Aspects Of Yukuben Morphology

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Aspects Of Yukuben Morphology


Yukuben language is a sub-Saharan African language. It is mainly spoken in Benue Congo and traces up to the Niger-Kordofanian family of the African languages classification. In this paper, a long essay has been carried out on the morphology of YuKuben language. The work started by analyzing phonology, the basic phonological concepts, sound inventory where we talk about the consonant and the vowel sounds. Also talked about the tone inventory of the language, how the tones are combined in any given word, and the syllable inventory which describes the structure of ssylables in Yukuk words. A detailed work has been done on morphological processes using examples in the language. Finally, as part of contribution to learning, this long essay could be a useful guideline and reference book for future researchers, textbook writers and teachers of the languages. Linguists are implored to make adequate research work on the language so as to make materials such as dictionaries and readers available for students, teachers and researchers to learn more about the language in the future.

Chapter One

General Introduction

1.0 Introduction

This chapter is centered on the introductory part of the whole essay. It shows brief historical background of the Yukuben language speakers. As a matter of introduction to a general survey of the study of the Yukuben language morphology, on attention is drawn to the family head of the various sub-sections of the language which is the Jokon. Yukuben is closely related to the Kogon and as a matter of fact, reviewing the genetic classification of Africa languages, Yukuben is a language from the Jokonoid family. The Yukuben are majorly found in the eastern edge of Nigeria, which is in the Western part of Africa (West Africa).

This chapter will give the reader a brief introduction on the speakers of Yukuben language and the language itself. The historical background of the language and its speakers, genetic classification, the method used in getting our data for analysis and lots more are some things that will be treated in this chapter.

1.1 Historical Background Of The Yukuben

The Yukuben were said to have migrated from a village called ‘Ideu’ in Taraba in the North neighbouring Cameroon. That was several years ago. They claimed to have been in existence before the death of Jesus Christ (BC). This movement was said to have been caused by the British merchant. These merchants trade on slaves. They buy slaves in thousands, claim them and lead them to their heavy ships, where they will be taken to Britain where they will be used as slaves to work in their sugar cane farms. The name Yukuben means “the child in which the spirit lives” or “a spiritual being”.

A female slave refused to work, so the British slave trader ordered her to be beaten. While beating the female slave, a swain of bee busted out from no where and sting all the slave traders. With this, they believe God was on their side and the other slaves believed God his living in them.

Another version indicates that the Yukuben migrated from their initial kingdom due to the on-ending territorial war with the Kuteb. The Kuteb claimed to be the owner of the territory and that the Yukuben should leave and find or create their own territory. The only solution to this misunderstanding then, was that the Yukuben should leave the Koteb territory which they later did after a lot of pressure.

The native speakers of Yukuben refers to themselves as Uhomkiji. They believe this should be their real name. They call also be called names like Nyikobeu, Nyikobe, Ayikibeu, Boritsu, Balaabe, Balaabeu, Oohom, Uohom, Uuhom-Gigi and Uhomkhegi.

The interaction they had with other neighbouring communities brought different languages to the Yukuben community. They call these languages stranger languages. Lufu, Malam-SLie, and Kapia are some of these stranger languages. They are said to have migrated from the Jokon speaking communities.

Apart from the territorial misunderstanding that splitted the Yukuben people from the Koteb, there arouse another misunderstanding that led to another blood shedding war. This war was majorly on leadership and chieftaincy titled. The Kuteb claimed to be the head over the Yukuben people. They wanted to have the king while the Yukuben should be lead by an ordinary chief. The Kuteb does not want the Yukuben to have a king of theirs so as to keep their own territory as the headquarter and have the central head.

1.2 Geographical Location And Population

The Yukuben are particularly located in the Northern part of Nigeria, in West Africa. They are regionally located in the North West province; Taraba state to be precise. In Taraba state, the speakers of this language are located in Takom local government area, between Katstina Ala-and Gawana rivers. The speakers are found in more than 20 villages in Nigeria and few villages in Cameroon.

Cameroon is the second country with the highest member of speakers of Yukuben language. with three hours, we can get to Cameroon from Taraba state in Nigeria.

As given by “Ethnologue:- Languages of the World”, in 1992, the speakers of Yukuben language had a total population of 15,000 in Nigeria only and about 1,000 in Cameroon. In 1994, another population census was conducted, and the result given was that, the speakers of this language was 23,000 in Nigeria and 2,000 in Cameroon and other countries of the world. We had another census, and the native speakers of Yukuben language claimed to have increased. As given by the informant, he said they are now more than 500,000.

