1.0 General Background of the Study
Language is the
fabrics that ties every member of the society together, which serves as an
instrument used by man for specific and distinguishable purposes. Indeed, the
focus of this research is to shed light on how verb phrases are formed in
Migili language. Therefore, the first chapter of this research is focused on
the genetic classification of Migili language. As an introductory chapter,
attempts shall be made to trace the origin, socio-cultural profile,
administrative system, religion, geographical location, topography (life zone)
economy, marriage rites, map, genetic classification of Migili. Effort shall
also be extended to the organization of the study, theoretical framework
together with a review of the chosen theory, data collection and analysis and
some syntactic concept.
According to Crystal
(1994: 420) syntax is the study of the rules governing the way words are
combined to form grammatical sentences in contrast with morphology that studies
word structure. This branch of linguistics is concerned with how words are
combined to form phrases are sentences in a rule governed manner. In a
nutshell, words are not together in a random order, they follow certain
observable patterns in any language.
1.1 Historical Background of Migili
Migili refers to the
name of a language and also a group of people. The Migili people constitute
about 96% of the total population of Agyaraoju Obi Local Government, Nasarawa
State in Nigeria; with a total population of about 18,000.
History has it that
different tribes including Migili, Alago, Eggon all settled at Korofa Kingdom
in Taraba state. It was said that a man named Akuka was denied the right to the
throne and as a result had to leave Kororofa together with some other members
of the Migili tribe to a place called Ukari and later to Lafia region. Some of
them moved to Abuja, Minna in Niger State, Kubacha in Kaduna state.
The Eggon tribe are
also neighbours of the Migilis with some of them having the knowledge of Migili
language has various alternate names such as: Higili, Migili, Koro of Lafia.
1.2 Socio-Cultural Profile
Like most communities
around them, the socio-cultural background of the people of Migili include:
Occupation, Religion, Festival, Mode of Dressing, Marriage.
The Migilis are
farmers to the core. Yam is the major cash crop that is being produced in the
area. Some other agricultural produce include guinea corn, maize, millet,
groundnut, and beans. However, they also engage in wearing and artistic works.
The land has varying proportion of nitrogen and phosphorus, it is sandy on the
up land, it makes plant grow well, agricultural product are sold in the market
called Migili market once in a week.
The Migili people are
predominantly Christians. Before the coming of the missionaries, the Migilis’
were traditional worshippers who had belief in ancestral gods. By the coming of
Christianity, a lot of people who were traditional worshippers became converts
and embraced Christianity.
One major festival in
Migili land is the Odu masquerade festival. The Odu masquerade is dressed in
colourful masks and displays great dancing skills with spectacular dancing
skills and beautiful dance steps. According to the people, Odu was the god of
war and it is believed that he helped the people win battles, equipping them
with magical and spiritual powers which made them unconquerable. In every
village in Migili, there is a small building built for the Odu masquerade
around which he will dance for three (3) days.
1.2.4 Mode of
The people of Migili
are fashionable people. These are people who still preserve the tradition of
their ancestors and their rich culture. In the olden days, both male and female
were usually seen wearing bracelet, cowries, beads. Another distinguishing
feature of the Migilis’ was the plaiting of head by both men and women.
civilization plays a significant role in the mode of dressing of the people as
most of them especially the younger ones now dress into western manner.
Before the coming of
the missionaries into the Migili society marriage was done by the father of the
boy approaching the mother of the girl (from birth) and paying a token amount
of money to her parents. Once this has been done the girl was said to be
betrothed and will continue to live with her parents until she gets about
fifteen (15) years of age. The boy pays his first installment of her dowry and
farms for the father-in-law once every year.
Today marriage are
done in churches and unlike before women are free to choose their groom and are
not mandated to marry from their society alone.
1.3 Genetic Classification
Greenberg (1966: 8) African languages belong to various families, and there are
four main groups. These groups are: Niger Kordofania, Nilo Sahara, Afro-Asiatic
REPRESENTATION OF GENETIC CLASSIFICATION OF IJAKORO LANGUAGE
1.4 Scope and Organization of Study
This research is
aimed at discussing the general overview of verb phrase in Migili language.
This research work is divided into five chapters which are relevant aspects of
the theory of syntax.
Chapter one which is
the introductory part includes the historical background, socio-cultural
profile, the scope and organization of study as well the theoretical framework,
the data collection method and data analysis and lastly, a brief review of the
Chapter two shall
focus on sound inventory, the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure
rule, lexical categories, basic word order and the sentence types.
contains the main aspect of the study which is the verb phrase. In this chapter
the nature of verb phrase in Migili language and the processes that are
attested will be discussed.
Chapter four will
examine the transformational processes such as focusing, relativization,
relfexivization, passivisation and question formation.
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.
1.5 Theoretical Framework
The theory to be
adopted in this research is the government and binding theory in the analysis
of Verb Phrase in Migili language.
1.6 Data Collection
This research is made
possible through the bi-lingual language helper. However, the Ibadan four
hundred word list and some sentence constructions are used to extract necessary
information from the language helpers (informants) The method of collection was
through direct translation from English to Migili language. The language helper
speaks Migili, English, Hausa, and Eggon.
Mr. Ayuba Osibi
Haruna one of the language helper is a typist in the local government
secretariat, Agyaragu Obilocal government. Also, Revered Albert, a man of God
1.7 Data Analysis
one hundred and fifty sentences were collected from the native speaker. In
order to have accurate analysis for this research, the Ibadan four hundred
wordlist with an equivalent meaning of the item in Migili language was used.
