles:                  Village Head

Number of years spent in the village: Since birth

During the interaction with the informants I was able to present to them the Ibadan worldlist of 400 items, which I asked them to be calling it for me in their native language. The informants were able to call each item for me 3 times for the sake of clarity.

I also make use of framework technique, which is the basis for collecting syntactic data on the language of study, in other to make it easier to determine the actual underlying from of constituent and syntactic context in which a word or constituent occur within a grammatical sentence and also to determine the basic word order.

1.12   Data Analysis


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