Aspects Of Koenoem Noun-Phrase




Det Determiner
ADJ Adjective
N Noun
V Verb
P Preposition
S Sentence
NP Noun-phrase
VP Noun-phrase
INFL/I Inflection
AUX Auxiliary
TNS Tense
AGR Agreement
FP/FI Focus-phrase
SPEC Specifier
IP Inflectional Phrase
PP Preposition Phrase
CP/CI Complementizer-Phrase
Ø Null-element
T1 Trace


Abbreviation and Meaning

Table of Contents


GENERAL INTRODUCTION                                    

  • Introduction

1.1     Historical Background of the koenoem speakers

1.2     Socio cultural profile

1.2.1  Religions

1.2.2  Festival

1.2.3    Economy/Occupation

1.2.4   Marriage, Divorce/Rites

1.2.5  Administration System

1.2.6  Geographical Location

1.2.7  Topography

1.2.8  Education Background

1.2.9  Genetic Classification

1.3     Introduction to Genetic Classification of Koeno Language

1.4     Organization of Work

1.4.1  Data Collection And Analysis

1.4.2  Data Analysis

1.4.3  Review of Chosen Framework

1.4.4  Modular Theory of Grammar

1.4.5  Modules of Grammar

1.4.6    X-Bar theory

1.4.7  Projection Principles

1.4.8  The Principle of Head Parameter

1.4.9  Theta theory

1.4.10   Case theory

1.4.11         Binding Theory



  • Introduction

2.1     Tonal Inventory

2.2     The Syllable Structure of Koenoem Language

2.2.1  Components of A Syllable

2.3     Lexical Categories

2.3.1    Nouns

2.3.2  Pronouns

2.3.3  Verbs

2.3.4  Adverbs

2.3.5  Adjectives

2.4     Basic Syntactic Concepts

2.4.1  Noun Phrase

2.4.2  Verb Phrase

2.4.3  Prepositional Phrase

2.4.4  Adjectival Phrase

2.5     Basic Word Order in Koenoem Language

2.6     Sentence Types



3.0     Introduction

3.1     Noun Phrase

3.1.1  Noun Satellites

3.1.2  The Noun Head

3.1.3  Determiners

3.1.4  Adjectives

3.1.5  Preposition

3.2     Function Of Noun Phrase

3.2.1 Noun Phrase as Subject of the Sentence

3.2.2  Noun Phrase as Object of the Sentence

3.2.3  Noun Phrase as object of preposition

3.2.4  Noun Phrase as direct object

3.5     Noun Phrase as object of Verb

3.3     Noun Phrase and Thematic Role Assignment

3.4     Noun Phrase and case Assignment



4.0     Introduction

4.1     Focus Construction

4.2     Relativization

4.3     Reflexivization



  • Introduction

5.1     Summary

5.2     Conclusion

5.3     Recommendation





This study is a calculated attempt at making explicit what is implicit about the aspect of “noun phrase” in koeneom language spoken in SHENDAM local government of Plateau State. The noun phrase is a group of words which have the noun as the head. Its structure is determined by the type of noun that exist in the constituent. In the same manner, the noun type is determined by the sub-categorization features of the noun. In this type of phrase, the noun carries the highest load of semantics information. This study analytically examines the minimal noun phrase and its maximum phrasal expansion.

As an introductory chapter, attempts shall be tirelessly made to trace the origin, socio-cultural profile, administrative system, religion, geographical location, topographical (life zone) economy, marriage, map genetic classification and burial rites. In this same chapter, effort shall also be extended to the organization of study, theoretical frame work together with a review of the chosen theory data collection and analysis and some syntactic concepts.


There are contradictory versions about the origin of the koeneom. Some primarily and secondary of oral base, assumed monolithic origin of the koeneom.

However, all these contradictory version reflect migrations and interrelations. A popular legend of the koeneom claimed that they were evidently influenced by the attempt to link their origin to the universal respective and centre of old civilization. This legend claimed that they migrated from France to their present abode because of the unlimited economic potential possessed by the area.

Linguistics consideration strongly point to the fact that all koeneom could not have one origin nor came together into central Nigeria, as they do not speak the same language. Infact, the differences in dialect from one koeneom group to another further point to the fact that they have distinct origin.

