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This study,ASPECTS OF QUESTION FORMATION IN KANINKON LANGUAGE contains concise information that will serve as a framework or guide for your project work. The project study is well-researched for academic purposes and are usually provided in complete chapters with adequate References.




AGR                                                 Agreement

C                                                      Complementizer

Cp                                                    Complementizer phrase

DET                                                 Determiner

D-S                                                  Deep-Structure

S-S                                                  Surface-Structure

I                                                       Inflection

IP                                                     Inflectional phrase

N                                                      Noun

Q-M                                                 Question Marker

P                                                      Pronoun

SPEC                                               Specifer

VP                                                    Verb Phrase

V                                                      Verb

Move-alpha (which indicate transformation)

Ø                                                      null

TNS                                                  Tense

FP                                                    Focus Phrase

H                                                      High Tone

M                                                     Mid Tone

L                                                      Low tone

ASP                                                  Aspect


Table of contents

List of symbols and abbreviations


  • Introduction
    • Historical Background of Kaninkon
    • Socio cultural profit of Kaninkon
      • Cultural practices
      • Occupation
      • Mode of dressing
      • Religion practices
      • Festivities
    • Genetic Classification

1.3.1        Population Distribution

  • Scope and organization of study
  • Research methodology
  • Brief review of the chosen framework

1.6.1        Theta Theory

1.6.2        Case Theory

1.6.3 Movement Theory

1.6.4        Binding Theory


  • Introduction
    • Consonants found in Kaninkon
    • Vowels sound in Kaninkon
  • Tone inventory of Kaninkon

2.2.1        Occurrence of the Kaninkon Consonant Sounds

  • Syllable Inventory
  • Morphology of Kaninkon
  • Lexical Categories
  • Noun
    • Concrete noun
    • Collective noun
    • Abstract noun
    • Animate noun
    • Inanimate noun
  • Verb
    • Transitive verb
    • Intransitive verb
  • Preposition
  • Pronouns
    • Personal pronouns
    • Interrogative Pronouns
    • Relative pronouns
    • Indefinite pronouns
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Conjunction
  • Phrase structure rules
    • Noun phrase in Kaninkon
    •     Verb phrase in Kaninkon
    • Adjectival phrase in Kaninkon
    • Prepositional phrase in Kaninkon
  • Basic word order
  • Sentences types
    • Simple sentences
    • Compound sentence


  • Introduction
    • Transformational rule
    • Question formation
      • WH – Question
      • Yes/ No Question
      • Echo – Question
      • Rhetorical Question
      • Alternative Question


  • Transformation processes In Kaninkon Language
    • Introduction
      • Transformational processes
    • Focus construction
      • Subject X/P focus
      • Direct object NP focus.
      • Indirect object NP focus

4.3   Relativization

4.3.1        Subject NP Relativization

4.4   Question Formation

4.4.1 WH – Question

4.4.2        yes/No Question

4.4.3        Echo Question

4.4.4 Alternative Question

4.5 Aux – NP Inversion Movement

4.6 Trace of Movement

4.6.1 The Extraction and Landing Sites


  • Introduction
    • Summary
    • Observation
    • Conclusion 120
    • Recommendation 121

Word list




  • General Introduction

This research work is on an aspect of the syntax of Kaninkon language, precisely, question formation. By syntax we mean the branch of linguistics analysis which involves the arrangement of words to form grammatical sentences in a rule governed way. In Linguistics, the term syntax is also used to refer directly to the rules and principle that govern the sentence structure of any individual language.

Modern research in syntax attempts to describe language in terms of such rule. Many professionals in this discipline attempt to find general rules that apply to all natural language. The tern syntax is also sometimes used to refer to the rules governing the behaviour of mathematical systems, such as logic, artificial formal languages, and computer programming languages.

It should be noted that there are many aspects of syntax but this research work will specifically focus on the Question formation in Kaninkon language. According to Stockwell (1977:1) “to study aspect of how sentence are formed and how they are understood”. Question formation is one of the syntactic processes and it can be grouped under the linguistic level of syntax.

