In this chapter, basic information about the language of study (Yeskwa) shall be given. The chapter centers on background information about the language, the historical background of speakers, the sociolinguistic profile of the people as well as, the genetic classification of the Yeskwa language. We shall later proceed to scope and organization of study, theoretical framework, data analysis, data collection, and later to basic syntactic concepts. We shall finally focus on VERB PHRASE in Yeskwa language and application of transformation rules to Yeskwa language.
1.1 General Background
Yeskwa is a language spoken in Kaduna, Nassarawa, and Plateau States. The name Yeskwa was originally called ‘Nyankpa’ meaning ‘to know leaf’, but it was later changed to Yéskwá by the missionaries who could not pronounce the name well.
Yeskwa speakers in Kaduna state can be found in the Kagoma District of Jema’a Local Government Area. In Nassarawa State, Yeskwa speakers are found in Panda district of Karu Local Government Area while in Plateau state, they do not have a district of their own neither do they have a Local Government Area of their own because they are mere settlers. Yeskwa speakers in the Panda district of Karu Local Government Area are popularly known as Nyankpa people. Yeskwa speakers form 60% of the populace while the other takes up the remaining 40%. This clearly indicates that the speakers of the Yeskwa language in the Panda district of Nassarawa state are more than any other people in the district.
Since speakers of the Yeskwa language happen to live in a predominantly Hausa speaking community, it then follows that the Hausa language is usually the second language of every Yeskwa native speaker. Hence, the majority of Yeskwa native speakers also speak Hausa fluently.
Yeskwa language is still spoken currently and it is not threatened by Hausa people. However, from a brief visit, there is every evidence that the language continues to flourish and is spoken by the young people in the settlement.
1.2 Historical Background of Yeskwa Speakers
Yeskwa speakers claimed to have originated from Darigo in Kaduna state. From an available corpus of oral evidence, the first Nyankpa man who lived during the pre-historical period originated from a place called ‘DARIGO’. The mystical place which is itself name after the founder of the language is up to date, faithfully behaved with certainly, up to form part of the areas around the hills situated North, East and West of the present Kwoi, now in Kaduna state across the Gitata, Bagagji up to Uke areas of the present Nassarawa state.
A permanent foot mark and other archeological evidence of this pre-historic advent of Nyankpa language can still be found at this orally authentic place of origin called (Darigo). Darigo, the first Nyankpa man had a wife called Obiche with whom they had several children. among these children were Ovurgbe, Ontat, Onok (all males) and Oching (female). Each of them had his or her own children who grew into the various clans we have in Nyankpa land both home and in Diaspora today. The offspring from Ovurgbe became the Ovurgbe clan. Those of Ontat form the Ontat clan while those of Onok are believed to be founders of the old Nok of famous archeological monuments and indeed its surrounding towns up to Kafancha, Kagoro, and Zunkwa area in the present Kaduna state.
Oching the only female is believed to have married probably to a different language called Zho, then living at the foot of the hills where the present Kwoi town in Kaduna state is situated. She had children with him out of whose lineage the present Mada and Eggun language are believed to have sprung from. The Nyankpa people are thus one of the proud archeological ethnolinguistic clusters of the famous Nok area.
1.3 Sociolinguistic Profile
The people have their own distinct culture and general way of life. The Nyankpa people have been generally known in the literature as Yeskwa, a Hausaised form of their name.
Although there are native speakers of Yeskwa in Kaduna, Nassarawa, and Plateau State, they do not form a single speech community across these states because of the phonological and morphological differences. These differences do not interfere with intelligibility. They have a common history and share similar social and cultural ideologies. Yaskawa is conventionally divided into twenty mutually comprehensible dialects and Titatara is said to be the main dialect.
As per the role of the Yeskwa language in education, the research conducted by the researcher revealed the important role play by the Yeskwa language in the area of education. It is a language used in elementary and secondary schools. The language used as a language of instruction or taught as a subject within both primary and secondary schools in the language area. However, it has said not to attain a high level of standardization nor has it been studied in the Nigeria Universities.
The role of Yeskwa as a language in the field of commerce cannot be overemphasized. Its role is as old as the existence of the Anyankpas. Yeskwa language is used by the majority of people to transact business between each other or among one another.
Above all, Christian broadcasts scriptures in the Yeskwa language. Hence, the majority of Yeskwa native speakers also speak Hausa fluently.