Literarily, the word “koe” means ‘to’ while “neom” means ‘refuse’. This name emanated neigbour over a river dividing them. The koeneom were the rightful owner of the river but their neigbour were immense economic benefits.

The koeneom could not stand akimbo and see themselves been derived of their inalienable rights they beseeched terrestrial powers from their ancestors with which most of the neigbouring competitors were striked to death.

The neigbouring town later compromises their stand and left the land for its rightful owner till today the koeneoms are respected from their traditional prowess.


          The koeneoms are known for unshakable and unflinching tolerance even with other distinct neigbour. They believe these element (peace and tolerant) are indispensable for survival and productivity. The puzzles of koeneom social, psychology attract scholarly interest to examine the binding forces. Other groups are most comfortable with them for their humor, human relations, common facial marks, sharing of foods, traditional and cult consultations, moving together in the market or social occasion and sometimes forging common origin.

1.2.1                     Religion

The koeneom are dominantly traditional worshippers with every families having its own ancestral shrines, town shrines and clan shrines. The intrusion of colonial masters had propagated Christian region to the point that it has more preference today than traditional religion. However, Islamic religion is practiced by only those who are true son of the soil. The language of worship is HAUSA. For the traditional worshipper more allegiance is paid to their kins and cultural aim religions head.

1.2.2                     Festival

Festival are organized to unite their kins from far and near. The chief priest is regarded as the ruler of the tribe only but without defined territory ceremonies are some of the areas as for hosting neigbouring groups. Some of the ceremonies are burial, marriage and annual festival. There is a particular festival celebrated to commemorate the death of their heroes who had fought tirelessly to emanated them from the shackles of invaders and other forms of oppression. Others are celebrated after the drop of the first rain. There is also an annual festival celebrated for this festival, an antelope must be cast to appease the gods.

1.2.3           Economy/Occupation

Agriculture is the mainstay of koeneom’s economy. The people here are gainfully employed in farming. Commercial and subsistence farming are dominant. Yam, maize and guinea corn are the major articles of trade. The land has varying proportion of silica, salt nitrogen and phosphors. It is alluvial and sticky in the paddy areas and sandy on the uplands. They ensure proper growth of crops. In other words, the boom in agriculture is related to the fertility of the soils. It is pertinent to note here that farming in this region is of great antiquity agricultural produce are sold to buyers from the urban centres.

However, agriculture here doesn’t possess the rich potentialities that belong to it in the other regions. Crops are sold at give away prices.

1.2.4           Marriage, Divorce/Rites

Marriage is an inescapable necessity in every human society. It is the formal universal approach to procreation. The koeneom like any other tribes have approach a marriage system. After a marriage proposal had been cons cited by a girl and her family, the man is respected to pay a bride price. The bride price is usually bearable because of the stagnant economy of the area. The money is combined with material things like, wrapper traditionally called “shinggida” millet and local bear for the bride’s family.

The second step is that the groom’s farmland is visited to ascertain his financial status. This is executed without his groom knowledge. Having certified that groom is financially capable the next step is introduction of both family and subsequently marriage ceremony.

After the marriage ceremony, the bride is also expected to different type of physical fitness exercise to keep her warm for the routine duties ahead of him.

1.2.5           Administration System

The unit of authority start from the house hold under the house head. The house hood head area answerable to ward head. They are also answerable to the village head while all the village head are answerable to the chief who might even be the village. Title holders have overlapping roles in the palace but the most significant ones are the secretary and the chief security officer. The committed leadership attracted the admiration of Arab and European writers and remarked that “they were world famous in governance, better than European, Asian or American systems” Ibn Batata, are knowned historian also observe that

“The Negros possess some admirable quantities they are seldomly unjust and have a greater abhorrence of injustice than any other people. Their kings show no mercy to any one who is guilty of the least act. There is complete security in their country. Neither travelers nor inhabitant in it have anything to fear from robbers or men of violence. They do not confiscate the property of any man”

1.2.6 Geographical Location

Koeneom people are located at Northern part of shendam local government of plateau state and eastern part of mikang local government area of plateau state. The koeneom village was formally a ward under shendam province and later relocate to mikang local government area. The major town around koenenom are Doka, Zomo, Piapun. The local government area is divided into four administration district of shendam, Dorok. The major occupation of the people is farming, trading, craftwork e.g pottery.

