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Cover page i
Title page ii
Approval page iii
Certification/Statement of Honour iv
Dedication v
Acknowledgement vi
Table of contents vii
List of abbreviations used x
Abstract xii
1.1 Background of the Study 1
1.2 Area of Study 1
1.3 Objectives 2
1.4 Scope of the Study 2
1.5 Research Methodology 2
1.5.1 Data Collection 2
1.5.2 Data Analysis 3
2.1Theoretical Framework 4
2.1.1 The Minimalist Programme 4
2.1.2 Shortest Movement 7
2.1.3 Procrastinate 8
2.1.4 Greed 10
2.1.5 Spell Out 10
2.1.6 Checking 11
2.2 Wh-Movement 13
2.3 Move Alpha 20
2.3.1 Head Movement 21 V-to-T Movement 21 T-to-C Movement 24
2.3.2 NP-Movement 26
2.4 Minimal and Maximal Projections 29
2.4.1 Minimal Projection 29
2.4.2 Maximal Projection 29
2.5 Constituent Structure Constraint 30
2.6 Copy Theory 31
2.7 Extended Projection Principle 33
2.8 Attract Closest Principle 36
2.9 Vacuous Movement 40
2.10 C-command 41
2.11 Computational System 43
3.1 Classification of Wh-Question in Kọring 44
3.2 The Landing Site of Moved Wh-expression in Kọring 45
3.3 Wh-Question and EPP in Kọring 47
3.4 Wh-Question and ACP in Kọring 48
3.5 Movement of Wh-Phrase in Question Formation in Kọring 52
3.6 Wh-Question and Vacuous Movement in Kọring 54
4.1 Summary 58
4.2 Conclusion 61
References 63
st first person
rd third person
ACP Attract Closest Principle
C-command constituent command
CP complementiser projection
COMP/C complement/complementiser
D determiner
DP determiner phrase
D-structure/DS deep structure
EPP extended projection principle
FI full interpretation
GB government and binding theory
GT generalized transformations
LF logical form
MLC minimal link condition
MP minimalist programme
N noun
PF phonetic form
Prn pronoun
Pst past tense
Q question element
QP quantifier phrase
CS computational system
SD structural description
SDR shortest derivation requirement
sg singular
SMC shortest move condition
S-structure/SS surface structure
tns/T tense
TP tense phrase
UG universal grammar
V verb
VP verb phrase
Wh-movement is a transformational process which causes the displacement of a
wh-element from its base generated position to string initial position. This
movement process is used to structurally change a wh-question. This study
investigated the movement of wh-elements in question formation in Kọring.
Kọring is a minority language spoken in parts of Ebonyi and Benue states. The
data used in the analysis were collected from a series of fieldwork undertaken
by the researcher. The data were analysed, using the minimalist framework of
Chomsky (1993, 1995). It is found that both the LF wh-movement and the
syntactic wh-movement are existing in question formation in Kọring. It is also
found that the application of syntactic wh-movement in Kọring has its own
parameter of insertion and movement of constituents.
1.1 Background of the Study
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual nation. It is estimated that there are
over four hundred different ethnic groups in the country. Each group has its own
language. However, only three languages – Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo- are
regarded as the major languages in Nigeria. Consequently, the other remaining
languages, including Kọring are classified as minor languages.
The Kọring language is spoken in some parts of Ebonyi and Benue states
of Nigeria. It is said that Kọring is an endangered language (Anagbogu
2005:132). There are four Kọring speaking communities in Ebonyi State. These
are made up of Okpoto, Effium, and Ntezi in Ishielu Local Government Area:
and Amuda in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of the state. In Benue State,
the language is spoken in Ọffịa and Ụtọnkọn, which are in Okpokwu Local
Government Area (Ejiofor 2006; Anagbogu 2003). Ejiofor (2006) traces the
origin of the Kọring to the Ukelle proto – language. Kọring belongs to the
Upper-Cross group of the Delta-Cross sub-branch of the Cross River language
family (Anagbogu 2005:132; cf Williamson and Blench 2003; Crozier and
Blench 1992:118). Hence, this research is inspired by the need to subject the
language to the modern form of syntactic analyses.
1.2 Area of Study
The Okpoto dialect of the Kọring language is chosen for the analysis of this
research because it is the variety spoken by the researcher’s informants. Okpoto
is a community in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. It is
bounded to the north by Eziulo, to the east by Ntezi and Ezza, to the west by the
Ebonyi River and to the south by Ohafia Agbo in Ezzakumoru. Okpoto is about
fifteen kilometers from Abakaliki, occupying an area of about 259 square
kilometers, and it has a population of about 28,000 (Anagbogu 2005:132).
1.3 Objectives
i. Kọring is a minority language which has not been adequately studied. This
prompted the researcher to investigate an aspect of Kọring grammar within the
framework of the minimalist programme. This is to determine the extent the
grammatical framework can account for the data used in this study.
ii. As a contribution to academic research in linguistics, the study is intended to
show to what extent the data can be accommodated within the grammatical
iii. It will help to create awareness on the existence of the language and
consequently promote its use by the native speakers.
iv. The adult native speakers, who have been finding it difficult to make the
language attractive to their children, will find this research as a helping tool.
This is because the children, having read the work, will be inspired to embrace
and embark on more researches on the language.
1.4 Scope of the Study
The study is limited to the Okpoto variety of Kọring. Okpoto is more easily
accessible to the researcher because it is the variety spoken by the informants.
The study is also restricted to simple wh-questions in Kọring. This is to enhance
easy understanding of the analyzed data.
1.5. Research Methodology
1.5.1 Data Collection
Many native speakers of the Okpoto variety of the Kọring language were
consulted. They were given some simple sentences where wh-expressions are
placed in-situ and where they (wh-expressions) are moved to Spec, Cp to
translate and provide their glosses.
The informants were contacted several times. While some contacts were
made in order to collect fresh data from them, others were made in order to
verify already collected data. I met my principal informant, Mr. John Agbo in
2006 at Awka. One of my informants in the 2006 research on the genetic
relation of the Kukelle language and the Kọring language, Mr. Pius Nnaka, told
me that there are many Kọring families in the Awka metropolis. Hence, I found
Mr. Agbo in my search for any native speaker of Kọring in Awka. He helped
me then by making available, as many as necessary, his kinsmen. So, I found it
easier to reach him and his kinsmen for this research. Virtually all my
informants are adults who claim to have not been out of Kọring speaking areas
for more than four consecutive months. Moreover, I tried to verify how reliable
are the collected data by using them on different days, while they (my
informants) rightly interpreted and glossed them as recorded, though with some
difficulties as a result of my poor pronunciations of some of the data.
1.5.2 Data Analysis
Data comprising wh-in-situ and wh-movement in Kọring were collected by me
from my informants and glossed by them (my informants). The versions of the
data where wh-words or expressions are placed in-situ and where they are
moved were compared. That was done in order to observe their differences,
especially the movements of the wh-expressions. The data were then analyzed
using the theory of the minimalist programme.
Since the 1980s and the 1990s, the GB Theory has been the major framework of
the syntactic principles. Minimalism has arisen in the modern time to succeed
the GB Theory (Napoli 1996:389). According to Napoli, “the source of the
name for this theory is the theory’s goal: minimizing the syntactic apparatus
needed to generate sentences”.


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