The Yiwom Noun Phrase

Project and Seminar Material for Linguistics and Communication

The Yiwom Noun Phrase

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

It is a general fact that no one can dispute that language is central to all communities of human beings. It is also important for the regulation of every community

The main focus of this research is to shed more light on how noun phrase is found in yiwom language. Therefore, the first chapter of this research focuses on the historical of yiwom language, genetic classification, the scope and organization of the study analysis, the theoretical framework, data collection, data analysis, and also the review of the chosen framework which is government and binding theory.

This branch of linguistics is concerned with how words are combined to form phrases and sentences in a rule governed manner.

1.1 Historical Background

The yiwom speaking people are also known as Garkawa, Gerkachi and Gerka and Gurka. Heil yiwom is what they call their town but the fulanis call them Gerkawa. it is a unit in the South East corner of the present milkang Local Government Area and is bounded in the North and East by the Langtang section of yergam, South East by the way of Dampar South by Inshar and West by the Lalin section of montol.

The yiwom people have been in their present home for upwards of two hundred years. The pitop came to the area first and provide itself a stockaded town at a place called Hakbap. The Rohta followed second and settled in kiel-hiel at Rohta-Hills, North of Hielyoum. Other families arrived in large detachments one after the other and took refuge at Kiel-Hiel. Rohta rock was fortified and was capable of withstanding siege,

As at the middle of nineteenth century, the families came from their hills to live in their present homes. The former at Rohta , the later at pitop.

According to legends preserved by both sections, their ancestors sprang from the ground. The Rotha maintain that they are from river Guinan in the hills, while the paptop said that theirs emerged from the earth.

The word “Youm” in the Youm dialect means “leaves”. The analogy being: as trees grows out of the ground, so their ancestors came into being. The name “Gerkawa” was given to them by the Fulani/Hausa traders owing to their military prowess and stubbornness. The name was derived from “Gagararru” which in the course of time become “Gerka” and “Bergarka” and finally Gerkawa.

Legend points to the fact that all the families mentioned and who call themselves yiwom or Gerkawa were of Jukun stock that migrated after the breakup of kwararrafa empire (West of Bunkudi) and wandered until the settle down in Gerkawa town.

1.2 Geographical Location

The home of the yioum speaker is situated in the south east of the present milkang local government area formerly at Shendam and Langtang.

It is found in co-ordinates 90000 North and 9035 East and 90 North and 9.5830 East. It covers an area of approximately 139 Km2 with 285.3 square meter

Its time zone is WAT (UTCH). In the year 2000, an estimated 14,100 people spoke the language primarily in Plateau state.

1.3 Socio Culture Profile

The yiwom people have homogenous cultural values especially in respect of Occupation, Religion, Marriage, Mode of dressing, Mode of leadership, festival and of course circumcision.

Before talking on their socio cultural profile, one thing that I must say is that Yiwom is a Chadic language of the Afro-Asiatic family spoken by Gerkawa people of Plateau state, Nigeria. The yiwom people have several clans such as Rohta, Killah, Balbro, Pitop, Talim, Lahlil, Pensong, Gwar-Gimgim, Bal’Nlah, Longkrom and wai clan. Each clan has its own priest (Bankumkrom).

1.3.1 Religion

They practice all kinds of religion including Christianity, Islamic and Animism. Children are first taught how to use their mother tongue to pray and later will now teach them Goemai and Jukun.

Anything that contradict their belief in the religion will be dealt with severally for example, crime, stealing, and adultery are punishable offence in their religions. Also, in formers days, a person abused of witch craft is burnt alive. So as a result of hot believe in what their religion teaches them this make people within their locality to fear them to the extent that any battle they embark in through their beliefs in their religion was conquered.

