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[icon type=”icon-pencil”]: QUESTION FORMATION IN UNEME
[icon type=”icon-book”]: Chapter 1 – 5
[icon type=”icon-book-open”]: 161 Pages
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[icon type=”icon-doc-line”]: Ms Word format

This study,QUESTION FORMATION IN UNEME 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.





1.0     Introduction

1.1     Geographical Location

1.2     Aims and Objectives

1.3     Research Questions

1.4     Historical Background

1.5     Socio-Linguistic Background

1.6     Drastic Use of Uneme

1.7     Genetic Classification of Uneme

1.8     Theoretical Framework

1.9     Data Collection

1.10   Data Analysis

1.11   Brief Review of Government and  Binding Theory

1.12   Scope and Organization

1.13   Review of the Chosen Framework

1.14   Sub Theories of Government and Binding

1.15   X-bar Theory

1.16   Case Theory

1.17   Theta Theory

1.18   Binding Theory

1.19   Government Theory

1.20   Bounding Theory

1.21   Control Theory


2.0     Introduction

2.1     Deep Structure

2.2     Transformation

2.3     Move-a

2.4     Question Formation in Different Languages

2.5     Yes or No Question in English

2.6     Surface Structure

2.7     Yes/No Questions in some Nigerian Languages

2.8     Phrase Structure Rules (PSR)

2.9     Lexical Categories

2.10   Basic Phonological Concept    s


3.0     Introduction

3.1     Question Types


4.0     Introduction

4.1     Focus Construction in Uneme

4.2     Relativization in Uneme

4.3     Reflexivization


5.0     Introduction

5.1     Summary

5.2     Recommendations

5.3     Conclusion




1.0     Introduction

This Long essay will examine question formation in Uneme. As an introduction, the historical background of the speakers, the geographical location, the socio-cultural background and the genetic classification of Uneme will be discussed.

Uneme is spoken in Etsako East of Edo State Nigeria, Uneme is also spoken in Uzanu, Anegbete, Udochi and Ologua. From history the four towns had the same parents, who later develop to a large community, and now live as a town on their own.

The Uneme speakers are found in Edo State, Uneme people are immigrant from Benin town in Edo State, Nigeria.

Question formation is also an ample illustration of transformational processes. Question Formation as the focus topic on this research work are primarily used to express lack for information on a specific point and to request the listener to supply the information. Basically, we have 2 types of question which include; yes or no question and the content word questions, which is commonly known as WH-questions.

Content word questions require new information on account of its use of question markers such as: who, what, why, where, when, which.

1.1     Geographical Location

Uneme is an ethnic group in Edo State of Nigeria, found under the independence district of Etsako East, on latitude 6045N and 7035N and longitudes 5055’ and 6045’E. Uneme people are also found in north-west in Ondo State, Etsako Central Local Government Area is located in the heart of Etsako land, it is bounded in the west by the Etsako West Local Government Area. In the East by Etsako East Local Government Area and in the north by Okene, also in South by Esan territory.

Under the Etsako district are; Anegbete, Udochi and Ologua as neighbouring towns to Uzanu where Uneme is primarily dominated,the three (3) neighbouring towns also speak Uneme language,  but from history, it was submitted that they were brothers from the same mother to each other, under the Etsako province.

There was a quarrel between Uzanu and Anegbete, which led Uzanu to be under Etsako East Local Government Area today and Anegbete in Etsako Central and as a result there was a war between Uzanu and Anegbete which later ended up in separation.

1.2     Aims and Objectives

This research work aims at investigating how questions are formed in Uneme language. This study intends to achieve these, through the below stated objectives.

(i)      To examine the transformational processes in the language as regard the processes of forming questions.

(ii)     To determine the various types of questions in Uneme language.

(iii)    To determine the phrase structure rules for all the question types in the language.

Bearing in mind the stated aims and objectives above, in the study provides answers to the following research questions;

1.3     Research Questions

(i)      What are the transformational processes in uneme question formation?

(ii)     What are the various question types in Uneme language.

(iii)    What phrase structure rule will be able to capture the question types in Uneme language.

1.4     Historical Background

Hakeem (2003: 4) states that, “The history of Uneme people can be traced to the core area of the Nok Cultural Zone located in the North-east of the Niger-Benue confluence. The area represents the ancestral homeland of not only Uneme people but also of related sub-ethnic groups which have come to be described as the Edoid.

