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[icon type=”icon-pencil”]: THE VERB PHRASE OF KOFYAR LANGUAGE
[icon type=”icon-book”]: Chapter 1 – 5
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This study,THE VERB PHRASE OF KOFYAR 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.





This study focuses on the verb phrase of kofyar. Kofyar is a dialect of “sura” that can be found in the northern part of plateau state in a local government called Qua’an pan. The kofyar are a population in the middle belt of Nigeria numbering around 50,000.

They are majorly known as ‘KOFYARA’ among the speakers but in the local government they are known as “PAN”. It is also spoken in a part of Nassarawa State.



Kofyar population comprises of three different tribes as designated by british colonial officers and the tribes are the Doemark, Merniang and kwalla. The three groups have a common language, economic pattern and origin myth and had formed into a union called the kofyar federation in 1940’s. They have therefore been referred to as a single group by the anthropologist.

When they were first met by early British colonial authorities, they lived in the rugged hills in the south eastern corner of the Jos plateau and in settlements around plateau state. They remained at peace with Britain officers until 1930, when a young assistant district officer named Barlow was killed in the hill village of Latok by a rock thrown on his head. After this the resident were forced out of the hills making them spread themselves in different places in plateau state.


Kofyar means the home state of the ancestor has grown. There are two kofyar in Qua’an pan local government area, they are kofyar payar and kofyar doemak, the only difference between these two kofyar is the distance. The name of the originator is Dafyar which means a child has grown. He descended from the eastern part of Nigeria.

When he left for the eastern part of the country he moved with tribes like the Angas, Mahvul, Ankwe, Gwai and the Bokous. When were moving they came straight to Daika in Mangul Local Government, Plateau State. At that point, they had a disagreement, the Bokous and the panchi left and headed towards another direction. The kofyar headed towards Garam, at Garam they had another disagreement on the issue of chieftaincy.

Mean while, Dafyar had a brother named Daram, they both moved from Garam to chip, in chip, Dafyar left Daram, Dafyar left and settled in kofyar payer. He gave birth to so many children among which were a set of twin called Dajan and Dajin, Dajan went to namu and Dajin stayed in Doemak meaning my movement ends here. The offspring of Dafyar comprised his sons and grandsons or even great grand sons and so on. Oral tradition has for long mentioned the fourteen who have been popular due to the settlements that grew in the wake of their earlier locations. These offspring’s whose location have created urban and semi urban settlements are as presented below.


1 Chikirpe Kwang 6km
2 Dajan Jepjan 23km
3 Dajin Dummak 3km
4 Dawam Lardang 5km
5 Jefut Jaknoeng 11km
6 Jipal Koeper 8km
7 Koenzuan Fujing 6km
8 Kopgwai Muduut 6km
9 Longme Bogot 5km
10 Nugaan Miket 2km
11 Rundum Zukal 8km
12 Soekoetko Kwa 3km
13 Wadam Kwanoeng 5km
14 Yimpan Fungleet, Njak 12km


As a result of civilisation, kofyar speakers can be found in seven districts in Qua’an pan local government area in seven villages which are Doemak, Kwa, Kwang, Kwalla, Bwalla, Namu and Doka.


The kofyar are a population in the middle belt of Nigeria. The dialects are Bwal, Bwol, Dimmuk, Doemak, Giverom, Gworam, Jepal and Nemyang.

The official language in Qua’an pan local government is English language. The main identity of “KOFYARA’ is their language and beliefs. The kofyar people are rich in terms of social aspect and cultural aspect such as festivals, dressing, religion, food, occupation and so on.


Ma’ap Festival: The ma’ap festival is mean for the funeral rite of a great person and it is done by slaughtering a horse.

Ka’atar festival: It is a festival done to thank the gods for making the harvest of a year bountiful.

Feer: Is a musical presentation for social activities especially during installations, heroic activities, funerals, station ceremonies, etc. horns are used to produce the music. It is common with keonoen, Ron and kofyar groups.


The kofyar people believe in the almighty God whom they call Na’an. They also believe in mystical power, they place their belief in lesser gods such as keom Gwar and the koen toeng Munaan. The work of koem Gwar is to catch evil people and the work of koem toeng Munaacth orade) is to explore into the future.


