Question Formation In Yukuben Language

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

Question Formation In Yukuben Language


Chapter One


Yukuben Language And It’s Speakers

1.0 General Introduction

The main objective of this research is to study Question Formation i.e how questions are formed in Yukuben language. Question formation is one of the syntactic processes and it can be grouped under the linguistics level of syntax.

This chapter will discuss the Historical Background, Socio-Cultural Profile, and Genetic Classification of Yukuben Language. The chapter also consists of the scope and Organization of study, Research methodology and the brief review of the chosen framework

1.1 Historical Background

According to oral tradition, the Yukuben people of the present day Takum local government area of Taraba State are of Jukun origin. Taraba State is bounded in the West by Plateau and Benue State and in the East by Cameroon. Taraba State has 16 local government areas out of which is Takum local government where the language of study (Yukuben) is spoken.

They originated from Iden in Taraba State in the North Eastern neighbouring region of Cameroon where they are called Uhumkhigi. The term Yukuben comes from Kuteb meaning ‘the child of a witch’ .This can be traced to a time in history of slave trade when a rebellious slave from Uhumkhigi refused to work and was been tortured. In the process, suddenly from nowhere bees emerged and scared everybody away, thus slaves and slave traders called the slave and the people from Uhumkhigi ‘the child or children of a witch’. Most Yukuben speakers including the younger generations are multilingual, speaking Yukuben, Hausa, Kuteb, and Jukun and in rear cases English Language is a medium of instruction in schools while Yukuben is spoken as a second language. The older generation are not quite as fluent in English as the younger generation, who through education, hold position in the administration and the public service including the police.

Yukuben language has dialects/variants which includes dialects known as ‘Lisa’, ‘Shibun’, and ‘Fete’. Also there are other languages spoken within Sabongida Yukuben which belongs to other ethnic groups. These languages are Lufu, Malam-she and Kapia, the three being Jukun languages then Genwa, Aeha, Kpambo and Lisan from Kuteb.

There are alternative names to Yukuben and they are Ayikiben, Bakabe, Bontsu, Nyikobe, Oohum, Uhumkhigi, Luhum, Luhum-gigi and Gohum. These names are given to them by different ethnic groups in an attempt to address them. However, the two popular names with which they are always addressed are Yukuben and Uhumkhigi.


1.2 Socio-Cultural Profile

Socio-cultural profile has to do with the relationship between the society and culture. It also has to do with the people’s way of life and this includes occupation, population, religion, festivals and mode of dressing etc.

1.2.1 Political Administration

Yukuben people are headed by a king called Udeng Uchen of Uhumkhigi land. He is assisted by a group of chiefs called Babgan. The administration of Yukuben land is that of village heads who report to the district heads and they (district heads) in turn report to the king, Udeng Uchen.

1.2.2 Marriage

A proposal is made by the groom’s family to the bride’s family, if the proposal is accepted; introduction follows where the groom’s family provides palm oil in a calabash and cock to the in-laws. Right after the approval, a date is chosen for the wedding when the groom’s family provides the favourite wine of the land called ‘Burukutu’ also called ‘Besen’ and the people would drink, dance and celebrate. An interesting aspect in their marriage tradition is that there is no payment of dowry.

1.2.3 Occupation

Except for the educated Yukuben who occupy positions in administration, police and in educational sector, most Yukuben are predominantly farmers. This would account for why they are found more in different farm settlements in all the parts of the country.

The major crops they grow are guinea-corn, maize, groundnuts, rice, millet, cassava, yam, which are produced in commercial quantity. Soya beans, palm oil, honey, colanut, cocoa are also produced in measurable quantity. They equally engage in poultry production, pig farming and rabbit breeding.

Pottery, cloth-weaving carpentry, bricklaying, mat-making, carving, blacksmithing are some of the vocational occupation of the people of the Yukuben people.

1.2.4 Religion

The Yukuben are majorly Christians with few worshippers of their traditional religion which according to them is taken as part of the culture of the land and so should not be stopped.

Despite the coming of Christianity, they still worship some idols which they believe protects them against witchcraft and burglary, some of which are Oohgum, Khima (god of thunder) and Bahmbre which protects against witchcraft and theft.

It is their belief that all the Yukuben sons and daughters must be Christians of good faith, and should have no reason to change their religion. This is evident in the fact that no single mosque is founding Sabongida Yukuben. It is therefore likely that a Yukuben indigene may not hear or know any Moslem prayer or salutation in his or her lifetime.

However, influences based on trade, marriage, education and some other social vices between the Yukuben and Hausa Muslims may in no time introduce Islam to the Yukuben. The major food they eat is maize, guinea-corn, cassava, plantain, yam, rice. They usually produce their wine using guinea corn, this is known as ‘Burukutu’ or ‘Besen’. They also convert rice to Tuwo called ‘Buna’.

1.2.5 Population

Though there has not been an updated population census figure of the Yukuben, going by the Joshua project figure in 2010, it is estimated to be about 23000 in Nigeria and 25000 in all countries.

My respondent on this language however, argue that the Yukuben population will by now be more than 500,000. This can be justified by considering the fact that Yukuben speakers are spread across the country and most have settled in different regions.

Yukuben speakers are found in many parts of the country where farming exists. This is because most of them are farmers with thousands of settlements in different parts of the country. For example, a large population of them are found occupying a large area in Kaduna State, Adanmawa state and many other Northern States in Nigeria, even in the West, they are found in large population in States like Ondo, Osun etc as farmers.

1.2.6 Festivals and Mode of Dressing

The most common and celebrated festival among the Yukuben people is the annual ‘Kukyib festival’ which is the festival for appeasing the gods. It is considered the biggest celebration in the land.

Another celebration among them is the Circumcision. This festival is called ‘Kukyib Kamang’ among them. It is only observed for boys between the ages 10 -15 years to usher them into adulthood. Other celebrations include death, marriage, chieftaincy, coronation etc.

Their mode of dressing resembles that of Jukun people in the olden days, as women used leaf to cover their private parts while men use bark of tree called ‘Isang’ as form of dressing.


1.3 Genetic Classification

According to Greenberg (1996:127), African languages are classified into four (4). Afro –Asiatic, Niger –Kordofanian, Nilo-Sahara, and Khoisan, where each has sub-families. Niger-Kordofanian is the largest with two sub-families; Niger- Congo and Niger –Kordofanian. Yukuben belongs to the Jukunoid Phylum. Below is the chart showing its genetic classification.


1.4 Scope and Organization of Study

Chapter One is the introductory part of this project which consists the general introduction, historical background, socio-cultural profile, occupation, religion, population, festivals and mode of dressing, scope and organization of study, research methodology and brief review of the chosen framework.

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

The major focus of Chapter Three of this research work was the comprehensive investigation of the types of questions and process of question formation attested in Yukuben language. The types of questions includes WH-question, Yes/No question, Echo question, Rhetorical question, Tag question and Alternative question.

Chapter Four discussed transformations and the transformational processes attested by Yukuben language.

Chapter Five gave a summary of the essay, providing some findings made from the research work, presented the concludion and gave some recommendations.


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