5,000.00 3,000.00




This work is concerned with study of wh-questions in Akwukwu-Igbo Igbo, a dialect of Enuani.  It focuses on the kinds of wh-question words there and their intricate characteristics.  It further dispels the notion that Enuani dialect is a homogenous dialect of Igbo, employing a comprehensive body of data to show Akwukwu-Igbo Igbo’s distinctness from other dialects of Enuani.

Chapter one is the general introduction, dealing with the background of study, methodology, scope, objective of study, a brief overview of the Enuani dialect, showing its heterogenousity, also discuses the Akwukwu-Igbo dialect of Igbo, showing its phonology, its pronominal characteristics, and its tonal patterns.  The theoretical framework is also discussed therein.

Chapter two reviews relevant literature on questions in general, further looking at the types of questions.  The third chapter is concerned with the presentation of Data showing interrogative sentences, with wh-question words, in Akwukwu-Igbo Igbo.

Chapter four deals with the analysis and syntactic behavior of these interrogative sentences, duly analyzed in tree diagrams in consonance with the Government and Binding paradigm.  The work is concluded in the fifth chapter with summary and conclusion.





Title page                                                                                         i

Certification                                                                                    ii

Dedication                                                                                       iii

Acknowledgement                                                                         iv

Abstract                                                                                           vii

Table of Contents                                                                            ix


1.1     Background of the Study                                                      1

1.2     Igbo Language and Its Dialects                                           5

1.3     The Enuani Dialect of Igbo                                                   8

1.4     Akwukwu-Igbo Dialect of Igbo                                           10

1.5     Akwukwu-Igbo Phonology                                                 11

1.5.1  Consonants                                                                            11

1.5.2  Consonant Chart                                                                             13

1.5.3  Vowels                                                                                   13

1.5.4  Vowel Chart                                                                          14

1.6     Tone                                                                                        15

1.7     Pronoun                                                                                 16

1.8     Objective of Study                                                                 16

1.9     Method of Data Collection                                                   19



2.1     Theoretical Framework                                                        21

2.2     Literature Review                                                                 23

2.2.1  Questions                                                                               23

2.3     Kinds of Questions                                                                23

2.3.1  Wh-Questions                                                                        25

2.3.2  Wh-Movement                                                                       26

2.6     Conclusion                                                                                       36




3.1     Introduction                                                                           39

3.2     Question words                                                                     40

3.2.1  Gi Questions                                                                          40

3.2.2  Ebee-Questions                                                                      48

3.2.3  Onye-Questions                                                                     49

3.2.4  Ka-Questions                                                                         51

3.2.5  One Questions                                                                       53

3.3     Compound Questions                                                           55

3.3.1  Ka + Oge Questions                                                              56

3.3.2  Ka + Nke Questions                                                              57

3.3.3  Ka + Ebe Questions                                                               58

3.3.4  Ka + Ndi Questions                                                               59

3.3.5  Ka + Zi Questions                                                                  60



4.1     Syntactic Behaviour of Question Words in

Akwukwu-Igbo Igbo                                                            64

4.1.2  Gi Questions                                                                          64

4.1.3  Ebee Questions                                                                      67

4.1.4  Onye Questions                                                                     71

4.1.5  Ka Questions                                                                         76

4.1.6  One Questions                                                                       78

4.2     Compound Questions                                                           81

4.2.1  Ka Oge Questions                                                                 81

4.2.2  Ka Ife Questions                                                                    83

4.2.3  Ka Ndi Questions                                                                  85

4.2.4  Ka Ebe Questions                                                                  87

4.2.5  Ka + Onye Questions                                                            89

4.2.6  Ka + Nke Questions                                                              91

4.3     Ka + Zi Compound Questions                                             92

4.4     Conclusion                                                                                       96


5.1     Summary                                                                               97

5.2     Conclusion                                                                                       99

References                                                                                        100

Appendix                                                                                         103






Linguistic investigation began with a prescriptive approach. where the grammar of certain languages were imposed on others, other languages were interpreted as being primitive languages and were expected to structurally confirm with the structures of Latin, hence this approach was called prescriptive grammar, the assumption of its proponents that all languages were expected to function in some manner and the predetermination of the relationship between sentential components on the basis of the structure of Latin was its own undoing.  The obvious failure of that model of grammar led to the era of structuralism.

The proponents of structural grammar believed that each language needed to be studied in its own merit, with data drawn directly from the native speaker.  They insisted that each and every language can be analyzed in its own light without reference to any other language as a standard.

For linguists, grammar is simply the collection of principles defining how to put together a sentence.  Every language has restrictions on how words  must be arranged to construct a sentence.  Such restrictions are principles of syntax. The grammar of a language involves statements about word order, word structure, and syntax.


The structuring of words to form sentences could result in a sentence which could be declarative, imperative, negative or interrogative.

According to Chomsky’s Transformational Generative Grammar of 1957, the rules for the formation of sentences are most often embedded in the minds of the native speakers of a language, such that they form grammatical sentences without any kind of defined or undefined learning.  So it would be almost pointless to asking a native speaker how he gets around forming the various sentences in his language (Radford, 1997:2).

However, effort has been made in the description of these processes and rules formulated systematically in this regard, to show how sentences are formed in the mind of the native speaker.

