This work is on Atsam morphology. Atsam is one of the languages
spoken in Kauru local Government of Kaduna State. Another name for Atsam
language is ‘Chawei’
This chapter will be devoted to the historical and linguistic
background, geographical location, genetic classification, scope of study and
synopsis of chapters.
According to oral tradition, Atsam people are ethnic group found
in Kaduna State. They are predominantly found in States like Plateau, Nassarawa
and the Federal Capital Territory. Atsam people originated from Sango Kattaf.
Atsam speaking people can be found in Kauru Local Government Area
of Kaduna State. They share boundaries with Plateau, Kaduna Local Government in
the South and Zango Kattaf on the West. Atsam is spoken in six districts in
Kauru L. G. A. they are:
with its district head at Damakusuwa chawei. This district covers villages such
as Kisari, Mangual and Refingura.
chawei. It covers villages such as Baduru, and Kurmi, Risga.
chawei. With its district head at Fadan chawei. This district covers villages
such as Talo and Riban.
4. Pari with
its district head at Kaffin chawei. This district covers villages such as
Kaffin chawei, Pari among others.
district with its district head at Kizakoro, with villages like Kihoba, Kamaru.
Each district is headed by a district head.
the total ways of life of a people in terms of their bliefs, way of life or art.
Culture must be studied directly by studying behavior, customs, language and so
The aspect of Atsam that we shall discuss here covers their language,
festivals, religion, marriage rite, types of food they eat and jobs they engage
One of the festival in Atsam is “SHAKDODO” Shakdodo is the name of
a man who in account of the bad behaviors of his wives got angry and turned
into a river. Shakdodo is been scarified as dictated by the priests, food and
domestic animals such as Goat, Fowl, Guinea – corn are used to make sacrifice
to the river
not allowed to participate in this festival, any woman found, will be punished
by bringing items like Goat, Fowl to appease the river.
For a man and woman to get married in Atsam land, few steps are
taken. Firstly, there is an intermediary between the wife and the husband’s
family. It is the duty of the intermediary to make known the intension of both
families. The bride’s family will then decide if they want their daughter to
marry the man. After many consultations, a date is picked, this time; dowry of
the woman (bride) is paid along side with tubers of yam, kolanut, and some
yards of cloth. But if the couple is willing to have a church wedding or a
nikkah program, a separate day will be picked for it.
Burial ceremony is being conducted in several ways among the Atsam
people depending on the sex of the dead person. If an old man dies, “SHANGBARI”
a rite, is been performed in honor of the dead person for seven days, on the
40th day, another rite called “PEPIYON” is performed to appease the dead not to
forget his family members, this rites are not done for women.
1. MODE OF
six districts in Atsam; each district is headed by a district head. The head
are charged with maintenance of law and order within their domains. The
district heads are supported by a number of village heads within their domains
and below the village head are ward heads popularly known as the Mai’angwa. The
Mai’angwa reports to the village head.
village head District head Chief
(Res – Tsam)
The major occupation of the Atsam people are farming, Craftmaking,
Beekeeping, but the dominant occupation among the Atsam people is farming.
The dominant religion among the Atsam people is Christianity.
According to the informant, Muslims are not many in Atsam.
1.5 SOCIOLINGUISTIC PROFILE
language is used as a means of communication in School, Churches and Market
places. Atsam is spoken in Kauru Lacal Government area of Kaduna State, though
it was said that Hausa language has in one way or the other contributed to the
death of many languages spoken in Northern part of Nigeria. Hausa is used as a
medium of instruction in Schools while English language is learned as the
target language. Atsam is a minority language among the Atsam people while
Hausa is a language of wider communication.
Neighbouring language groups communicate with Atsam language due to their
unique character in terms of accommodating, peace keeping and friendly act.
Atsam speakers are only about 30, 000, is used as a means of communication
within Atsam speakers in market places, during festive periods.
The following is adopted as methodology for this research work.
This research work is made possible through a multilingual
– Mr. Sunday Danladi
- 45 years
Years spent in home town -25 years.
Language spoken apart from Atsam – English language, Hausa
language and Tyap language
- Police Officer
Means of data elicitation is through the following
Ibadan wordlist of for hundred lexical items
and unstructured oral interview.
The Ibadan wordlist of lexical items is a list designed to elicit
similar items in different languages. The wordlist consists of
common items that are common among human society such as parts of human body,
The frame technique helped in small measure to determine
the actual contextual usage and forms of word as well as the
various morphological forms in which words can occur.
Oral interview both in structured and unstructured manner has also
been used in eliciting the data. The structured are those questions prepared
ahead of the informant while the unstructured type are those in which the
response from the informant served as source of another information. Materials
materials such as recording tape and cassette
1.7 PHYLO – GENETIC CLASSIFICATION
Phylo-genetic classification is one of the major areas of
to Haine and Nurse (2005; 259) Genetic or phylo-genetic classification involves
putting together related languages into families or language group that can be
presumed to have derived historically from a common ancestor. GreenBerg
(1966.8) reports that African languages are four main groups namely:
Afro - Asitatic
Nilo - Sahara
Atsam language belong to the plateau family of a sub group of
Benue – Congo. The platoid itself is a sub family of Benue congo of the Niger
Kordofonia language family of African language.
TO MORPHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
For this research work to achieve a set of goals, the approaches
to be employed are Analytic and synthetic approaches to the morphological
analysis of Atsam language. According to Arnoff and fudeman (2005;12), the
analytic approach to morphological analysis is associated with American
structuralist-linguistics. Main reason for this approach is to guide a
researcher in it’s research work because he is not familiar with the work.
Some words are mono - morphemic words, some have more than one
morpheme breaking down of these words into their component morphs is what
analytic approach is all about.
The following word serves as examples in Atsam language
[ra] ‘House’ [ara] ‘houses’
[rogo] ‘Cassava’ [arogo] ‘Cassavas’
[Naskun] ‘yam’ [anaskun] ‘yams’
From the following examples we can say “a” represents the plural
Second approach is the
synthetic approach. It assumes that the linguist has some idea of the research
work. Then, what is left behind is how to put some words together. For example:
Mother mymy mother
Pot waterwater pot
SCOPE OF STUDY
This work aims at describing aspects of the morphology of Atsam
language. The description would use the morpheme as the unit of analyzing the
internal structure of words in the language. It’s morphological process will be
In the this work, the
discussion will be restricted to only the Morphological aspect of Atsam
and the focus of the study is Atsam language spoken in Kaduna, Kaduna State.
The study of Atsam language is very important because, to the best
of my knowledge, no work of this type has been done on this language. This work
will therefore help this language by not going into extinction and providing an
autography for it. It will also promote future work and serve as source of
reference for future work.
1.9 SYNOPSIS OF CHAPTERS
research work is organized into five chapters.
Chapter one consists of the historical background of Atsam, the
sociolinguistic profile, socio cultural profile, geographical location, genetic
classification of Atsam, scope of study, justification for the study and
the synopsis of chapters.
Chapter two centers on the phonological aspects of Atsam language.
Chapter three is on morphological processes present in the
language, type of morphemes, aspects of morphology and structural position of
Chapter four would examine the syntactic classification of words
in the language while, chapter five summarizes and concludes the project.