He also noted that Uneme people arrived in Benin area at the reign of a king Ogiso Ereo and on the outskirts of Benin city. The Uneme people were encouraged to move to Benin city in the tenth century, because of their utilitarian metal crafts. It was the metal crafts that brought development into Benin City. The Uneme people had to move out of Benin because of the way they were treated (Uneme people were taken as slaves). This mode of treatment instigated the relocation of the people from Benin City to their present places of settlements.

Uneme speakers are located in Uzanu, Anegbete Udochi and Ologua. The four towns developed from the same parents. But Unazu and Anegbete quarrelled and separated. This explains why today, we have Uzanu in Etsako east today and the Anegbete in Etsako Central. As a result of this quarrel it later result to a war between Uzanu and Anegbete, the war went on for a longer time Uzanu was having an upper hand in the war. One of the Anegbete said they should send him to Bida to the Nupe people for assistance, he left eventually, there were no vehicle then, about 100s year ago, he went on foot, diabolically he was able to get there, and the war had been settled at home, meanwhile he spent years, trying to learn the Nupe language, he got married and had children before he was known.

He now asked someone to take him to the Oba of Nupe, getting to the Oba, he said am here because some people are fighting my own kinsmen, and they needed warriors to come and assist them in the war, meanwhile the war at home had ended, the people are no longer fighting by the time he came, he came with soldiers from Nupe and surprisingly there was no war to fight, they went to meet the Oriola supposed to be the Head of Anegbete then Oriola said Uzanu are brothers they cannot kill each other.

Meanwhile, the Oriola said there is no need for war, but the invaders would not go back without anything, in the process they said they should divide Anegbete into 2 and give them a part, the Oriola of Anegbete said is not possible and submitted that if they came for war they should go and face Uzanu but in the process Uzanu was not ready for war then, they were not expecting any war, they were invaded and the king then ‘Iyema’ decided that Uzanu should flee from that portion, so Uzanu flee first and left the environment.

This is how the Uneme people move apart from one another, that is why you find the Anegbete in where they are now and the Uzanu where they are, and this is what made them to be separated from one another but they are supposed to be children of the same parent.

Etsako is the local government district but the name originally came from a ceremony been done in the community for virgins when a man takes a bride and as a virgin, the man will mark the teeth by breaking part of the front teeth, anybody that see the woman will know that she is married, but naturally girls do not have the mark on their teeth.

The main reason while it is practised is that, if anybody wants to marry a woman and see this mark will definitely know that she’s married, very easy to recognise and very difficult for a woman to remarry, the name came originally from this practise and presently is the local government area. The local government has been split into 3 before, it was one (1) Etsako now divided into 3, Etsako North which is the headquarters which is at Auchi, Etsako Central is in Voga and Etsako east is now Agenegode but before, they were all Etsako. The Anegbete and Udochi are falling to the Etsako central, the small part of Udochi with Uzanu are also falling into the Etsako east. The Udochi is divided into 2 but the majority are in the Etsako central and the minority are in the Etsako east very close to Uzanu its about a kilometer apart.

The Uneme recognised are south Uneme which include the (4) four Uneme are Uzanu, Anegbete, Ologua and Udochi.


Some of the festivals of Uneme community are connected with their religious beliefs while others are connected with their socio-economic activities. Notable among such festivals connected with religious belief is Ogun festival. Ogun festival is associated with and devoted to the propitation  and veneration of god of iron. This festival is usually organised only by ironsmelting societies. The festival is organised by allocating certain spots in the community to the propitiation of Ogun.

The use of certain animals especially dogs, and the involvement of the entire community in singing, drumming and dancing are common, so as to appease Ogun as the god of iron.

The Uneme festival connected with socio-economic activities and Ukpe festival, old yam festival and new yam festival. The Ukpe festival is always celebrated in all Uneme communities,the festival serves as a major communication channel to bid good bye to the outgoing year and to welcome the incoming year.

An Oral Interview conducted with my informant Pastor Patrick Asekhame, the old yam festival is celebrated annually between May and June of every year.

Every family has to participate in the festival, although in some Uneme communities, the orphans take more active part in the event than other participants.