Humans are naturally curious people, always seeking information about various concepts, this inquisitive ‘nature’ has differentiated humans from other mammals. They carry out this ‘inquisition’ by asking questions. There are particular sentences that are used to make inquires, and thus there are particular components that differentiate them from other sentences in the language. Thus this work is concerned with the phenomena of question words, or, I might say question-triggers.

The dialect of Igbo spoken in Akwukwu-Igbo Town will be the ‘language’ of focus as the study exposits descriptively, entirely on its own merit the phenomenon of WH-questions.




Questions are generally unique in their own way they are differentiated from other sentences (declarative, imperative, negative). Question formation is a very crucial aspect of the syntax of any language, and as such linguists have worked on the question formation process of various languages.

Questions are generally pre-empted by certain question words. As regards the nature of question words, the concern is with their intricate make up and movement.  The interaction of these WH-words with the sentences where they are found in will be considered in relation to previous works on them.

Sentences are with questions are interrogative sentences.

Interrogative sentences are “like asking a declarative sentence”.

The nature of these question words will be discussed, alongside their syntactic behaviours and peculiarities. The question words indicate interrogative sentences.  Ndimele (1994:32) posits that a questioner  uses question words to seek information regarding the identity of a particular entity or phenomenon.



1.2     Igbo Language and Its Dialects

Igbo is the dominant language in south-east Nigeria.  It is the native language of the Igbo people located in the South-eastern region of the country, and vestiges of them can be seen in the southern region of Nigeria.

Igbo language is the third most populous language in Nigeria, and one of the three national languages of Nigeria.

The native speakers are found in the five Eastern States, viz:  Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.  Native speakers are also found in the Southern States of Delta and Rivers.

Igbo belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages, the classification by Greenberg (1970) places it under the kwa group of the Niger-Congo family.  However, Bendor-Samuel (1989) classifies it as the new Benue-Congo family.  While Wiliamson and Blench (2000) by virtue of lexico-statistic evidence reclassifies Igbo as West-Benue Congo.

Languages are manifested in their dialects.  Hence, attempts have been made to classify the dialects of the Igbo language.

Clara Ikekeonwu (1986) claims that Igbo dialects cannot be more than twenty (20) in number.  She makes this classification using phonological and morphological features of Igbo to classify the dialects into six dialect groups.  According to her, each dialect assemblage has a main dialect (MD) which has sub-dialects.

The dialect groups, according to Ikekeonwu (1986) are thus:

  1. Niger-Igbo: Speakers found in Delta State.
  2. Inland West Igbo: Spoken in Anambra State.
  3. Inland East Igbo: Speakers found in Abia and Imo States.
  4. Waawa Igbo: Spoken in Enugu and Ebonyi States.
  5. Riverine Igbo: Spoken in parts of Rivers State.
  6. Aro Igbo: Spoken by the people in Arochukwu.

However, G.I. Nwaozuzu (2008) proposes eight dialect groups:

  1. West Niger Group of Dialects (WNGD): Consists of the variety of Igbo language spoken in the present Delta State of Nigeria.  Some of the areas found under this dialect group are Ika, Oshimili, comprising Asaba, Ibusa, etc.
  2. East Niger Group of Dialects (ENGD): Consisting of the group of dialects found in Anambra State.
  3. East Central Group of Dialects (ECGD): Found mainly in Imo State and parts of Abia State.
  4. Cross-River Group of Dialects (CRGD): This includes all the dialects of Igbo spoken in Arochukwu, Bende and Igbere areas, and also in the present Ikwuano Local Government Area.
  5. South-Eastern Group of Dialects (SEGD): Dialects spoken in Isiala Ngwa North and South, Obioma Ngwa, Osisioma Ngwa, Ukwa East and West Local Government Areas.
  6. North Eastern Group of Dialects (NEGD): Spoken in parts of Ebonyi State.
  7. Northern Group of Dialects (NGD): Previously classified as Waawa (Ikekeonwu, 1986).
  8. Southern Western Group of Dialects (SWGD): Spoken in Ahoada, Etche, Tai, Afam, Eleme, Port-Harcourt, Onuoky, Andoni, Bonny, Akukutori, Bori, Okirika, Opoba, etc.


Worthy of note however, is that despite the various classifications by Ikekeonwu (1986) and Nwaozuzu (2008), both agree that these dialects are clusters of various dialects.  In other words, main dialects with various sub-dialects.

In 1936, M.M. Green observed:    “The uncentralized nature of Ibo social organization is parallel by that of their language, the two factors clearly reacting on each other mutually as cause and effect.  Each village group tends to have its own local form of speech but there is enough evidence to show that in certain cases the language spoken over a considerable area, though it varies from place to place may yet be considered as belonging to one dialect form”.

Toeing the same path, Ward (1939:8) agrees that the “Ibo dialect situation reflects to some extent the small unit organization of the Ibo people.  The individualism of their social organization has meant that widely differing (but mutually intelligible) dialects have developed in the country in the past”.

Igbo language is spoken in a fairly wide region, consisting of millions of speakers, and following the positions of Ikekeonwu (1986), Green (1939), Ward (1939) and Nwaozuzu (2008) the dialects of Igbo language, are quite numerous; often being equated with individual communities.