This chapter will discuss the general background of Kaninkon speakers (Origin and Migration), historical background, socio-cultural profile, the genetic classification and geographical location of Kaninkon language. The chapter also consists of the scope and organization of study, research methodology, and the brief review of the chosen framework.

1.1   Historical Background

The Kaninkon is said to have originated from Kastina. They may probably descend from the Kaita family in the present day of Kastina state. This might have been Made know from oral history passed down from their fore-fathers. Evidence of this origin can be noticed from the characteristic of both the Kaninkon and the Hausa of Kastina. One such feature is the tribal marks. Another is the places earmarked for burial (grave-yards). The mode of burial was the same, both decorated the perimeter of the grave with broken pots. Names were also similar for example:- Moro and Umaru; Hammadu and Muhammadu; Riju and Aliyu amongst others – from the fore-going, we can deduce some similarities with the Kaita of Katsina state.

The initial migration involved many clans but probably due to inter clan conflicts only two clans constitute the Kaninkon. These are Turan and Ngbechio. It is believed that those who migrated from Kastina finally settle in a place called Gwok in the present day Gwong (Kagoma). In the course of the conflict already mentioned other clams migrated further leaving behind the two clans may constitute the other neighbouring people group with which the Kaninkon share similarities in language and culture.

Present day Kaninkon is made up of two clans; Ngbechio to the North and Taran to the South. Turan the ancestor of the southern clan had two wives who bore him three sons. One of the wives had two sons, while the other had only one. Kaninkon was the older of two sons from one of the wives. Ngaichem (Gerti) was his younger brother. The only son to the other wife was Kper (Amere)

Contact with outside word (Modernization with Hausa and Fulani). Pre-colonial from 1980 to date (i.e contact with colonial officers) prior to the gihadest moment of early 1880 century. The Kaninkon people had one of the most powerful kingdom that spread across what is today know as southern Kaduna. The kingdom was bounded to the North only by them; then Kajuri Kingdom and much later by is sister kingdom of (Sanga) to the east. The powerful kingdom was the Kaninkon, want had one no as the Roro kingdom, it should been noted that at the arrival o the coloniest, the Sanga was still classify as in originating from Kaninkon, late written history has it was the Jema’a emirate, that was eventually established by the colonial administration in 1911 derived is name from Roro Kingdom. The Kaninkon community is found in Jama’a local government of Kaduna state.

Furthermore, according to oral history occurred when a man of Kaninkon (Bakin Kogi) a Kaninkon village fell out with is brother who was the head of the community. He move further not and settle down at the foot of what was later now Daroro hill; the man name was Roro as feet who have it group and status secure by his friendship with the more powerful Kajuru chief further north.

At about the same time he recorded in history of Jama’a emirate and Malam Usman of Kebi settle among the Domanic Fulani and Kajuru, Malam Usman itself a Fulani began to convent the nomatic Fulani of Kaguru into Islam and became their teacher this event took place in the later part of 1700s. the chief of Kajuru had a Fulani wife when the Fulani come of about the dynasy of Seria, the chief of Kajuru become laked, there after Usman fled to Sanga  with some of his followers. Usman refuse to pay the normal rebute he and his followers had hitherto been paying to the chief of Kajuru.

The result is that the chief of Kajuru kept harassing Usman and his followers in one of these skirmishes the chief of Kajuru had his daughter Taiba kidnapped by Usman who refused ramson.

In insistence, he wanted her for a wife, the wise intervention of the emir of Seria settle the matter. The emir got Usman who looked up to him for authority to retune chief of Kajuru daughter. Then the chief was asked to give out his daughter to Malam Usman as a wife. This did not only ensure between Usman and the chief of Kaninkon and Sanga because the Kaninkon people were pick with Kajuru on hand against Usman and the Sanga on the other. The Sanga been and elienated kin of the Kaninkon. However Usman had to abandon the Sanga.

