1.0     General Background

1.1     Historical Background

1.2     Socio-Cultural Profile

1.2.1 Sociocultural Profile Occupation Marriage Festival Religion Mode of Dressing        Naming Ceremony Burial Rites Circumcision

1.3     The Sociolinguistics of Kono

1.4     Research Methodology

1.5     Scope and Organization of Study

1.6     Theoretical Framework (Traditional Generative Grammar) A Brief Review of the Theoretical Framework X-Bar Theory Case Theory Binding Theory Movement Theory


2.0     Introduction

2.1     Brief Phonological Analysis

2.1.1 Distribution of Kono Consonants

2.1.2 Distribution of Kono Vowels Nasalized Vowels

2.1.3 Tonal System in Kono Language

2.1.4 The Syllable Structure

2.2     Syntactic Category

2.2.1 Lexical Category Noun Verb Preposition Pronoun Adjective Adverb Conjunction

2.2.2  Phrase Structure Rules Noun Phrase in Kono Verb Phrase in Kono Adjectival Phrase in Kono Prepositional Phrase in Kono The Kono Word Order Sentence Types

2.3     Question Formation


3.0     Introduction

3.1     Question Formation in Kono Language

3.1.1 Wh-Question Chi ‘Where’ Wh-Question in Kono: Àgúména ‘Who’ Exclamatory Question Formation: Akúyá’a “why” Bùkúyà ‘What’ Emawa’a ‘When’        Búchámá: Marks the WH Question ‘Which’

3.1.17         Iya’a ‘How’

3.2     Yes/No Answer Question

3.3     Echo Question

3.4     Tag Question

3.5     Alternative Question

3.6     Rhetorical Question


4.0     Introduction

4.1     Transformational Process in Kono WH-Question


5.0     Introduction

5.1     Summary and Conclusion

5.2     Recommendations





The objective of this research work is to study question formation that is how question are formed in Kono language.

Kono people are found in Kauru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.


The Kono people are said to have migrate from a deep forest where they were surrounded by mountains in the northern part of Kaduna.

The Kono people do not have a written history of their language but the elders of Kono can only say orally what was told as story by their fore father.

Western civilization brought a lot of changes to the Kono community which includes mode of dressing, cultural, and traditional beliefs and religion.


This section examines the socio cultural profile of the Kono people. We shall discuss their cultural heritage and the socio linguistics of Kono. Driving the socio cultural profile of Kono are; mode of dressing, religion, festival and ceremony. These are followed by the sociolinguistics.

Sociocultural Profile


The major occupation of the Kono people are subsidized farmers through commercial farming is also practiced. The major crop in Kono is sugar-cane. They also have other food crops like Yam, Millet, Corn, Cassava e.t.c it is also said that there is a yam which is not planted but grows itself, it is called “Mọrọngo”, the yam can only be eating but it can’t be pounded according to the people of Kono. Hunting is done during dry season when farm work would have reduced. Marriage

Kono has a distinct way by which marriage is done. it indicates that a lazy man cannot marry a Kono child, that is any man who is ready for marriage must first get the girl a carved wood and axe for house shore because the carved wood will be used to carry fire wood from the farm.

Also, a man that marries a Kono lady apart from being qualified age-wise will have to farm for the family of the lady he intend to marry before and after marriage and this is done till date in Kono. Another important thing about Kono marriage system i that no marriage ceremony comes up during raining season because people will be busy with farm activities. Festival

The Kono people don’t really have many festivals but some of the festivals they have are called ‘Burkama’ and Kono day.

Most of the festival done in Kono comes up during the dry season because of farm work. Burkama festival which the people always look forward to especially those that does not stay in the community. The term ‘Burkama’ means king or creator, during this festival; people show appreciation to their creator for sparing their lives up to another harvest period.

Kono day is a period when Kono people from all field of works in life come together to celebrate their tribe and this comes up usually during Christmas. The Konos and the non-native of Kono celebrate together during this festival. Religion

Before the arrival / coming of the Europeans into Africa and to Nigeria, the Kono people are mainly traditional worshipers. When the Europeans came and introduced Christianity. Christianity took over as a result of the missionaries who came and today we have about 95% of Kono that are Christians while 50% are either Muslim or idol worshiper. Mode of Dressing

Before the coming of the Europeans the Kono men use to dress in animal skin to cover their private parts, they called it ‘Gupansu’ while the women used leaves and animal skin. However the arrived of the Europeans brought changes to the dressing of the people and they embraced the western way of dressing. Naming Ceremony

The Kono people do their naming ceremony on the day the child is born by giving the child his or her name, unlike today where we have to wait for a week in other to celebrate in full. They do not believe in such celebration before now. Burial Rites

The major way burial is done is after death. The person is been washed and wrapped with mat and the ground will be digged and the dead body will be lead in the grave.

