Languages in Contact are the same: a Case of Mupun and Miship Languages of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State


By Poret, GS (2022). Greener Journal of Languages and Literature Research, 7(1): 7-23.

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Greener Journal of Languages and Literature Research

ISSN: 2384-6402

Vol. 7(1), pp. 7-23, 2022

Copyright ©2022, the copyright of this article is retained by the author(s)


Languages in Contact are the same: a Case of Mupun and Miship Languages of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State

Poret Godwill S.

Dept. of English Fed. Coll. of Education, PMB 1027 Pankshin.

Article No.: 060722061

Type: Research


This research work investigated the similarity between two languages in contact: Mupun and the Miship languages of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. The data for this study were collected through the aid of oral interviews and recorded speeches of the informants. The results were analyzed in accordance with the framework found suitable for this study, which is the Variation Theory of Poplack (1993).The major findings of the research work revealed that these two languages, Mupun and Miship have similar lexical items, tones and meanings, hence, the conclusion by the researcher that they are the same language. This research work will be of help to people that are interested in the study of sociolinguistics, particularly language contact.
Accepted: 09/06/2022

Published: 05/07/2022

*Corresponding Author

Poret Godwill S.

E-mail: poret032002@, andyporet0@

Keywords: Mupun, Miship, Similarity, Language, Contact


I wish to your sincerely acknowledge Federal College of Education, Pankshin, Plateau State, Nigeria for the opportunity to serve and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) for sponsorship of this Research.


It is a common assumption that in almost all parts of the world, hardly does a language find itself spoken in a completely isolated environment with no contact at all between its speakers and speakers of other languages. For various reasons, people from different language backgrounds come in contact with each other and interact. The motives, situations, conditions and effects are often investigated and discussed in a given speech community (Nwaozuzu, Agbedo and Ugwuona, 2013,p.1).

Language contact study goes back to the early 1950s. It originated in the United States where Weinreich (1953) and Labov (1966) works revived what had been side-lined for a long time (Nwaozuzu, Agbedo and Ugwuona, 2013, p.1).

According to Lehiste(1988, p.1), language contact takes place between speakers of different languages and for communication to take place; speakers must have a certain degree of comprehension of the other language and must acquire a degree of facility in producing inferences that will be comprehensible. With time, some speakers must be able to alternate between languages in contact: that is, they have become bilinguals or their languages becomes similar.

According to Thomason (2001 p.1), language contact is the use of more than one language in the same place at the same time. Language contact does not require fluent bilingualism or multilingualism, but some communication between speakers of different Languages is necessary. From this definition, one can rightly say that there is no difference between the assertion of Lehiste (1988) and Thomason (2001) since there is the possibility of having bilingual and multilingual speakers where languages are in contact.

When speakers of different languages interact closely, it is typical for their languages to influence each other. An example is the contact between the Mupun and the Miship of Pankshin Local Government Area.

Background to the Study


This study is on the Mupun and the Miship languages, both spoken in the southern part of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. According to Danfulani and Fwatshak (2012, p.11), “the Mupun are found on the eastern edge of the Jos Plateau. The language is a member of the Chadic family.”

The Chadic speaking neighbours of the Mupun, according to Dafulani and Fwatshak (2012, p.12) are the Ngas, Mwaghavul, Miship, Chakfem, Fier, Tambes, and Gung. The 2006 National Population Census (NPC) put the number of Mupun speakers at 27,865.

According to the National Population Commision (2006) census, the Miship speakers have an estimated population of 28,858(NPC, 2006).


Geographical Location of Pankshin Local Government Area

Pankshin Local Government is one of the oldest local government areas in Plateau State. It has passed through various stages of political change via military regimes or democratically elected civilian administrations. The administrative evolution of Pankshin Local Government started in 1919, when it served as a Divisional Headquarters for the British colonial administration. It controlled an area that comprised the present Kanam, Mangu, Kanke, and Bokkos Local Government areas ( Shidams,2009, p.3).

In 1976 when the Federal Government set up local government areas, Pankshin became one of the full-fledged pioneer local government areas in the country with the headquarters at Pankshin town. The local government area is home to the Ngas, Mupun, Miship, Pai, Tal, Fier, Tambes, and Kadung ethnic nationalities, whose major occupation is agriculture. Pankshin town is located about 120 kilometers from Jos, the Plateau State Capital. The local government headquarters has a cool climate between Latitude 900 and 100 N and Longitude 1.434 square kilometers, with an estimated population of 191,685 (NPC, 2006).