Later Usman approached the emir of Seria (and not Danfodio)  for a staff of office on the behalf of the Fulani that were settle with Roro (Jema’a na Roro) the aims of the emirate was to be called when he was subsequently established. This event took place around 1810. Not long after this, the Jidadish settle the balance in the region. The chief of Kajuru Kingdom decrime as well as that of Sanga and Roro. The gazatee state, the panga retire and build the village of Nildem. This village is about seven kilometers. The Kaninkon along side, sister community found a number of battle against the Fulani, the Kaninkon had the best defensive position (as any one with the knowledge of the geography of the area with).

In 1833, the Kaninkon defected Jama’a at the feet of Daruru Hill also in 1887 the Kaninkon defeated the Fulani. The last battle with the Fulani of Jama’a was in about 1903. The Kaninkon people are among the indigenous tribes of Jema’a local government, Kafanchan area in particular. They are indigenous to the area they occupy. The area they occupy traditionally has borders with kagoro to the North – East Baiju to the North, Kagoma to the West Numana and Mada to the South. They are brother with Nindem and Kanufi who are also to the South- East.

Oral tradition indicates that the Kaninkon people came to their present abode from Kastina. This appears to be the Katsina of Benue area that is (Katsina – alla). The traditional practices of the Kaninkon people (NIKYOB) are very close to those of Numana, Ninzo and Made.

On marriage, baby girls could be bethrobed right from birth, that is, if a girl was born a father could say “this girl will be a wife to my son” and like joke if interest continued this could eventually happen and did happen a lot.

On initiations and age groups there were several stages. The first stage was around the ages of Ten and Fifteen, i.e this stage was also know as “Mahyang” the next stage was circumcision. It was after the circumcision and dodo or “rim” initiation that a male child is now considered a man and could marry.

  • Socio-Cultural Profile of the People of Kaninkon

The Socio-linguistics phenomenon simply talks about language in relations to society. Sanusi (1996:42) states that, “Socio-linguistics involves the study of the way in which language interact with society”. Socio-linguistics looks at the relevance of languages as it is related to human beings in their interpersonal and inter group interactions. Socio-linguistics studies how language is used in different social context such as homes, factory, schools and classrooms.

However, Kaninkon language being a minority language is restricted in use only within the Kaninkon community and its neighborhoods. The Kaninkon language is used informally in everyday communication, both within the home, in the market places, in religious houses and in various festivities or ceremonial occasions within the Kaninkon speech community.

It is not so difficult to identify a Kaninkon man when he is conversing or discussing with his kinsmen or some other persons. They also teach and speak the dialect to their children and wards at home.

The Kaninkon, Kanufi and Nindem still speak the same dialect, with different accents. The evidence of proto-language has shown that most languages of the world are in one way or the other related and have some sort of resemblance in phonology and grammar. In other words, evidence has shown that the Kaninkon language has a common proto-language with Ningoma, Numana, Mada, Ninzam, Ayu, Rukuba and a few others like Kagoma, Jaba, Kagoro and Bajju.

The mode of speaking in contemporary Kaninkon is similar to that of present day Ningom, Mada and Ninzam. This shows that the languages of these communities have the same root. The similarity in the language of Kaninkon Ningom, Numana, Mada, Ninzam and Ayu demonstrates the form of modern divergent varieties of an earlier proto-language common to all these tribes.

  • Cultural Practices

One of the cultural practices in Kaninkon is the Age group. An age group consists of people which are about the same age. People of which they are two or three years difference in age. In Kaninkon, age groups generally consisted of young boys and girls, adults, junior elders, and senior elders. Generally, member of an age group were initiated during the same period and this was publicly celebrated. Movement from one age group to another was similarly marked by public rites or ceremonies.

An age group had status assigned to it with corresponding responsibilities commensurate to the age group concerned. For example, young Kaninkon boys were concerned with duties such as farming, hunting e.t.c. while young girls were concerned with fetching of water, firwood gathering, cooking and general house work.

  • Occupation

Farming was the major system of Kaninkon people like any other agriculturalist. The Kaninkon tradition agriculturalist depended not only on their labour but also on the assistance of Kinsmen to clear large farm throughout and harvest them.

This involves division of labour according to sex and age. Division of labour can also be between men and women. For instance, in Kaninkon, people who live in a compound can do some work together, the division of labour among Kaninkon people show that men did not do the work that required more physical by passion that had to do with direct production and passion.