The kofyar does believe in almighty God, the only supreme being who lives in the sky, but that there is no after life. In the ancient days, the kofyar people were majorly traditional believers but due to the influence of western civilization the kofyar’s are majorly Christians followed by traditional believers and a few Muslims.


Their best foods in kofyar are pounded yam, Lamchik, Guzeh, Baala and Naweh, their best soups are toomang made from pumpkin leaves, tooklem made from bean seed, toompur made form mushroom and tookunlung. Kofyar people take a lot of alcohol and their favorite drink is burukutu which is known as Mous in the area, followed by Wa’argoebung and Wa’ardachant. One thing to note in their culture is that they don’t waste food.


In kofyar, the wedding ceremony is called samurang, the bride is called Namwar and the groom is called Mis namwar, the wedding ceremony is done in the namwar’s place.

In terms of the dressing, in the olden days, the kofyar have a poenlugut which means child carrier made from sheep skin. In the western time, they dress to fit civilization.


It is beyond the shadow of doubt that, the issue of western education in today’s society is dominant and nearly unavoidable.

Kofyar a small speech community in plateau state is not exempted from this so called nomenclature ‘education’. Unlike so many places the main schools in kofyar and the neigh-boring villages are missionary and government school.


1 Kwa Primary Catholic Secondary
2. Kwang Primary Catholic Secondary
3 Chip Primary Catholic Secondary
4 Dafan Primary Catholic Secondary
5 Kofyar Paya Primary Catholic Primary
6 Doemak Primary Catholic Secondary
7 Kwagalak Primary Catholic Secondary
8 Kwagalak Primary Catholic Secondary
9 Ba’al Primary Catholic Primary
10 Chim Primary Catholic Primary
11 Kwagar Primary Catholic Primary
12 Lardang Primary Catholic Primary
13 Bwall Primary Catholic Secondary
14 Jepjan (Namu) Primary Catholic Secondary
15 Kofyar doemak Primary Catholic Primary

Mostly, Kofyar people don’t have problem communicating with people outside their ethnic group because they understand English-Language.

Kofyar language is a very rich language because text books have been written using the language. It is a language of so many languages.


Quá’an pan is a Local Government area in Plateaus State, Nigeria. Its head quarters are in the town of (Baap). It has an area of 2,478km2 and a population of 196, 929 at the 2006 population census with Kofyar people numbering around 50,000. The main occupation of Kofyar people is farming, they provide good farming yields with the help of organic manure in place of fertilizers. They also do a little hunting and fishing during their leisure period.


During the 1950’s, the Kofyar began to settle in the fertile plains of the Benue valley to the south of the Jos Plateau. Pioneering farms over there used extensive slash and burn methods, but with rising population.

Density and market stimulus, intensive methods were gradually introduced by the 1980’s Benue Valley Kofyar were practicing considerable amount of yams, rice, peanut, millet and sorghum using intensive but generally sustainable methods.

Although, most Kofyar people now live in the valley (or in cities), the Jos plateau homeland is still inhabited largely because of the Kofyar’s effort to maintain it as cultural and economic resource. Many Kofyar people who live elsewhere will still keep secondary farms in their homeland.


Every language of the world is believed to have or share common ancestors. The family or the language that can be traced to common ancestors is the language family.

Merit Ruhlen (1987:1) states that the idea that groups of languages that share certain systematic resemblances have inherited those similarities form a common origin is the basis for genetic classification.

According to Dr. Uni Seber, a language is a group of language related by descent from common ancestors called the proto language. The term comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in biological family tree or in a subsequent modification to species in psychogenetic tree of evolution.

A genetic classification thus makes two statements. Firstly, it affirms that certain languages are infact relates to each other. (a common ancestor) secondly, if specifies how the language are interrelated in the form of a branching diagram.

The Kofyar language falls under the afro-asiatic language family because all African languages can be grouped into four main families which are Niger kordofania, Afro-asiatic, Nilo-Sahara and Khoisan.

Kofyar under the afro-asiatic family can be further classified under the chadic family.

The chadic language are a member of Afro-asiatic phylum chadic languages are spoken mostly in chad republic, North Cameroon and Northem Nigeria because of the closeness to lake chad. Language of the chadic family make up for about 25 percent of the total number of languages spoken in Nigeria concentrated in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Nassarawa, Abuja and Plateau  State.

