We shall now embark on a set of 6 questions commonly used in everyday speech. Notice in these question-sentences there are 3 types of verbs. One type is conjugated and two are never conjugated. The explanation of these verbs will follow in the next 2 lessons.
A normal conversation is as follows:
A person comes to the door wanting you. You don't respond immediately so he calls like this.
|Visitor:||Maali̲, ki̲i̲m? Jï̲̩n a thï̲̩n?
Are you at peace, Doctor? Are you present?
|Silence on your part, so he says:|
|Visitor:||Ki̲i̲m, jï̲̩n a ni̲? Jï̲̩n a thï̲̩n?
Doctor, where are you? Are you present?
|Having been aroused from your long-anticipated siesta, you go to the door and say:|
|The Doc:||Ɣɔ̲ɔ̲n, maalä.
Yes, I am at peace.
Ɛ jï̲̩n ŋa?
Who are you?
Kä̲ go̲o̲ri ni̲ ŋu̲?
And you want what?
|He will probably answer:|
|Visitor:||Ɛ Ɣä̲n Ga̲a̲c.
I am I Ga̲a̲c (or whatever the name is)
I want you.
1. The Nuer verb is conjugated in the 1st Aspect by suffixing the personal pronoun endings to the stem. There are 4 verbs which are an exception to this (see below). The majority of verbs also undergo a stem vowel change. We group verbs in the 1st Aspect as follows according to their stem vowel patterns.
Group 1. Verbs whose stem vowel is [a] do not change.
Group 2. 3 very common verbs have an irregular vowel change.
Group 3. Transitive verbs whose stem vowels are not [a] undergo a vowel change in the 2nd and 3rd persons singular forms. e.g. [lua̲kä̲ ji̲] -- I am helping you, [luä̲ki̲ jɛ] -- you are helping him, [luä̲kɛ jɛ] -- he is helping him.
Group 4. Intransitive verbs whose stem vowels are not [a] undergo a vowel change in the 2nd and 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural forms.
2. There are 2 other verbs which follow an altogether irregular pattern. [ɛ] and its meaning is discussed in the lesson. [a] and its meaning is discussed in lesson 5.
For many, many verbs the stem vowel change is unpredictable, however the following can be predicted.
|-iɛ- --> -i-||viz.||liɛnä̲ jɛ --> lïnɛ jɛ||listen (Tr)|
|-iɛ- --> -i̲-||miɛ̲thä̲ --> mi̲thz||dine|
|-iɛ̲ɛ̲- --> -i̲i̲-||niɛ̲ɛ̲cä̲ --> ni̲i̲cɛ||teach|
|-ɔa- --> -ɔ-||cɔalä̲ ji̲ --> cɔlɛ ji̲||call (Tr)|
|-ɔa̲a̲ --> -ɔ̲ɔ̲-||tɔa̲a̲cä̲ --> tɔ̲ɔ̲cɛ||lie down|
|-uɔ̲ɔ̲ --> -u̲u̲-||nyuɔ̲ɔ̲rä̲ --> nyu̲u̲rɛ||sit|
*There are quite a few instances where a long 1st person diphthong becomes mid-length through-out.
|-ua- --> u̲ä̲||lua̲kä̲ jɛ --> luä̲kɛ jɛ||help (Tr)|
|-iö- --> -io̲-||ciötä̲ --> cio̲tɛ||call (Intr)|
|-ö- --> -o̲-||thötä̲ jɛ --> tho̲tɛ jɛ||pull (Tr)|
|-öö- --> -o̲o̲-||göörä̲ jɛ --> go̲o̲rɛ jɛ||want (Tr)|
|-ɛ̈- --> -ɛ-||tɛ̈mä̲ jɛ --> tɛmɛ jɛ||cut (Tr)|
|-ë- --> -ɛ̲-||pënä̲ jɛ --> pɛ̲nɛ jɛ||prevent (Tr)|
|-ɛ̈ɛ̈- --> -ɛɛ-||mɛ̈ɛ̈ŋä̲ jɛ --> mɛɛŋɛ jɛ||squeeze, twist (Tr)|
|-ɔ- --> -o-||nyɔkä̲ jɛ --> nyoke jɛ||repeat (Tr)|
|-a̲- --> -ä̲-||la̲rä̲ jɛ jɛ --> lä̲rɛ jɛ jɛ||tell to (Tr)|
|-ëë- --> -ɛ̲ɛ̲-||tëëkä̲ jɛ --> tɛ̲ɛ̲kɛ jɛ||give life (Tr)|
|-iaa- --> -iɛɛ-||yiaanä̲ jɛ --> yiɛɛnɛ jɛ||tie (Tr)|
|-uɔɔ- --> -uoo-||tuɔɔkä̲ jɛ --> tuooke jɛ||begin (Tr)|
|-uë- --> -uɛ̲-||kuënä̲ --> kuɛ̲nɛ||count (Intr)|
|-ua̲- --> -uä̲-||ŋua̲nyä̲ --> ŋuä̲nyɛ||smell (Intr)|
|-uɛ̈- --> -uɛ-||kuɛ̈tä̲ jɛ --> kuɛtɛ jɛ||kick, insult it (Tr)|
Note: There are definitely exceptions to all of these changes.
The verb [ɛ] is a specialized word functioning as the equals sign of an equation or as the fulcrum of a scale. Its job is to equate one word or one thought with another. The grammatical construction employed with it are unlimited. Therefore, one's mind must be opened to meeting this word in many varied environments. Its grammatical forms are as follows:
|Nɛmɛ ɛ yaŋ. This is cow.
Nɛmɛ ɛ jɛn yaŋ. This is it cow.
|Ɛ jï̲̩n ŋa? (x) are you who?
Ɛ ɤä̲n Ga̲a̲c. (x) am I Ga̲a̲c.
[ŋu̲] and [ŋa]
[ŋu̲] and [ŋa] are interrogative pronouns. Their plural forms are [ŋu̲u̲ni̲] and [ŋaani̲]. Their grammatical occurrences will be explained later.
In anticipation of what might be said in answer to the question, [Jï̲n, go̲o̲ri̲ ni̲ ŋu̲?] here are some possible answers introducing new words.
Learn these words in this context, "Do you want ___________?"
The following sentences illustrate the use of [ɛ]. [kɛ] would be used in its place if the nouns were plural.
|Nuer Field Project||Nouns||Verbs||Verb Book||Expressions||Grammar||Genesis||Others|