The Uneme’s dressing is somehow different, they used tusks, beads for the women, the tusk for legs and for bangles on the handles for girls mostly when they want to get married. In those days, they believed that a girl must be a virgin before she got married as a result when a girl wants to get married, she will not put on cloth but instead of cloth she will use beads to cover her private part and almost naked moving round the town in those days with a lot of beads and “Ashid” gotten from the bush to decorate the girl and another reddish in colour substance to colour to brighten the girl and a lot of beads on the head, just the way the Benin dresses. All these can be mode of dressing of Uneme people.

Lastly, is the yam festival which is being organised to mark the beginning of the harvest of new yams in every Uneme communities. Unlike the old yam festival, it provided a forum and a communication channel, used by the elders and leaders of Uneme communities for informing and directing their subjects to feel free to eat the emergent new yam produce, it is encouraged and ensured that pounded yam is served with melon soup or ogbono.


The major occupation of the Uneme people is iron smelting (blacksmithing). The blacksmiths smelt the iron-ore mostly at night because of the high temperature generated in the process of smelting, some of the products of the blacksmiths are as follows: Anklets, bracelets, local necklace, hoes, cutlasses, iron weapons, knives, plates and pots etc.

Farming is another occupation the Unemes are engaged in, and which has been in existence for long. The people practice commercial farming system, some of their products are cocoa, rice, yam, maize, cassava and banana etc. All these form of occupation has really brought development to the Uneme people and their various communities.


Uneme people believed in polygamy, it is like a compulsory fact that, if someone has not married two (2) wives is like the person is a lazy man. There is what is called “Adeigbe” in Uneme, for instance, a first daughter is Osame i.e. when she married a man, she does not have any right to give something to her parent without the permission of the husband, if she does that, it is a taboo and also the immediate sister of the first daughter, if she is a girl is called Adegbe she is free from that kind of bondage, when she got married, if she is unfaithful to her husband, it cannot have any side effect or backfire spiritually, because, it is believed that if the first daughter is unfaithful to her husband either sexually or immorally, it can backfire.


There are (3) three religions basically in Uneme communities which are, African traditional religion, Christianity and Islam.

(i)      African Traditional Religion

The Uneme people who are traditionalist have their beliefs in Osanobua or Ogbene or Osi which is the Supreme Being. Osanoboua is believed to have had heavily aides who were appointed by him, among such aides were the local divinities or deities, Llisa (referred to as the gods and goddesses) and the spirits (especially Esi). One major proof of Uneme’s belief in the uniqueness of Osanobua is the fact that every Uneme man or woman usually called on him through his various aides for protection and extrication from the hand of perpetrators of evils. The traditionalist had made efforts to develop the town by entertaining the people in their annual festivals.

(ii)     Christianity

Hakeem asserts that Christianity was brought into Uneme communities in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s by Christian Missionaries like Ogidan of the Anglican Communities. He was from Uzosi kindred in Uneme Akpama in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area. This was done through the help of some Yoruba evangelists, who visited Akoko-Edo frequently, the first church of the missionaries in Uneme Akpama,was the St. Luke’s Anglican Church was built in 1922.

Another missionary who helped in the spread of Christianity in Uneme community was Chief Ezekiel Adeleye Igenuma Uduak Peghemehe, from the Enivbosu area of Uneme Erhurun. He was the brain behind the building of the first church in Uneme Erhurun around 1923, which was also an Anglican church.

Rev. Oyebode, a Yoruba Christian priest based in Auchi, was the first Anglican missionary to influence the spread of the religion in Uneme Aki-Osu in Akoko-Edo area, in the early 1920s. He established the St. John’s Church in 1920, which was the first church in the area.

(iii)    Islam

The Islamic religion has been in existence before the advent of Christianity in Uneme communities Islam was introduced to the Uneme’s by the Nupes during there (Nupe) military and colonizing activities in Akoko-Edo in the 19th century. The conversion of the people to Islam had to wait till the fall of Nupe’s regime in 1897. It was only few of Uneme people that were converted into the religion. What hindered the growth of the religion in Akoko-Edo in the twentieth century was the absence of Mallams or Ulama, Islam up till date as not really found a strong root in Uneme communities.

1.5     Socio-Linguistic Background

This has to do with socio-cultural linguistic relation Uneme has with other languages around them and the socio function it performs.

