Aspects Of Kono Verb Phrase




GB             =      Government and Binding

X’                =     X-Bar

SPEC         =    Specifier

XP             =    Maximal Projection

CP             =    Complementizer Phrase

IP              =    Inflectional Phrase

INFL        =     Inflectional

NP            =     Noun Phrase

VP            =     Verb Phrase

ADJP       =    Adjectival Phrase

PP            =    Prepositional Phrase

N             =    Noun

V             =    Verb

N’             =   N-Bar

V’             =   V-Bar

C’             =   C-Bar

AGR       =    Agreement

TNS        =    Tense

MOD      =   Modal

S.S          =   Surface Structure

D.S         =   Deep Structure

DET       =    Determiner

S            =    Sentence

(ei)         =    Empty category

COMP   =   Complement

A’           =   A-Bar

F.C      =   Focusing Construction

REL      =   Reletivization

NEG     =   Negation

QM       =  Question Marker

S.V.O   =  Subject Verb Object

Conj    =   Conjuction

//       =   Phonemic Representation

ti       =    Trace

P.S       =  Phrase Structure

=    Re –write Arrow


List of Symbols and Abbreviation

Table of Contents



1.0 General Background of Kono People

1.1 Historical Background of Kono People

1.2 Socio-cultural Profile of Kono People

1.2.1  Occupation

1.2.2 Marriage

1.2.3 Religion

1.2.4 Festivals

1.3 Geographical Location of Kono people

1.4 Genetic classification of Kono people

1.5 Scope of  the Study

1.6 Organization of Study

1.7 Theoretical Framework

1.8 Data Collection

1.9 Data Analysis

1.10 Brief Review of Government and Binding Theory

1.10.1 X-Bar Theory

1.10.2 Theta Theory

1.10.3 Binding Theory

1.10.4 Control Theory

1.10.5 Government Theory

1.10.6 Case Theory

1.10.7 Bounding Theory



2.0 Introduction

2.1 Basic syntactic Concept

2.2 Phrase Structure Rule

2.2.1 The Phrase Marker

2.3 Lexical Category

2.3.1 Noun

2.3.2 Verbs

2.3.3 Adjectives

2.3.4 Preposition

2.3.5 Conjunction

2.3.6 Adverbs

2.3.7 Pronoun

2.3.8 Interjection

2.4 Phrases

2.4.1 Noun Phrase (NP)

2.4.2  Verb Phrase (VP)

2.4.3  Prepositional Phrase (PP)

2.4.4  Adjectival Phrase  (ADP)

2.5 Basic Word Order in Kono

2.6 Sentence Types

26.1    Simple Sentence

2.6.2   Compound Sentence

2.6.3    Complex Sentence



3.0 Introduction

3.1 Structure of the Verb Phrase

3.1.1 The Structure of Kono Language Verb Phrase

3.1.2. Verb Phrase With NP Complement

3.1.3. Verb Phrase With PP Complement

3.1.4  Verb Phrase With  ADVP Complement

3.1.5  Verb Phrase With Zero Complement

3.2 Classes of Verb

3.2.1 Transitive Verbs in Kono

3.2.2 Intransitive Verb in Kono

3.3 Verbs With Sentential Complement

3.3.1 Appearance Verb in Kono

3.3.2 Epistemic Verb in Kono

3.3.3 Reporting Verb in Kono

3.3.4 Desiderative Verb in Kono

3.3.5 Causative Verb in Kono

3.4   Verb Serialization

  • Serial Verbs in Kono
  • Aspects in Kono Language



4.0 Introduction

4.1 Transformation

4.2 Focusing



5.0 Introduction

5.1 Summary

5.2 Conclusion





This research project examines the verb-phrase of Kono language with emphasis on the structure of verb phrase of the language under GB theory. Kono language is spoken in Kauru Local Government in Kaduna State.

This chapter basically focus on the historical background of Kono people, the geographical location of its speakers, the socio-cultural, profile and the genetic classification of the language.


Kono is a language spoken in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Kono language is spoken by small number of people in Kauru, the native speaker of Kono called themselves “Jawuzura” they are called Konu or Kwono by the Hausa speakers.