The women assisted by a way of cooking and other less tedious work. It was a shameful thing for a woman to go and pick up a hoe, pluging the land was the duty of man, while planting was done by woman including mature girl. The aged male and female stayed at home to look after the young ones.

Various Methods of Cultivation in Kaninkon 

They are:

  1. Gbeg
  2. Nkuk
  3. Nwhap
  4. Kyiot

In Kaninkon there are various methods of cultivation as earlier mentioned. The Kaninkon traditional Agriculturalist did not depend only on their labours, but also request the assistance of other Kinsmen or labours.

  1. Gbeg is a method being practiced by Kaninkon Agriculturalists. Here a farmer belong to the same group and cultivate for each other
  2. Nkuk is another self help farming method. This farming method is employed by Kaninkon traditional Agriculturists. The method is slightly different from Gbeg because, Nkuk is voluntary group, comprising of different people.
  • Nwhap is a group made up of people of the same age mates and mainly the same group
  1. Kyiot is the bringing of the local gin called (burukutu) for invited people of the village who come to drink when cultivating the farm land.

Outstanding farmer in Kaninkon are those who cultivated many seeds. The Kaninkon Agriculturalists combined agronomies with  pastoral work. They also rear some animals such as; goat, chicken, dogs.

  • Mode of Dressing by Kaninkon

Dressing is an important aspect of any culture. Through dressing one was identified as belonging to a particular cultural group. Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruits cover themselves with leaf, so also the Kaninkon man started with leaf as his covering. Changes in the mode of dressing of any society or culture came about as a result of advancement in technology. The man from Kaninkon advanced from employing leaf as a covering to use of  the skin & this are been used by man and woman. The Kaninkon man graduated from the use of skin as dresses to (Bante) and rik as cotton; this happen at the time when the Kaninkon man discovered the act of weaving cotton wool into dress. Bante is the cloth by man while Rik was used by woman, A Bante was a piece of hand woving cloth and it is in between the legs, the Rik equally covered the vital area like the bante. People move from bante and rik to (gwodo) a hand woving thick cloth, and finally to the use of modern cloth.

  • Religion Practices

Religion in Kaninkon is a cultural institution like other institution it is a means and instrument of meeting needs, God is being worshiped as a divine being, manifested natural object. Kaninkon people belief that God was imamate and not only powerful but also ominipresent, it was also regarded as final justice. They believes that God rules from the sky. Indeed Kaninkon people approach God through the sun as their intermediary. The sun is seen and they regarded it as occupying the position of God it was worship and return to in movement of difficulties.

  • Festivities

Festivities is the major celebration in Kaninkon. Festivities were reserved to the dry season especially the month of March to early May. Thus, if an old person dies in the rainy season there would be the normal drumming and little celebration but the proper celebration would be shifted to the dry season.

  • Genetic Classification

According to Greenberg (1996 : 127), African languages are classified into four (4)

Afro – Asiatic, Niger Korofonian, Nilo Saharan and Khoisan, Each has subfamilies Niger Kordofanian is the Largest with two Sub-families, Namely Niger Congo and Niger Kordofonian.

The diagram below we shows the sub-family of Kaninkon language.


Afro Asiatic      Niger                Nilo                  Khoisan

Kordofonian     Shara

Nigr congo                                              Niger Kordofonian

Mande     Gur          Kwa         Benue      Kru          West

Congo                      atlantics

Western Plateau               Northern Plateau     Eastern Platea

Western Jos                     Northern Jos


Sources: The languages of Africa by Joseph H. Greeberg.