Uneme have a language used in trading, it is used with the neighbouring community to trade i.e. Uzanu is the boundary with Edo and Ebira. There is a common market based on trade by barter i.e. exchanging of goods and services, there is no general mutual intelligibility area where speakers of different languages come together to trade but the market, as a result of language barrier what is practised is, exchanging of goods.

The role it plays in religion for instance is the church, there is an interpreter of a message from English to Uneme for better understanding and clearity and for uneducated people to understand what the preacher is saying.

Also, Islamic scholars makes interpretation of every word in from English to Uneme. There is no written bible or quran in Uneme language, except traditional religion, this is because they have their own language and charts they make use of and they also follow tradition.

1.6     Drastic Use of Uneme

In education, Uneme does not have a form of formal education, but have their form of informal education that has nothing to do with English education, it is mainly informal, the language is used to give informal education i.e. home training e.g. in the farm or in the kitchen.

1.7     Genetic Classification of Uneme


West Atlantic       Mande                  Gur   Kru   Kwa  Adamawa Eastern         Benue Congo

Ukaan           Defoid  Oko Emosayan Yoruboid  Akpes Cluster Edoid Nupoid Idomoid Igboid Cross River

Delta Edoid          Edoid          North-Central Edoid      North-Edoid

Edo                                Ghotuo

Ikpeshi        Sasaruenwanigwe Ososo         Uneme        Etsako        Ivbie North Okpela-Arhe

Source: Newmann, 1978.

1.8     Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework of this project will be Government and Binding Theory (GB) Charley (1981).

1.9     Data Collection

The method adopted for collecting data for this research work is the contact method. This denotes a personal contact with an informant who is a native speaker of Uneme language. The frame technique will be used in collecting linguistic data for this research work. The name of the informant is “Pastor Patrick Asekhame”. He is a contractor. He is 54 years old and has lived in Uzanu for 23 years. He speaks English fluently.

1.10   Data Analysis

The data collected are transcribed and worked upon according to how the native speakers use it without imposing any extraneous rules or norms of correctness. The morpheme that make up the phrase and sentences are also carefully glossed through frame (paradigmatic) or substitution technique (which allows for eliciting or considerable account of information by manipulating linguistic element within the framework.

1.11   Brief Review of Government Binding Theory

The theory that would be used in the research work is Government Binding Theory. The theory explains Universal Grammar as introduced by Chomsky (1981).

According to Cook (1988: 30), Government-Binding Theory elaborate syntactic levels through the concept of movement. Radford (1988: 401) described Government Binding Theory as a modular deductive theory of grammar that posits multiple levels of representation related by a transformational rule called “move alpha (a). Government and Binding Theory operates through the modules of grammar. Government, case, theta, control, binding bonding and X-bar theory.

1.12   Scope and Organisation

The central focus of the study is to examine the question formation processes in Uneme language. The study is limited to Uneme language, except where it becomes necessary to give example in other languages for the purpose of comparison.

This research work is organised in a way that it will comprise five (5) chapters. The first chapter will be the general introduction, hence, it will include, historical profile, sub-cultural profile and socio-cultural profile of the speakers of the language under study, the genetic classification, aims and objectives of the study, research question, the method of data collection analysis and theoretical framework to be adopted and it is brief history.

In chapter two (2), it will introduce and explicitly explain with examples in Uneme language, the basic syntactic concepts such as Phrase Structure Rule, part of speech, basic word order, sentence types found, lexical categories in the language.

The third chapter will focus on the research topic which is question formation description in the language, here, the phenomenon of question formation will be fully examined.

The fourth chapter will be on transformational processes. Transformational processes such as focus construction, relativization, reflexivization etc. will be explained with adequate and illustrating data from Uneme language.

Chapter five (5) which is the last chapter, will be based on conclusion and summary of the whole work.

1.13   Review of the Chosen Framework

The theory to be used in the analysis of question formation in Uneme language is the Government and Binding Theory (GB). This theory is a modular deductive theory of universal grammar which posits multiple level of representation related by the transformational rule. However, it is a more advanced theory of Universal Grammar. Sanusi (1996: 19-21).

