Aspects Of Bura Negation

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1.0.    General Background

This chapter introduces the language of study, the people speaking the language and their geographical location. It introduces us to the background of the speakers of the language which includes their culture and beliefs.

Also, a brief explanation of the scope of the study, Method of Data Collection, Genetic Classification and the Theoretical framework used in carrying out the research on the language are discussed.

This research is aimed at describing the Bura Negation. Bura is a language Spoken in two (2) local government areas in Borno State. The two local governments’ areas are Biu and Shani respectively. The Bura people are about 250,000 in population.

1.1.    Historical Background

According to oral history, Bura speakers were believed to had their origin from the Northern part of Nigeria in Borno State. The State shares border with Niger Republic, Chad Republic and Cameroon Republic and Common boundaries with Adamawa, Gombe and Yobe States.

The Bura lived north of Biu before being attacked by Yamta – ra – wala around 16th Century. The few people Yemta brought with him intermarried with the Bura and built up the Biu dynasty into a kingdom. Those descended from Yemta’s group were called Pabir (Babur), this is why Pabir and Bura differ considerably in culture and appearance.

Until today, the Pabir are the ruling class among the Bura, and all the Bura villages pay tribute to the Emir of Biu. The Bura still resent the Pabir.

Apart from Bura they also speak Hausa, Chibok and Marghi and also few of Fulflde. The Bura speakers are approximately over 250,000. The Pabir and Bura are the major tribes in Biu and Shani Local Government Areas of Borno State.

The Map of Bura Communities is shown below:

 1.2   Socio- cultural Profile

This center on the socio-cultural background of Bura people in terms of their occupation, Religion, festivals and ceremonies. The following information the socio-cultural profile of Bura people was collected through oral source.

1.2.1 Marriage System

Bura has a way of marriage policy when a female child is born, a suitor may propose by throwing a leafy branch of a certain tree into the mother’s hut. If he is accepted, he gives gifts as the girl grows up. He works on her father’s farm and makes Zana matting for them when she reaches marriage able age, he organizes his friends to capture her and bring her to his house. Then the remaining part of the bride price is settled, which is not a insists amount and arrangements for the marriage ceremony are concluded.

Also, thing   that are normally given in the ceremony is basically kolanut, salt and a white linen. The bride is usually expected to produce a white cloth stained with the proof of her virginity and it may be displayed with pride. Her parents will be ashamed if she is not a virgin.

As a sign of respect, a man does not eat with his parents-in –law.

1.2.2   Festivals

The only festival held in Bura is the maize harvest festival and is performed before fresh corn can be eaten. Bura man who has lost a father or mother selects three heads of corn, usually from his first fruits, dresses it carefully and puts it on a tray which he sets by his head at night.

1.2.3 Chieftaincy

Originally the Bura had no central Government. Now the Emir of Biu appoints the districts head (Ajia) who then approve the appointments of the village heads (Lawans).Today both these titles belong to certain families. The village heads appoint the ward heads (Bulamas) over small villages and wards of larger ones. Anyone who has leadership ability can be chosen as a Bulama.

1.2.4  Religion

The   Bura had their traditional religion before Islam came around 1920 and Christianity later came in the 1920’s. Today these three religions can all be found among the Bura. The traditional religion is called Hyel or Hyel- taku, but Naptu is a personal god who takes cares of individual. The gods are represented by various objects such as water, stones, mountains or forests. Most sacrifices to gods are made on Saturday, so it is a special day, the chief priest is called Mythmaker Haptu

Christianity was introduced through the missionaries The proportion of Christians is small compared to the entire population.

Despite the  presence of churches in many towns and villages, lslam is still the predominant religion among the Bura. A rough estimate of the religious percentages is as follows: – Muslims 78% Christians 20% and Traditional 20%. Many Christians are nominal and many are not free from immorality.

1.2.5  Occupation

The main occupation of the bura people is farming. Minority of the people are subsidized farmers, though commercial farming is also practiced. The major crops are maize, guinea corn, groundnut and rice.

1.2.6 Burial Rites

Bura people celebrate death, when an old person dies, he or she is buried on the second day when everyone has gathered in the evening. The corpse of a chief is buried seated, but other people re laid flat on the floor of the cavity. There is traditional dancing for seven days after the burial and if the deceased was an important person, it lasts for 14days.

On one of the mourning days the Fulnchambwi dance is done. The male dancers jump from the ground to the roof of the hut of the deceased and back again until the roof is destroyed. After this the date is fixed for the last mourning or sadaka, which is held about six (6) months later, but usually during the dry season.

1.3     Genetic Classification

This essence of a genetic classification of a language is to trace the origin of the language and show it relationship with the other language.

Bura language belong to the Afro-Asiatic Family which is shown by the family tree below

Source “Comrie, B. (ed) (1987)

1.4   Scope and Organization of the Body

The main objective of this project is to study in details the type of negation strategies that exist in Bura language. Negation in Bura will be an sentence negation, auxiliary negation, imperative negation and interrogation negation. We shall also study in respect to transformation processes which involve modifications of constituents.

This long easy is divided into five chapters, the first chapter is the introduction chapter which contains the general introduction of the research work, the historical background of the Bura people, social-cultural profile, genetic classification, collection and analysis of data and the theoretical framework employed.

Chapter Two presents a phonological review of Bura language and the basic syntactic concepts like phrase structure rules, basic word order, lexical categories and sentences types. Chapter Three is on the negation in Bura language, while chapter four introduces us to transformational processes like focus construction, relativization. Chapter five summarizes and concludes the work.

1.5   Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework to be employed in this research is Government and Binding theory (GB). GB theory is a model of grammar propounded and developed by Noam Chomsky. This is done with the aim of covering Universal Grammar (UG) that is, the system or principles, conditions and rule that are elements or properties of all human languages.

In essence, negation as an aspect of syntax will be analyzed under the GB theoretical framework.

1.6      Data Collection

The method of data collection is contact method or informant method. We collected linguistic data for this study by making use of language informants who are native speaker of Bura language. The data were collected through the use of frame technique and the Ibadan word list of 400 basic items. Below are pieces of information about the informants.

1.     NAME: Ezekiel Simon Shelai

SEX:     Male

AGE:39 years



OTHER LANGUAGE SPOKEN: English, Hausa and Chibok.

2.     NAME: Mr. Bashir

SEX: Male

AGE:36 years

OCCUPATION: Civil Servant



1.7              Data Analysis

To ensure an efficient data analysis in this research, all data received are accurately transcribed. The morphemes that made up the phrases and sentences are also carefully glossed. The data collected are worked upon according to how the native speakers use it without imposing any extraneous rules or norm of correctness.

1.8                          Review of the Chosen Framework

The framework adopted in research is the Government and Binding (GB) theory. This is the theory that captures the similarities which exists between different categories of lexical phrases by assigning the same structure to them rather than having different phrase structure rules for VPs, NPs etc

Government and Binding theory deals with transformation. According to Radford (1988:419), transformation is the rule that deal with the act of changing the structure of one sentences to another structure through the concept of movement known as move alpha (move-α). This theory (GB) was developed to correct the lapses in Transformational Generative Grammar.

Cook (1988: 66), the theory of Government and Binding is an interlocking arrangement of principles and sub theories which interact in many different ways.

The Modular Theory of Grammar.





(Case filter)


Sells (1985: 25) and cook (1988: 33).

In the diagram above, no part can be considered in isolation from the rest. Government and Binding theory posit seven sub-theories of theory of grammar. The structures generated at various levels are constrained by a set of theories, which define the kind of relationship possible within a grammar.

These sub-theories of Government and Binding theory are given below:

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