Adapted from Voegehn 1977

Geography of Kaninkon Chiefdom

The Kaninkon chiefdom is made of seven districts and villages as follows:

I Ung – fari district and its village

  1. fad Ung-fari
  2. Shok
  3. Dyeh
  4. Brika
  5. Kaura
  6. Tasha
  7. Jen
  8. Ung – Waziri
  9. GheBakin-kogi district and its villag
  1. Fada – Bakin – Kogi
  2. Kwangilla
  3. Ung – Pah
  4. Nko
  5. But Garwa
  6. Sahon – gari
  1. Baraki
  2. Ung – Doka
  3. Mission
  4. Ung – Waziri
  5. Ung – Baki district and it villages
  6. Ung – Biyah
  7. Nko
  8. Ung – Majindadi
  9. Ung – Alkali
  10. Ung – Giga
  11. Baduku
  12. Ung – Grama
  13. Ung – Alkali
  14. Sabon – Gari
  15. Uny – Makama
  16. Uny – Mafiri
  17. Ung – Mission
  18. Arewa
  • Amere district and its villages
  1. Amere
  2. Fade
  3. Baggu
  4. Ung- Yango
  5. Ung- Tsabta
  6. Gerti
  7. Ung – madaki
  8. Ni-wahriye
  9. Ung-pakachi
  10. Ung-tum
  11. Ung-Nikyo
  12. Machiong
  13. Kutoh
  14. Meclyec Goska district and its villages.
  15. Goska
  16. Amere north
  17. Sabon- gari
  18. Makera
  19. Mile-one
  20. Ung-wade
  21. Ngachem
  22. Ngoshibi
  23. Mission
  24. Hayin-gada
  25. Byom-byom
  26. Ung-Magaji
  1. Ambam district and its villages
  2. Ambam
  3. Ung-Tele
  4. Tudun-wade
  5. Sonje
  6. Kofai
  7. Ung-Bulus
  8. Ung-Daudu
  9. Gbagan
  10. Ung-Makeri
  11. Dangoma district and its villages
  12. Dangoma
  13. Yellabe
  14. Sabon-gari
  15. Karkiji
  16. Bausanken
  17. Koccen
  18. Madur
  19. Laf
  20. iye

The geography of Kaninkon Chiefdom is the same with geography of kafanchan town.

1.3.1 Population Distribution.

As earlier mentioned there are seven districts in the chiefdom and the population. As it is the trend in most developing countries the population of the youth is by far more than those of fifty (50years) and above. The introduction of western education has greatly reduced emphasis on the age grade system. Children now-adays tend to ask of which class or institution a person is attending and not of his age. The Kaninkon chiefdom is Made up of mainly the Nikyob (Kaninkon) Language-speaking people.

Dangoma district is Made up almost entirely of dangoma people whose language is Fulani.

In some part of the chiefdom near places like kafanchan, Gidan-Waya and Jagindi other tribes like Bajju, Hausa- Fulani, Jaba e.t.c can be found. The Kaninkon people are, however, the indigenous habitants.

1.4 Scope and Organization of Study

Chapter One is the introductory part of the project. It consists of 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 on the basic syntactic concepts, lexical categories, phrase structure rule, basic word order and sentence types.

Chapter Three will focus the topic of the research work, question formation in Kaninkon  and bringing out Examples form Kaninkon language.

Chapter Four is an extension of the types of questions that we have chapter also focus on the syntax-transformational processes in Kaninkon language e.g. relativazation. Passivization e.t.c. Chapter Five contains the summary, conclusion and recommendations.

1.5 Research Methodology.

The methods used in collecting data for this research work is through Ibadan 400 wordlist and frame techniques. The wordlist helps a researcher, to obtain both phonetic and phonemic sound inventories of a language. All these are made possible through the help of a language helper (i.e the native speaker of the language) in also known as an informant.

To collect data, sentences or phrases are written in English Language and the equivalent are supplied in the language under study, by the Language helper

Below is the brief information about my major informant used for this work.

Name: Mallam Bako Galadima

Age: 72 years

Sex: Male

Religion: Christianity

Occupation: Farming

Number of years lived in the village: 35 years

Other languages spoken: English and Hausa

1.6 Brief Review of the Chosen Frame Work

The theoretical framework 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 the modules of grammer, X – bar, Theta, Case, Control, Binding Government and Movement theories. This theory will be used in analyzing question formation in Kaninkon language.

Haegman (1991:34) define Government and Binding theory as a theory of universal grammar, which is the system of all principles that are common to all human languages.