Again, Sanusi (1996: 21) explained that government and binding theory greatly eliminates proliferation of transformational rules like passive, affix hopping, verb number agreement, question formation, equi-NP deletion, raising permutation, insertion etc.

Hegman (1991: 13) defined Government and Binding Theory as a theory of Universal Grammar which is the system of all the principles that are common to all human languages. Government and Binding Theory is otherwise known as principle and parameter theory.

In Government and Binding Theory, the grammar is a continuous interaction between component and sub theories embodying different principle and parameters.

Government and Binding Theory operate through the modules of grammar like government, case, control, theta, binding, bounding and X-bar theory.

1.14   Sub Theories of Government and Binding

Horrock (1987: 29) stated that, the care grammar of a given language is derived from the interaction of sub-theories of universal grammar. These sub-theories are: X-bar theory, case theory, government theory, control theory, binding theory, bounding theory and the theta theory.

The above listed sub-theories are diagrammatically represented below to show the inter relationship among them.


1.15   X-bar Theory

Based on appropriate analysis, for this research work, X-bar is the theory to be adopted for comprehensive analysis.

According to “the X-bar theory is the central module of the principles and paramenters approach in syntax”.

Also, Haegman (1994) says that the X-bar theory is the part of grammar regulating the structure of a phrase.

The core of X-bar theory is the recognition of the fact that phrasal constituents have ‘head’ upon which the other elements of the constituents in question are dependent. (Horrocks 1987: 63) He submits that items which are involved in sub-categorization and which are in most cases interrupted as argumentss of the head, appear with the head X in a phrasal category X-bar. X-bar is called a phrasal ‘projection’ of head, in this case the smallest constituent X as a sub-constituent (Horrocks, 1987: 64).

From the above, the cover symbol ‘X’ stands for the set of lexical categories which head phrases, as in V (for verb), N (for noun), Adj (for adjective), P (for preposition), Adv (for adverb), such that N heads NP, V heads VP, P heads PP, Adj heads Adjp and Adv heads Advp. This implies that phrasal categories e.g. VP, PP, NP, AP all have heads that belong to the same category as the phrasal category (Akmajian, 2001: 215).

Again, Horrocks (1987) explains that X-theory periods principles for the projection of phrasal categories from lexical categories and imposes conditions of hierarchical organization of categories in the form of general schemata. Thus, the general phrase structure rule schema for phrasal categories would be: XP     à      X       Comp.

Where ‘comp’ which stands for complement could be a ‘PP’ or an ‘NP’ with ‘X’ standing for a lexical category e.g. P. N, V etc. This implies that when ‘X’ represents ‘N’, it means that ‘XP’ is an ‘NP’, when ‘X’ represents ‘V’, then ‘XP’ is a ‘VP’ and so on.

In summary, the major concern of the X-bar theory is to describe the syntactic and formal structures of phrases and the inherent general characteristics they have in common.

1.16   Case Theory

According to Horrocks (1987: 102), “case theory deals with the principle of case assignment to constituents”.

Yusuf (1998: 26) defines case theory as a theory that deals with the forms that NPs take in different syntactic environments.

Basically, the assignment of case is done under government theory in which the choice of case is determined by the governor.

He also makes it clear that, case assignor are always head of their phrases and are adjacent to the complements that receive the case (pg. 28).

The implication is that, a verb cannot assign any case to prepositional phrase as there is an NP barrier. That blocks such a transfer.

The three common case under Government and Binding theory are:

  • Nominative case assigned by tensed INFL
  • Accusative case assigned by verb
  • Oblique case assigned by prepositions

1.17   Theta Ө Theory

Another module under GB theory is theta theory. The submission of this theory is that a lexical category will have Ө attributes either as assigner or assignee.

Horrocks (1987: 101-107) says Ө-theory is concerned with the assignment of what Chomsky called ‘thematic’ roles to sentential constituents. By thematic roles, Chomsky means thematic assignment called semantic roles such as agent, patient, etc. It is assumed that these are assigned to the complements of lexical items as a lexical property.

For example:

Play the ball on the pitch

The NP complement “the ball” is assigned the role of patient or theme while the PP complement is assigned the role of location.

In all, the fundamental task of Ө-theory is to determine the circumstances (i.e. the syntactic position) occupied by an NP as well as the governor of such position in the sentence.


