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1.0       Introduction

This research work is aimed at studying the verb phrase of Adim language. Adim language is spoken by the Adim people in Northern Cross-River state, Akamkpa Local Government Area. This research will take a look at the structure of the verb phrase and the transformational processes embedded in Adim language.

This chapter intends to examine the socio-cultural background of the Adim people, their geographical and historical background which will include their marriage system and religious belief. Also, the genetic classification of the language will be treated; objectives of the study and theoretical framework are focused on in this chapter.

Project Topics

1.1       Socio-cultural Background of the Language

The Adim people are found in Northern Cross-River state of Nigeria. At the last census, they were about 16,000 in population. They are under Akankpa/Akamkpa Local Government Area and could also be found in Biase Local Government of Cross-River State.

They are also known as Orum or Arum people. The people share a name with their language. Some of the villages surrounding them include: Ugep, Idomi, Abini and Abi. They have cordial relationship with their neighbors. Their languages are mutually unintelligible. Efik language is used to communicate with other tribes.

1.1.1   Historical Background of Adim People

According to oral history, at about the 1950s, a group of people lived together in a village called Edem Omere Akpa. Their compounds were built with a group facing the East and the others facing the West. They lived backing each other. They did not live in peace because the group facing west was always attacking the ones facing east. This happened mostly when children go to defecate in the bush. This went on for a long time until the people facing east decided to retaliate.

They retaliated by throwing hot boiled coco-yam on the children thereby peeling the children’s skin. This led to a war. The people on the left side won and the ones facing east decided to relocate. Even with their decision to relocate, they were not left alone. They were chased by their enemy until they came to a hill and were forced to climb the hill. Still the enemy did not relent.

In the night when they were fast asleep, the enemies decided to creep in on them. An old man unknowingly woke up to urinate and saw them creeping up the hill. Using wisdom and knowing that to wake others will cause a commotion, he used the tip of his leg to roll a stone. This piece of rock gathered momentum and other stones rolled with it thereby causing boulders to tumble and kill all the enemies.

From the hills, the people now known to be Adim people started spreading. The first place they settled was called Idomi. Then they spread to Ugep. Some of their descendants are still found in Ekori. All of them are found in present day Cross-River state. Ugep is in Yakkur Local Government, Idomi and Ekori in Ekori Local Government while Adim is in Akamkpa and Biase Local Government.

Though these languages came from a common origin, they are now mutually unintelligible except for a few lexical items.

1.1.2   Marriage and Naming Ceremonies of Adim People

Adim people practice both monogamy and polygamy. They marry according to their wealth. The first man that practiced polygamy married ten wives. To ask for a girl’s hand in marriage, only a keg of Palm-wine is required. After agreement is made, the items taken to the bride-to-be’s house are: Kola nut, Palm-oil, Yam, Garri and the bride price.

When a child is born, the whole village comes together to donate food items for the naming ceremony. The food items to be donated include: Garri and Yam. The food items donated are given to the family of the new born baby. The whole village comes out to celebrate the baby.

1.1.3   Religion and Way of Life of Adim People

The Adim people were originally idol worshippers until the advent of Christianity and Islam. Their arch god was called obolose, the god of the land. After the civil war in the early 70’s, Christianity was introduced to Adim. The first church built was a Presbyterian church and then the Catholic church and then the Assemblies of God church. In the mid 80’s, Islam was introduced to Adim village. Till date it is still practiced there. Every district has its own mosque.

Adim people primarily have farming as their occupation. They also hunt, do gold-smithing and engage in palm-oil production. They have festivals like the New Yam Festival mostly associated with eastern Nigeria. Obolopon is the title of their ruler. The council of elders of the Adim people is known as Kepol. Okpeibili is the name of the high priest. They have masquerades called Etangala and Lobo

1.2       Genetic Classification

Genetic classification is the grouping of languages into families based on shared similarities in their features. According to Ruhlen (1987:1), the idea that groups of languages share certain systematic resemblances and have inherited those similarities from a common origin is the basis for genetic classification. This is the basis for the relevance of giving the genetic classification of Adim language. Below is the family tree of Adim language:

1.3       Scope and Organization of the Study

This research work aims to study the verb phrase of Adim language. Chapter one gives the socio-cultural and historical background of the language speakers, it also gives the genetic classification of the language and the scope and organization of the research work. Furthermore, the theoretical background of the research work is given in chapter one.

