Nuer Field Project

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

Extra Lesson 5

This lesson explains the Relative of Degree of Distance. The previous relatives indicate present or past time, the following relatives indicate any of 3 distances as expressed in the demonstrative prons. -- nɛmɛ, nɛmɔ, nimi.

The relative pronouns of distances are [ɛ], [ɔ], and [i] in the singular and [ti], [tɔ], and [ti] in the plural. They mean "this who", "that who" and "that way over there who". They must agree with their antecedents in number. These relatives generally occur as a couplet enclosing the entire relative clause, as will be illustrated.

GROUP 1C -- 1st Aspect of the Verbs within the Relative Clause


  1. Cih wuht ɛ diiht ɛmɛ ɛbɛhn.
  2. Cih dhoohl ɛmɛ ɛ tɛh puɔhnydɛ kɛ juehy ɛ bɛhn ruac kɛ ɤäh.
  3. Cih ram ɛmɛ ɛ buhm lɔcdɛ ɛtɛt ɛ bɛhn ɤuac kɛ ɤäh.
  4. Cih ram ɛmɛ ɛ tɛh rhaar jiaath ɛmɛ ɛ bɛhn mindaan.
  5. Cih dhoohl ɛmɛ ɛ tɛh duɔɔhr rhoodɛ ɛluhny jɔk.

TRANSLATION -- The relative pron. is [ɛ] and it means "this who" making a specific distinction in distance.

  1. This big man came.
  2. The boy who is ill (lit. whose body exists with a disease) came and spoke with me.
  3. This strong hearted person came and spoke with me.
  4. This person who is under this tree came a little while ago.
  5. This boy who has something in his mouth returned.

Note: The relative pron. occurs in couplet form enclosing the relative clause. In sentence 5 the couplet changes to ɛ ... mɛ because [m] is affixed to [ɛ] before another vowel.

GROUP 2C -- 2nd Aspect / 3rd Aspect of the Verb within Relative Clause


  1. Nɛmɛ ɛ jɛn ram ɛ cih rɔw nähk mëëpan
  2. Ram ɛmɛ ɛ jɛn ram ɛ cih bɛhn mindan.
  3. Duɔɔhr ɛmɛ ɛ jɛn duɔɔhr ɛ bih ɤähn ɛ gohr yɔɔ.
  4. Ruac ɛmɛ ɛ jɛn ruac ɛ cih ɤähn ɛ liŋ mindan.
  5. Dhoohl ɛmɛ ɛ jɛn dhoohl ɛ bih bɛhn ihruuhn.


  1. This is the person who killed the hippo yesterday.
  2. This person is the person who came a little while ago.
  3. This thing is the thing which I will want later.
  4. This talk is the talk which I heard (it) a little while ago.
  5. This boy is the boy who will come tomorrow.

GROUP 1D -- 1st Aspect of the Verb within the Relative Clause


  1. E jɛn ram ɔ lihw ɔ.
  2. Ram ɔ tɔɔhc ɔ thaar jiauth ɛmɔ ɔ ɛ jɛn guaahr.
  3. E jɛn dhoohl ɔ ruac ɔ.
  4. E jɛn ciɛhk ɔ guk ɔ
  5. Ɛ jɛn biih ɔ gööräh mɔ.


  1. That's the person who's dying.
  2. That person who is lying down underneath that tree he is my father.
  3. That's he the boy who's talking.
  4. That's she the woman who is fighting (arguing).
  5. That's it the cloth I want.

Note: Sentence 5 illustrates a relative clause with the subj. indicated in the verb and the object of that verb being the antecedent of the relative pronoun see Lesson 4.

Note: The 3rd relative pronoun of distance [i] is used the same way as [ɛ] and [ɔ]. It will not be written here due to its similarity.

Note: The Plural Relative Pronouns must all agree with their antecedents in number. e.g.

  1. Wahtnih tɔtɔ tɔ tɛh thaar jiaath tɔ kɛ jih duëël wal.
  2. Ɣɔhk titii ti tɛh kuihci mi ti kɛɛ ɤɔhkɔn.
  3. Ŋɔaunih tihtih tih cih jihn kɛ nööŋ mëëpan gööräh kɛ.
  4. Tihtih kɛ kɛn ŋɔaanih tëë caa lohk ɛ kɛn.
  5. Bäh jih lahr ŋɔak tëë cih ɤähn kɛ liŋ mëëpan.


  1. Those men who are under the tree are people of the clinic.
  2. Those cows which are away across over there are our cows.
  3. These things which you brought (them) yesterday, I want them.
  4. These are the things which were refused by them.
  5. I will tell you the things which I heard yesterday.
Nuer Field Project Nouns Verbs Verb Book Expressions Grammar Genesis Others