LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
plus or added to
TABLE OF CONTENT
List of Abbreviations
Table of Content
CHAPTER ONE: YESKWA
LANGUAGE AND ITS SPEAKERS
1.0 General Introduction
1.1 Historical Background
1.2 The Administrative Circle
1.3 Geographical Location and Map
1.4 Socio- Cultural Profile
1.5 Genetic Classification
1.6 Scope and organization of study
1.7 Data collection
1.8 Data analysis
1.9 Brief Review of theoretical Framework
CHAPTER TWO: SOUND
INVENTORIES AND SOUND PATTERNS IN YESKWA
2.1 Sound inventories in Yeskwa language
2.1.1 The vowel in Yeskwa Language
220.127.116.11 Vowel sound occurrence in Yeskwa
2.1.2 The consonant in Yeskwa language
18.104.22.168 Consonants sounds occurrence Yeskwa
2.1.3 Suprasegmental features in Yeskwa language
22.214.171.124 Tonal Inventory
2.2 Syllable structure of Yeskwa language
2.2.1 Basic syllabic structure in Yeskwa Language
ASPECTS OF YESKWA MORPHOLOGY
3.1. Morphology of Yeskwa
3.1.1 Morphemes in Yeskwa language
3.1.2 Morpheme types
126.96.36.199 Free morpheme in Yeskwa language
188.8.131.52.1 Functional morpheme Yeskwa language
184.108.40.206.2 Lexical morpheme Yeskwa language
220.127.116.11 Bound morpheme Yeskwa language
18.104.22.168.1 Inflectional morpheme in Yeskwa language
22.214.171.124.2 Derivational morpheme in Yeskwa language
3.2 Allomorphs in Yeskwa language
3.3 Morphology of word class in Yeskwa
3.4 Morphological language typology
3.4.1 Isolating language
MORPHOLOGICAL PROCESSES IN YESKWA
4.1 Compounding in Yeskwa language.
4.2 Reduplication in Yeskwa language.
4.3 Affixation in Yeskwa language.
4.3.1 Prefixation in Yeskwa language.
4.3.2 Suffixation in Yeskwa language.
4.3.3 Zero Affixation in Yeskwa language
4.4 Borrowing in Yeskwa language.
SUMMARY, OBSERVATION, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
YESKWA LANGUAGE AND
1.0 General Introduction
Language is a major
means of communication, interaction and relation in the human society. Language
is the network that connects human society together in a lively mood making it
a lively place to stay.
Language is “human
vocal sound, or it is the graphic representation of signs and symbol,
gesticulations and signals for the purpose of communication.” Language is
simultaneously a physical process and a way of sharing meaning among people, a
language in this sense is a system of signs for encoding and decoding
information. In another words, language is “an instrument of thought, that is,
a psycho social interactive measure which binds human society together in
communities and linguistic groups.” The use of language has become deeply
entrenched in human culture and, apart from being used to communicate and share
information, it also has social and cultural uses, such as signifying group
identity, social stratification and for social grooming and entertainment.
This work serves as a
channel to show case Yeskwa language and also to bring it into the lime light
of the real world of the academician.
Yeskwa language is
spoken in the north- west of Nasarawa state, in Karu local government area and
Kaduna state in Jema’a local government area, all in the Northern region of
Nigeria. Yeskwa language is spoken by about thirty-two thousand speakers
[32,000] as at 2008 [from Ethnologue.com] . Most of the speakers are
multilingual, that is, they are able to speak more than their native language
This work will
concentrate on the morphological aspects of Yeskwa language, that is, the
organization of words and formation of words, studying to bring out the
morphological beauty of the language by identifying, analyzing and describing
forms of words, the morphemes; free and bound morphemes; Derivational versus
inflectional, morphological processes and many more in Yeskwa language.
1.1 Historical Background of Yeskwa People.
The first Nyankpa man who lived
during the pre-historic era came from a place called “Darigo”. This place was
named after the founder of the language, till now this mystical place form
parts of the areas around the hills located North East and West of the present
Kwoi, in Kaduna state across to Gitata, Bagaji up to Uke areas of the Nasarawa
Darigo, was married to Obiche, with whom they had many children, some of
the children are named, Ovurgbe, Onat, Onok (all males) and Oching (female).
The grand children to Darigo produced by his biological children grew up to
different clans present in Nyankpa land both at home and in diasporas.