1.3.2 Occupation

The major occupation of the yiwom people are animal husbandry and trading. Their farm product include: yam, cassava , maize and guinea corn. Farm is rooted in their cultural ethnics as the farmers purify themselves and abstain from immoral behaviour before planting or else what they have planted will not germinate

1.3.3 Marriage

In Gerkawa custom, there are 3 modes of conducting their marriage ceremony. They are:

a. Marriage by System of Exchange:

In this case, the wife and offsprings virtually becomes the properly of the husband but with the passage of time, such things have been erased from their culture.

b. By Payment of Small Customary Bride Price:

Under the small bride price system, It was easy for a woman to change her husband before the sixth month of their marriage.

c. Cousin Marriage:

This is referred to as the best form of marriage in the sense that they keep wealth within the family. The second and the most important reason is that divorce is not permissible and therefore any marriage done will be permanent. The person that co-ordinate the marriage programme is called “Nwo” which means “the person sent by God”. And what they called God in their language is Na’an”.

1.3.4 Burial

In yiwom community, if someone dies, women will gather in the house of the deceased while men will go on arranging and preparing how to buy the casket they will use to bury that person.

Notably, the burial grounds are always in a spherical shaped form like a well. It is only on the mortal that the dead is being washed believing that the mortal is blessed because if is used in the process of their food. As men are carrying the corpse to the grave, the women will be preparing food. A goat will be slaughtered in a standing position and the skin will be used to cover the dead. If the deceased is a female, some of her jewelries will be buried with her. The food cooked during their burial ceremonies are called gyana-Nfirika.

1.3.5 Mode Of Leadership

Governance among the yiwom people is anchored on a council of elders including a head of chiefs and a youth in the community, making communication easy. The council of elders does the same in the community.

1.4 Genetic Classification

According to Greenberg (1966:8) says African language belongs to various families and there are four main groups namely : Niger Kodofanian, Nilo Sahara, Afro-Asiatic and Khiosan.

The yiwom language is a chadic language of the Afro-asiatic language family.

Languages are classified like what I have explained above and they are also genetically related just like humans beings.

Yiwom language is spoken among the Gerkawa people of plateau state of Nigeria and the speakers were estimated in the year 2000 to be 14,100 in number.

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Using the theoretical framework of government and binding (GB) theory, this long essay has presented the syntactic analysis of Yiwom noun phrase. The Historical Background and the socio-cultural profile of the language and its speakers were examined, in which we established that the language is spoken in Plateau State, Nigeria, with the number of the speakers put at 10,000. Also, the Genetic classification reveals that Yiwom belongs to the Niger Congo Phylum; and the chosen theoretical framework was reviewed in the first chapter. In chapter two, we discussed some basic phonological concepts such as sound, tonal and syllable inventories in Yiwom language. From this, it was pointed out that the language attests twenty seven (27) consonants, eight (8) oral vowels and eight nasal vowels. In addition to this, certain syntactic concepts were addressed in the languages which were: phrase structures rules; lexical and phrase categories; basic word order; and sentence types. Thus, we discovered and established that the subject, verb and object (SVO) basic word order pattern is attested in the language. The analysis of Yiwom noun phrase was carried out in the third chapter. We investigate the various syntactic structures of noun phrase in the language, including its functions in Yiwom language. Additionally, it was established that the noun in noun phrase can be present with or without its satellites; and it was discovered that the noun comes first, before other constituents in its structure.

Chapter four focused on the transformational process operating in Yiwom language. These processes are focus constructing, relativization and question. The last chapter gave a brief summary of the research findings, concluded the work and provided possible recommendations.


The focus of this research project is on the noun phrase of Yiwom language. It has been observed that in the structure of noun phrase in Yiwom language, the headword which is the noun appears on the left side before the attachment of other possible satellite. Also, the noun phrase performs the functions of subjects, direct object and indirect object of the sentence. In addition to this, it has been established that syntactic processes which include focus construction, relativization and question formation operate on the deep structure of sentences to convert them to surface structures.


Since the long essay has only addressed the syntactic aspect of yiwom language, we are of the opinion on the further researches on phonology, morphology etc should also be carried out in the language. Furthermore the present analysis should not be considered as exhaustive enough, instead, more researchers should continue on the syntax of the language in order to bring out more interesting linguistic facts. On this premise, this long essay is a starting point and therefore a valid source of reference for further linguistic research in Yiwom language.

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