Nuer Field Project

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

Lesson 21

The Possessive adjective endings for plural nouns are explained in this lesson. This is the conversation in lesson 19 changed to the plural.

1st Person: Kä̲mni̲ ɤä̲ bie̲e̲̲yni̲ku̲n.
Give me your clothes.
2nd Person: Kä̲ nyi̲nku̲a ni̲?
But yours are where?
1st Person: Kua̲cä̲ gua̲a̲thdiɛn.
I do not know their place. i.e. where they are.
2nd Person: Kä̲ ɤä̲n göörä̲ nyi̲nkä̲. Wër, thie̲c nɛy tɔtɔ, dɔ̲ɔ̲ bike. Ji̲ ka̲m nyi̲nkiɛn.
But I want mine. Go, ask those people, maybe they will give you theirs.

So he goes and asks the people and he says:

1st Person: Ɣä̲n göörä̲ bie̲e̲yni̲ku̲n.
I want your clothes.
2nd Person: Jï̲̩n go̲o̲ri̲ bie̲e̲yni̲kɔ? Kä̲ bi̲ jï̲̩n kɛ luɔ̲c jɔk i̲nɛy?
You want our clothes? But you will return them back when?
1st Person: Bi̲ ɤä̲n kɛ luɔ̲c jɔk cä̲ŋ kɛl.
I will return them back one day. i.e. some day.
2nd Person: Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲, ɛ jɛn, gɔaaɛ. Kä̲ni̲ kɛ.
Oh, it is so, it is good. Take them.


  1. Read the dialogue with the informant. Listen carefully for the differentiations in sound between o, ö, and ɔ.
  2. Continue on drilling.
  3. Notice that j- is always word initial. It is made far front in the mouth as when one would say a dy-. It is not like the English j- in "judge".


  1. The nouns in this lesson are plural with the corresponding plural possessive adjective endings. [Nyi̲n] is the plural of [du̲ŋ].
  2. [cä̲ŋ kɛl] is an expression meaning "some day". [ni̲ ciaŋ] means "every day."
  3. Words of future time are introduced by the particle of future time [i̲]. e.g. [i̲ru̲u̲n] -- tomorrow; [i̲muɔɔlɛ] -- the day after tomorrow; [i̲thaar] -- next year; [Nɛy] is an interrogative time word meaning "when", but when referring to future time it is preceeded by [ïn].

    Plural Nouns

    mine -- nyi̲nkä̲ nyi̲nkɔn -- ours (in)
    nyi̲nkɔ -- ours (ex)
    yours -- nyi̲nku̲ nyi̲ynku̲n -- yours
    -- nyi̲nkɛ nyi̲nkiɛn -- theirs
    my children -- gaatkä̲ gaatkɔn -- our children (in)
    gaatkɔ -- our children (ex)
    your children -- gaatku̲ gaatku̲n -- your children
    her children
    -- gaatkɛ gaatkíɛn -- their children
  4. There is an idiomatic expression in Nuer [du̲ŋdu̲ ɛ ŋu̲?] which means "yours is what" i.e. "What is your situation?" "What is your state or condition of being?" etc. This question may be asked as a general question in a questionable situation. For example, when someone is sitting outside your house and you wonder why he is there it would be fitting to say: [Du̲ŋdu̲ ɛ ŋu̲? Du̲ŋdu̲ ɛ jue̲y?] -- What's your condition, situation. Is your situation an illness i.e. are you ill? [Du̲ŋ] may be followed by a noun, demonstrative pronoun, interrogative pronoun or verbal noun.
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others