A Syntactic Study of Lexical Heads in Kuce: A Principles and Parameters Approach

Published: JUNE 2019


Chinedu Nwadinobi Anyanwu

About Author: Department of Linguistics and Nigerian Languages, University of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria

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This paper describes the noun and verb phrases of the Kuce language with the aim of examining the operation of the Head Parameter principle in the language within the framework of Principles and Parameters, a sub-theory of Universal Grammar. The Head Parameter is assigned two values: head-first and head-last, with respect to the position of a lexical head in a phrase. The principle is hinged on the proposal that once a language selects a given value, all head categories in the language are expected to consistently select their complements in the same direction. This study employed the qualitative research methodology, as the data were collected from the native speakers of Kuce with the use of a researcher-designed wordlist, West African Linguistic Society’s questionnaire and unstructured oral interview. The data were then subjected to descriptive content analysis. From the investigation, the paper’s major finding was that Kuce is a head-first language in that all lexical and functional heads are consistently positioned before their complements at D-structure. It was also discovered that complements in Kuce are internal modifiers of the head element and show a high degree of cohesion with their governing heads, while adjuncts are external modifiers and show a less degree of cohesion with their governing heads. On the basis of these findings, the paper concluded that the operation of the Head Parameter principle in Kuce is very strict, and that the canonical structure of the language’s phrases justifies the typological findings with respect to Head Parameter cross-linguistically.

Keywords: Syntactic Analysis, Noun Phrase, Verb Phrase, Kuce, Head Parameter, Principles and Parameters Theory