1.2.7  Togography

People here derive their livelihood from the environment in similar ways from the environmental wealth and this thus have a strong traditional affinities. The most obvious physical feature of the areas are the topography and drainage with ranges of hills of base granite outcropping with kurape hills.

The hills protrude through Jos but cut off with plains making it becoming dotted to the confluence of Kogi state. These hills serve as waterhead for river Gurara like in Kaduna and Nasarawa respectively. There are also many patches of densely thick forest of several square kilometer, some of he running along the banks of river. The natural environment and the water opportunities have greatly influenced human habitation in the southern plateau. The plains are between 500-600meters above sealevel with some hills as high as 900meters above the sealevel made of older granite and black rocks (Gojeh, Jatau, and Mamman 1998:2426)

1.2.8           Educational Background

          The koeneoms are fairly educated. Though, the belief that forming is profitable has improsened their psyche to nothing but agriculture but we can say to a considerable degree that a few number of the people are educationally motivated. A survey of some of the primary school around the area reveals that more children are enrolling in school than never before.

  •          Genetic Classification

Genetic classification is an offshoot of genesis while genesis is derived from the word ‘gene’ cell language could be genetically related. Language of the world can be divided into certain compartments based on the striking similarities.

Languages of the world are genetically classified based on the similarities in their linguistics item. However, language might be similar because they belong to the universal sets, this doesn’t mean that such resemblance can be traced to common origin.


Source: w.w.w.

(Accessed Novembel 2010).



Genetic classification is a sub-grouping of all related languages into genetic nodes. (group of language in each of which one language is more closely related to the other in that group than to any language outside the group).

Murrit (1987:1) states that “the idea that group of language that share certain systematic resemblance have inherited those similarities from a common origin is the basis of genetic classification.

Genetic classification thus makes two statement first, it affirms that certain language are infact related to each other (i.e maintains similar, ancestral relation) second, it typifies are inter-related in the form of a branching diagram.

Koeneom language fall under the category of Niger-congo family.


          This work is divided into four chapters, chapter one deals with the historical background of koeneom and its people, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification, theoretical, framework, data collection or data elicitation e.t.c

Chapter two covers the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure rules, lexical categories, basic word order and sentence types.

Chapter three deals with the syntactic focus on research area i.e NP of the koeneom languages.

Chapter four deal with the transformational process that occurring in the language on research.

Then, chapter five is all about the summary and conclusion i.e references.

1.4.1           Data Collection And Analysis

Samarin (1967:43) says “the kind of corpus a field researcher obtain is determined by the purpose and the technique he adopts in his data collection” The focus of this research is largely for language description and primarily for showing anonymity or oppositeness of some utterances with a view explaining the semantics implication of such in koeneom language.

The data collected through contact of informant method we obtain linguistics data for this study by making use of a proficient informant from the native community. The Ibadan four hundred word list together with a framework techniques are the basic instrument of data collection. The framework technique forms a crucial part of this research work since it is the domain of syntax. It helps the an informant adequately account for both underlying and surface syntactic process that can’t be captured using. The Ibadan four hundred word list the data dictation comprises of noun, adjectives and verb.

Data collected from the speakers were worked upon according to how the speakers use it without any imposition of norms or correction.

Below are the pieces of information about the informant.

 Name:                                    Mr. Titus Gwatiil

Sex:                                Male

Age:                               28

No of years spent in koeneom: –       20 years

Other language spoken: – Hausa, English

Aspect of Data supplied: – Part of word list and sentences.

1.4.2           Data Analysis

To ensure clarity and brevity of this research all data supplied by the informant are accurately transcribed. The component word are constituent of the sentence of the language (koeneom language) are carefully glossed and subsequently translated. The data collected are strictly work upon according to native speakers rendition without any permutation, mutilation modification or imposition of correctness.

