This paper is a research work which addresses Questions in Itu Mbon Uso: A Syntactic Analysis of question formation. It analyses the structural relations within the various question types in the language on a syntactic rank scale. Data on the work were collected through Oral interviews with selected speakers of the Itu Mbon Uso language in Ini local government area of Akwa Ibom State which constitute the area of study. Analysis of the desired variables of the data collected embraced Government and Binding Theoretical Framework. This study is necessitated by the need to develop the orthography of Itu Mbon Uso language. The findings of this work revealed that question word questions can be formed from declarative sentences, and the question words can ask for either the subject or object of a sentence. In formation of question word questions in Itu Mbon Uso, fronting transformational process, insertion and movement rules are applied. The question word is moved from object position to subject position assuming it is not originally fronted, and there is insertion of the auxiliary ‘DO’ at the complementizer position when there is no overt(visible) auxiliary verb in the deep structure. Question word questions are subject to the rules of subjacency condition and the question word do not cross more than one boundary node from where it was extracted. Embedded question have more than one question word in a question. Yes/No questions are formed by subject auxiliary inversion and sentence-final intonation. Target questions are of reverse polarity just like in English language and the Echo questions are repetitive. In conclusion, there is no evidence of deletion rule, instead there is insertion of the ‘Do-support’ in the surface structure of the sentence and inversion rule is applied. This study thus recommends that more research be conducted on this topic and used as a point of reference for further research, which will yield proper documentation and development of the language orthography.
Grammar, according to Chomsky (1957) consists of interacting levels of analysis which include phonology, Morphology,semanticsand syntax. This work is undertaken mainly at the level of syntax.
Syntax has been defined by various scholars to fit into their specific research and grammatical. The researcher of this work however intends to consider syntax as defined by Essien (1990) which according to him:
…. Examines the component parts or constitutes of sentences of a language and the inter-relatedness of these constituents as well as consisting of various phenomena pertaining to the form and organization of sentences in a language; the words of the language, the order in which they occur or must occur and their interdependence that produce well formed and meaning sentences constitute the matter of syntax.
Questions are sentences or statements that are intended to find out ‘when is the action taking place, what is the action, which is the action, why is the action, where the action takes place, who is the actor, whose is the action, to whom is the action directed and to which extent’. In a more technical sense of the word, questions are sentences or statements that are interrogative in nature (Radford. 1981; Essien 1990; Haegeman 1994)
1.1 ItuMbonUso and its speakers
ItuMbonUso is used in different ways to refer to the people living in ItuMbonUso tribe and the language spoken by the people. ItuMbonUso is a cultural and ethnic group which is located on the northern part of INI local government of AkwaIbom state.
Geographically, they share a common boundary with Bende L.G.A of Abia state. They claim to be descendants of Okobo; an ethnic subgroup in AkwaIbom. ItuMbonUso language is yet to attain a status of a written language since it doesn’t have a written orthography. According to Eta Akwa of ItuMbonUso,”a memorandum On the custom and tradition of ituMbonUso clan”,written by NtoengUdoEffiongAkpan “Osungr “, there is an affinity between ItuMbonUso and Efik language. A group among the people are of the opinion that the name itumbonuso refer to the people where as the language is called NKARI. However, since this hypothesis has not been verified through systematic studies based on linguistics principles,this research work still rest in the most recent assertion regarding the status of ItuMbonUso language with respect to the language.
This study focuses on the syntactic analysis of interrogative structures in ItuMbonUso language using some aspects of Government and Binding theory.
1.3 Linguistic situation of ItuMbonUso
Itu Mbon Uso is a central cross language and its closer to Nkari than it is to Ibibio as the diagram below shows. These languages vary as a result of different personal language group contacts and different social situations the migrating people found them. Noah (1980;7) attributes these dialectal differences between the various Ibibio group of languages to the search for more land for cultivation. This brings about unidirectional mutual intelligibility among speakers of this language.
A SYNTACTIC ANALYSIS OF QUESTION FORMATION IN ITU MBON USO