The family of the deceased will have hair barbed, the extracts from the remains of guinea corn that is use for eating and the lips are been pierced. Circumcision

The Kono people even before their contact with religion normally have circumcision of only male children at the age of ten and below. This is usually done traditionally by some people who are said to be professionals in circumcision. This people use knife made by blacksmith called Jọpore.


The Kono community is surrounded by different towns and communities such as Kinuhu, Dingi, Gure, Kiwapa and Gbure. Some of these communities speak Kono. They are Padan kono and Gbure communities. Hausa and Fulani speaking people are close to the Kono community.

Christian missionaries brought Christian religion and western education to the Kono people. So, there are schools. A white woman known as (majinmja) built a church which later became a school.

Following the Greenberg (1963) of language classification which is considered to the Benue – Congo language family. The language has over 17,000 speakers. According to (2009). The genetic tree below shows the origin of Kono language from the Niger-Congo language phylum.


          The following were used to elicit data for analysis

THE IBADAN 400 WORD LIST: The word list helps a researcher to obtain both phonetic and phonemic, consonant and vowel system of the language under study. It also gives information on the lexical items of the language.

FRAME TECHNIQUE METHOD: This is used in collecting data on the cause of study, the importance of frame technique is that it is easier for researcher to detemine the actual word or consequences as well as the phonological or syntactical aspects in which sentence. It also helps to determine the morphological or syntactic form of a given word.

BILINGUAL INFORMATION: This are native speakers of kono language who helped as informants for the collection of data needed in kono language. In the couse of this research, two informants were used

Informant 1

Name:         Mrs. Asabe Luka

Age:  58years

Sex:   Female

Occupation:          Business woman

Languiage:  Zampuru

language speaken apart from kono: English and Hausa

Numbers of years spent at home: 25years.

Informant 2

Name:         Miss. Martha Luka

Age:  25years

Sex:   Female

Occupation:          Student (HNDII) kaduna State Polythenic.

Languiage:  English and Hausa

Numbers of years spent at home: 10years and Staying is Saminaka.

Home town: Zampuru

The data will be analyzed by frame technique method. Frame technique method makes it easier for the field researcher to determine the constituent of the language as well as the morphological and syntactic content of the language. To collect data, sentences / phrases are written in English language and the equivalent is supplied in that language by the language helper.

In this research work, all work will be done using frame technique method because the work is based on syntax, which deals with the arrangement of words.


Chapter one is the introductory part of this project which  consists the general introduction, historical background, Socio-cultural profit, Socio-linguistic profit, research methodology, Scope and organisation of study and the brief review of the chosen frame work.

Chapter two is on the basic  syntactic concepts including a brief phonological analysis of kono language, lexical categories, phrase structure rules, kono word order and sentence types.

Chapter three will reveal the topic of the research work. Question formation will be discussed bringing out example from kono language.

Chapter four will be on transformational process in kono question formation.

Chapter five contains the conclusion, summary and recommendations.    THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK (TRADITIONAL GENERATIVE GRAMMAR)

A Brief Review of The Theoretical Framework

A theoretical framework will be the Government and Binding version of Traditional Generative Grammar as in chomsly (1981). this Governement  and Binding theoty operates as a module grammar, using X-bar, theta, case, control, binding, boundary, government and movement theories. this theory will be used in analysing question formation in kono language.

Haegeman (1994: 3) defined Governemt and Binding theory as a theory of universal grammar which is the system of all priciple that are common to all human languages. GB theory is a radical revision of Chomsky’s earlier theory in (1981) and was later revised in a minimalist programme for theories in (1993).

Government and Binding theory of syntax in the tradition of transformational grammar developed by Chomsky (1981).

In the Government and Binding framework it distnguishes between the two types of Categories of syntax we have – namely

Lexical categories.

Functional categories.

Lexical categories in any human language include Noun, Verb, Adjective and Preposition.

Functional categories include elements like, complementizer, Tense, Tnflectional, Determiner, Focus and Agreement etc.