1.4.3           Review of the Chosen Framework

Cook (1988:86) “views government of binding theory as an interlocking arrangement of principle and sub-theories which interact in many different way”

Horrock (1987:95) shared a similar opinion “GB theory is best described as a set of interacting components” GB theory carries over certain aspects of the deep structure through the process of transformation or movement technically termed as move-alpha (move &)

According Radford (1988:419) transformation is the rule that deals with the act of changing the structures of one sentence to another this theory was develop to correct the lapsed of transformational grammar. Transformation are supplementary rules to the phrase structures rules. The output of the phrase structure is in the input of transformational rules.

GB theory capture the similarities which exist between different categories of. lexical phrases by assigning the same structure to them rather than having different phrases structures rules. For VPS, Adjps, NPS as postulated by transformational generative grammar unlike in TGG, GB theory is a modular deductive theory of grammar that confirms the inter-locking nature of the GB theory.

1.4.4           Modular Theory of Grammar

1.4.5           Modules of Grammar

(Adapted from sells 1985) and Cook (1988). The above diagram shows that no part of the GB theory can be considered in isolation from the rest. It posits seven sub-theories. Viz;

  1. i) X-bar theory
  2. ii) Theta theory

iii)     Binding theory

  1. iv) Case theory
  1. V) Bounding theory
  2. vi) Government theory

vii)    Control theory

1.4.6       X-Bar Theory

          According to Horrock (1987:101), X bar theory provides principles for the projection of phrasal conditions on the hierarchical organization of categories in the form of general schemata. Crucially, it makes explicit the notion “head of a phrase” similarly, the X-bar theory is based on the theory of phrase structure.

In XI –theory, word order i.e (the syntagmatic arrangement of word) and constituent structure (the relatedness of structure) are paramount. The theory takes into consideration the strict-sub categorization frame that occurs between verbs and nouns and generalizes this over other phrasal categories including sentences the internal structure of each phrasal categories e.g an NP is similar to others such that the same set of rules can apply to each of them. Thus, we say that the XI –theory used cross – categorical generalization Lamidi (2008:153)

What make the above possible (according to Lamidi) is the fact that the phrases have certain features in common. One is these is the concept of head. In PSG, the head is the keyword in a phrase and the word can be pre- or post modified. This concept has been taken over by the XI theory. The primary of the head started from the deep structure each head is projected the D.S in what is called the projection principle. The principle states that each head must be represented at all levels. There are three categories level of X-bar theory; viz lexical intermediate and phrasal categorical the schema below explain better.

In this schema, we take X to be a variable representing Noun, Verb, Adjective or Preposition. Each of which functions as the head of its own phrase. The head is the primary and therefore X. As an X, it is a lexical category and it can pre-modified by a specifier(spec). It can also be a post –modified by a complement or an adjunct. The X-bar theory project from the core projection level to the maximal projection level. This is called projection principles.

1.4.7           Projection Principles

          Chomky (1981:29) states that representation at each syntactic level is projected from the lexicon in that they observe sub-categorization properties of lexical items. Projection principles requires lexical properties to be projected to all level of syntactic representation i.e lexical item project from its zero bar level to one (single) bar level which is optional then to double level, the zero bar level is referred to as the core projection level, the single bar level is referred to as the intermediate projection level and the double bar is technically called maximal projection level. The illustration is shown below.

Another feature that makes generalization possible under the X-bar theory is the concept of head. The notion of head of a phrase is called the principle of head parameters.

1.4.8            The Principle of Head Parameter

This explains the order of element in a language the notion of head parameter assumes that the constituent of a phrase may be arranged in different ways.

Stowel (1981:70) says that the parameter variation between language according to whether the positions of the head first or last with respect its complement is tagged “head parameter” In other words, the head in a phrase carries the highest load of semantic information. It is the obligatory part of a phrase. The category to which a phrase falls is strongly determined by the head e.g

As in the English example; the boy            NP              det, N

Another type of phrase that is permissible within the X-bar is the functional phrase in XI theory, a phrase can be headed by non-lexical item functional word like determiners, inflections and agreement phrase in X theory, a phrase can be headed by functional phrases invariably have heads that are linked to functional elements. The functional phrases include inflection phrases (IP)

Ip                Spec II

II                             I, comp (VP)

e.g The house burgled (A case of passivization)

Other functional phrases include complementizer phrase (Cp)

1.4.9           Theta theory (Ø theory)

Ø theory is concerned with the assignment of what Chomsky call “thematic roles” to sentential constituent. The greek letter is a form of shorthand for thematic. It is similar to semantic roles e.g roles such as agent, patient (or theme), beneficiary e.t.c it is assumed that these are assigned to the complement of lexical item as a lexical property.