According to oral history, Kono speaker had their origin from a deep forest from the northern part of Kaduna. The place is surrounded by a lot of rocks, people of Kono believe that they are comfortable, until the advent of the British Colonial master who brought Christian religion through a female missionary, the advent of this missionary brought a lot of changes to kono speech community. This includes school, culture, mode of dressing and christian religion.


Kono speech community is enriched with beautiful culture in terms of marriage, dressing, occupation, religion, festival and naming ceremony.


Kono speech community is predominantly farming and hunting community. Kono people are subsistence farmers, growing sugar-cane as their major crop, they also grow some food crops like yam, millet, corn, cassava etc. Kono people is also bless with a yam called “Morongo” this yam did not grow by anybody it grows by itself.

Kono people also engage in hunting and some trading, but these are of lesser importance than agriculture.


Kono speech community marriage is done according to their culture, they believe that lazy man cannot marry to their daughter even in the same community, in Kono community before a man can be marry to their daughter after their proposal, the man must provide a wood crave and axe to the girl he desire to marry, this indicate that she will bring firewood home from the farm for cooking.

Also the man that intend to marry their daughter must farm for the family of his wife before and after their marriage in every raining season.

1.2.3           RELIGION

Christian missionaries were the first religious activists to visit Kono speech community. For this reason Kono speakers are mainly Christians, before the advent of Christian missionaries, Kono speech community practice traditional religion.

1.2.4           FESTIVALS

Kono speech community has a festival called “Burkana” means “King/Creator”. As a Christian community the peculiar festival to Kono people is Christmas, where every citizen of kono community from different parts of the country come together to celebrate Christmas.


Kono language is spoken in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State. This language Kono is found between Padan-Kono and Gbure speech community in Kauru Local Government in Kaduna North.


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

Genetic classification could be inform of a tree diagram showing the origin of a language and how it is genetically related to other languages. Kono language belongs to the group of Kainji under the Benue-Congo group of Niger-Congo language family. Here it is as seen in the diagram below:


The purpose of this study is to closely examine the verb phrase aspect of Kono language. In doing this, the researcher will discuss what verb phrase is, types of verbs that are attested in Kono language. Also an insight was given to the phrase structure rule that can capture the possible verb phrase in this language.

The analysis and exemplification of verb phrase and possible phrase structure rule in Kono language form the major items of this research work.


This research project will be in five chapters. Chapter one is an introductory part focusing on the historical background of Kono people, their socio – cultural profile and their genetic tree diagram. It also presents the data analysis, data collection, scope and organization of the study including the theoretical frame work and the brief review of the chosen framework. Chapter two will treat the basic syntactic concepts while chapter three will be on the verb, the nature of verbs and the types of verb phrase attested in Kono language. Chapter four will look into the Transformational Process of Syntax such as Focusing and Pasivization etc.

The last chapter, chapter five will be discussed in forms of summary, conclusion and recommendations.


The theoretical framework that would be adopted in this research project is the Government and Binding Theory (GB Theory). This is intended to serve as substitute for the previously existing theory known as Transformational Generative Grammar (TGG).


The data used in this research project were gathered through informant method which is also known as contact method. Data elicitation was carried out through direct interview from the language helpers, with audio cassette recorded; frame technique was also employed during data collection.

The information about the informants (language helpers) used for this research work is given below:

Informant 1:        Mrs. Asabe Luka

Occupation:                   Business Woman

Age:                      58years

Religion:               Christianity

No of years lived in the village:         25years

Other languages spoken:                   Hausa and English

Informant 2:        Miss Martha Luka

Occupation:                   Student

Age:                      25years

Religion:               Christianity

No of years lived in the village:         10years

Other languages spoken:                   Hausa and English

Informant 3:        Miss. Sarah Luka

Occupation:                   Student

Age:                      21years

Religion:               Christianity

No of years lived in the village:         6years

Other languages spoken:                   Hausa and English


The Ibadan 400 word list contains list of words in English language in which equivalent meaning in Kono language are supplied by an informant.

The frame technique is also used in this project. It is framing of sentences in English language in which the informant supplies their meaning in kono language.

This is constructed to have the mechanism of producing or processing grammatically acceptable sentences in a given language.  The frame technique enables us to determine the actual underlying form of words or constituents and possible syntactic classes to which a word belongs in Kono language.


