Languages

Nuer

Fact corner

Introduction

Nuer is spoken inside the triangle marked on the map.

The Nuer language is spoken by the Nuer people of South Sudan and in western Ethiopia. Nuer is one of eastern and central Africa's most widely spoken languages. The Nuer tribe is one of the largest tribes in South Sudan.

The verb

The majority of Nuer verbs can be conjugated, as for example [maali] and [mallä].

There are 2 verbs which cannot be conjugated and one of them is [a]. Regardless of its subject, mood or aspect it has only this one form. [a] indicates temporary existence. Its exact translation (i.e. is, was etc.) depends on the time of the sentence.

Nuer has what are termed adjectival verbs, as for example the word [gɔaaɛ] -- it-is-good. This is a conjugated verb like [mal].

The Nuer verb is conjugated in 3 aspects:

  1. The 1st aspect indicates action or state of being going on regardless of time
  2. The 2nd aspect indicates momentary completed action or state; or action thought of as completed.
  3. The 3rd aspect expresses future action or anticipated change of action.

The 1st Aspect of the verb is the only aspect in which the verb itself is ever conjugated.

Sample verb: maalä 'to be in peace'

1st aspect 2nd aspect 3rd aspect
Sg.1 maalä cä ~ bä ~
Sg.2 maali ci ~ bi ~
Sg.3 maalɛ cɛ ~ bɛ ~
Dual 1 malnɛ ci ~ bi ~
Pl.1 Inclusive malnɛ ci ~ bi ~
Pl.1 Exclusive malkɔ ci ~ bi ~
Pl.2 malɛ ci ~ bi ~
Pl.3 malkɛ ci ~ bi ~

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