The local government is bounded by these local government areas of Plateau State: Mangu Local Government Area to the West, Kanam Local Government to the North-east, Langtang North and south Local Governments to the South-east and Mikang and Shendam Local Governments to the South. The local government is also bounded by Bauchi State to the North.

Below is the map of Plateau Showing Pankshin Local Government Area.

C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\figure1.jpg

Fig. 1: Map of Plateau State showing Local Government Areas.

Source: Plateau State Ministry of Lands, 2003.

Historical Background of the Mupun People

Mupun land or chiefdom is located in Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State of Nigeria in an area laying some 120 kilometres East of Jos. The entire Mupun land or chiefdom is just one district called Lankan district. The name ‘Lankan’ was given by the Ngas people, meaning groundnuts. This was because some Ngas people used to travel to Lankan to buy food stuff. The land is relatively favourable for the production of maize, melons, cocoyam, groundnut, sorghum, acha, millet, etc.(Danfulani & Fwatshak,2012, p. 70)

The Mupun land has the following villages: Abwor/Dyis, Kagu, Sihin, Ghitong, Nenlet, Jiblik, Jing, Lankan, Asaa, Akong, and Dung (Frajzungier, 1993, p. 1).

The Mupun people are bordered by Mwaghavul people on the west and by Ngas on the east. It is bordered by Chip, where the Miship language is spoken, on the Southeast.

Danfulani and Fwatshak (2012) report that the Mupun are found on the eastern edge of the Jos Plateau, in central Nigeria. The people are called Mupun and the language is also called Mupun. The term Mupun consists of two phrases; ‘Mu’ which means ‘we’, and ‘Pun’ which means “chased out from hiding” (Danfulani & Fwatshak2012, p.71).

Origin of the Mupun People

The Mupun people have two traditions of origin:

1,Borno, and

2.Places within the Jos Plateau. These places are Tambes, Dai, Zong, Muduut, Gung, and Ron (Danfulani&Fwatshak,2012).The second tradition of origin from within the Jos Plateau is further seen in the table of migration of the six major clans of Mupun land – Tambes, Nendai, Jelbang, Mutkop, Diffir and Jepkul.

Below is the map of Pankshin Local Government showing Mupun land.

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Fig 2 : Map of Pankshin Local Government Area showing Mupun land

Source: Plateau State Ministry of Lands, 2003.

Historical Background of the Miship People

Miship land or Chiefdom is located in Plateau State, in the southern part of Pankshin Local Government Area. The land is some 120 miles south-east of Jos. The word ‘Miship’ refers to both the kingdom as well as to the language Mu’azu & Katwal(2010, p.5). Miship land is in the communities of Jibam, Kapil, Mugulum, Dyerok, Minzam, Kwala, and Jepmidyel, in Chip district of Pankshin Local Government. The land is bordered in the north-west by Lankan, in the north-east and south by Pai, south by Shendam and Mikang Local Government Areas and in the north by Ngas.

The land is favourable for the cultivation of yam, beans, rice, guinea-corn and cowpea. Other activities like blacksmithery, weaving, hunting can be regarded as the secondary occupation of the people (Mu’azu & Katwal, 2010, p.7).

Below is the map of Pankshin showing Miship land:

C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Figure3.jpg

Fig.3 : Map of Pankshin Local Government Area showing Miship


Origin of the Miship People

According to Gofwen (2007), the Miship man is also called Chip man and the Chip land was founded by an Angas man called Dawar and his family. Dawar was from the ruling house of Garram in Ngas land. Dawar had three sons namely: Dazan, Talam and Samlam.

On the death of Dawar, Dazan, who was the eldest son went to Shendam to inform his uncle Lekni. But on his return to Chip, his younger brother, Talam had already been installed as chief and Samlam, the youngest son was appointed kbo, which means second in command to the chief.

On the death of Talam, his brother Samlam became chief of Chip, and his son Ram became the kbo. Gofwen (2007) further said that the Chip people speak a dialect of Angas language but have given up the use of the Angas tribal mark. However, elimination of tribal marks does not linguistically distinguish two different languages rather mutual intelligibility of the linguistic groups.

