In this lesson the adverbial system of time and action words modifying verbs is introduced.
|You to a friend:
||Maali̲, mä̲ä̲dä̲? Ci̲ bɛ̲ŋ wanama nɛy?
Are you at peace, my friend? When did you come here?
||Maalä̲, dä̲maar. Payä̲ bɛ̲n ni̲ ɛn tä̲ä̲mɛ pa̲ny.
I am at peace, my brothers. I just came even right now.
Where did you come from?
||Ba̲a̲ kä̲ Gambɛila.
I came from Gambɛlia.
||Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲, ci̲ wä̲ kä̲ Gambelia mëëdan kä̲ payi̲ lu̲ny jɔk tä̲ä̲mɛ,
Oh, you went to Gambeila some time ago and now you're just coming back,
||/ke̲ni̲ kɔn mɛ̲t wä̲ thï̲n?
had you not ever gone there before?
||Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲, cä̲ wä̲ kä̲ Gambelia kä̲ January, kä̲ ɤä̲n /ka̲n mɛ̲t wä̲ thï̲n.
Yes, I went to Gambeila in January, but I had never gone there.
||Gambeila gɔaa? Ɛ we̲c mi̲ gɔaa? Nhɔki̲ jɛ?
Is Gambeila nice? Is it a good village? Do you like it?
||Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲n, gɔaa ɛlɔ̲ŋ kä̲ tha̲a̲ŋ guä̲thni̲ kɔ̲cɛ ɛthe̲y.
Yes, it is very good but some of the times it is very cold.
||Ŋa̲cä̲ jɛ i̲ kɔ̲cɛ ɛthe̲y kɛ ɤöö cɛ thia̲k kä̲ Ethiopia.
I know it that it is very cold because it is close to Ethiopia.
||Yä̲n ci̲ lɔcdä̲ tɛɛth kɛ ɤöö ci̲ ja̲l a gɔaa, kä̲ ci̲ lu̲ny wanɛmɛ a gɔaa kɛ mal.
I am glad because you journeyed well, and you have returned here, well in peace.
- Read the dialogue with the informant. Watch question intonation.
There are very few true adverbial words in Nuer. Some so-called adverbs occur as prepositional phrases, some as
nouns, others as verbs.
- Pure adverbs if time occur in one form and directly precede the verb in 2nd and 3rd Aspects.
Note: [lɛɛr] follows the verb.
- Cä̲ kɔn bɛ̲n wanɛmɛ. -- I have come here before.
- Cɛ thu̲ŋ wä̲, ɛn wu̲t ɛmɔ. -- He's already gone, that man.
- Bä̲ lɔ̲ɔ̲ bɛ̲n kɔɔru. -- I will come at your behind afterwards.
- Ɣä̲n /kan kɔn mɛ̲t bɛ̲n wanɛmɛ. -- I have not before ever come here. i.e. never.
- Cɛ coo jiɛɛn. -- He then left.
- Bä̲ ji̲ li̲p lɛɛr. -- I will wait for you in the meantime (interim)
- There are pure adverbs of intensification, modifying adjectival verbs mostly, which are characteristically
initiated by the vowel ɛ-. A majority of verbs have their own intensifying adverb. [Ɛlɔ̲ŋ] is common to all.
What has become almost idiomatic to mean an emphatic "yes" is the expression [ɛpu̲c pɛ̲ny] which means "very
really", "absolutely", "really and truly".
- Jiä̲kɛ ɛrac. -- It is very bad.
- Puɔlɛ ɛyit. -- It is very light-weight.
- Di̲tɛ ɛlɔ̲ŋ. -- It is very big.
- Kɔ̲cɛ ɛthe̲y. -- It is very cold/soft.
- Muɔthɛ ɛcoy. -- It is very sharp.
- Bu̲mɛ ɛtɛt. -- It is very hard/strong.
- Thiä̲ŋɛ ɛliŋ. -- It is very full.
- There are adverbial verb-action particles which may occur in all 3 aspects as their meanings will permit.
They are also used as imperatives with the verb stem. It is impossible to translate them literally. In the
1st Aspect these particles are conjugated and the verb appears as a stem.
[Pay] -- [Pay] has the meaning of "immediacy" and is translated "just". It occurs in 1st and 2nd Aspect.