As a result of inter-tribal marriages, the population of the speakers of Yukuben language increased. With this, the population of the native speakers of Yukuben language; according to the first report, was about 25,000, while the later report which was a recent report which could be probably be present approximated population of the Yukuben says it has increased to half a million.

Below is a map showing the geographical location of the speakers of Yukuben language.

1.3 Genetic Classification

Yukuben language belongs to the Niger-Kordofanian family by the way of the African language classification. Other classes of language family are Nilo Saharan, Khoisan, and the Afro-Asiatic families. Niger Kordofanian is a family of the sub-Saharan African language. it has about 100,000,000 speakers of different languages.

Some linguists argues that the Benue Congo in which Yukuben belong and the Kwa language family belong to the same group, that is a single branch of the Niger Congo family. Nevertheless, for the sake of this study, Yukuben is known as a Benue Congo group of languages according to Comrie (1987).

In conclusion, Yukuben is genetically classified as a version of one of the Benue Congo group and finally traced up to the Niger-Kordofanian family of the African languages classification.

Below is a diagram illustrating the genetic classification of Yukuben language. (available in the complete material)

1.4 Socio-Linguistic Profile

The Yukuben speaking community has peculiarities as far as occupation is concerned, with close relationship with the family head of Yukuben language at Kuteb. There is a close link between them and among most of the speakers of all the languages emanating from Kuteb.

With the few relationship the Yukuben had with the Kuteb before theysplitted, their social life was affected and they took on some socio-cultural characteristics or features of the Kuteb people.

There is a concentration of the Yukuben language speaking community on farming. This is the major occupation found in the community. Large percentage of the language speakers are involved in farming. Farming of several forms, such as crop farming like, tuber (yam, cassava etc.),grains (rice, guinea corn, maize, etc.) and little vegetables (okro, pepper, etc.).

Some minorities among the speakers are also involved in some other occupation, apart from farming, such as trading either within their immediate community or outside their community, but it is common among the women.
Others are found in blacksmithing, carpentry, hunting, bricklaying and weaving which is dominated by women. As western education gained prominence, the language speakers also found themselves in teaching, engineering works, and other professions.

Equally, the Yukuben language speaking society is known for certain social lives. They are known to be good Christians, but there are still groups of people who are still deeply rooted in paganism in the form of masquerades. Kukyib is the major masquerade they worship. This festival is performed annually in remembrance of the dead relatives who are said to come from heaven to visit the earth and bestow blessings on the living. They also believe the masquerade protects and blesses them.

Before the introduction of Christianity in the early 20th century, the masquerade festival also came with circumcision (Kamang). This circumcision festival is called Kukyib-Kamang. From ages 10 – 15 years, they believe they should be circumcised. The introduction Christianity did some abolition to these practices. We are also told some Yukuben speaking communities are still circumcising their female children.

Today, Christianity is said to be the second religion after idols and paganism to the native speakers of Yukuben language. They believe in idols like Oogun for protection against witchcrafts, Klumia protects them against thieves and his also known as their god of thunder.

Some of the peculiar native meals of the Yukuben are boiled maize, guinea-corn, boiled cassava, yam, plantain and rice. Their major meal is made from rice. They enjoy eating over-boiled rice which all refer to it as Banana. Beasen; this is the only known wine to all Yukuben. This wine is a local wine, made from guinea-corn and it is also called Burukutu.

1.4.1 Dressing

In the olden days, the Yukuben people wear leaves, and the back of trees. They cover their nakedness with this. The women fashion leaves to cover their nudity and the men uses the back of tree which must have been beaten to soften and make it tender. They tie it round their waist. It is called Isang.

The British colonial masters had a great influence on these people and Nigeria at large. They brought real wears to Nigeria and the Yukuben. They were shown how to get cotton and weave. Now, weaving is one of the major occupations done by women in any Yukuben speaking community. Ukya, this is the name given to any weaved cloth (Ofi).

1.4.2 Funerals

The Yukuben also have their own custom of burial and funerals at various kinds. Like the Hausa speaking communities, they do their funerals in the Islamic manner while the Yukuben people have their own according to the Christians.

1.4.3 Marriage

Marriage is another ceremony observed traditionally by the Yukuben. For the introductory part of the wedding ceremony, the mate family will provide palm-oil in a calabash and a cock to the in-laws. Later, bush meats like grass-cutter will be taken to the family. After the approval, a date will be chosen for the main wedding. The male family will make wine, Beasan, and put honey in it and drink as they celebrate.