The following classification of the chadic language found in Nigeria is taken from crozier and Blench 1992. Some medium sized, chadic language include Angas, Mwaghavul. Most are endangered languages due to the strong influence of Hausa in Northern Nigeria. The only language of wider distribution in Nigeria is Hausa in Northern Nigeria with 18 million speakers in Nigeria and 40 million speakers worldwide.



This project describes the Kofyar verb phrase. It examines the structure and properties of verb phrase in Kofyar language and the transformational processes involving the structure of verb phrase. It is to make Kofyar language a spoken language in many places and to make learning and understanding of the language easy for people who do not speak the language and chanced speakers. This processes and exemplifications are presented and analyzed using the model known as the ‘Government and Binding theory’.

Chapter one of the project presents the introductory aspect of the research  work exploring  mainly the colonial Background, historical background, the socio linguistic and the socio-cultural profile, the genetic  classification,  the data analysis, theoretical frame work and data collection.

It also presents the research methodology adopted in the project.

Chapter two presents brief review of the sound system and sound pattern of the language, the consonant sound and the vowel sound, the tonal inventory of the language and the sound distribution. This chapter also discusses the basis syntactic concepts that are germane to this area of study such as the phrase structure rules, lexical categories, basis word order and sentence types.

Chapter three focuses on the verb phrase of Kofyar which is the area of absolute concentration of this research. It entails exploring deep into the verb phrase of Kofyar and the phrase structure rule of verb phrase.

Chapter four describes the transformational processes involving verb phrases in Kofyar language with such aspects explaining the deep structure and the surface structure. Chapter five which is the concluding part of this exercise summarizes the work form the beginning to the end of the write up and presents recommendations.


Many theories have been propounded for analyzing language data in order to present a systematic account (or descriptive) of the linguistic knowledge or competence of the native speaker of a language possesses.

Such theories are used as theoretical framework or methodological tools for analyzing language data. They include: Traditional or classical Grammar, structural or Taxonomic Grammar, systematic grammar, Transformational Generative Grammar, Government and Binding theory and minimalist programme. The framework adopted for analyzing Kofyar language data is Government and Binding theory.

The government and binding framework have been chosen because it shows the similarities among the different phases. Government and Binding tried to capture these similarities by assigning to them the same structure rather than the case of transformational generative grammar, the government and Binding theory model is examined in detail in section1.9


Samarin (1967:43) says the kind of corpus a field researcher obtains is determined by the purposes and the techniques when collecting linguistics data. According to him;

Research typically begins with example of structured expressions, more precisely with judgments by speakers (or other evidence) that suggest at least a partial account of the form and meaning of this expression and thus provide at least a partial account of their structures”.

The focus of this research is largely and primarily for language description. The data collection was done through the use of word list and frame technique.

There are two ways of collecting data which are the informant method and the introspective method. But of the two methods the informants or contact method is adopted in the research in which the native speakers is the source of the information and the evaluation of the utterances put to him by linguistics investigator.

The three informants or language helpers that kindly participated in the development of this research are Mr. Godfrey K, Mr. Paul Damar, Mr. lale. Mr. Godfery K.is thirty years and he is a bike rider with a solid secondary school knowledge Mr. Lale is an old man of seventy two years.

He is a farmer and as well as a retired primary school teacher.

The ward list is equally used in this research. The list is used to collect a number of words for verification, evaluation and analysis in this project. The frame work technique forms a crucial part of this research work since it is in the domain of syntax. To this end, the frame technique is normally used in collecting relevant syntactic data.

The importance of frame techniques is that it makes it easier for a field researcher to determine the actual underlying nature of a given constituent as well as the possible morphological or syntactic context in which such a word or constituent can occur within a grammatical sentence.

For example, the morphological or syntactic component “man” in English-language can be derived if the word is used in different syntactic position. For example, the subject, the object and the object of the preposition.


Data analysis is based on the forms produced by the native speaker and it is implemented in order to discover what obtains in the language under study.

