Aspects of question formation in yiwom

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  • General Background

The main objective of this research word is to study question formation (i.e. how question are formed). According to stock well (19971), “To study syntax is to study aspect of how sentences are formed and how they are understood”.

Question formation is one of the transformational processes. Transformational rules are rules that convert the deep structure to surface structure. In other words, transformed rules are used to transform the input (deep structure) to output (surface structure).

According to Radford (1997:1) defined syntax as the way in which words can be combined together to form phrases and sentences. Syntactically, no human language allows sentences to be formed by stringing words together randomly. Every human language has a regular and peculiar pattern in which words must be combining to form sentences in that language.

This chapter will reveal the historical background, socio-cultural profile, the genetic classification and geographical location of yiwom language. This chapter also consists of the scope and organization of study research methodology, and the brief review of the chosen frame work.




1.1 Historical Background

Yiwom people are the major dominant group of miktang

Local Government Area of plateau state. They are notably known as Garkawa people.

The yiwom are also known as Garkawa, Garkarchi garka and Gurka. Hiel-yiwom is what they call their town but6 fulani calls thyem Gerkawa. It is a unit in the south-east corner of the present miktang and local government area and a bounded in the North and East by the lantang section of Yergam, south –east by the way to Damper, south by inshar and west by the Latin section of montol.

The yiwom people have been in their present home for upwards of two hundred years. The piton came to the area first and provided itself a stockaded town at a place called Hakbap. The Rohta followed second and settled in kie-hiel at Rohta-Hills, north of Hiel yiwom. Other families arrived in large detachments, one father the other, and took refugeat Kiel- hiel Rohta rock was fortified and his capable of withstand siege.

The middle of nineteenth century, the families came from their hill to live in their present homes. Yiwom was once divided into two distinct sections; hill and plain. The former at Rohl Mountain that they are from river guinea in the hills, while the pitop says that theirs emerged from the earth.

The word Yiwom in Yiwom dialet means “leaves”. The analogy being; as trees grow out of the ground, so their ancestors came into being. The name Garkawa was given to them by Fulani / Hausa traders owing to their stubbornness. The name derived from word “Gagararru” which in the course of time became “Garka” and “Bagarka”. Finally, Garkawa legend points to the fact that all the families mentioned and who call themselves Yiwom or garkawa of Jukum stock that migrated after the break up of kwarrafa empire (west of Bukundi) and wondered until they settled down at Garokawa town.

Geographical Location. The home of the Yiwom speaker is situated in the south-east of the present miktang L.G.A. formerly at shedam and long tang. It is found in latitude. 9000North east. It converse an area of an approximately 139km2 which 285.3 square meter.


1.2     Socio-Cultural profiles

Socio-cultural profile has to do with the relationship between

the society and culture. It has to do with the people’s way of life. This includes occupation, ceremonies belief religion and marriage

Occupation: the basic occupation of Garkawa was and is

farming. All kinds of cereal like guinea corn, millet are growing by them. They also have all the agricultural products like sugar cane, irish potatoes, onions.

They are formidable warriors.

Food: the Garkawa people have various types of food probably

because they are farmer. They eat kukashi; kukashi is made with grinded guinea corn. Their best drink in “Buruku” which is made from millet.

Religion: Garkawa practice all kind of religion including

Christianity, Islamic and animism. But, the major religion in Garkawa town is Christianity

Marriage: in Garkawa custom, there are three modes of

contracting a marriage, and these are marriage by cousin, marriage by system of exchange, by payment of small customary bride price.

Marriage by coursing: this was refers to as the best form of

Marriage in the sense that they keep wealth within the family. The most important reason is that divorce is not permissible and therefore was permanent. They are ruled by chief called “Niwo” and God is refers to as “Na’an”.

Marriage by system of exchange: in this case, the wife and

her offspring virtually become the husband’s property; but this with the passage of time has died out.

Marriage by payment of small bride price: under the small

bride price system, it was easy for a woman to change her husband.

The Garkawa people do not all stealing, crime and adultery was

a punishable offence. A person abuse of witch craft is burnt alive. In former days, the people was feared by all and conquered by none. “Write Narhtable middle tone, resident of plateau province 1931.

Garkawa people do not have a tribal mark except for personal

adornment. Circumcision rates among male children are done every year. It was regarded as a rebirth. The custom and tradition disallow circumcision of female children. Children are first taught mother tongue in yiwom, Goemai and kukum language.



1.3 Genetic Classification

Genetic classification show how languages relate to each other. African languages are classified into four Afrositic, Niger kordofonism, Nilosahara and Khoisan.

Yiwon language is part of chadic family which in turn part of

Afro-asiatic family. Afro-asiatic consists of some 353 languages and Chadic is made up of 200 languages (ethnologies website). Yiwom is one of 200 Chadic languages.




