Government and Binding theory is a radical revision of chomsky’s earlier theory in 1981 and was later revised in a minimalist programme for the theories in (1993)

Government and Binding eliminates proliferation of transformational rules like affix, passivazation, question formation, deletion, verb number agreement, insertion e.t.c. It must be noted that for all the numerous transformational rules we have under traditional grammar, only the movement rule i.e move ‘a’ is retained in the government and Binding theory.

Since the government and Binding theory is a modular deductive theory of grammar, it has some sub-theories which transformation operates. These sub-theories do not operate in isolation. They are; theta

(Ө) theory, case theory, Binding, movement. X-bar, Theta, Control  Theory

Modules of grammar

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

1.6.1 Theta Theory

Horrocks (1987: 101) state that Ө theory is concerned with the assignment of thematic roles. Theta theory posits that a word can assign a number of different theta roles (Sematic role that things play in a sentence, e.g Actor/Agent is for the doer of an action, theme is the thing affected).

The main principle of theta theory is the theta criterion. It helps us in this analysis to know that each argument bears one and only one θ – role and each θ – role is assigned to one and only one argument, hences, each thematic role uniquely assigned i.e each constituent denoting an argument is assigned to just on theta role, for exampole kristern, (1991: 493)  consider this example.

John went to the market by car

Furthermore, the commonly expressed roles are AGENT, THEME, (or PATIENT), INSTRUMENT, LOCATIVE (GOAL, SOURCE, DIRECTION) and a few more. Participants are assigned these roles in the D – Structure.

1.6.2 Case Theory

Kirsten (1991:496) explains that theory regulates the distribution of phonetically realized NPS by assigning abstract case to them. It deals with the principle of case assignment to constituents. Horrocks (1987:103) says that the basic idea is that case is assigned under government, i.e the choice of case is determined by the government in any sentences. A lexical head ‘X’ may be said to govern its sisters in X-bar and certain of their complement. Thus, NP subject is assigned normative by inflection, verb assigns accusative case to object of the verb, while preposition assigns obligue case to its object.

One of the most important what of case theory is case filter, which states that any S-stucture that contains an Np with lexical context but no case is ungrammatical (Kirsten 1991:407) formally represented case as


                                      + Lexical

– Case

  • Movement Theory

In this theory, there is movement of certain elements from initial position to another site. In movement theory, Ø stands for an category while move Ø mean move any lexical category, from a syntactic position to any where.

Cook (1988:189) says, the theory of movement compensates the restrictions that human language actually place in movement. It is a property of universal grammar that only certain locations and they may not move than a certain distance.

Therefore, through movement rule, a numbers of S-types can be generated. So, doing the process of Movement two things takes place; we have Extraction and Landing site, the extraction site of a WH – Phrase is a governed position.

A moved element either fills an empty position of the same syntactic category or it is adjoined into an existing node. For example:

Tola killed a cat yesterday:


Yesterday, a cat was killed by Tola.

  • Binding Theory

According to Chomsky (1987:108) “Binding theory is one of  the most important constructs in the systems and it is concerned primarily with the condition unders which NPs in the same sentences that are argument are assumed to fall into one of the three categories i.e. Anaphors, Pronominal, and referential expressions”.

Anaphors: are NPs whose references are necessarily determined internally and which cannot have independent, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns.

Pronominal: are NPs that lack specific lexical contact and have only the features person, number, gender, and case. They may either refers to individual independently or co-refers to individuals already named in a given sentence e.g. Tolu said she is beautiful “she” may refers to the individual denoted by Tolu or an individual not mentioned in the sentence.

Referential Expressions: Are NPs with lexical heads which potentially refers to something. For example, Bola says Bola.

  1. Dark Bola says fair Bola must come home
  2. Bola said Bola should bring the plate.

According to cook (1988:46,49) Binding theory deals with whether expressions in the sentences may refers 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/pronouns relationship two other a categories. The theory also describes when different expressions may be co-indexed i.e. when him or himself may refer to the same person e.g. Michael shot himself “himself” is bowed to Mc cabe and has the same idex.


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