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A Morpho-Syntactic Perspective of Negation in Ejagham

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This work set out to describe the morpho-syntax of negation in Ejagham. The various negation morphemes attested in the language are examined. The syntactic categories over which negation takes scope are also described.

Primary data were collected from native speakers of the language. The English language and sometimes Cameroon Pidgin English was used as intermediary languages. Secondary data were also collected from past works\dissertation at University of Buea library, and the internet.

The research found out that negation in Ejagham is strictly at the word and sentimental levels. At the word level, only three morphemes exist kà,bᴐ´and rᴐwhich alternate depending on the tense. While [kà] is used for the past tense,bᴐ’ is used to show the negation imperfective in the Ejagham and rᴐwhich is referred to as cessation marker and considered the negation form of the habitual. This is in stark contrast with other languages with a multiplicity of negation markers.



1.1  Background to the study 

This work is aimed at providing an in-depth examination of negation in Ejagham. Chapter one is an introduction to the work and handles the following topics: geographical classification, historical situation, the economic life of the people, linguistics classification, methodology, literature review, the scope of work, expected results, the significance of the research and conclusion.

Negation can be defined as contradiction or denial, repudiation, disproving, refutation, refuting, rebuttal, disclaiming of something. In logic, negation also called the logical complement is an operation that takes proposition to another proposition “not”, written, which is interpreted intuitively as being true when is false, and false when is true. Negation is thus a unary logical connective (Wikipedia). There are different types of negation in English such as sentential, clausal, and standard and neither less negation. Sentential negation affects the meaning of an entire clause, whereas a clause can be negated by means of headshakes. In most instances, negative headshakes co-occur with negation sign.

1.2 Geographical Location of Ejagham

Ekoi people, also known as Ejagham, are an ethnic group in the extreme southwest of Nigeria and extending eastward into Northern Cameroon. Ekoid Bantu languages are spoken by many groups including the Atam, Boki, Mbembe, Ufia, and Yako. The Ekoi are related to the Efik, Annang, and Ibibio people of southern Nigeria and have lived closely with them and also claim to have migrated from the Cameroons to their area. The inhabitants of Kwa located near Calabar, claim to be the first Ekoi people to have migrated from Cameroons (Davison 2010)

According to Thormaset (2008), the Eyumojock council is found in Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon situated some 45km from Mamfe the capital of Manyu Division. The municipality is situated roughly between the towns of Ikom in Nigeria and Mamfe in Cameroon figuring as one of the border councils in the Republic. It shares its western boundary with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Akwaya lies in the north, Upper Bayang and Mamfe Central occupy the eastern boundary while the south is shared with the Mundemba and Toko councils. It extends from latitude 50 10’9’’ to 50 50’7’’ north of the equator and longitude 80 50100’’ to 90 20’5’’ east of the Greenwich Meridian. It covers a total surface area of approximately 3,442 km2 benefiting from three Forest Management Units (FMU 11001, 11003 and 11005). Eyumojock is about 300km from the South West Capital, Buea

1.3Economic Life of the Ejagham

The population of Eyumodjok municipality (Ejagham people) is made up of three classes of people namely: farmers, businessmen and civil servants. Farmers make up about 60% of the total population. The rest (40%) of the population is involved in other sectors including administration, petit trading, teaching, transportation, hunting, fishing and forest exploitation. Activities like rearing are done on part-time bases as supplementary for income generation. Ekoi people engage in farming and fishing activities as their major occupation. Ekoi men are traditionally hunters, while women are engaged in agriculture, growing yams, plantains, and corn (maize). Women also fish, and both men and women participate in weaving.

They tend to especially store grains during dry season. These are usually stored in small houses alongside the fields. There are also cocoa and coffee plantations, and although they generally sale them, they will store it in pottery as well before selling it.

1.4 Historical Background

The Eyumojock Municipality was created in 1984 along other municipalities in the Region by Presidential decree as an administrative unit. It is inhabited by the Ejagham people composing of three main clans (Ejagham Njemaya, central Ejagahm and Obang). This group of people migrated from Nigeria splitting from the Efick ethnic group. The Eyumojock municiplaity has 66 villages (61 villages and 5 urban spaces) with an estimated population of about 46,771 inhabitants constituting one ethnic group (Ejagham) split up into three clans. The clans are Central Ejagham, Ejagham Njemaya and Obang. Besides these three clans, other groups of people resident in this area include the North Westerners and Nigerians.

The Ekoi believe that the heirs of the first settler own the land; while newcomers are not allowed to buy land, they are able to purchase rights of settlement. The term “Ejagham” is believed to be surrounded by facts and stories that refer to many meanings. “Ijagham” bears a strong affinity with the word “Ejagham”.