The goalkeeper threw the ball to the opponent

The goalkeeper     à      subject

The ball                à      Direct object

The opponent       à      Indirect object

The main principle of Ө-theory is Ө criterion which requires each thematic role to be uniquely assigned. Each argument bears one and only one Ө-role and Ө-role is assigned to one and only one argument. Yusuf (1998: 124).

The commonly expressed roles are agents, theme, instrument, locative (goal, source, direction) and a few more.

Yusuf stresses further that, participants are assigned these roles in the D-structure, whatever it is, the V or P assigned Ө-roles to their governed complement while the VP assigns a role to be subject NP.

The thrust of Ө-criterion is that every argument (be it subject, direct or indirect object) must have a Ө-role.

1.18   Binding Theory

Madjaer (1991: 46) refers to binding theory as a theory that is concerned with the systematic domain in which NP can and cannot be constructed as co-referential.

Yusuf (1998: 45) in his own view states that binding theory is concerned with the relationships of NP participants in the sentence. Precisely, binding theory shows how NP can be related to another NP.

Chomsky (1988: 520) submits that binding theory deals with the connection among Noun Phrases that have to do with such semantic properties as dependence or reference, including the connection between the pronouns and its antecedents.

The implication of the above definition is that, binding theory deals with the co-referential relationship among NPs in the same sentence. That is, how NPs co-referred or co-indexes one another in a simple sentence.

NPs that are argument are assumed to fall into one of these three categories:

  • Anaphors
  • Pronominal
  • Referential expressions


These are NP types that must have antecedents they depend on one for existence in some definite place in the sentence. Reciprocals and reflexive pronouns fall under this class e.g.

Ade hurts himself

“Himself” in the above sentence refers back to Ade, therefore Ade is the antecedent which licensed its existence.


These are NPs that lack specific lexical content and have only the features; person, number, gender and case they either refer to individuals independently or co-refer to the individuals already mentioned in a given sentence. E.g.

Bola greeted her mother.

“Her” may refer to the individual denoted by Bola, or another individual not mentioned in the sentence.

Referential Expression

These are NPs lexical heads which potentially refer to something.  A referential expression is also known as R-expression and they are NPs with lexical ability to refer to something without necessarily having any antecedent to license their existence.

Bola says Kunle should be flogged

“Bola and Kunle” in the above example denote 2 different persons. That is they are not co-referring each other.

1.19   Government Theory

Madjaer (1991: 495) says government theory is concerned with the relationship between a head and its complements, and defines relationship in other sub-theories.

Yusuf (1998: 140) says government theory is a principle theory in that, it is a long known fact of grammar that a verb governs its object (where the object could be NP, PP,CP) while the pre/postposition governs its object also.

The implication of this is that, a verb will govern the NP object that directly followed it, while a preposition governs its own NP object. According to Chris (2000: 140) the theory is concerned with the relationship between a head and its complements. It also defines the relationship in other sub-theories.

According to Chomsky (1986) cited in Yusuf (1998: 47) the principle of proper government profers that:

Β is properly governed by a if it is governed by a and a certain kind of connection holds between a ad β.

1.20   Bounding Theory

This theory aimed at limiting the displacement of constituents by transformational rule of move a.

According to Horrocks (1987) it is a way of constraining the movement rule move a. Movement rule within the GB theory is assumed to following:

  • An extraction site i.e. where an element is being removed
  • A landing site i.e. where the element moved to
  • An intervening gap i.e. the space between the extraction site and the landing site of an element.

Bounding theory does not only monitor the extraction and the landing site for an element, but it also placed a constraint and limit on the element that can be moved, where it can be moved to and how far the element can be moved.

1.21   Control Theory

Horrocks (1987: 31), in his description of control theory, says that, it is one in which verbs take infinitival complements that have null subject. They are understood as being co-referential with an NP in the main clauses which is not overtly stated but is represented by PRO. The obvious property of PRO can be explained by saying it must only occur when it’s not governed.

Chomsky (1986: 183) describes this notion of PRO as ungoverned. Consequently, PRO can never have case (since it has no governor). Let us consider the following examples to explain the above theory.

1a.     Ade promised his father he would buy the bag

1b.     Tade promised his father [PRO to buy the bag]

PRO in the above example is controlled by ‘TADE’ which is the subject of the man clause.


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