The Government and Binding Theory (GB Theory) was proposed by Noam Chomsky and the work was published in 1988. The modules were derived from theories of universal grammar which posits multiple levels of representation related by the transformational rules (move & Cook, 1988). Some parts of this syntactic model have been modified by Chomsky (1988).

Government and Binding Theory is an interlocking organizing of sub-theories which interact in many different ways. There is no one of the theory that can be isolated from the rest.

These sub – theories are:

  •          X – bar theory
  • Theta (θ) theory
  • Binding Theory
  • Control theory
  • Government Theory
  • Case Theory
  • Bounding theory

Government and Binding Theory is known as principle and parameters theory which accounts for variation of headedness across languages. Therefore, it is safe to say that the grammar of a language is determined by the appropriate parameter setting and its lexicon (Cook, 1988). The different sub – theories under Government and Binding Theory are discussed below:

1.10.1         X – BAR THEORY (X)

The X – bar theory also recognized as X – theory defines possible phrase structure configurations in language generally. The central notion is that each of the major lexical categories (Adjective, Preposition, Verb and Noun) is the head of a structure dominated e.g. Noun: Noun phrase, Verb: Verb Phrase etc (Cook, 1988).

Chomsky (1986) in this analysis says that all the X – bar convention requires that every maximal projection (MP) has a specifier of XP core, the core consists of the head Xo and the complement (which can be a maximal projection itself).

Then it safe to say that the maximal projection (x – bar) is another name for full phrasal category associated with a particular lexical category as the head of the phrase. This theory is represented by this sequence.


The scheme above i.e.





Set to introduce the categories that X” seeks to explain the lexical intermediate and phrasal categories.

XP in the scheme above is believed to be a variable representing Noun, Verb, Preposition or Adjective, each of which functions as the head of its own phrase. The haed is primary and there is Xo. An Xo, it is a lexical category and it can be post modified by a complement or by specifier (Spec). The lexical head can project to the intermediate category (X1) through the addition of complement. Furthermore, the X1 (X – single bar) in conjuction with the specifier pro – furthers to XP (X – double bar). E.g. A sentence like: The woman in the house; will be phrase – marked like this:

‘The woman is in the house’

The head of the phrase is N “woman” and P is its complement. This complement defines the head and without it, meaning of the ‘woman’ is incomplete.

One of the properties of x theory is phrase structure rule. A phrase structure rule is a set of rules which generate the constituents that group together to form a phrase. That is, the rules which generate the constituents of phrase or clausal – category. An important part of phrase structure rule is that, it is capable of describing language with infinitely many sentences because rules are “recursive” or “circular” in a certain harmless but important sense.

Phrase Structure Rule

Phrase structure rules are the formal devices for representing the distribution of the phrase within sentences. It is a part of grammar of both syntactic structure and aspect.

In Government and Binding, X – bar is a theory of the phrase structure of D structure. It describes the structure of the phrase and also replaces large number of idiosyntactic rules in the general principle. It captures properties of all phrases, not just those of a certain type, it bases the syntax on lexical categories that link with entries in the lexicon. The following group of rules indicate that all the categories on the left dominate on the categories on the right.

CP     =       Spec C’

C       =       C IP

IP      =       Spec 1

I        =       IVP

I        =       Tns Agr

VP     =       Spec V

V       =       V (NP) (PP) (ADVP)

NP     =       Spec N

N       =       (Det) N (ADJP) (PP) (S)

ADJP   =       Spec Adj1

PP     =       Spec P

P       =       P  NP

Entries in the bracket are optional.

An essential requirement of x – bar syntax is that, the head of phrase must belong to a particular category related to the type of phrase.

1.10.2              THE THETA THEORY (θ)

This is a term from Chomsky’s Government and Binding theory which refers to the component of universal grammar that mediates thematic roles, and their syntactic realization has specific arguments of a predicate. This theory says that one argument must correspond with the each thematic role and vice versa i.e. an NP must correspond to each thematic role (Chomsky, 1986).

Argument in this case refers to noun phrase which could appear in two forms, that is, the subject or object position to a verb – The object is further divided into two parts which are: the direct and indirect object e.g.

The man killed the ram with a knife

The  man – subject

The goat – direct object

A knife – indirect object

This thematic criterion also assigns roles to argument. The commonly expressed roles are: Agents, Patient, Instrument, locative, Good source, Experience and Benefactive.

