1.0    General Background of the Study

Language is the fabrics that ties every member of the society together, which serves as an instrument used by man for specific and distinguishable purposes. Indeed, the focus of this research is to shed light on how verb phrases are formed in Migili language. Therefore, the first chapter of this research is focused on the genetic classification of Migili language. As an introductory chapter, attempts shall be made to trace the origin, socio-cultural profile, administrative system, religion, geographical location, topography (life zone) economy, marriage rites, map, genetic classification of Migili. Effort shall also be extended to the organization of the study, theoretical framework together with a review of the chosen theory, data collection and analysis and some syntactic concept.

According to Crystal (1994: 420) syntax is the study of the rules governing the way words are combined to form grammatical sentences in contrast with morphology that studies word structure. This branch of linguistics is concerned with how words are combined to form phrases are sentences in a rule governed manner. In a nutshell, words are not together in a random order, they follow certain observable patterns in any language.

1.1    Historical Background of Migili

Migili refers to the name of a language and also a group of people. The Migili people constitute about 96% of the total population of Agyaraoju Obi Local Government, Nasarawa State in Nigeria; with a total population of about 18,000.

History has it that different tribes including Migili, Alago, Eggon all settled at Korofa Kingdom in Taraba state. It was said that a man named Akuka was denied the right to the throne and as a result had to leave Kororofa together with some other members of the Migili tribe to a place called Ukari and later to Lafia region. Some of them moved to Abuja, Minna in Niger State, Kubacha in Kaduna state.The Eggon tribe are also neighbours of the Migilis with some of them having the knowledge of Migili language.

Today, Migili language has various alternate names such as: Higili, Migili, Koro of Lafia.

1.2    Socio-Cultural Profile

Like most communities around them, the socio-cultural background of the people of Migili include: Occupation, Religion, Festival, Mode of Dressing, Marriage.

1.2.1 Occupation

The Migilis are farmers to the core. Yam is the major cash crop that is being produced in the area. Some other agricultural produce include guinea corn, maize, millet, groundnut, and beans. However, they also engage in wearing and artistic works. The land has varying proportion of nitrogen and phosphorus, it is sandy on the up land, it makes plant grow well, agricultural product are sold in the market called Migili market once in a week.

1.2.2 Religion

The Migili people are predominantly Christians. Before the coming of the missionaries, the Migilis’ were traditional worshippers who had belief in ancestral gods. By the coming of Christianity, a lot of people who were traditional worshippers became converts and embraced Christianity.

1.2.3 Festival

One major festival in Migili land is the Odu masquerade festival. The Odu masquerade is dressed in colourful masks and displays great dancing skills with spectacular dancing skills and beautiful dance steps. According to the people, Odu was the god of war and it is believed that he helped the people win battles, equipping them with magical and spiritual powers which made them unconquerable. In every village in Migili, there is a small building built for the Odu masquerade around which he will dance for three (3) days.

1.2.4 Mode of Dressing

The people of Migili are fashionable people. These are people who still preserve the tradition of their ancestors and their rich culture. In the olden days, both male and female were usually seen wearing bracelet, cowries, beads. Another distinguishing feature of the Migilis’ was the plaiting of head by both men and women.

Nowadays, civilization plays a significant role in the mode of dressing of the people as most of them especially the younger ones now dress into western manner.

1.2.5 Marriage

Before the coming of the missionaries into the Migili society marriage was done by the father of the boy approaching the mother of the girl (from birth) and paying a token amount of money to her parents. Once this has been done the girl was said to be betrothed and will continue to live with her parents until she gets about fifteen (15) years of age. The boy pays his first installment of her dowry and farms for the father-in-law once every year.

Today marriage are done in churches and unlike before women are free to choose their groom and are not mandated to marry from their society alone.

1.3    Genetic Classification

According to Greenberg (1966: 8) African languages belong to various families, and there are four main groups. These groups are: Niger Kordofania, Nilo Sahara, Afro-Asiatic and Khoisan.


1.4    Scope and Organization of Study

This research is aimed at discussing the general overview of verb phrase in Migili language. This research work is divided into five chapters which are relevant aspects of the theory of syntax.

Chapter one which is the introductory part includes the historical background, socio-cultural profile, the scope and organization of study as well the theoretical framework, the data collection method and data analysis and lastly, a brief review of the chosen framework.Chapter two shall focus on sound inventory, the basic syntactic concept such as phrase structure rule, lexical categories, basic word order and the sentence types.

Chapter three contains the main aspect of the study which is the verb phrase. In this chapter the nature of verb phrase in Migili language and the processes that are attested will be discussed.

Chapter four will examine the transformational processes such as focusing, relativization, relfexivization, passivisation and question formation.

Chapter five which is the last chapter will present a brief summary of the whole research and also the conclusion and recommendation based on such finding.

1.5    Theoretical Framework

The theory to be adopted in this research is the government and binding theory in the analysis of Verb Phrase in Migili language.

1.6    Data Collection

This research is made possible through the bi-lingual language helper. However, the Ibadan four hundred word list and some sentence constructions are used to extract necessary information from the language helpers (informants) The method of collection was through direct translation from English to Migili language. The language helper speaks Migili, English, Hausa, and Eggon.

Mr. Ayuba Osibi Haruna one of the language helper is a typist in the local government secretariat, Agyaragu Obilocal government. Also, Revered Albert, a man of God in Agyaragu.