Aspects Of The Verb Phrase Of Yiwom Language

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Aspects Of The Verb Phrase Of Yiwom Language

Chapter One


1.1 General Background.

This work is on the Yiwom verb phrase. Yiwom is one of the major languages spoken in Plateau State. It is spoken in three local government areas, namely: the Lantang north local government area, Mikang local government area and Shendam local government area. Yiwom language can also be called ‘Gerka’ and the speakers are referred to as the ‘Gerkawa’.

1.2 Historical Background.

According to oral history, Gerkawa came into existence as a result of coming together of the Yiwom people who migrated from Jos to Gerkawa in order to start faming. Gerkawa was a very thick forest occupied with trees and leaves which was later used for faming before they came about Yiwom. Gerkawa is the real name of the people while their language is Yiwom language. The Yiwom people were formally under Shendam local government but they were later given their own local government known as Mikang local government area. The Yiwom language can also be called Gerka language.

1.3 Geographical Location.

Gerkawa is located in the northern part of Mikang local government area of Plateau state in Nigeria. Gerkawa is in the middle of the local government area. It is easily accessed from Jos, Lantang and Shendam towns.

1.4 Socio-Cultural Profile.

1.4.1 Cultural Practice.

Culture is a particular society or civilization, especially considered in relation to its beliefs, way of life or art. Culture must be studied directly by studying behaviour, customs, material culture and language and so on.

The aspect of Yiwom that we shall discuss here covers their language, festivals, religion, marriage rites, types of food they eat and jobs they engage in. The Yiwom people named the place they migrated to as Gerkawa while their language is Yiwom and this Yiwom means ‘’Leaves’’. Religion And Festivals Of Yiwom People.

African traditional religion (ATR) was the indigenous religion of the Gerkawa people at the initial stage. The coming together of Christianity and Islam into the area started to see the conversion of the people to these two religions. Today, the predominant religion of the Yiwom people is Christianity. The following religions are practised by Yiwom people, namely:

  • Christianity
  • Islam
  • African traditional religion (ATR).

Christianity; This is the major religion practiced by the Yiwom people and it is the predominant religion today because they have about 65% among the speakers.

Islam; Islam is being practiced by few of the speakers and we have about 20% which are Muslims among the Yiwom people.

African Traditional Religion (ATR); Although, (ATR) was the indigenous religion of the Gerkawa at the initial stage but it is now practiced by minority. We have about 15% that are traditional believers.


There are various festivals in Gerkawa, these festivals include harvest festivals, installation of chiefs among others and masquerade festivals. All these festivals is celebrated around December and January and it is being performed by the Idol worshippers. The two basic festivals the Yiwom people engage in are masquerade festivals and harvest festivals. Marriage Rites.

In Gerkawa, marriage procedure is an interesting one. They practice two system of marriage which is the church and mosque. Families may also exchange daughters for their sons. The Yiwom people have traditional marriage too but the major marriages practiced are church and mosque marriage. Other Cultural Practices.


In Gerkawa town, the favourite food of the people is tuwo with draw soup. This can be prepared with fish, meat or chicken if available but they also eat food like rice, beans, millet and yam.

Mode Of Dressing

The mode of dressing in Gerkawa land is the general northern mode of dressing that is, wearing of ‘’babariga’’ by men while the women put on Ankara wrapper with ‘’buba’’ but in the olden days, they put on ‘’bante’’. It is very compulsory for the women to cover their hair.


The Yiwom people engage in farming because farming is their major occupation. They also engage in trading and government work. Yiwom people are friendly to strangers.

Birth, Death And Burial

The Yiwom people found it very interesting and happier when a new child is given birth to. They see it as a source of joy among themselves, the naming is done on eight days in the morning or evening time where a lot of people come together to dine and wine. Prayer is been done by pastor or Alfa and the family members of the father and mother are invited on that day. When somebody is deed among Gerkawa, the corpse is washed immediately, wrapped in a white cloth and prayed for the corpse before taken to the cemetery. The corpse is normally buried immediately after the prayer.


The Gerkawa has culture which they hold onto traditionally. Circumcision is not done for the female child but very compulsory to circumcise the male child.

1.4.2 Socio-Linguistics Profile

Yiwom language is used as a means of communication in schools, churches and market place. Yiwom language is spoken in Mikang local government area of Plateau state. Though it was said that Hausa language has in one way or the other contributed to the death of many languages spoken in Northern part of the Nigeria. Hausa is used as the medium of instruction in schools while English language is learned as the target language.

Socio-linguistically, the status of Yiwom language is low. In other words, it is a minority language owning to the dominant of Hausa language speakers in the community. Furthermore, the speakers of Yiwom language are few compare to those speaking a majority language: Hausa. Another reason is the fact that it does not quantify to be a language of instruction in schools rather it is used as a means of communication in schools. Attitude of Neighbours to Yiwom Language.

The neighbouring villagers of Yiwom speakers have a good communication with the speakers of Yiwom people due to their good character in terms of hospitality, friendliness and peace keeping. As a result, they have a positive attitude towards the language. Due to these reasons the neighbouring villagers speaks Yiwom language which is not even their own native language.

Conclusively, Yiwom language has a positive attitude within it speakers.

1.5 Genetic Classification

According to Derek Fivaz and Patrica E. Scott (1977), Gerka was classified under Plateau group (platoid). The Plateau group is a sub group of the Afro-Asiatic. The classification is diagrammatically shown below.

Genetic classification of Yiwom (Fivaz and Scott, 1977:319).

1.6 Scope And Organization Of Study

This research is aimed at discussing the Verb phrase of Yiwom language using the Government and Binding theory. This research work is divided into five chapters which are relevant aspect of the theory of syntax.

Chapter one which is the introductory part include: the General background of the study, the historical background, socio-cultural profile, genetic classification of the language, scope and organization of study as well as the theoretical frame work, the data collection method and data analysis and lastly, a brief review of the chosen frame work.

Chapter two shall focus on sound inventory, the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure rule, lexical categories, basic word order and sentence types.

Chapter three contains the main aspect of the study which is the Yiwom verb phrase. In this chapter, the nature of verb phrase in Yiwom language and the processes that are attested will be discussed.

Chapter four will examine the transformational processes such as focus construction and passivization.

Chapter five which is the last chapter will present a brief summary of the whole research and also the conclusion and recommendation based on such finding.

1.7 Theoretical Framework.

The theory to be adopted in this research is the government and binding theory in the analysis of verb phrase in Yiwom language.

1.8 Justification Of The Study.

The study of Yiwom language is very important because to be the best of our knowledge, no work of this type has been done on it. This work will therefore help in preventing the language by committing it into writing and providing an orthography for it. It will also promote future work on this language as the present work can be used for further research into the language.

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