  • Agent – This represent the instigator of the action e.g. Friday drank water. “Friday” is the instigator of the action. Therefore, he is the agent in the sentence.
  • Patient: The entity undergoing the effect of some action. E.g. Dikko slapped Bukola. ‘Bukola’ is the one undergoing the effect (patient).
  • Instrument: means by which something comes about e.g. Hammed killed the dog with a knife. “Knife” in this case serves as the means by which the dog was killed.

(d)   Locative: This represents the place in which something is situated or takes place e.g. Bola keeps her money in the bag. “In the bag” is the location (locative).

(e)   Goal: Entity towards which something moves e.g. He gave the money to Aje. “to Aje” is the goal.

(f)   Source: Entity towards which something come e.g. Imam returned   from Mecca. “From Mecca” is the source

(g) Experiencer: Entity undergoing some psychological state e.g. Tunde was betrayed “Tunde” is the experiencer.

(h)      Benefactor: Entity benefiting from some action e.g. Tunde bought  a bicycle for Moriam.  “Moriam” is the benefactor.

Θ – role in a tree format can be illustrated as follows;

Ade pe Bola ni oja

Ade call Bola at market

“Ade called Bola at market”

The notation θ is called the semantic properties assigned by heads of thematic roles (θ – roles). The lexical entry for a verb needs to specify the θ rules that go with it.

In the sentence analyzed above

Ade pe Bola ni Oja

Ade – is the agent

Bola – is the patient

Oja – is the location


Binding theory is one of the most important constructs in the system

It is concerned primarily with the conditions under which NPs are interpreted as co – referential with other NPs in the same sentence e.g. in English.   ‘’ Osun projected himself into 16 century.

‘’ Himself’’ must be taken as referring back to the individual denoted by ‘Osun’.

Binding is concerned with the categories that must be bound and freed in deforming the domain in which binding takes place.

According to the linguistics Encyclopedia 1(1991), Binding theory is concerned with the syntactic domains in which NPs can or cannot be constructed as co-referential. For the goals of binding theory, NPs that has argument are assumed to fall into one of the three listed below:

i  prenominal

ii Anaphors

iii Referential expression (R-expression).

Prenominals: These are NPs that lack specific lexical content and have only the features, pronoun, number, gender, and case unlike anaphors. They may either refer to individual independently or co-refer to individuals already name in a given sentence. E.g

Dikko says he needs money.

‘’He’’ may refer to Dikko or to an individual not mentioned in the sentence.

Anaphors: these are NPs whose reference is necessarily determined by sentence internally and which cannot have independent references. In English, reflective and reciprocal pronouns fall into this class e.g. himself, myself, themselves e.t.c.

For example:

Dotun killed himself

I love myself

‘’Himself and myself’’ in the sentence above are referring to subject NPs (Dotun and I)

Referential Expression: This is otherwise known as R-expression which means Referential Expression.  R – expression as the name implies are Noun phrases with lexical ability to potentially refer to something co – referential.  E.g. Friday is a brilliant boy.

Even where the same name is used twice, the most natural interpretation is one where two different people are involved.

E.g.   Friday said Salam must be promoted.

It must be however admitted that co – preferentiality is here a possibility but the sentence so interpreted is stylistically highly “marked” revealing something of the speaker’s attitude.


Control theory is a module of grammar that deals with the

phenomenon of a VP complement that has no overt subject consequently interpreted semantically as having some determinant phrase (DP) appearing somewhere within the sentence or an arbitrary (unspecified) DP that functions as its ‘subject’ or ‘controller’. A non- overt subject DP of the infinitival complements is technically represented within GB framework by distinct empty category called PRO.

According to Riemsdijk and Williams (1986:132) ‘abbreviation PRO

has been devised to stand for a phonetically null pronoun that occupies the subject position of infinitives. Control theory can be exemplified with an English sentence as follows:

(a)     Hammed promised Dikko that he goes.

Hammed promised Dikko (PRO to go)

The PRO here is controlled by the subject NP “Hammed” and the PRO has reduced ‘that’ he to go

(b)     Hammed wants that he leaves

Hammed wants (PRO to leave)

Hammed wants Dikko to leave

(The PRO here is also subject control).