Chadic        senitic                Cushitic           Ancient Egyptian        Berber

Mandra       Gudder Musgu   Bana   sahel western bata-tera   gisila daba-

group group   group   group     matakam




Hausa       Ngizim Nargawa                                                Bolewu plateau

group                 group   group                                                       group

Bolewa sub group                   Ron sub group                              plateau group


Angas Ankwe Boroi Chip   Dimuk   Gorom Jorto kwalla   Minam Montol




Sura   tai   yiwom

A genetic and decimalized classification for bibliographic and general references by Derek iraz and Patricia .E. Scott, 1997, published by G.K. Hall and co.70 Lincoln street, Boston, mass.


1.4     Scope and Organization of Study

Chapter one is the introductory part of this project which consists the general introduction, historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, scope and organization of study research methodology and the brief review of the chosen frame work.

Chapter two is one of the basic syntactic concepts including a brief

phonological analysis of yiwom language.

Lexical categories phrase structure rule, basic word order and

Sentences type.

Chapter three will reveal the topic of the research work. Question

formation will be discussed bringing examples from yiwom language.

Chapter four will be an extension of the types of question we have.

Chapter five contains the conclusion, summary and recommendation.


1.5     Research Methodology

The method used in collecting data in this research work is through Ibadan 400 word list and frame techniques method. The word list helps a researcher to obtain both phonetic and phonemic consonant and vowels system of the language understudying. It also give information on the lexical items of the language.

All these are made possible through the help of a language helper (i.e the native speaker of the language). Language helps is also known as “informant” these people helped as informant for the collection of data needed in yiwom language.

The data will be analyzed by frame techniques method. Frame

techniques method makes it easier for the field researcher to determine the constitute of the language to collect data, sentences / phrases are written in English language and the equivalent is supplied in that language by the language helper.

In this researcher work, all work will be done using frame technique

method because the work is based on syntax, which deals with the arrangement of words.

  • Brief Review of the Chosen Frame Work.

The theoretical frame work that will be adopted in this research work is Government and Binding theory. Chomsky in (1981) propounded the Government and binding theory that operates through modules of grammar x-bar, theta, case control, bounding government and movement theory. This theory will be used in analyzing question formation in yiwom language.

Haegman (1994:3) defined Government and bounding theory as a universal grammar, which is the system of all principles that are common to all human language. GB theory is a radical revision of Chomsky’s enlier theory in 1981 and was later revised in a minimalist programme for the theories in (1993).

Government and Binding Theory, is a theory of Syntax in the tradition of transformation graminar developed by Chomsky (1987).GB eliminates proliferation of transformational rules like affix hopping, passivization, question formation, equlip, deletion, raising, verb number agreement, insertion. It must be noted that of all the numerous transformational rules we have under transformational grammar, only the movement ruler lce move ‘L’ is retained in the new G.B. theory.

In current government and binding frame work, it distinguished

Between the two types of categories of Syntax. We have;

  1. lexical categories
  2. functional categories

Lexical categories in any human language includes Noun, Verb, Adjective and Preposition.

Functional categories includes element like Complimenrier, Tense, Inflectional, Determinant, Focus and Agreement.

Syntactically, while the lexical category proofed up to a single bar

level and terminate their, this making endless recursion possible with the aid of elements like complements and modifiers, the functional categories project up to the specifier of XP level, thus, sealing off projection. A specifier is an element that closes off a category projection.





Lexical categories are presented with the aid of a diagram

NP = N” (XP)            VP =V”                    AP = A” (XP)



Spec       N1              spec     1       spec       A1


Det                 N0                       slcep              Deg   A0


The           man

PP = p” (xp)


Spec   p1















Functional categories can also be represent with aid of a diagram

Fp               Dp                        Fp



Spec     F1     spec     D1               spec     I1


F         Ip     (heat) D     Np       I             Vp



TNS   AGR Spec   V1

V         N



Spec   C1


C     Ip


The maximal projection of a lexical node is the phrase node

with the maximum number of that level for example the maximal projection of N’is N”.Since the government and binding theory is a modular deductive theory of grammar, it has some sub-theories with which transformed operates.

The sub-theories do not operate in isolation. They are:-

X-bar theory

Theta (θ) theory

Control theory

Binding theory

Government theory

Bounding theory
















X – Bar theory








D-structure                                     Projection



Move – α



Case theory (Bounding)

(Case filter)                                       Lexicon


S-structure                           – Theory (θ – criterion)





Phonetic Form                              Logical Form


Modules of Grammar

(Adapted from sells (1985) and cook (1988).


  • X-bar theory

X-bar theory, according to Horrocks (1987:101) provides principles for the projection of phrasal categories from lexical categories and imposes condition on the hierachical organization of categories in the form of general schemata. X-bar theory makes expantiate the notion ‘head of a phrase’.

According to Chomsky (1986:13) X theory assumes a distinction between lexical and non-lexical categories, where the lexical categories are based on the features noun, verb, adjective and preposition. The non-lexical categories includes; complementizer, inflectional and later tense and agreement element and models.