 Lake Ijagham is the sacred lake of Ejagham people situated in Southern Cameroon. Lake Ijagham, as the Germans have named it, is supposed to be haunted by the ghosts of dead Ejagham people. It lies at the centre circle of thirteen salt springs with its own water beautifully clear and salty. The thirteen salt springs served the Ejagham communities before their further migrations (Talbot 1912). Ntufam Nfifon Attah explains that “Ejagham” is derived from the combination of three words: “Ekub” (a whole or parcel), “Ejag” (is split or broken), “Haam” (it is going infinite or without end). Put together then, Ejagham stands for that unified whole or parcel that was originally one but is now broken into pieces and is forging for reunification. This refers to the first break away of other tribes (in Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, South Africa etc) that migrated from the historical Bantu. It further refers to the  reunification of Ejagham speaking communities in Ikom, Etung, Quas of the present Calabar and its environs, Ishibor in Ogoja and almost the entire South Eastern Cameroon among others. On the spread of Ejagham people Thompson (1974) adds that Ejagham dominate the cross River Valley, from its origin at the confluence of the Manyu and Bali in Cameroon, to its junction with the sea near Calabar.

1.4.1 Ethnic Groups and inter-ethnic relations

The Eyumojock municipality consists of sixty six (66) villages belonging to three clans from the same ethnic group. The clans include Ejagham Njemaya (26 villages), Central Ejagham (25 villages) and Obang (15 villages). The Central Ejagham clan dominates the municipality with the largest and most populated villages (Kembong and Ossing). The whole municipality speaks the Ejagham dialect but for four villages (Ossing, Talangaye, Ntenako and Ndekwai) that speak additionally Kenyang and Nduap that speaks Boki languages. The entire Ejagham migrated from Nigeria splitting from the Effick ethnic group and settled along the Cameroon-Nigerian border taking hunting and fishing as their main occupation. There are actually very good inter-ethnic relations between one clan and the other, but for the usual chieftaincy crisis that is the order of the day especially in Central Ejagham villages.

There are three conventional chuches in the municipality which area Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian. Specially, in the Obang and Ejagham Njemaya clans, there are other Pentecostal churches like Deeper life, Apostolic, Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. All this is as a result of Nigerian influence of the people.

1.5 Sociolinguistic Situation

    According to SIL (1994) Eyumojock has a population of about 46,771 inhabitants increasing. Ejagham has a little language variation reportedly similar to Aghem. Thormoset (2007) states that pidgin English is used as a second language by Atam, Boki, Mbembe, and Ufia people. Ejagham language is used in social gatherings such as market, and small meeting groups. It is taught in schools at the primary level and religious settings.

 Pidgin English is mostly used for communication with strangers who do not speak and understand the Ejagham language, while Ejagham is widely used by those who understand the language

1.6: Linguistic Classification

The Ejagham language has been classified in various ways. Two of the recent classifications are those by Williamson (1971) and by Bennett and Sterk (1977).  The following three shows Williamson’s classification.



Bantoid           Bantu           Nigerian/Cameroonian Bantu          Ekoid Bantu          Ejagham

Ejagham is classified as a Bantu language within Benue-Congo but in terms of sub-grouping, it is distinct from Guthrie’s Bantu.

Bennett and Sterk (1977) suggest a different classification. They grouped the Guthrie’s Bantu, EKOID-Bantu, the Mbam-Nkam languages, Tiv and Jarawan together as having a common root for “to dance”, namely bin as opposed to other groups in what they refer to as South-Central Niger-Congo. However, the sub-groupings within these groups involve splitting of Guthrie’s Bantu and a sub-grouping of Ekoid Bantu (Ejagham being one Ekoid Bantu language) with the Mbam-Nkam language and zones A, B, C and part of D of Guthrie’s Bantu. This classification is shown with the following tree (of Bennett and Sterk 1977:273).

                                                                to dance

                                       Wok, “to hear”                                         Ungwa, “ to hear”

                     Jarawan                             Cameroon-Congo                  Tiv                           Zambesi

                                 Ekoid                                              Equatorial


Ejagham can be divided into three major dialects, Western, Eastern and Southern Ejagham and its sub-dialects have been referred to as “Ekwe” and “Ejagham” (Westermann and Bryan 1952.114) “Nigerian Ekoi” and “Cameroon Ekoi” Richardson 1957.52-55) source Watters (1981).

1.7 Methodology

The source of data used in this is both primary and secondary data. Primary data consist of raw facts from the language its self. This information was collected through interview from typical native speakers, recordings were also made. The informant used was both native speakers of the language who are between the ages of 25-30 years old and have lived in the village for not less than 8 years each. English was the intermediate language. The data were collected based on nouns and verbs in isolation, simple process words in collocation with pronouns and eliciting the various tenses. The bilingual method of data collection was also used since the research and informants both understood the English language. This was achieved by asking the informants to give the equivalences of English words and sentences in Ejagham. The researcher then recorded them with the help of a tape recorder by writing the words in Ejagham and giving their equivalences in English. The aims were achieved through the use of interviews and tape recordings.

Secondary data included literature on related topics, various texts from the library, centers like SIL, dictionaries not living out information collected from the internet. The various sources of information have been of significant importance in the realization of the work.

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