Chapter two will deal with basic phonological and syntactic concepts. Chapter three will give the analysis of the verb phrase of Adim language while chapter four will describe the transformational processes affirmed in the language while chapter five will be the summary of the work and conclude the research work.

1.4       Methodology

The methodology implored for this research work is direct data elicitation from the native speaker of the language being worked upon. The informant speaks Adim language, Yakkur language and English language.

The Ibadan 400 word list of lexical items, a tape recorder and the frame technique were used for data elicitation. The name of the speaker is Mr. Usani Edet Eyong. He lived in Ijiman, Adim town for 20 years before joining the Nigerian Air Force. He currently lives in Lagos.

1.5       Data Collection

In the course of this research work, the informant method was used. The informant method requires a native speaker of a language giving copious and illuminating data. According to Samarin (1967), the kind of data collected by a field researcher depends on the technique adopted. Thus in addition to the word list and tape recorder used to elicit data, a frame technique was also used to observe the syntactic elements in the language.

1.6       Data Analysis

The analysis of the Adim verb phrase is going to be done with the use of sentences elicited from the informant. Since the crux of our analysis is the verb phrase, the researcher elicited about fifty sentences, about fifteen verbal clauses, ten questions, and twenty verb phrases.

In this research work, for the actual analysis, about fifteen of the verb phrase, five of the verbal clauses and ten of the sentences were utilized.

1.7       Background to the study

The verb phrase is an aspect of syntax which is a branch of linguistics that studies the grammar of a language. The verb phrase is part of a sentence. It is headed by the verb. It is the action carried out by an entity, usually a noun, which is referred to as the subject of the sentence.

The verb indicates the role of the nominal in a sentence. The verb notes the nominal syntactically either as the subject or object in the sentence. The head of a verb phrase, which is the verb, is obligatory. It can serve as the only entity in the verb phrase. Other satellites are not obligatory. Verb satellites could be complements or adjuncts.

In studying the verb phrase of Adim language, this research work will look at the transitive and intransitive verbs, complements of the verb, phrase structure rules of the verb phrase and serial verbs in the language. The verb phrase is that part of the sentence that entails the action carried out and the object that receives the action. In some cases, only the action is in the verb phrase.

1.8       Theoretical Framework

Haegeman (1991:13) regards 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. The GB theory is also known as the Principle and Parameters theory. In his submission, Sanusi (1996) maintains that the GB theory is a modular deductive theory of universal grammar which posits multiple levels of representation related by the transformational rule ‘move alpha’. However, it is a more advanced theory of Universal Grammar.

In GB theory, the postulation of “move alpha” dramatically illustrates the attempt to reduce the expressive power of transformations and to shift the descriptive burden to highly general universal constraints. It consists of one universal rule, move alpha, and three universal constraints: subjancency, the specified subject condition and the tensed-s condition (Riemsdijk and Williams, 1986:127). In line with the above, Sanusi (1996) concludes that GB theory greatly eliminates proliferation of transformational rules like passive construction, affix-hopping, verb-number agreement, question formation, equi-NP deletion, raising, permutation and insertion.

Government and Binding theory operates through seven sub theories of grammar which include: theta theory, case theory, government theory, binding theory, bounding theory, control theory and X-bar theory. These sub-theories, according to Horrocks (1987:29), are interrelated that each of them can account for grammaticality and ungrammaticality of any sentence. Below is a diagrammatical representation of the modules of grammar:

For the purpose of this research work on Adim verb phrase, the X-bar theory is adopted, but we shall take a look at the other sub-theories and give a summary of their tenets and principles.

1.8.1   Theta Theory

The rationale behind this theory is the assignment of thematic roles to sentential constituents. According to Yusuf (1998:23), “a lexical category will have θ-attribute either as a receiver or an assigner”. These thematic roles include agent, patient, beneficiary, locative, goal and instrument.