Ovurgbe’s children later became the Ovurgbe clan, Onatat’s offspring was shaped
into Ontat clan and those of Onok are believed to have been the pioneer of the
old Nok of famous archeological monuments and indeed environs like Kafanchan,
Kagoro and Zonkwa area in the present Kaduna state. It is believed that, Mada
and Eggon language sprung Oching’s lineage today. The Nyankpa people are thus
one of the proud archaeological ethno-linguistic clusters of the famous Nok
area. A permanent
foot mark and other archaeological evidence of this pre-historic advent of
Nyankpa language is present at the orally authentic place of origin called
From the other hand, Yeskwa language speakers migrated from Maiduguri, a
part in the northern Nigeria. In the bush they migrated to then, which is now
their present permanent location of habitation, the name of the language was
derived from the situation of their immigrants fore-father, meaning ‘we deviate
or leave from Maiduguri to this bush then what are we to call ourselves’ i.e.
Nyankpa is formed from two words, leaves “ankpa” and deviation.
The people are called
Yeskwa both in literature and by the Hausas, but they call themselves “Nyankpa”
and their language “Nyankpa”. The language is having Panda, Bede, Gitata (Buzi)
and Tattara as the main dialects of Yeskwa language, while Tattara is the
standard form of the language and Bede the most divergent dialects of Yeskwa
language. The alternative names are Anyankpa and Yasgua (according to
ethnologue). The population of the
people have graciously increased year after year because in 1973(Summer
Institute of Linguistics) they are about 13,000 but as at 2008 they are about
32,000 in number. The language is not threatened by any neighboring language or
prestigious language like Hausa language.
1.2 The Administrative Circle of Yeskwa
Prior to the advent
of colonial rule in Nigeria and before the 19th century, Nyankpa people had an
advanced functional system of governance, with their well shaped clans that
stayed independent of each other. Each clan had a head that gives justice and also
makes sure that each clan is well administered to.
These heads who are
called ‘odyongutep’ as the title also preside over meeting in their clans in
all matters, and they have the house or compound heads and elders of the clans
as their assistance in performing their duties right.
odyongutep were juju priest odyong nyanpka in each clan who perform purely
ritual rites. Their functions are mainly based on general issues of discipline,
and these are usually done in the juju shrine ‘ofu’. Also these priests have
selected elders called ‘Asa cisa’ to give a helping hand. The present odyong
nyankpa is Joel Sabo Awinge.
1.3 Geographical Location and Map
The language speakers
of Yeskwa language are located in the Northern part of Nigeria. About seven
hundred kilometers or more away from Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of
Nigeria. The speakers of Yeskwa language are founded in Karu Local Government
Area also formerly known as Keffi LGA in Nasarawa State, and Jema’a Local
Government Area in Kaduna State
1.4 Socio-Cultural Profile
Yule (2007:239) describes
“sociolinguistics as the interrelationship between two language and society”.
Socio-cultural is formed from three word or terms; language, society and
“It is important not
to overlook this social aspect of language because, in many ways, speech is a
form of social identity and is used consciously or unconsciously to indicate
membership of different social groups or different speech communities. A speech
communities is a group of people who share a set of norms, rules and
expectations regarding the use language. Investigating from this perspective is
known as “SOCIOLINGUISTICS”.
speakers have so many social plus cultural activities and lifestyles that
distinguish them from their neighbouring communities. They treat these
social-cultural ways of life with great reverence. Some of these
social-cultural activities will be exposed.
people engage mainly in farming, they
plant millet (Acha) , cassava (Logo), maize (Vuza), rice (Siyapa), okra
(Anvwago), sweet potato (Juma), sugar cane (Oleke), guava (Nkpocho), cotton
(Aluru), locust seeds (Emi), monkey-guava (Onkpwat), cowpea (Enep), sorghum
(Avu ), guinea-yam (Ocit) and so on. They are involved both in annual and
perennial farming. This is the major reason the men are polygamous, because
both wives and children help the man in farming processes. After the harvest
the women take their product to the market for sale. And in cases when the
products are in large quantity they export them to other communities and also
outside the state which is known as “dam” in Yeskwa language.
Dressing: There is
also something special about the way they dress. The ancestors of Yeskwa people
covered their nakedness with leaves, the women cover both breast and private
part only with leaves. Later on, they improved on their dressing changing from
the use of leaves to what they call “bente” which is made from animal skin
(this animals like leopard, cow, ram, etc.) This improved way of dressing was in
the 17th century and it went into extinction in the 70s. The ‘bente’ way of
dressing is majorly used by the men in order to hold their male organ (penis)
tightly. The women on the other hand made use of animal skin to cover their
breast with small piece of the animal skin to cover their private part, which
is made in form of short wrapper that wrapped their waist to cover their
As the world become
more civilized in dressing, the modern way of dressing among the Yeskwa
speakers is to cover their nakedness with sewed underwear like pants for both
women and men alike, and brassiere for the women especially those in their
youth age. Then the outer covering with sowed materials, for men, shirts and
trousers, and women, skirts, wrappers and blouses.
