|Native to||South Sudan, Ethiopia|
|Region||Greater Upper Nile, Gambela Region|
|(890,000 cited 1982–2007)|
The Nuer language (Thok Naath) is a Nilotic language of the Western Nilotic group. It is spoken by the Nuer people of South Sudan and in western Ethiopia (region of Gambela). The language is very similar to Dinka and Atuot.
The language is written with a Latin-based alphabet. There are several dialects of Nuer, although all share one written standard. For example, final /k/, is pronounced in the Jikany dialect but is dropped in other dialects despite being indicated in the Nuer orthography used by all.
Ethnologue lists the following dialects of Nuer.
- Eastern Jikany (Jekaing, Jikain)
- Western Jikany
- Bul Chol
- Jagei (geai koay)
There are different dialects spoken by Nuer groups living in various locations in South Sudan. Some of the Nuer people live in Western Ethiopia. They are called Jikany Nuer. The Nuer of the Upper Nile State are also called Jikany, and those in Jonglei State Lou, Gawaar, Thiang and Laak.
There are also seven counties inhabited by the other groups of Nuer in the western part of the Upper Nile Province currently known as Unity State Bentiu. These counties include:
- Guit County: Inhabited by Jikany kuec cieng community in the eastern Bentiu
- Mayom County: Inhabited by Bul Chol Geah community in the western part of the state
- Rubkona County: Inhabited by Leek community in the northern Bentiu
- Koch County: Inhabited by Jagei community in the central Bentiu
- Mayiandit County: Inhabited by Haak Bakol-kuoth community in the far south-western part of the state, they are also known as Gatbakol-kuoth.
- Leer County: Inhabited by Dok community in the southern part of the state.
- Payinjiar county:Inhabited by Nyuong community in the far southern part of the state.
Among the 120,000 people at the United Nations Protection of Civilians Site Bentiu, Nuer is the preferred language for radio and news.
Nuer: Naath dial diethɛ kɛ a lɔr kä päärkɛ kɛ ciaŋ malä a mäni cuŋkiɛn. Tekɛ kɛ ca̱r kɛnɛ nhök ti de lät kɛ raan kɛ dämaan a gɔa.
English: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Writing system of Nuer
A line under a vowel, like a̱, means that it is pronounced with breathy voice. The vowels ä, u, and final i are always breathy. A doubled vowel, like in the word raan (person), means that vowel is long. Nuer does have tone, but tone-based contrasts are not common.
The writing system was adopted in 1928 with minor changes being added over the history of the language. Both the Dinka and the Nuer agreed that their languages were so different that they could never share written languages, but they did come up with several common principles.
- final interdental consonants would always be represented as th.
- all voiceless alveolo-palatal consonants would be represented as c.
- the finalized Nuer alphabet consists of the following characters, which are equivalent to the phonemes of the Nuer language: d, k, l, m, n, p, t, w, g, j, r, y, ŋ, ny, th, dh, nh, ɣ, c, a, e, i, o, u, ö
The Nuer language belongs to the following language families, going from smallest to largest.
- Dinka-Nuer languages
- Western Nilotic languages
- Nilotic languages
- Kir–Abbaian languages
- Eastern Sudanic languages
- Nilo-Saharan languages
- Nuer at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- "WALS Online -Language Nuer". wals.info. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
- Trust, Gurtong. "Nuer (Naath)". www.gurtong.net. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
- Faust, Noam; Grossman, Eitan. Nuer (Western Nilotic): a preliminary survey.
- "Bentiu UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site - Unity State, South Sudan - Information Needs Baseline: September 2015" (PDF). Internews Humanitarian Information Service. Retrieved 2018-12-30.
- "Nuer language and pronunciation". www.omniglot.com. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
- Hutchinson, Sharon Elaine (1996). Nuer Dilemmas: Coping With Money, War, and the State. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. xv–xvii. ISBN 978-0520202849. OCLC 31901593.
- "The Sounds of the Nuer Language". www.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
- "Nuer (Naadh)". Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Miner, Edward. "The development of Nuer Linguistics". www.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
- Nuer Project - copious grammatical notes
- Nuer Lexicon an interactive online dictionary of Nuer
- OpenRoad page on Nuer (Thok Nath)
- PanAfrican L10n page on Nuer
- Omniglot page on Nuer
- World Atlas of Language Structures information on Nuer
- Wright Jay Frank, Nuer noun morphology, Master of Arts thesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1999 (online copy).
- Nuer Dictionary