The data in this work will be analyzed using the government and binding model that is the different types of verb phrases and their transformations would be exemplified using the different sub-theories of Government and Binding like x-bar theory [crucial for the projection of phrasal categories from lexical categories) and the movement theory (used for the exemplification of verbal movement from one place to another.


Government and binding theory was introduced by Noam Chomsky in 1981. The model takes its name from two of its sub-theories. Binding deals with conditions that are formally related or bind certain elements of a sentence and Government deals with the structure content, within which these binding relationships obtains. The approach is also described by the phrase principle and parameters theory.

Government Binding theory was developed initially by Chomsky and is in a sense the immediate descendant of transformational grammar. Infact, one feature of Government and binding theory that distinguishes if from other theories is that it makes use of transformational operation. Unlike, transformational generative grammar, government and binding are a modular deductive theory of grammar. The modular theory or sub-theories are the deep structure and surface structure for they play roles similar but not identical to the transformational grammar nations of deep and surface structure.

The sub-theories of government and Binding frame work are; x-bar theory, theta theory, case theory, Government theory, Binding theory, Bounding theory and control theory


The x-bar theory is a theory designated to formalize the traditional notion called head. It was developed in the 1970’s and plays an important role in Government and Binding. The idea is that when one looks at the structure internal to different phrases in a language, one typically finds a similar pattern with each.

A fundamental and central concept in all contemporary syntax is the concept of a head. The head of linguistic unit is that part of the unit that gives its essential character. In the present context, the head of a NP is the noun; it is in virtue of the fact that it is headed by a noun that the phrase is noun phrase. Similarly, a verb phrase and so on for adjectives, prepositions and adverbs.

According to Horrocks (1987:100), x-bar theory provides principle for the projection of phrasal categories from lexical categories and imposes conditions on the hierarchical organization of categories in the form of general schemata.

In describing x bar theory, peter sells (1987:27-28) explains that the phrase is said to be projection of the head. Standardlys, two levels of projection are countenanced, the phrasal level, for instance, Noun phrase assumed to be related to its head by an intermediate phrasal level.

The x bar scheme for English proposed by Government and Binding is shown in it’s bare out lines. The phrasal level is characterized by being a second-order project of the head for instance (x”), this is equivalent to the notation xp (second order (phrasal) project of any head), and the highest level of projection is called the maximal projection.

In the above schemata, XII which is equal to the xp is the maximal projection. It has a specifier position. The X0 is the head of the phrase and it can sub categorize for complements or adjacent or adjuncts. For  example in kofyar language.

Oék wúle nkoe Goat big that (that big goat) Maximal projection level
Oék nkose Goat that (that goat) Intermediate projection
Oék Goat Zero projection level



The theory of ø roles (or thematic relations as they are more generally known) was developed in the 1960’s and 1970’s (theory it has antecedents in the work of ancient grammarians) but has only brought into syntactic description in a general way in recent years. While subcatergorization in its core description provides information about the syntactic form of arguments, ø-roles provide essentially semantic information. For examples while the verb find subcategories for an Np; it has two ø roles: Agent and theme, these are notionally the one responsible for the action and the thing upon which the action is performed respectively.

According to Henk van Reimsdik and Edwin Williams (1986:241) ‘The theta theory is thus another attempt to account for the relation between verbs and their arguments. It has come to be known as ø- theory because ø stands for thematic.

One of the fundamental tasks of ø theory is to determine the circumstance under which a Np can be argument of a verb. There are types of argument that is the internal argument and the external argument. The internal arguments are governed by the verb. For example (NP (VP (v NP PP PP PP ………) VP)S. The external verb is not only governed by the verb but by the whole verb phrase. The assignment of ø roles to internal arguments is known as direct argument and the role of ø to external argument is known as indirect assignment and in this roles are assigned at the deep structure.


For example in kofyar language; (1) John soe shim

John eat yam

John ate yam

In this sentence the verb is the main constituent, so we can say that the NP has been assigned theta role, that is, the verb assigned theta role to John.


According to Horrocks (1988:102), case theory deals with the principles of case assignment to constituents. Case theory has to do primarily with forms that, Np’s take in different syntactic environments.

