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1.1 Background to the study

Morphology is the arrangement and relationships of the smallest meaningful units in a language. So what does this really mean? Every human language depends on sounds. When specific sounds are put together in a specific way, words, phrases, and finally sentences can be created. This is how messages are sent and received.

In order to understand morphology, you need to know the term morpheme, which is the smallest unit of a word with meaning. That meaning is how language conveys messages. Morphemes are more than just letters. When a number of letters are put together into a word part that now has meaning, then you have a morpheme. Morphology studies how these units of meaning, or word parts, can be arranged in a language.

The researcher proposes to embark on the study of Aspects Of The Morphology Of Nupe  Language. Nupe  is one of the languages spoken in Kauru local Government of Kaduna State. Another name for Nupe  language is ‘Chawei’

Historical Background Of Nupe  People

Nupe  speakers were believed to have come from the southern part of Kaduna state with its L.G.A. headquarters in Kauru.

The inhabitants of the Chiefdom i.e. Chawai Cheifdom are mostly Nupe  (the Chawai people) even though there are few non – Chawai that reside in the Chiefdom.  The people of Chawai are known to be hospitable, helpful, industrious and peace loving, when one knocks on the door of a Chawai person at any hour of the day, one is assured of a warm – welcome.  This is why they are usually regarded as the most peace loving people in Kaduna State.

The Chief as popularly known as Res-Tsam is the overall ruler in the land.  The promulgation of laws that ensures peaceful co-existence and the maintenance of law and order within the chiefdom rest on his shoulders.  He also performs the function of lobbing government in bringing developmental programmes to the Chiefdom.  The Chief’s palace is located at Dama-Kasuwa Chawai being the headquarters for central administration.

The chiefdom is relatively new in terms of existence.  There are only six districts.  These districts include: Damakasuwa, with its head at Damakasuwa Chawai. This distrct covers villages as Kichiguya, Rafingora, Mangul, Kisari amongst others. The second district is Zambina with its head at Kingwan Makama Chawai.  It covers villages as Badurum, Kurmi-Risga, Ungwan Rana among others.  The third district is Fadan Chawai with its head at Fadan Chawai.  This district covers villages as Kibobi, Talo, Riban and among other villages.  The fouth district is Pari with its head at Kiffin Chawai.  The district covers villages as Kiffin Chawai, Pari, among others.  The fifth district is Kamaru district with its head at Kizakoro. The district has the following villages Kamaru, Kihoba, Kizakoro, Kizachi, Kuyan Bana among others.  The sixth district is Bakin Kogi.

The respective Districts Heads are charged with the duty of ensuring peaceful co-existence and the maintenance of law and order within their domains.  They however report directly to the Res-Tsam (the Chief of Chawai).  The Districts heads are supported by a number of village Heads within their domains.   The village Heads also report to the district Heads.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The morphology of the Nupe  language has not been adequately studied, especially by the indigenous native speakers of Nupe . Most works did not focus on the explicit analysis of the internal structure of Nupe  words. Secondly, studies on Nupe  by the indigenous native speakers of the language are few. Yet, some of the few ones did not study in detail the various aspects of the Nupe  language like Nupe  morphology. On the other hand, there are presently no existing reference teaching materials, especially on Nupe  word structures. One of the reasons responsible for this has been attributed to lack of adequate description of the Nupe  language and its word structures. It is in view of this that this study intends to bridge the gap in the study of the Nupe  language.

1.3 Research Questions

 This study intends to find answers to the following questions:

  1. What are the sub-classes of nouns and adjectives in Nupe ?
  2. In what ways can Nupe nouns, adjectives, adverb can be analysed or broken down into identifiable morphemes?
  3. What types of morphological structures are common to the Nupe in word classes?
  4. What type of morphological processes underlie the analysis of Nupe word structures that are nouns, adverb  and adjectives?
  5. What type of morphological information, such as prefixes or suffixes take, and also their syntax are in Nupe  use?

1.4 Aim And Objectives Of The Study

The Main Of This Study Is On Aspects Of The Morphology Of Nupe  Language
The following are the specific objectives of the study;
  1. To examine how Nupe  nouns, adjectives, adverb can be analysed or broken down into identifiable morphemes
  2. To analyze the types of morphological structures are common to the Nupe in word classes
  3. To understand the morphological processes underlie the analysis of Nupe  word structures that are nouns, adverb  and adjectives
  4. To investigate the type of morphological information, such as prefixes or suffixes take, and also their syntax are in Nupe  use

1.5 Scope of the study

 The study is mainly concerned with the morphological analysis of words in the Nupe  language. However, the analysis will be limited to nouns and adjectives except where reference to other parts of speech is necessary. The study will consider common nouns that are countable and concrete, deverbal nouns (nouns that are derived  from verbs), cardinal nouns (numerals), compound nouns, nationality  nouns  (ethnic  nationality names), personal gender nouns, higher animals gender nouns and case nouns but only genitive type. However, the study will not cover other classes of nouns that are not listed above. In the class of adjectives, the  study will cover  only gradable (in terms  of comparison), non-gradable and denominal adjectives (adjectives that combine with nouns to form compounds). Other classes of adjectives that are not mentioned in  the above will not be considered.

1.6 Limitations Of The Study

 The study is about the morphological analysis of Nupe  language. However, the study does not cover all words within these (nouns and adjectives) word classes or Nupe  words belonging to all word classes. Therefore, the study is limited in scope for practical convenience  and  because of  time constraint  within which this work is completed. Thus, the study is by no means conclusive on the morphology of Nupe  language. Nevertheless, the study is a modest contribution to the general study of Nupe  language especially its morphology.

In this study, the data (Nupe ) of research have been translated to English within the framework of Catford’s theory of linguistic translation. However, the translated items in the study are to be considered as approximative meanings. Lastly, the  translations done in the study are solely based on the researcher’s own effort.

1.7 Significance Of The Study

 In Nigeria, Nupe  is a minority language that has not been adequately studied linguistically from different aspects like the major Nigerian languages, such as Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. The present study reveals the morphological nature of Nupe  word- structure. This will provide the basis for understanding other aspects of Nupe  to be studied, since various aspects of language are interrelated linguistically. Secondly, the study will serve as a reference material for teaching the language in schools. Finally, the study will contribute to knowledge about the language and essentially the body of research on Nupe  language linguistics. Furthermore, studying the morphology of Nupe will help to preserve the language from being vulnerable to extinction since Nupe  is a minority language in Nigeria.

1.8 Definition Of Terms

 The following terms have been given working definitions within the limit of this research work:

Morphological structure refers to groups of words that show identical  partial resemblances in both form and meaning i.e. formal and semantic resemblances among words (Haspelmath, 2002:88).

Morphological processes means the formal processes or operations by which the  forms  of words are derived from stems or roots (Mathews, 1997: 232).

Morphological system here refers to the classification of a language as either being ‘isolating’, ‘agglutinating’ or ‘inflectional’ type based on the morphological analysis of its word-structures (Radford, 2005:180).

Language typology refers to the classification of languages into types according to their morphological structures (Lyons, 1970:327).

Morphological elision refers to deliberate omission of either phonemes or letters of a  word to allow proper Nupe  intonation and speech rhythm.