Title page           i

Certification          ii

Dedication          iii

Acknowledgments iv

Abstract           vi

Table of contents         vii


1.1 General Background        1

1.2 Historical Background of Kofyar People    2

1.3 Socio-cultural profile of Koryar People     4

1.4 Genetic Classification of Kofyar Language    6

1.5 Scope and Organization of Study      8

1.6 Theoretical Framework        8

1.7 Data Collection         9

1.8 Brief review of the chosen framework     10



2.0 Introduction         24

2.1 Basic phonological concepts in Kofyar     24

2.2 Basic syntactic concepts       45

2.3 Sentence types of Kofyar language     54

2.4 Basic word order in Kofyar language     59



3.0 Introduction         62

3.1 Negation          62

3.2 History and Syntax of ‘Not’      63

3.3 Types of Negative formation       64

3.4 Negation in Kofyar        66



4.0 Introduction         81

4.1 Transformational Processes       81

4.2 Focus construction and negation      85

4.3 Negation and relativization       92



5.0 Introduction         98

5.1 Summary          98

5.2 Observation         99

5.3 Conclusion         99 

REFERENCES          101


This chapter will examine the general background of the study and described the speakers of the language in respect of their historical background and socio-cultural profile.  It also, introduces us to the genetic classification of Kofyar, the scope and organization of the study together with the theoretical framework.  The method of data collection and analysis, as well as the review of the chosen framework are also examined. The work studies negation in Kofyar, a language spoken in Qua’anpan local government area of Plateau state.  The speakers of Kofyar spread to seven districts due to their large population in Doemak, the main village.  The Kofyar people are administered by village heads and they are assisted by their chiefs. Therefore, the aspects covered in this study are the sound, tonal and syllable inventories of the language, as well as some syntactic concepts such as phrase structure rules, basic word order, lexical categories and sentence types.

Transformational processes like focusing, relativization and question formation are discussed.

1.2   Historical Background of Kofyar People

According to oral history Kofyar, people of the present day of Plateau state of Nigeria are from Jukun origin.  The ancestral home of the Kofyar people was ‘Kofyar payer’ while their ancestor in Dafyar, who descended from the eastern part of the country. Dafyar gave birth to twelve children in Kofyar among which were twins (Dajan and Dajin) Dajin went to Namu while Dajin stayed in Doemak meaning “my movement ends here”. Kofyar language has the following dialects Kofyar (Kwong), Kwagallak (Kwa), (Kwalla), Dimmuk (Dimuk, Doemak, Mirriam, Mernyang) Bwol (Bwal, Mbol) Gworam (Giverom, Goram), Jipal (Jepel, Jibyal).

The speakers are approximately 50,000. The population known as the Kofyar actually comprises three different‘tribes as designated by British Colonial officers: the Doemak or Dimmuk, Mernyang and Kwalla.However, the three groups have a common language, economic pattern and origin (Nigeria census, 2005).  The speakers are officially known as Kofyar people but locally referred to as Koffiar. The diagram below shows the geographical location of the Kofyar people on the map of Qua’anpan local government.

1.3   Socio-cultural profile of Kofyar People

This part focuses on the socio-cultural background of Kofyar speakers in the aspects of their occupation, religion, festivals dressing, food and drink.

1.3.1 Occupation

Going by oral history, an average Kofyar man or woman is basically a professional farmer and they make hunting their secondary occupation. They produce both cash and food corps, among which are yam, rice, peanuts, pearl millet and sorghum e.t.c

1.3.2 Religion

Following oral tradition, Kofyar people practice three main religions: Christianity, African traditional religion with few Muslims. Those who practice the traditional religion worship a god called “Koemgwar” god that expose evil doer, they worship and make sacrifice to it through the oracle called “Koem Toeng Muaan”.  The Na’an is also known as Almighty God amidst the Christians.

1.3.3 Festivals

According to oral history, Kofyar people have a lot of cultures one of their festivals is the “Ka’atar” festivals. This is celebrated for thanking the gods for bountiful harvest.  The “Kwa kwa” festival is done by using the stocks of the whole land to thank the gods. Kofyar people also celebrate “Koemtoeng” festival.  It is done in celebration of mystical powers that are built in the Kofyar man.

1.3.4   Marriage

Following oral tradition, the people have a major social institution which is marriage institution, the first step is a proposal made by the groom’s family to the bride’s family.  If the proposal is accepted, the payment of dowry follows.  The bride is called Namwar while the groom is called Misnamwar.  The people will go to the bride groom’s place to celebrate after paying the price.

1.3.5 Best Food and Best Drink

Going by oral history, Kofyar people have their best food to be pounded yam and their best soup as “took mang” made of pumpkin leaves.  Their best drink are muous, wa’ar goebung, wa’ar dachant.

1.3.6  Burial rites

According to oral history, Kofyar people celebrate the final funeral night of a great person and it is done by slaughtering a horse and it is referred to as “ma’ap” in Kofyar language.

1.3.7   Dressing

Following oral history, in the ancient days, Kofyar people put on animal skin as their cloth, but now they dress to fit the western style.

1.3.8 Respect

Going by oral tradition the people express respect to each other most especially from younger ones to the adult by squatting also when elders are speaking children does not interrupt.


The importance of a genetic classification of a language is to discover the origin of the language and show its link with other languages. Kofyar language belongs to the Benue-Congo group, which is a sub-family of Niger-Kordofanian (Williamson, 1982:106).


The main aim of this research work is to investigate in details the types of negative strategy that exist in Kofyar language. Negation study in Kofyar will be on sentence negation.  We shall also study negation in respect of transformational processes which involve modification of constituents.  This long essay is divided into five chapters, the first chapter is the introductory chapter which will contain the general introduction of the research work, the historical background of the people, socio-cultural profile of the speakers,  genetic classification, methods of collection and analysis of data and the theoretical framework used.

Chapter two presents a phonological view of Kofyar language and the basic syntactic concepts like phrase structure rules, basic word order, lexical categories and sentence types.Chapter three is on the negation of Kofyar language, while chapter four introduces us to transformational processes like focus construction, relativization and question formation. Chapter five summarizes and concludes the work.


The theoretical framework to be employed in this research project is government and binding theory.  Government and binding theory is a model of grammar propounded and developed by Noam Chomsky.

This is done with the aim of covering universal grammar that is the system or principles, conditions and rules that are elements or properties of all human languages. The government and binding theory is an interlocking arrangement of principle and parameters which interact in many different ways to the extent that no part can be considered in isolation.  Therefore, negation as an aspect of syntax will be analyze under the government and binding theoretical framework.


The method of data collection is contact method or informant method.  The data was collected orally from the native speaker of Kofyar language. The model of data elucidation is bilingual, the researcher used the English language in asking for the data from the Kofyar speaker, the speaker in turn provided the Kofyar response.  The data were collected through the use of frame technique and the Ibadan word-list of 400 basic items.




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