Also, Horrocks (1987) opines that the main principle of θ-theory is the θ-criterion which requires each thematic role to be uniquely assigned, i.e. each constituent denotes an argument that is assigned just one θ-role and each θ-role is assigned to just one argument denoting constituent.

1.8.2   Case Theory

According to Horrocks (1987:102) the case theory deals with principles of case assignment to constituents. This means that, certain lexical heads have the power to assign or determine the case of their NP complements which they govern. For instance, a ‘V’ or ‘P’ which governs and ‘NP’ complement will case-mark that constituent.

Basically, the assignment of case is done under government theory in which the choice of case is determined by the governor. Horrocks (1987) asserts that in the context of GB theory, the essential point is that there can be no case-marking without government; ungoverned positions cannot receive case. Yusuf (1998) submits that “adjacency is required for case assignment”. This is to say that case assignees and assignors must be contiguous with no barrier blocking the abstract case.

1.8.3   Binding Theory

The Binding theory is a theory that is fundamentally concerned with the syntactic conditions under which “NP’s” can be interpreted as co-referential with other ‘NPs’ in the same sentence. This in summary means, that an NP argument in a sentence may or may not be a co-referential constituent with other NPs in the same sentence. For this reason, the binding theory proposes three categories into which an argument NP can fall:

  • Anaphor: which must be bound in its governing category i.e. dependently co-referential.
  • Pronominal: which must be free in its governing category i.e. it may either refer to an individual independently or co-refer to an individual already named in a given sentence.
  • Referential expression: which must be free everywhere i.e. potentially referring to something (Horrocks, 1987).

1.8.4   Bounding Theory

According to Horrocks (1987:128), “the bounding theory is concerned with the limitations to be placed on the displacement of constituents by the transformational rule schema ‘move α’”. In a similar vein, Kirsten (1991) submits that bounding theory is concerned with the way movement rule ‘move α’ can be constrained. In essence, the bounding theory, as its name implies, bounds movement rule by constraining what constituents to be moved from where it is to be moved and the actual site to which it moves.

1.8.5   Government Theory

Government is a traditional notion involving the delimitation of the sphere of influence of a particular category with respect to adjacent categories (Horrocks, 1987:103). Horrocks further stresses that the government theory defines the syntactic relationship between a governor and the element that is governs.

Thus: α governs β if and only if

  • α and β mutually C-command each other
  • α is a governor (e.g. Noun, Verb, Preposition and Adjective).
  • α governs β, then governs the specifier of β (Lamidi, 2001:98).

The theory of government also defines the relationship which exists between the other sub-theories of GB.

1.8.6   Control Theory

This theory is concerned with the way in which subjectless infinite structures are construed. It focuses on an element called PRO. PRO is restricted to the subject position in non-finite clause (Culicover, 1999:55). This sentence can be illustrated with this example: “I wanted to go”. This example gives a reason to believe that there is really a subject to the clause ‘to go’ but the subject is invisible. PRO can only appear in the subject position of non-finite clause, it is banned from all object positions and from the subject position of finite clauses as there is no governor for its position.

1.8.7   X-bar theory

The x-bar theory can be described as the central module of the principle and parameter theory. Haegeman (1994) agrees 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 most phrasal constituents have ‘heads’ upon which the other elements of the constituents in question are dependent (Horrocks, 1987:63). He further submits that items which are involved in sub-categorization, and which are in most cases interpreted as arguments of the head, appear with the head X in a phrasal category. X is called a phrasal projection of X, in this case the smallest constituent containing X as a sub-constituents (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 the NP, V heads the VP, A heads the PP, Adj heads the AdjP and Adv heads the AdvP. This implies that all phrasal categories have heads that belong to the same category as the phrasal category (Akmajian, 2001:215).

Thus, the general phrase structure rule schema for phrasal categories would be:

XP                   X  comp.

Where ‘comp’ stands for complement which could be PP or an NP with ‘X’ standing for a lexical category e.g P, V, or N.

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

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