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  • Introduction

This study focuses on negation in Atsam language spoken in Kauru local government Area of Kaduna state.  The language of study Atsam is a language spoken by the Atsam people of southern Kaduna.  The Atsam people call their language Chawai, which is commonly used by them.

As an introductory chapter, we shall focus firstly on the historical background of Atsam, geographical location of Atsam, socio-cultural background of Atsan speakers, Religion, festival, ceremonies and the Genetic classification of Atsam (chawai) language.  We shall later proceed to scope and organization of the study, theoretical Framework, data analysis and later basic syntactic concepts.

We shall finally consider “NEGATON” in Chawai Language and application of transformational rules to Chawai negation.


Atsam speakers were believed to have come from the southern part of Kaduna state with its L.G.A. headquarters in Kauru.

The inhabitants of the Chiefdom i.e. Chawai Cheifdom are mostly Atsam (the Chawai people) even though there are few non – Chawai that reside in the Chiefdom.  The people of Chawai are known to be hospitable, helpful, industrious and peace loving, when one knocks on the door of a Chawai person at any hour of the day, one is assured of a warm – welcome.  This is why they are usually regarded as the most peace loving people in Kaduna State.

The Chief as popularly known as Res-Tsam is the overall ruler in the land.  The promulgation of laws that ensures peaceful co-existence and the maintenance of law and order within the chiefdom rest on his shoulders.  He also performs the function of lobbing government in bringing developmental programmes to the Chiefdom.  The Chief’s palace is located at Dama-Kasuwa Chawai being the headquarters for central administration.

The chiefdom is relatively new in terms of existence.  There are only six districts.  These districts include: Damakasuwa, with its head at Damakasuwa Chawai. This distrct covers villages as Kichiguya, Rafingora, Mangul, Kisari amongst others. The second district is Zambina with its head at Kingwan Makama Chawai.  It covers villages as Badurum, Kurmi-Risga, Ungwan Rana among others.  The third district is Fadan Chawai with its head at Fadan Chawai.  This district covers villages as Kibobi, Talo, Riban and among other villages.  The fouth district is Pari with its head at Kiffin Chawai.  The district covers villages as Kiffin Chawai, Pari, among others.  The fifth district is Kamaru district with its head at Kizakoro. The district has the following villages Kamaru, Kihoba, Kizakoro, Kizachi, Kuyan Bana among others.  The sixth district is Bakin Kogi.

The respective Districts Heads are charged with the duty of ensuring peaceful co-existence and the maintenance of law and order within their domains.  They however report directly to the Res-Tsam (the Chief of Chawai).  The Districts heads are supported by a number of village Heads within their domains.   The village Heads also report to the district Heads.

1.2     Socio-cultural profile/background of Atsam

1.2.1  Occupation

The people of Chawai are predominantly farmers, though there are few who are engaged in other income generating ventures. 80% of the population are farmers and depend on farming as their means of livelihood.

Some of the people in the area engage in crafts making as a source of income.  Popular craft materials include baskets, wooden handle of simple farm tools such as hoes, cutlass, shovels, spades, etc.

A certain groups of people in the area are involved in bee keeping for the production of honey.  This venture helps them to generate more income.

Fishing is another source of income they engage in. This practice does  not only help in generating income to the people but also help in providing a source of proteins for them.

Petty trading is also another way by which people earn money.  Though most of the petty trading is done by women, the men nowadays have joined their female counterparts.

1.2.2  Religion

Religion is a vital aspect in the life of a people and a nation as a whole.  It is in this light that the Chawai people consider religion of great significance in their lives.  There are two major religions in the chiefdom namely: Christianity and Islam.  There is however a third religion which is gradually dying out due to increased awareness on the two main religions. The third religion is the traditional religion popularly known as “Dodo” in the area.

1.2.3  Festivals

In the north of Kaduna State, the Hausas and some immigrants from the southern states practice Islam and majority of the people in the southern LGAs profess Christianity.  The major Muslim festivals are the “Salah” celebration of “”Idelfitri” and “IdElKabir”, while Christmas, New year and Easter are observed by the Christians.  Two traditional festivals of significance are the “TukHam” and “Afan” in the area.

1.2.4  Marriage and Burial Rites

The Chawai people do some incantations before their marriage.  They will select a woman to go round the village to tell them that a marriage is about to commence.  The woman that is about to be married will not be allowed to sleep in the house for two days because they first of all must settle the marriage with the ResTsam (chief) and the village heads.  After settling with them, they will commence the marriage process and dance round. The husband must not sleep with the woman for two days.

Marriage is the relationship between two people who are married.  During the preparation towards wedding ceremony, the groom pays the bride’s price and dowry and brings with him some other materials like a goat, clothing materials, tuber of yams before he can get married to her.

The Atsam people believe that nobody must touch the dead person.  They will cover the dead body with some leaves and tie him with leather called “fertilizer”.  After that, they will make some incantations and carry the person and go round his room three times.  After the burial, the people will dance and sing “gbari” which means “comfort”.

1.2.5  Food

The food eaten by the Atsam is finger millet popularly known as tamba.  It is worth-knowing that this crop is still cultivated in virtually every Chawai farmland. it is the third most expensive cereal after acha and rice.

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