In this chapter, basic information about the language of study
(Yeskwa) shall be given. The chapter centers on background information about
the language, the historical background of speakers, the sociolinguistic
profile of the people as well as, the genetic classification of the Yeskwa
language. We shall later proceed to scope and organization of study,
theoretical framework, data analysis, data collection, and later to basic
syntactic concepts. We shall finally focus on VERB PHRASE in Yeskwa language
and application of transformation rules to Yeskwa language.
1.1 GENERAL BACKGROUND
Yeskwa is a language spoken in Kaduna, Nassarawa, and Plateau
States. The name Yeskwa was originally called ‘Nyankpa’ meaning ‘to know leaf’,
but it was later changed to Yéskwá by the missionaries who could not pronounce
the name well.
Yeskwa speakers in Kaduna state can be found in the Kagoma
District of Jema’a Local Government Area. In Nassarawa State, Yeskwa speakers
are found in Panda district of Karu Local Government Area while in Plateau
state, they do not have a district of their own neither do they have a Local
Government Area of their own because they are mere settlers. Yeskwa speakers in
the Panda district of Karu Local Government Area are popularly known as Nyankpa
people. Yeskwa speakers form 60% of the populace while the other takes up the
remaining 40%. This clearly indicates that the speakers of the Yeskwa language
in the Panda district of Nassarawa state are more than any other people in the
Since speakers of the Yeskwa language happen to live in a
predominantly Hausa speaking community, it then follows that the Hausa language
is usually the second language of every Yeskwa native speaker. Hence, the
majority of Yeskwa native speakers also speak Hausa fluently.
Yeskwa language is still spoken currently and it is not threatened
by Hausa people. However, from a brief visit, there is every evidence that the
language continues to flourish and is spoken by the young people in the
1.2 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
OF YESKWA SPEAKERS
Yeskwa speakers claimed to have originated from Darigo in Kaduna
state. From an available corpus of oral evidence, the first Nyankpa man who
lived during the pre-historical period originated from a place called ‘DARIGO’.
The mystical place which is itself name after the founder of the language is up
to date, faithfully behaved with certainly, up to form part of the areas around
the hills situated North, East and West of the present Kwoi, now in Kaduna
state across the Gitata, Bagagji up to Uke areas of the present Nassarawa
A permanent foot mark and other archeological evidence of this
pre-historic advent of Nyankpa language can still be found at this orally
authentic place of origin called (Darigo). Darigo, the first Nyankpa man had a
wife called Obiche with whom they had several children. among these children
were Ovurgbe, Ontat, Onok (all males) and Oching (female). Each of them had his
or her own children who grew into the various clans we have in Nyankpa land
both home and in Diaspora today. The offspring from Ovurgbe became the Ovurgbe
clan. Those of Ontat form the Ontat clan while those of Onok are believed to be
founders of the old Nok of famous archeological monuments and indeed its
surrounding towns up to Kafancha, Kagoro, and Zunkwa area in the present Kaduna
Oching the only female is believed to have married probably to a
different language called Zho, then living at the foot of the hills where the
present Kwoi town in Kaduna state is situated. She had children with him out of
whose lineage the present Mada and Eggun language are believed to have sprung
from. The Nyankpa people are thus one of the proud archeological
ethnolinguistic clusters of the famous Nok area.
1.3 SOCIOLINGUISTIC PROFILE
The people have their own distinct culture and general way of
life. The Nyankpa people have been generally known in the literature as Yeskwa,
a Hausaised form of their name.
Although there are native speakers of Yeskwa in Kaduna, Nassarawa,
and Plateau State, they do not form a single speech community across these
states because of the phonological and morphological differences. These
differences do not interfere with intelligibility. They have a common history
and share similar social and cultural ideologies. Yaskawa is conventionally
divided into twenty mutually comprehensible dialects and Titatara is said to be
the main dialect.
As per the role of the Yeskwa language in education, the research
conducted by the researcher revealed the important role play by the Yeskwa
language in the area of education. It is a language used in elementary and
secondary schools. The language used as a language of instruction or taught as
a subject within both primary and secondary schools in the language area.
However, it has said not to attain a high level of standardization nor has it
been studied in the Nigeria Universities.
The role of Yeskwa as a language in the field of commerce cannot
be overemphasized. Its role is as old as the existence of the Anyankpas. Yeskwa
language is used by the majority of people to transact business between each
other or among one another.
Above all, Christian broadcasts scriptures in the Yeskwa language.
Hence, the majority of Yeskwa native speakers also speak Hausa fluently.