Kristien (1991:493) states that Ø theory deals with the functional relationship between a predicate is said to assign to theta role each of its argument e.g the NP complement (Direct object) is assigned the role of location while the subject NP or the sentence is assigned the agent role.

The main principle of Ø theory is the Ø criterion which requires each thematic roles to be uniquely assigned i.e each constituent denoting constituent e.g

Sola cooks in the kitchen.

In the diagram, VP assigns the role of an agent to Sola (subject NP) and was assigned to object NP by verb phrase.

1.4.10.                  Case Theory

Yusuf (1998:6) case has to do primarily with the forms that NPS take in different syntactic environment. For English, Yoruba and many Kwa language the concept is not readily demonstrable because these language do not vary the NPs or N- head from according to Horrock (1987:102) case theory deals with the principle of case assignment to sentential constituents. Chosmky assumes that all NPs with lexical content are assigned (abstract) case.

Kristien (1991:496) states that case theory regulate the distribution of phonetically realized NPs by assigning abstract case to them. Case is assigned by a set of case further noted that the basic  idea is the case assigned under government, the choice of case is being determined by the governor in any given example. Government is a traditional notion involving the delimitation of the sphere of influence of a particular category with respect to adjacent category for instance, NP subject is assigned nominative by Infl, verb assign accusative case to the object the verb while preposition assign oblique to its object. The following exemplifies the case system in English

Nominative                     subject NP

Vocative               Calling NP

Accusative              Object NP

Genitive              NP object of “OF”

Dative                  NP object of “TO”

Ablatives            NP object of “in, on, from”

Subject He, She, It

Object Him, Her, It

Object of pre him, her, it

Genitive  his, her, its.

Adapted from Yusuf (1998:27) case assignment to the NP complements of a lexical head is straight forward, and entirely traditional. Accusative or objective case will be assigned in English to any NP governed by V or P but no NPs governed by N or adj. preposition assign oblique case.

1.4.11                   Binding Theory

The binding theory is one of the most important construct in the system. It is primarily concerned with the conditions under which NPs are interpreted as co-referential with other NPs in the same sentence. For the purpose of the binding theory, NPs that are argument are assumed to fall into one of the three categories listed below

(i)      Anaphors

(ii)     Pronominal

(iii)    Referential expression.

The anaphor:- are whose reference is necessarily determined sentence- internally and which can not have independent reference. In English, reflexive and reciprocal pronouns falls into this class e.g “Herself” must be taken as referring back the individual denoted (female in a sentence. e.g the girl project herself well.

Pronominals:- Are NPS that specific lexical content and have only the features persons, number, gender and case, unlike anaphors they may either refer to individual independently or co-refer to an individual already named in a given sentence. E.g the pronominal “He” may report an individual mentioned in a sentence at all: example I and II illustrate this

(i)      Noam chomsky says he is a genius

(He refers to individual denoted in the sentence)

(ii)     Noam Chomsky believes him to be a genius

(Him referring to individual not denoted in the sentence)

Referential expression (R-expression) as the name implies are noun phrase with lexical hand which potentially refer to something. Co-reference is excluded here e.g Tunde says tuned must be promoted even where the same name is used twice, the most natural interpretation is one where two different people are involved as above. However, co-preferentiality is also possible in a limited case.

The location of an antecedent that count for binding theory are defined in three binding principles viz;

  1. A) Anaphors must be bound in their local domain
  2. B) Prenominals must be free in their domains
  3. C) Referential expression must also be free everywhere

A term bound is based on the principle. A simply refers to the conjunction of C-command and co indexing. Thus, a and b if and only if;

(1)     a c- command B

(2)     a and B are co-referential