There are many oral traditions about the early migration of the Miship people. The first tradition has it that they migrated from the Chad-Basin between 1110 – 1150AD, along with other ethnic groups like Ngas, Mupun, Tal, Tarok, Goemai and Suraas Mwaghavul, to KanemBorno before finally settling in their present place of abode (Mu’azu&Katwal2010). Muazu and Katwal (2010) further say that an oral tradition has it that the Miship people migrated from Kanem Borno, between the 15th –18th Century and that the Miship people are into two clans, Longmaar and Jibaam. According to Mu’azu and Katwal (2010), is that ‘Longmaar’ clan migrated from their present place of abode, the Miship land. While ‘Jibaam’ believed they migrated from the Chad-Basin between the 15thand 16th centuries. The second oral tradition according to Mu’azu and Katwal (2010) is that both Jibaam and Longmaar migrated from Mwaghavul land, while Longmaar are from Jipari (Asaa) village, in Mupun land.Below is the Map of Pankshin Local Government showing Mupun and Miship lands.

C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Figure4.jpg

Fig 4: Map of Pankshin Local Government showing Mupun and Miship lands

Sociolinguistic Situation of Pankshin Local Government Area

The following languages are domicile in Pankshin Local Government Area Fyer, Mupun, Miship, Tambes, Pai, Tal, Ngas, and Kadung, according to Shidams (2009, p.4). Pai and Kadung are seen as dialects of Ngas, all under the Ngas group. His reason is the high level of mutual intelligibility of these languages. The lumping of Kadung and Ngas as one language because of their level of intelligibility is not correct. This is because the level of intelligibility between these two languages is very low. For instance:

Classification of the Mupun and the Miship Languages

Mupun and Miship are members of the Chadic family in the Afroasiatic phylum, which includes languages that are spoken in Africa and Asia. Newman (1977) regards the Chadic language family as a constituent member of the Afroasiatic phylum.

According to Heine and Nurse(2000, p.80), the Chadic phylum has an estimated number of 140 languages spread out in three directions from the Lake Chad on which the family name is based and spoken in parts of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Niger. The widely spoken and the best-known Chadic language is Hausa. The Chadic sub-group is divided into four thus: West Chadic, Central Chadic (Bui Mandara), East Chadic and Masa(Heine & Nurse 2000).The Mupun and the Miship languages belong to the West Chadic family, which is further divided into ‘A’ and ‘B’. Both Mupun and Miship still fall under group ‘A’ of the West Chadic, alongside Ngas, Mwaghavul, Bole etc. (Heine & Nurse, 2000).Greenberg (1963, p. 46), classified Chadic languages as shown in Figure 1 below:


Fig. 5: Greenberg’s classification of Afroasiatic languages


Newman (1977), like Greenberg (1968), classified Chadic languages into four groups, a classification which have not been disputed since it was classified. The classification is seen below:

Fig. 6: Newman’s (1977) classification of Afroasiatic languages


Blench (2012) did not have a separate entry for the Mupun in his classification of Chadic languages:


Fig. 7: Blench’s(2012) classification of Afroasiatic languages

Pawlak (1994, p.30) has an entry for Mupun in her West Chadic group as seen below:

Fig. 8: Pawlak’s (1994) classification of Afroasiatic languages



The aim of this work to show that Mupun and Miship languages are the same.


  1. Mupun and Miship languages are similar.
  2. Mupun and Miship languages are not similar.

Vowels and Consonants of Mupun and Miship Languages

Based on Jonglap (1985) and Frajzyngier (1991), the inventory of the phonemes of the Mupun language is as follows:

Table 1: Mupun Vowel/ Consonant Charts.

Miship Consonants

Mu’azu and Katwal (2010, p.12)studied the phonology of the Miship language and stated that Miship language has 40 consonants and 6 vowel sounds, as seen below in the various charts:

Table 2: Miship Consonant Chart

Table: 3 Miship Vowel chart



The theory used for this work is the variation theory. The reason why the theory is adopted for the study is because of the frequency of occurrence of similar words and tones. The theory also seeks to discover the frequency of occurrence of similar structure in the languages of study (Poplack, 1993, p.252). The recorded speech demonstrated this. For example:

Terms for Human Family

From the data above, the similarity in sound and meaning of the above lexical items show that these two languages are similar.

Speech Data

The raw data on which this segment of the study is based consist of tape recorded conversation. The tape recordings were typically searched exhaustively for features that are similar and all instances of the feature were extracted. This procedure was then repeated for each subsequent feature under study.

