Nuer Field Project

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

Lesson 14

This lesson is a continuation of the previous lesson with an explanation of 3 related questions which use the interrogative pronouns. These particular questions are singled out due to their common usage but peculiar word content. Study again the previous dialogue in Lesson 13.

Question No. 1

Singular form: Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ ŋu̲kä̲?
This is the belonging-to of what? i.e. What does this belong to?
Plural form: Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n ŋu̲kä̲?
What do these belong to?

Question No. 2

Singular form: Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ ŋa?
This is the belonging-to of whom? i.e. Whose is this?
Plural form: Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n ŋa?
Whose are these?
Note: If the owner is plural, the [ŋa] changes to [ŋaani̲].


  1. [ŋu̲kä̲] and [ŋa] are in the genitive case following the noun [du̲ŋ] which is according to the rules of nouns. The plural of [du̲ŋ] is [nyï̲n].
  2. The meaning of [du̲ŋ-nyï̲n] is not easy to render in English. It speaks of possession and involves the idea of belonging.

Question No. 3

Singular form: Jue̲y ɛmɔ ɛ jue̲y mɔ ŋu̲?
That sickness is what kind of a sickness?


  1. The grammatical explanation of this question is involved for this lesson, so it is best to learn this sentence as a frame. Once it is fixed in mind various nouns can be substituted in place of "juehy". The meaning expressed is "what kind of something is something?"

The following are examples of all three types of questions and possible answers. Perhaps you are pointing to a pan or dish or some article and you want to know what it belongs to or what it is for, thus the question:

Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ ŋu̲kä̲?

Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ duëël wal. This belongs to the clinic.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ caak. This belongs to the milk.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ pi̲i̲ ni̲. This belongs to the water.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ bie̲e̲yni̲. This belongs to the clothes.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ yio̲wni̲. This belongs to the money.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ bɛɛl. This belongs to the dura.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ luaak ɛmɔ. This belongs to that barn.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ yaaŋ. This belongs to the cow.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ wu̲tä̲ mɔmɔ. This belongs to that man.
Nɛmɛ ɛɛ du̲ŋ nɛmɛkä̲. This belongs to this.

If you want to know who those things belong to you would say:

Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n ŋa?

Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n maar. These belong to my mother.
Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n mä̲dä̲ nɛmɛ. These belong to this my friend.
Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n ram ɛmɔ. These belong to that person.
Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n gatä̲ nɔmɔ. These belong to that child.
Ti̲ti̲ kɛɛ nyï̲n dhöl ɛmɔ. These belong to that boy.

If you are querying someone trying to get to the bottom of something you say:

Jue̲y ɛmɛ ɛ jue̲y mi ŋu̲? What kind of a sickness if this?
Ruac ɛmɔ ɛ ruac mɔ ŋu̲? What kind of talk is that?
Duɔ̲ɔ̲r ɛmɛ ɛ duɔ̲ɔ̲r mi ŋu̲? What kind of thing is this?
La̲t ɛmɔ ɛ la̲t mɔ ŋu̲? What kind of work is that?
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others