In ages past, the
ancient fathers of Yeskwa people (Anyankpa) engage in traditional religion.
They worship ‘Nan’ as their main god and some masquerades to be specific they
worship, namely; ‘terefu’, ‘jaku’, ‘dagba’, ‘awiya’, ‘ambabe’, ‘donko’, ‘yaka’,
‘gbarato’, ‘ofu’, ‘ogbeke’ and so on. The story changed when the white
missionaries came for mission in the land in 1912, through this Christianity
was introduced in the land and community. Later on Islam was brought into
Yeskwa through the influence of Usman Danfodio’s jihads. As at present, the
population of the Christians among the people
has greatly increased and has risen high above other religions with the
percentage 70% and the ratio seventy to thirty (70:30) to both traditional
religion and Islam.
Marriage is the
formal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife. Marriage is a means by
which reproduction can take place by further multiplying and increase in the
population of a community.
This aspect of life
is not taken by levity at all by yeskwa people, but with much seriousness.
Bosom friends (men) marry off their daughters to each other right from the time
their wives are pregnant (even as at the time they haven’t known the sex of the
unborn baby). After their wives put to bed, the father of the baby boy present
large quantity of dried locust bean powder to the mother of the baby girl with
which her meal is prepared till she is about seven years old (7yrs) when the
baby is seven years old her parent will bring her to her husband’s house, although,
she will be under the care of her mother-in-law. From that age, it is a must
that she pays her husband respect till when she is old. When she is old enough
i.e. when she reaches her puberty stage she will leave the mother-in-law to
settle down with her husband. The process is called ‘zam’ by the people meaning
traditional marriage. Through this method ladies virtue and dignity and is
preserved and treated with high regards and reverence.
Among the yeskwa people, polygamous is rampart and a normal way of life.
A man can have up to twelve wives and even more, depending on the capacity.
Polygamous is a way of helping the man in his farming occupation, that is both
the wives and their children helps the father in farming on his farm. Apart
from the father’s (husband’s) farmland, the wives have each or different
farmlands to themselves also each child is entitled to have a farmland to
his/herself. After working with their father, they retire to work on theirs.
Festival is a day or
period of celebration, and this is the time people from different homes comes
together in the universal lively mood in the town to celebrate in yeskwa. This
is a time, when numerous socio cultural belt of harmony fastened more tightly
among the people. The Yeskwa’s have numerous festivals, in this research work
only two will be show cased.
celebrate a festival called ‘ekokop’ by them when a grandfather has four
grandsons. This festival came to life because of their belief that the sons are
strong and gift from their gods. This festival is a way of showing appreciation
to the gods for blessing them with special gift. The grandfather provides meals
to all the invitees during the ceremony.
The second festival
that the Yeskwa’s will never treat with levity even though their religion
(Christianity or Islam) is not in support of which they still celebrate is
‘turning of the dead’. This is done after some years a person has died, during
the celebration a masquerade will represent the dead person, then horns called
‘ezo ezo’ a long wooden horn will be played with what they call ‘ontom’ during
the ceremony. The people also call the masquerades voice ‘ekpaciri’.
Their believe about
this, is that it is a way of making the journey of the dead safe to heaven,
they also believe that any family who refuses to perform this tradition can
lead to a dead trap to the other living members of the family. It is one of the
family members who is a matured man that usually put on the masquerade cloth,
and this masquerades represent the dead person on earth. During all these
festivals, there is usually merry all over the community because they are
wishing one of them who is dead a safe and smooth trip to heaven.
The points that has been
discussed under the broad topic socio-cultural using Yeskwa language, has
proved and showed that the Yeskwas are rich and wealthy when it comes to
culture and tradition.
1.5 Genetic Classification
states that; “the idea that groups of languages that share certain systematic
resemblance have inherited those similarities from a common origin is the basis
for genetic classification”. Also Greenberg (1966:8) explained that African
languages belong to various families, and there are four main groups namely;
Niger-kordofian, Nilo-sahara, Afro-asiatic and Khoisan.
Yeskwa language is
related to other African languages through the diagram of genetic
classification. This means or portrays that all languages grouped under African
languages relates in one way or the other, this is the usefulness of genetic
Yeskwa language is
sub-grouped under the platoid-west of language family. The below diagram figure
shows the detailed classification of Yeskwa language.