For example:

The words “wét” and “téer”, which mean afternoon and morning, respectively, were used by both Mupun and Miship.

Other lexical items the researcher observed from the recordings are:

Mupun and Miship have been in contact due to geographic boundary between them. From the data gathered from the speech data above, it showed that there may be borrowing between the two linguistic groups at the border are mutual since we cannot say which language has borrowed more from the other. For instance in the greetings below:

The words “Wét” and “téer”, which mean afternoon and morning, respectively, were used by both Mupun and Miship.

The recording was repeated so that the researcher could capture similarity in other structures, and the following was dictated:

From the data above, “Luwáanӛkӛ” is used by both Mupun and Miship but “lāt” (finish) is a Miship word, while “kīyēs” is a Mupun word, as the researcher was told. These forms were spoken: “Luwáa nӛ kӛ lāt” and “Luwáa nӛ kӛ kīyēs” to say “the meat is finished”, which is a switch between Mupun and Miship languages.

To show that Mupun and Miship languages are the same, resemblance in tone and word was observed from the recorded speech:

a. Lexical Items for Common Artifacts (Nouns)

Mupun   Miship   English Gloss

pās               pās         “arrow”

kòp              kòp         “spear”

dāa              dāa         “calabash”

túul             túul         “pot”

pét                pét         “broom”

b. Lexical Items for Animal (Nouns):

Mupun   Miship   English Gloss

káap           káap           “baboon”

ās                ās                 “dog”

káar            káar          “monkey”

yѐr            yѐr             “bird”

nwòo         nwòo          “snake”

c. Lexical Items for Human Family (Nouns):

Mupun Miship English Gloss

màt mát “woman”

làa làa “child”

màtlú màtlú “wife”

gùlú gùlú “husband

nàa nàa “mother”

pūun pūun “father”

d. Lxical Items for Nouns

Mupun Miship English Gloss

kút kút “wind”

àm àm “water”

fúwán fúwán “rain”

  1. Lexical Items for Verbs

Mupun Miship English Gloss

náa náa “to see”

āt āt “to bite”

fūut fūut “to vomit”

noōk noōk “to breath”

shūwar shūwar “to laugh”

mān mān “to know”

sāam sāam “to sleep”

mùut mùut “to die”

gàp gàp “to cut”

būwān būwān “to dig”

The above are instances of convergence as observed in data a, b, c, d, and e. The sounds of the lexical items of Mupun language converges (resembles) towards that of Miship language and vice versa.

Similarly, the recorded speech was observed to confirm instances of similarity and the following was observed:

a. Common Artifacts:

Mupun Miship English Gloss

cáan cáan “hoe”

chùuk shùuk “knife”

b. Lexical Items for Nouns

Mupun Miship English Gloss.

pūus ápūus “sun”

sé sí “food”

chùk shùk “knife”

cáan shaán “hoe”

màt mát “woman

c. Lexical Items for Verbs

Mupun Miship English Gloss

chѐet shѐet “to cook”

sē sō “to eat”

shūwāa shuu “to drink”

sē sō “to eat” – Lexical Variation

d. Personal Pronouns

àn án “I”

wun gu “plural” “you”

wù gә “he”

wà yi “she”

nə ni “it”

mo mo “they”

mun mun “we”

mo mo “them”

e. Adjectives

tip tip “black”

piya piya “white”

ɗes yon “big”

kat laani “small”

zuum zughum “cold”

milep milep “green”

milep milep “yellow”

f. Adverbs

Lala lala “quickly”

lele lele “slowly”

retret retret “fairly”

biyalbiyal biyalbiyal “harshly”

bishbish bishbish “badly”

g. Prepositions

ka ka “on”

dəən dighin “in”

yil yil “down”

shi shi “at”

From the speech of the individuals above, the researcher observed some negligible variations in tones and words between Mupun and Miship, which does not make the two languages dissimilar.


In conclusion, the study revealed that there is language contact between the Mupun and the Miship of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State.

It was also seen from the people’s speeches that the lexical items and meaning of the items are similar. It is on this note that the researcher wish to conclude linguistically that these two languages of Mupun and Miship are the same and the speakers should see themselves as such and they should unite for better progress even in politics.


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Cite this Article: Poret, GS (2022). Languages in Contact are the same: a Case of Mupun and Miship Languages of Pankshin Local Government Area of Plateau State. Greener Journal of Language and Literature Research, 7(1): 7-23.



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