Nuer

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Nuer

(no͞o`ər, no͝or), a Nilotic people living around Lake No in South Sudan. Their economy and social life generally revolve around cattle, which are grazed on the plains during the dry season and in the hills during the wet season. During the dry season, the Nuer also fish, hunt, and gather wild plant foods. At their initiation, boys receive six horizontal cuts in the forehead and are given cattle; thereafter they belong to an age gradeage grade and age set,
differentiation of social role based on age, commonly found in small-scale societies of North America and East Africa.
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, with whom they will advance into various positions within the clan over the period of their lives. Descent is patrilineal, and when a man marries he receives more cattle from his father (see marriagemarriage,
socially sanctioned union that reproduces the family. In all societies the choice of partners is generally guided by rules of exogamy (the obligation to marry outside a group); some societies also have rules of endogamy (the obligation to marry within a group).
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 and kinshipkinship,
relationship by blood (consanguinity) or marriage (affinity) between persons; also, in anthropology and sociology, a system of rules, based on such relationships, governing descent, inheritance, marriage, extramarital sexual relations, and sometimes residence.
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). There is no centralized political authority, but rather a number of autonomous village communities. Spiritual leaders, known as leopard skin chiefs, are employed in the mediation of disputes. E. E. Evans-PritchardEvans-Pritchard, Edward Evan,
1902–73, English social anthropologist. He made several expeditions to Africa. His major contributions lie in the fields of social anthropology and comparative religion.
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's ethnography (1940) is the standard work on the Nuer.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nuer

 

(self-designation, Tog Naat), a people living in the region of the lower course of the Sobat River and to the southwest of the river, in the southern part of Sudan, and also in the border regions of Ethiopia. Population, about 700,000 (1970, estimate). The Nuer language is Nilotic. Feudal-patriarchal relations and tribal-clan religious cults have survived among the Nuer. The basic social unit is the large patriarchal family. The Nuer engage in distant-pasture livestock raising (cattle) and hoe farming (millet, corn, garden crops, and tobacco); a small number of Nuer work in enterprises of the lumber industry and on state plantations.


Nuer

 

the language of the Nuer. It is spoken in southern Sudan and extreme western Ethiopia, where it is called Abbigar. Nuer is spoken by about 700,000 persons (1970, estimate). Nuer belongs to the Nilotic language group. There are two dialect groups, Nuer proper and Atwot. Phonetic features include pharyngealized vowels and a system of three tones.

Nuer is an inflected language. The means of expressing grammatical meanings include internal consonantal, vocalic, and tonal inflection of the stem, prefixation, and to a lesser degree, postfixation. There are two main cases, nominative and genitive. Accusative and locative meanings are sometimes expressed formally. The word order is verb-subject-object, with postpositive attributive. Possession is expressed by combination of the construct form of the possessed with the genitive of the possessor. Nuer is a written language and is used to a limited extent as a language of the school and administration.

REFERENCES

Crazzolara, J. P. Outlines of a Nuer Grammar. Vienna, 1933.
Kiggen, J. Nuer-English Dictionary. Mill Hill, 1948.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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