Scope and Organization of Study
In this research
work, an attempt has been made to investigate the aspect of the morphology of
the Yeskwa language spoken in Nasarawa, Karu Local Government (formerly Keffi)
and Kaduna state, Jema’a Local Government.
Thus, the study in
general has been systematically divided into five chapters, with each chapter
containing relevant linguistic information about the morphology of the
Chapter one addresses
the introductory part of this work, it includes the general background of
Yeskwa, the historical location where the people, the geographical location
where the people speaking Yeskwa language can be found, the socio-cultural
profile, with their religion, marriage and festival inclusive, the genetic
classification of Yeskwa language, as well as the theoretical framework, the
data collection, data analysis gotten data from Yeskwa language.
Chapter two examines
the sound inventories and the sound patterns in Yeskwa language with the
distribution of vowel and consonant sounds inclusive.
The third chapter
probes into the aspects of the Yeskwa morphology; morphemes types and language
typologies in Yeskwa language, also examined are the details of free and bound
morphemes with their kinds in Yeskwa language.
The fourth chapter
focuses on the morphological processes that are present in Yeskwa language, in
the formation of new words.
Chapter five, the
last chapter, summarizes, makes some recommendations and draws conclusion about
the whole work also with the references including the appendix containing the
400 word list.
1.7 Data Collection
The data collection
was done through the use of Ibadan word list of four hundred (400) lexical
items. The method used in the data collection is called contact method. The
data collection was possible through the language informants or helpers, who
are native speakers of Yeskwa language. Information about the informants used
in this research work are as follows; the first informant is Mr. Ayeme Efuna,
thirty- four years old, he is a state security officer by occupation. Mr.
Zachariah Muhammed is the second language helper, he is thirty years old, he
works with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC). The duo are native of
Kondoro in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa state, also both informant
are multilingual, aside Yeskwa language , they speak English, Hausa, Gbagi and
Eggon in addition to their native language. The minimum years they had stayed
in their home town is twenty-five years. The third informant is Mr. Abudullahi
Aminu, he is 63 years old, a native of Nasarawa state, a native speaker of
Yeskwa language, aside this he is able to speak Nupe, Hausa, Yoruba and a bit
of English language. He spent 25years in his home town, by occupation he is a
traditional medicine practitioner, also a Muslim by religion.
1.8 Data Analysis
Based on the Ibadan
400 wordlist and the frame technique collected through a direct translation
from English into Yeskwa language the data was analysed.
1.9 Brief Review of Theoretical Framework
Theories are bundles
of abstract representation that occurs in the linguistics repertoire of a
linguist. Theories are propounded in order to present a systematic account of
the linguistic knowledge or the competence of native speaker posses morphology
like other levels of language analysis has several theories that can be use to
The frame technique
that will be used in this research work is one of the most valued approaches to
morphology, this distinct approach was codified by two scholars by name
Bloomfield (1933) and Hockett (1954). This approach is linked with
structuralists’ linguistics because this approach was probe into by Bloomfield
in 1933 by organizing laws and rules which later developed into a system in
framework to be use in study is Morpheme based morphology. Henceforth, sees
word forms to be analysed as arrangements of morphemes. Morpheme based
morphology, a modern and sophisticated approach seek to maintain the idea of
the morpheme while accepting non- concatenative, analogical and other processes
that are problem free.
“A morpheme is
defined as the minimal meaningful unit of a language.”
This theory of
morphology that treat words as if they were made up of morphemes, place after
each other like beads on a string is called item and arrangement model. In
English language for example the word ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’ is a
single word in the dictionary but it is the joining of morphemes. This word
also proves the fact that in this model is putting the above word arrangement
in a language. The constituent can be analysed as follows;
preventing, like antivirus. [bound morpheme]
–dis – means not or the opposite. [bound morpheme]
–establish– means to
start or create.[free morpheme]
–ment– means a derivational way, it changes the word
to noun class from verb class.[bound
–arian– means a
derivational way of changing word class [bound morpheme] .
This word comprises
six morphemes; five bound morphemes and one free morpheme.
Misfortune > mis-
means bad [bound] + -fortunate means luck [free]
Misused > mis-
[bound] , -use – [free] , -ed-[bound] represent past tense
un-[bound] means ‘not’ +-envi- [free] +-able- [bound]
Tucker > tuck-
[free] + -er- [bound]
[bound] means three +-angle- [free] means shapes.