Syntactically, while the lexical categories project up to a single bar level and terminates there, thus, making endless recursion possible with the aid of elements like complements and modifiers, the functional categories project up to the specifier of XP level, this sealing off the projection. A specifier is an element that closes off a category projection.

The maximal projection of the lexical node is the phrasal node with the maximum number of that level. for example, the maximumal projection of N1  is N11.

Government and Binding theory has a sub-theories with which transformation operates. the sub-theories do not operate in isolation. they are:

X – bar theory

Theta theory

Case theory

Movement theory

Government theory

Binding theory

Control theory

Bounding theory.


X – bar theory, according to Horrocks (1987:101) provides principles for the projection of phrasal categories and imposes conditions on the hierarchical organisation of categories in the form of general schemata. X – bar theory makes expiate the notion ‘head of a phrase’.

According to chomsky (1986:13), x – bar theory assumes a distinction between lexical and non lexical categories, when the lexical categories are based on the features Noun, Verb, Adjective and Preposition/Post Position.

Cook (1988:108) States that x – theory is a theory of the phrase structure of the deep structure of a sentence. The X – theory proposes that all phrases in all languages share a simple cell – like structure with two levels, one of which consist of the head (X1) and possoble specifiers. The other which consists of the head and possible complement. The seperate principle for expanding X11 and X1 may be combined together in a single formula. The X – theory also uses bars for s to distinguish between s and principle of the X – the X – theory.    CASE THEORY

Case theory, according to Cook (1980: 143), deals with assignment to abstract case and its morphological.realization. Case theory regulates the distribution of phonetically realized NP by assigning abstract case is a system of marking dependent nouns for the types of relationship they bear on their heads.

Nominative and accusative are not known to assign any case. Further to the assignment of case, all NPs that have phonetic content must have case or else they are ill-formed. this corollary is known as the’ case filter’.

According to Cook (1980), “case filter says that any NP without a case assigner should be filtered out. E.g. The woman who that he saw was Tolu’. With the help of case filter the unwanted component is filtered out to give us; the woman that he saw was Tolu.        Binding Theory

Chomsky (1987:108) says, binding theory is one of the most important constructs in the system and it concerned primarily with the conditions under which NPs in the sentence.

NPs that are argument are assumed to fall into one of the three categories.



Referential expressions

 ANAPHORS: are NPs whose reference is necessarily determined internally and which cannot have independent reference. Reflexive and reciprocal pronoun in English language falls into this class, for example.

Kunle kicked himself ‘himself’ here refers to the individual denoted by Kunle. Also himself is the anaphor bound by Kunle.

Paul and peter slapped each other in the room ‘each other’ is the anaphor bound by Paul and peter.

Pronominal: Are NPs lack specific lexical content and have only the features; person, number, gender and case. They may either refer to an individual independently or co-refers to the individuals already named in a given sentence. e.g. Sarah said she is beautiful. She may refer to the individual denoted by Sarah or an individual not mentioned in the sentence.

Referential expressions: They have lexical heads which potentially refers to something. Referential expression is also as R- expression and they are NPs with lexical ability to refer to something for example, James says James

fat James says solid James must come home.

James said James should bring the cloths.

According to Cook (1988:46; 49) Binding theory deals with whether expression in the sentence may refer to the same entities as other expression. Binding theory is basically concerned with the same issue of how pronouns and other types of noun relate to other but extends the antecedent / pronoun relationship to other categories. The theory also describes when different expressions may be co-indexed i.e. When her or herself may refer to the same person e.g. Tolu killed herself. Herself is bowed to Tolu and has the same index.

1 Anaphors is bound in a local domain.

Pronominal is free in a local domain.

A referring expression is free.   Movement Theory

Movement theory includes the movement of certain elements from their initial position to other sites. In movement theory α stands for any category while move-α means move any lexical category from a syntactic position to anywhere.

Cook (1988:189) says, the theory of movement operates the restrictions that human languages actually place in movement.

A moved element either fills an empty position of the same syntactic category or it is adjourned in to an existence mode.

For example

Ayo killed a goat yesterday


Yesterday, a goat was killed by Ayo.

In the above example, the first NP Ayo is moved or extracted from its position to another side i.e. Landing site. The final NP ‘a goat’ is moved to the initial position. While yesterday is move (adjourned) to an existing mode as shown above.

In movement theory, there are two sites; ‘the extraction sites’ where the element is moved from the ‘Landing site’ where the element is moved. The landing site of the moved element must be controlled by either substitution or adjunction.