Language Overview

Nuer, a language of the West Nilotic branch of the Nilo-Saharan language family spoken primarily in South Sudan. As the language of one of the major ethnic groups of East Africa, Nuer has an speaker population estimated to be between 1-2 million, but is yet to be subject to robust documentation and description.

As a result of our research on Nuer to date we have developed the first interactive online dictionary of Nuer, and an introductory grammar booklet for heritage learners and native speakers.

Find out more about the impact of our research on Nuer.


Nuer has one of the most complex inflectional systems of any language in the world. This is due in part to the unpredictability and ambiguity of the word forms, particularly of nouns, which makes it appear that substantial portions of their paradigm must be stored in the memory on a word-by-word basis. It is also due in part to the multi-layered internal structure of words, in which various prosodic features (length, tone, and phonation type), stem alternations and suffixation vary independently of each other to yield a staggering number of inflectional types.