Also, the frame
technique used in his research is by framing of sentences in English language
and the translation of these sentences into Migili 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
1.8 Review of the Chosen Framework
The theory to be used
in the analysis of Verb Phrase in Migili 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. However, it is a more advanced theory of universal grammar. Sanusi
Again, Sanusi (1996:
21) explained that government and binding theory greatly eliminates
proliferation of transformational rules like passive, affix, hoping verb-number
agreement, question formation, equi-NP deletion, raising permutation, insertion
Hegman (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
In government and
binding theory, the grammar is a continuous interaction between component and
sub-theories embodying different principle and parameters.
binding theory operate through the modules of grammar like government, case,
theta control, binding, bounding, and X-bar theory.
1.8.1 Sub-Theories of
Government and Binding
Horrock (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 or ungrammaticality of any
sentence. These sub-theories are: X-bar theory, case theory, government theory,
control theory, binding theory, bounding theory and the theta theory.
The above listed sub-theories
are diagrammatically represented below to show the inter-relationship among
MODULAR THEORY OF
PHONETIC FORM LOGICAL FORM
(Adapted from Cook (1988: 33).
Based on appropriate
analysis, for this research work, X-bar is the theory to be adopted for
According to Chomsky
(1981) “the X-bar theory is the central module of the principles and
paramenters approach in syntax”.
Also, Haegeman (1994)
says that the X-bar theory is the part of grammar regulating the structure of a
The core of X-bar
theory is the recognition of the fact that phrasal constituents have ‘head’
upon which the other elements of the constituents in question are dependent.
(Horrocks 1987: 63) He submits that items which are involved in
sub-categorization and which are in most cases interrupted as arguments of the
head, appear with the head X in a phrasal category X-bar. X-bar is called a
phrasal ‘projection’ of head, in this case the smallest constituent X as a
sub-constituent (Horrocks, 1987: 64).
From the above, the
cover symbol ‘X’ stands for the set of lexical categories which head phrases,
as in V (for verb), N (for noun), Adj (for adjective), P (for preposition), Adv
(for adverb), such that N heads NP, V heads VP, P heads PP, Adj heads Adjp and
Adv heads Advp. This implies that phrasal categories e.g. VP, PP, NP, AP all
have heads that belong to the same category as the phrasal category (Akmajian,
(1987) explains that X-theory periods principles for the projection of phrasal
categories from lexical categories and imposes conditions of hierarchical
organization of categories in the form of general schemata. Thus, the general
phrase structure rule schema for phrasal categories would be: XP à
Where ‘comp’ which
stands for complement could be a ‘PP’ or an ‘NP’ with ‘X’ standing for a
lexical category e.g. P. N, V etc. This implies that when ‘X’ represents ‘N’,
it means that ‘XP’ is an ‘NP’, when ‘X’ represents ‘V’, then ‘XP’ is a ‘VP’ and
In summary, the major
concern of the X-bar theory is to describe the syntactic and formal structures
of phrases and the inherent general characteristics they have in common.
1.9 Case Theory
According to Horrocks
(1987: 102), “case theory deals with the principle of case assignment to
Yusuf (1998: 26)
defines case theory as a theory that deals with the forms that NPs take in
different syntactic environments.
assignment of case is done under government theory in which the choice of case
is determined by the governor.
Yusuf went further to
say that adjacency is required for case assignment. This means, case assignees
and the assignors must be contiguous with no barrier blocking the discharge of
the (Abstract) case.
He also makes it
clear that, case assignor are always head of their phrases and are adjacent to
the complements that receive the case (pg. 28).
The implication is
that, a verb cannot assign any case to prepositional phrase as there is an NP
barrier. That blocks such a transfer.
The three common case
under Government and Binding theory are:
assigned by tensed INFL
assigned by verb
Oblique case assigned
1.10 Theta Ө
Another module under
GB theory is theta theory. The submission of this theory is that a lexical
category will have Ө attributes either as
assigner or assignee.
101-107) says Ө-theory is concerned with the
assignment of what Chomsky called ‘thematic’ roles to sentential constituents. By
thematic roles, Chomsky means thematic assignment called semantic roles such as
agent, patient, etc. It is assumed that these are assigned to the complements
of lexical items as a lexical property.
Play the ball on the
The NP complement
“the ball” is assigned the role of patient or theme while the PP complement is
assigned the role of location.
In all, the
fundamental task of Ө-theory is to
determine the circumstances (i.e. the syntactic position) occupied by an NP as
well as the governor of such position in the sentence.
The goalkeeper threw
the ball to the opponent
The goalkeeper à
The ball à Direct object
The opponent à
The main principle of
criterion which requires each thematic role to be uniquely assigned. Each
argument bears one and only one Ө-role
is assigned to one and only one argument. Yusuf (1998: 124).
expressed roles are agents, theme, instrument, locative (goal, source,
direction) and a few more.
further that, participants are assigned these roles in the D-structure,
whatever it is, the V or P assigned Ө-roles
to their governed complement while the VP assigns a role to be subject NP.
The thrust of Ө-criterion
is that every argument (be it subject, direct or indirect object) must have a Ө-role.
1.11 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 (1998: 45) in
his own view states that binding theory is concerned with the relationships of
NP participants in the sentence. Precisely, binding theory shows how NP can be
related to another NP.
Chomsky (1988: 520)
submits that binding theory deals with the connection among Noun Phrases that
have to do with such semantic properties as dependence 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:
These are NP types
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
Ade hurts himself
“Himself” in the
above sentence refers back to Ade, therefore Ade is the antecedent which
licensed its existence.
These are NPs that
lack specific lexical content and have only the features; person, number,
gender and case they either refer to individuals independently or co-refer to
the individuals already mentioned in a given sentence. E.g.
Bola greeted her
“Her” may refer to
the individual denoted by Bola, or another individual not mentioned in the
These are NPs lexical
heads which potentially refer to something.
A referential expression is also known as R-e