1.5 Research Methodology

The data used for analysis in this long essay are collected through competent bilingual informant of Yukuben language. Major parts of the information were gotten through a personal contact. The informants are not only from one district of the language division, so as to give room for adequate analysis.

Since this work is aimed at the study of Yukuben morphology, all data collected either through personal contact or questionnaire is morphologically analyzed. The analysis was made in the direction of description purely, some of which are derivational analysis, word formation processes; especially the processes that are attested in the formation of words in Yukuben language.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This study essentially corners the aspects of morphology of Yukuben language alone. For further explanation of the word structure of the language some syntactic analysis are made. It equally includes a brief phonological analysis as the case demands; take for instance, a consideration of the segmental and supra-segmental phonemic relationship in the arrangement of morpheme, especially the tonal system as it relates to the language.

1.7 Organization of Study

This long essay is divided into five different chapters. Each chapter treats different aspect of the essay.

  • Chapter one centers on the introductory part. It treats the general background of the study. The language and it’s speakers. Within this chapter, we have the historical background of the language and its speakers. Their socio-linguistic profiles, genetic classification, population and geographical location. It also shows how the data was collected and analyzed.
  • Chapter two deals with basic morphological and phonological concepts. These concepts include the meaning of morphology itself, types of morphemes, the structural function and position of morphemes.
  • Chapter three gives an explicit explanation of the two major types of morphemes in relation to the language of study.
  • Chapter four is referred to as the main body of the essay. It is this chapter we will be able to analyze the collected data comprehensively. It gives the basic morphological processes relating them to the language of study.
  • The last chapter, which is chapter five, will cover the concluding part of the essay. A brief summary of this essay will be done in this chapter.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.0 Introduction

This chapter gives the summary and conclusion of previous chapters. It also includes observation and recommendations based on the researcher’s findings.

5.1 Summary

This research work starts with an introductory chapter (chapter one) that gives information about the language of study starting with the historical background of Yukuben language and the speakers, where they originated from to settle in their various present location, population, genetic classification, socio-linguistic profile, research methodology, scope of the study and then to the organization of the whole research work.

In this essay, attempt has been made to look into the morphology of Yukuben language. The work started by analyzing phonology, the basic phonological concepts, sound inventory where we talked about the consonant and the vowel sounds. Also talked about the tone inventory of Yukuben language, how the tones are combined in any given word, the syllable inventory which describes the structure of syllables in Yukuben words.

In the same chapter, morphology serves as the second part of this chapter. Defined morphology, morphemes and some other basic morphological concepts. I also described the class of language Yukuben belong to on linguistic grounds. Yukuben language is concluded to be agglutinative.

The third chapter deals with morphology in general. The available morphological operations in relation to the target language, Yukuben. I also give a brief description of the available parts of speech in Yukuben language.

Chapter four centers on the morphological processes used in this language in forming new words or how words are generated. Morphological processes like reduplication which is divided into two; the partial and the total reduplication, compounding, borrowing and refashioning. A detailed work was carried out on morphological processes using examples in Yukuben language.

5.2 Observations

At the end of this research, the following observations are registered on word formation of Yukuben language.

  1. In this language, the bound morphemes perform only inflectional functions.
  2. Looking at the morpheme types of the language, it could be observed that the language is an agglutinative language.
  3. It could be observed that the language has move free morphemes compared to that of bound morphemes.
  4. It could be observed that there are lots of borrowed words in the language from neighbouring languages which the speakers of Yukuben language are used to.

5.3 Conclusion

Our focus in this study is to describe the word formation processes in Yukuben language. we have achieved this through ample and copious data to illustrate how each of these processes is attested in Yukuben language. This also proves the fact that the morphological processes of compounding, borrowing, reduplication and refashioning are quite productive in the language.

In this essay, the researcher recognized twenty four (24) consonant sounds and twelve vowels (made up of seven oral vowels and five nasal vowels present in Yukuben language.

Conclusively, as part of contribution to learning, this long essay could be a useful guideline and reference book for future researchers, textbook writers and teachers of Yukuben language.

5.4 Recommendations

The researcher presents the following recommendations upon completing this research work:

  1. National language policy of education should recognize Yukuben language as a subject to be taught in areas populated by Yukuben people.
  2. The native speakers of Yukuben language should be trained as teachers of the language to encourage the language development.
  3. Linguists are implore to make adequate research work on Yukuben language so as to make materials such as dictionaries and readers available for students, teachers and researchers to learn more about the language.

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