Nuer Field Project

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

Lesson 8

This lesson includes the 6th question and introduces the demonstrative adjective and pronoun.

You are in a house with a lot of things in it and you are interested in finding out what they all are, so this is how you go about it.

You: Maali̲, madi̲n? Jï̲̩n a thï̲̩n?
Are you at peace, mother? Are you present?
Woman: Maalɛ, nyaadä̲. Ɣä̲n a thï̲̩n.
It is peace, my daughter. I am present.
You: Madi̲n, nɛmɛ ɛ lɛ̲ɛ̲ ŋu̲?
Mother, this is what?
Woman: Nɛmɛ ɛ to̲ny.
This is pipe.
You: Kä̲ nɔmɔ ɛ ŋu̲?
And that is what?
Woman: Nɔmɔ? Nɔmɔ ɛɛ bi̲i̲y.
That? That is cloth.
You: Madi̲n, ɤä̲n göörä̲ to̲ny ɛmɛ.
Mother, I want this pipe.
Woman: Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲, kä̲ni̲ jɛ.
Oh, take it.
You: Gɔaaɛ ɛlɔ̲ŋ. Ci̲ lɔcdä̲ tɛɛth ɛlɔ̲ŋ pa̲ny.
It is very good. My heart is really very happy.
You: Tä̲ä̲mɛ madi̲n ɤä̲n wa̲a̲.
Now Mother, I am going.
Woman: Ɛ jan nyaadä̲, ku̲ wä̲ kɛ mal pa̲ny.
It is so my daughter, just go with peace really.
You: Gɔaaɛ madi̲n, kä̲ jïn, ku̲ duɔth kɛ mal bä̲.
It is good mother, and you just remain with peace also.


  1. Nuer has both an initial and final [ny] sound. Be sure your tongue stops on [ny] and not on [n].
  2. Watch the final [y] on the word [bi̲i̲y]. Bring your tongue to the [y] position.
  3. Work on drills at the end of this lesson.


  1. The Nuer language has neither a definite or indefinite article as "a" and "the", but it employs other means of distinguishing nouns. The demonstrative adjective is one of the more common ways to make a noun definite. The demonstrative is divided into 3 meanings and thus occurs in 3 separate words. These 3 words have plural forms as well.
    Grammatically it ocurs in the subject, object, possessive cases, and in another form as a modifier.
    This (close by) Sing : [nɛmɛ/mɛmɛ] Sing. : [ɛmɛ]
      Pl. : [ti̲ti̲] Pl : [ti̲̩ti̲̩]
    That (over there) Sing. : [nɛmɔ/nɔmɔ/mɔmɔ] Sing : [ɛmɔ]
      Pl. : [tɔ̲̩tɔ̲̩] Pl. : [tɔ̲̩tɔ̲̩]
    That (far away) Sing. : [nɛni/ni̲̩mi̩/mimi̩] Sing : [ɛmi]
      Pl. : [ti̩ti̩] Pl. : [ti̩ti̩]
    [kä̲] suffixed to the above forms form the genitive of the pronoun. e.g. [Nɛmɛ ɛ du̲ŋ nɔmɔkä̲.]
    This is the belonging of that. [Ɛ kɛ kui̲c ti̲ti̲kä̲.]
    It is for these.
    Note: when a noun ends in a vowel its modigying adjective will begin with either [n] or [m]. It is optional.
    e.g. [Gatdä̲ mɛmɛ] This my child.
    [Gatdä̲ nɛmɛ] This my child.
  2. The demonstrative pronoun must agree with its noun in number.
  3. There are two other forms of the demonstrative which are used pronominally in exclamations. They are emphatic in meaning.
    This here (look at this) Sing. : [Mɛn!] Sing. : [ɛn]
      Pl. : [Tïn!] Pl. : [tïn]
    That there! (look at that!) Sing. : [Mɔn!] Sing. : [ɔn]
      Pl. : [Tɔn] Pl. : [tɔn]
    That over there! (look there!) Sing. : [Mïn!] Sing. : [ïn]
      Pl. : [Tïn!] Pl. : [tïn]
    The above words stand alone.
    e.g. [Mɛn! Mɛn!] This, this here!
    The above words modify nouns and pronouns.
    e.g. [Jɛn ɛn!] There it is.
    (These may not be used currently)
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others