This means that the person has just eaten. The 2nd Aspect does not commonly occur. E.g. [Cɛ pay mi̲th.]
[Lɛ] -- [Lɛ] has the meaning of repitition or to indicate a succession of events. it is difficult to translate. At times
it might be translated "again" but the context must warrant it. e.g. Ce wä̲ kä̲ cɛ lɛ bɛ̲n. -- He went and he came again. However, the
meaning is to indicate the succession of related events not necessarily resultant the one to the other. One might
say [Ke̲nɛ lɛ li̲w] -- He didn't die. Now obviously it does not mean he didn't die again, but it shows a related event to something
else, he was ill, for instance, but he did not die. However, when [lɛ] is conjugated in 1st Aspect or is used as an
imperative it has the meaning of "again".
|Lɛ̈lä̲ ɛ ri̲t.
||Lɛ̈lnɛ ɛ ri̲t.
|Lɛli̲ ɛ ri̲t.
||Lɛ̈lkɔ ɛ ri̲t.
|Lɛlɛ ɛ ri̲t.
||Lɛ̈lɛ ɛ ri̲t.
||Lɛlkɛ ɛ ri̲t.
Imperative: [Lɛli̲ ɛ ri̲t!] Turn it again.
- Certain words occur only in the imperative in their conjugated forms, but occur also in 2nd and 3rd Aspects as
well. These words are words of haste.
- Ŋuɔli̲ bɛ̲n! -- Come quickly! (sing)
- Ŋuɔlɛ bɛ̲n! -- Come quickly! (plural)
- Dapni̲ bɛ̲n!-- Hurry up! (sing)
- Dapɛ bɛ̲n! -- Hurry up! (plural)
2nd - 3rd Aspects:
- Cä̲ ŋuɔl bɛ̲n -- I came quickly.
- Bä̲ dap bɛ̲ŋ -- I will come quickly.
- Adverbial clauses are commonly used to express quality or manner. This clause is introduced by the
adverbial clause sign [a]. The 1st Aspect of the verb follows. Adjectival verbs are not conjugated, other
- Cɛ lä̲t a gɔaa. -- He worked well.
- Jä̲lɛ a mä̲ä̲th. -- He walks slowly.
- Cɛ lä̲t a jiä̲k. -- He works poorly.
- Cɛ jɛ la̲t a bu̲m. -- He made/did it firmly, forcefully.
- Cä̲ jɛ nööŋ a kuɛ̲cä̲. -- I brought it unknowingly.
- Cä̲ jɛ la̲t a ŋa̲cä̲. -- I did it knowingly.
- Cɛ bɛ̲n a thïl bi̲i̲y. -- He came without a cloth.
- What would be adverbs of place, in Nuer are nouns in the locative case.
- Jɛn a thï̲n. -- He is present.
- Cɛ wä̲ nhiam. -- He went ahead.
- Cɛ wä̲ kui̲ci̲. -- He went across.
- Cɛ bɛ̲n wanɛmɛ. -- He came here.
- Lä̲thni̲ jɛ raar. -- Put it outside.
- Seasonal words and calendar words are all nouns and occur in noun grammatical environments or with adverbial
qualifying time particles. This system is divided into definite and indefinite time and has various complexities and
irregularities. The chart in the appendix outlines this system.
"Indefinite Time" means unidentified time, as for example, last year, this year, next year. "Definite time"
identifies the time.
In indefinite time there are 3 possible grammatical environments as follows:
In definite time past, present and future time are expressed. Time particles are used to indicate which
category of time is meant. The present time words are the most erratic, sometimes eliminating the
- Obj. of Prep. -- Cɛ bɛ̲n kɛ thiaŋ. -- He came with evening.
- Locative -- Cɛ bɛ̲n ɛn thiaaŋ. -- He came at evening-time.
- Genitive -- Cɛ bɛ̲n kɛ gua̲a̲th thiaŋ. -- He came with the time/place of the evening.
- Past Particle -- Cɛ bɛ̲n mëë ruɔ̲̩n. -- He came yesterday morn.
- Present part. -- Cɛ bɛ̲n mïn wä̲ä̲r ru̲̩n. -- He came this morn.
- Future part. -- Bɛ bɛ̲n i̲ru̲u̲n kɛ ru̲n waŋ. -- He will come tomorrow with the eye of the morning. i.e. tomorrow morning.