Peter s. (1986:52) says that case theory is responsible for determining large part the distributions of Nps and possibly other maximal projection too. In Government and binding each noun phrase must be assigned case, with the possible exception of some empty categories. For example, if some Np failed to be assigned case or more strictly fail to be in position to which case is assigned, then the structure rule is ungrammatical. This is mostly apparently in case filter.

Case filter always occur at the surface structure which has the phonetic content but no case that is if the noun phrase has phonetic content but no case. Actually, in the general case, the filter must apply to chains, each chain must have exactly one case marked position if it has Np as it’s first members.

In the Government and Binding frame work, these cases are said to be assigned under ‘Government’. The common cases types are:

  1. Nominative case-assigned by tense that contains inflection (Np, s)
  2. Oblique case are assigned by prepositions
  3. Accusative case are assigned by Verb

The category inflection assigns case to the subject under government if it is tensed, the infinitival INFL” to does not assign case, verbs and prepositions assign case to their objects in English, it is the same case, the typically prepositions assign some kind of oblique case, such as dative.


According to Malmjaer [199:495], Government theory deals with the relationship between a head and its complement and relationship in other sub theories. It is a known fact of grammar that a verb governs its object where the object could be noun phrase and prepositional phrase.

Hence, verb like see, kill etc govern their Np objects. The domain of a lexical head, INFL or poss may then be taken as the element of C. commands that are not protected  by a barrier, However, there is evidence that they should be generated to comprise all maximal projections in the sense of x bar theory.

In the above schemata, x – C- commands B and other nodes dominate the x. in the same vein both x and B can thus assign case to each other.

However and can assign case to only B and not x and Y, with this description if is obvious that crucial to the concept of ‘government’ is the issue of C- commands is the relationship between an element and these elements if is ‘superior’ to but does not dominate.

Another issue is the issue of S-pruning. In S-pruning, the verb of the higher clause governs the subject of the lower sentence but nothing within its Vp, since it is the domain of verb.

Taking maximal projections (Np, ADJP, VP and PP) are barriers (relevant) example are ringed. The concept of adjacency means contiguity. It is also one of the requirements for government theory. This implies, these must be no constraint between a governor and its governor. Government theory is extended through the principle of proper government which non lexical categories do not. For example in English language;

(1).    Ade ate yam

The verb ate is the one governing Ade with nothing blocking there relationship between the two words.


According to Gert W. (1995:180), Binding theory is the sub theory of government and binding theory which deals with indexing relationships between nominal expressions. Horocks (I988:108), says that binding theory is concerned primarily with the conditions under which Nps are interpreted as co-referential with other Np’s in the same sentence.

The partitioning is effected by three valued features which are:

  • Anaphors
  • Pronominal
  • Referential expressions

An anaphor must be bound in the smallest domain of a subject in which it occurs while a pronoun must be free in the smallest domain of a subject in which it occurs and a referential expression must be free in all.

Taking each of the categories in turn, we may define ‘Anaphors’ as Np’s whose reference is necessarily determined sentence internally and which cannot have independent reference. Reciprocal and reflexive pronouns fall into the class e.g.

  • Kalu shot himself
  • Bulu and the animal fought each other on Sunday.

‘Himself’ and ‘each other’ mush be taken as referring back to the individual denoted by Kalu and Bulu.

Pronominal: there are Np’s that lack specific lexical content and have only the features person, number, gender and case. Unlike anaphor, they may either refer to individuals independently or co-refer to individuals already named in a given sentence. For example.

  • Bili says he is a genius.

The pronominal ‘he’ may refer to the individual denoted by the name Bili or to some other individual not mentioned in the sentence.

R-Expressions: [The customary abbreviation for referential expression] as the name implies, they are noun phrases with lexical heads which potentially refer to something. Co-reference is excluded here, for example.

Mr. Ojo says Tola should be boiled in oil.

The ‘Mr. Ojo and Tola’ must denote two different individuals. Even where the same name is used twice, the most natural interpretation is one where two different people are involved. For example:

  • Lola slapped Lola in the kitchen.

In special circumstance like this, it is crucial to note that the second R-expression has to be taken as a kind of pronominal.

Conclusively, the binding theory is concerned with connections among noun phrase that have to do with such semantic properties as dependence of reference, including the connection between a pronoun and an antecedent [Chomsky, 1988:52].





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