1.10.5                   THE GOVERNMENT THEORY 

Government theory deals in essence with the relationship between a head and its complement and it also describes relationship in other sub – theories.

Yusuf (1988:141) defines Government as a primitive concept, in that it is a long know fact of grammar that a verb governs its object. This implies that verb such as sing, dance, kill, draw etc govern their NP objects. Also where preposition is found often, an NP follows giving rise to the statement that a preposition governs its NP object.

Chomsky (1986:17) says of an empty category that ‘A non – pronominal empty category must be properly governed’. This implies that PRO, a pronominal empty category is exempted from government as ‘B’ is properly governed by a if it is governed by a and a certain kind of connection holds between a and B. he further said that a properly governs B if a θ governs or antecedent governs.

From the above configuration, a governs B and Y where B and Y are sisters or daughter to a B c – command Y and Y c – command B i.e. they govern each other.

Furthermore, it should be noted from the explanation above that government is some kind of C – command that the governor is not a phrasal category, it is a lexical category in the set of N,  V, P, A, and I.

It is important to note that adjacency, namely contiguity is required for government and that there must be no blocking category lexical or phrasal between the governor and governed. E.g.

He bought a car for Hammed

In the sentence above, the verb ‘bought’ governs the NP ‘a car’ the preposition ‘for governs the NP ‘Hammed’. The verb ‘bought’ cannot govern ‘He’ because there INFL in between them assigning a case to pronoun ‘He’ and government cannot take place if there is a blocking in the category.

The illustration of core cases of government by sells (1985:41) is shown below:

The concept of C– command and adjacency are two common terms used in Government theory. The later brings about the former. That is lexical items that are adjacency c – command each other. For example:

In the diagram above, B and C are in adjacency and the c – command each other. ‘A’ governs B and C, and “C” governs Y and X but ‘B’ cannot govern them (Y and X).

Yusuf (1986:26) says “case has to do primarily with the forms that NPs in different syntactic environment”. With this definition, case provides conditions of well formedness in a given syntactic structure configurations.


In Government and Binding Theory, the case are said to be assigned under government as:

Normative case is assigned by verb

Oblique case is assigned by preposition

Noun and Adjective are not known as assign any case

Furthermore, on the assignment of case, all Noun phrases that have phonetic content must have a case or else they are illformed. The concept of removing a NP without case from a sentence is known as case filter. For example;

“Orilo bought a cap for Toromade

The sentence above is ungrammatical because not all its Nps have case. The INFL between the NP “Orilo and verb assigns normative case to “Orilo” the verb ‘bought’ assigns accusative case to the NP ‘a cap’ but no case assigner for the NP ‘Toromade’ and this is what makes the sentence ungrammatical. To make it grammatical, a case assigner must be introduced to assign oblique case for the NP ‘Toromade’. Therefore, the sentence will be Orilo bought a cap for Toromade.

It should be noted that preposition assign oblique case. Case filter states that any NP without a case assigner should be filter out.


+ Lexical

– Case

Also, it should be noted that case is assigned at surface structure according to the following criterion.

  • An NP is assigned an objective case which is governed by a verb provided the verb is a case assigner (i.e. a tensed verb). Infinite verb has no power of case assignment.
  • An NP assigned normative case when governed by INFL.
  • Preposition assigns oblique case to an NP when it governs it.

Case filter as a condition on a case theory states that: a structure is ungrammatical if there is an NP in the structure which has a phonetic content but which has no case.

Finally, the case theory recognizes two case assignments.

(a)     Inherent case assignment that is assigned at the deep structure level.

(b)     Structural/Abstract case assignment is assigned at the face structure level.

1.10.7       BOUNDING THEORY

This theory refers to restriction on what to be moved from a site to another. Therefore are also restrictions on the route that movement can follow. Bounding theory claims that movement is prohibited if too many bounding nodes intervene between the starting and finishing point of each movement. The location from with movement takes place does not have to be ‘adjacent to the landing site but it must not be more than one bounding node away. The subjacency principle has to incorporate some parametric variation between languages. For example:

  • You will come (ii) Will you come?

But “come will you” is ungrammatical because it has moved more than one bounding node. E.g. INFL.  another example

I bought a Book for Dikko

I bought Dikko a Book

This called dative shift.

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