Nuer Field Project

Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Pedagogical Grammar of Nuer Translation of Genesis in Nuer Others

Extra Lesson 7

This lesson illustrates how the relative clause is used to express what in English would be a noun clause of the verb.

Example: I don't know __

  1. Person: Who you want.
  2. Thing: What you want.
  3. Place: Where you went.
  4. Time: When you went.
  5. Means: How you did it.
  6. Reason: Why you want it.

Grammatical Construction: (Simple) Complex Sentence

A complex sentence is made up of 2 clauses, the one dependent upon the other. So in Nuer there are varying degrees of complexity. We shall begin with a simple type of complex sentence. The relative pronouns are the connectives. The main verb declares something and the dependent clause explains what it is:

  1. I know what he wants. Ŋahcä mi goohre.
  2. I hear what he says. Liɛŋä mi lä̲tɛ.
  3. I want what they have. Gööra mi te kɛ kɛ.
  4. I see what they see. Nɛ̈ɛ̈nä mi nɛ̈nkɛ.
  5. I do what you do. Lɛ̈ɛ̈lä mi lɛli.

There is no specific word in Nuer representing the English relative prons "who", "where", "why", "when" etc, but [mi] is basic to them all. The various ideas are expressed by nouns plus the relative.

The following are examples:
WHO -- ram mi : nɛy ti

  1. Ŋahcä ram mi goohr ji.
  2. Ŋahcä ram mi goohri.
  3. Nahcä ram mi nō̲ō̲ŋ ji.
  4. Ŋahcä ram mi noohŋi.
  5. Goohrɛ ram mi lä̲t ɛ.v
  6. Goohrɛ ram mi laar ɛ.
  7. Goohrɛ ram mi la̲t ɛ.
  8. Kuecä ram mi bëë.
  9. Kuecä ram mi wëë.
  10. Kuecä ram mi nihn.
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others