Cook (1989:109) states that x-theory is a theory of the phrase structure of the deep structure of sentences. The x-theory proposes that all phrases in all languages share cell like structure with two levels, one of which consist of head (X1) and possible specifiers. The order which consists of the head and possible complements. The separate principle for expanding X11 and X1 may be combined together in a single formula. The X-theory also uses bar for ‘S’ to distinguish between ‘S’ and ‘XP’ represent any phrasal category eg NP, VP, PP, AP. Below is a diagram that illustrates an example.





The owner of the car


1.6.2  Theta (Ө) Theory

Horrocks (1987:101-102) says, Ө-theory is concerned with the assignment of what Chomsky called ‘thematic’ roles to sentimental constitutes. By thematic roles, Chomsky means that have been called semantic role such as agent, patient, thema, etc. it is assumed that these are assigned to the complements of lexical item as a lexical property. For example, in ‘cut’ ‘the tree in the garden’ the NP complement ‘cut’ the tree is assigned the role of patient or theme while the PP complement, the role of location.

In essence, one of the fundamental task of Ө-theory is to determine the circumstance under which a NP can be an argument of a verb. Argument refers to a noun phrase that can appear in two forms; direct object and indirect object for example Olu killed a rat in the farm.

Olu – sub

A rat – direct object

Farm – indirect object

Yusuf (1998:24) talked about Theta criterion. It states that each argument bears one and only one Ө role and each Ө role is assigned to one randomly, one argument, 10 cuticle (goal, source, direction) and a few more particular are assigned these roles in the D-structure.

The verb preposition, depending on its meaning assigns Ө role to its complements. Whatever it is the V or P assign roles to the subject NP. The VP assigned roles are called ‘external Ө roles to their governed complement while the VP assigns roles to the subject NP. The VP assigned roles are called ‘external Ө roles.’

1.6.3 Case Theory

Case theory according to cook (1980:143), deal with assignment of abstract case and its plorphological realization. Case theory regulates the distribution of phonetically realized Nps by assigning abstract case to them case is always assigned by ease assigners to the constituent theory govern.

Blake (1987:1), case the assigned under government, in government and binding theory and they are assigned as;

Nominative case is assigned by Tense INFC Accusative case is assigned by verb oblique case is assigned by preposition for example:

She sold a cloth for him


Nominate    accusative

1.6.3 Case Theory

N and θ are not know to assign any case. Further to the assignment of case, all Nps that have phonetic content must have case or else they are all formed. This corollary is known as the case filter. One of the most important principles of case theory is the case filter.

According to cook (1980) “case filter says that any Np without a case assigner should be filter out”. Case filters are quality control on already existing structure they provide away of handling certain aspect of syntax but they are not some much principle of language. They are adhoc ways of savaging certain problem in a particular sentence or expression. For example the man that he saw was John; with the help of case filter, the unwanted component is filtered out to give us “the man that he saw was John or ‘the man who he saw, was john.



1.6.4. Binding Theory

Chomsky (1987:108) says, binding theory is one of the most important construction in the system and it concerned primarily with the condition under which Nps are interpreted as co-referential with other Nps in the same sentence. Nps that are argument are assumed to fall into one of the three categories.

  • Anaphors
  • Pronominal
  • Referential expressions.

Anaphors:- are Nps whose reference is necessarily determined internally and which cannot have independent reference. Reflective and reciprocal pronounce in English language fall into this class for example. Bola killed herself. “herself” here refers to the individual denoted by Bola. Also, herself is the individual denoted by Bola. Also, herself is the anaphor bound by Bola.

  1. Tola and Toyin beat each other on the field each other is the

anaphor bound by Toyin and Tola.

Pronominal: – are Nps that lack specific lexical content and have only

The features. Persons, number, gender and case. They may either refer to individual already naved in a given sentence e.g Tolu said she is beautiful. ‘She’ may refer to the individual denoted by Tolu or and individual not mentioned in the sentence.

Referential expressions:- are Nps with lexical heads which potentially refers to something. For example, Bola says Bola.

(a). Bola says fair Bola must come home

(b). Bola said Bola should bring the plate.

According to cook (1988:46,49), binding theory deals with weather expressions in the sentence may refer to the same entities as other expression. Binding theory is basically concerned with the same issue of how pronouns and other types of noun relates to other but extends the antecedent / pronoun relationship to other categories. The theory also describes when different expressions may co-indexed i.e when him or herself may refer to the same person e.g chider a shot herself. ‘Herself’ is bowed to McCabe and has the same index.

  1. Anaphors is bound in a local domain
  2. pronominal is free in a local domain
  3. a referring expression is free


1.6.4 Movement Theory

In movement theory, there is movement of certain element from initial position to another site. In movement theory, £ stands for any category while move £ means move any lexical category from syntactic position to any where.

Cook (1988:89) says, the theory of movement operates the restrictions that human languages actually place in movement. A moved element either fills on empty position of the same syntactic category or it is adjoined into an existing mode. For example, Tola;. Killed a cat;yesterday

adjoined yesterday, cat was killed by Tola

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