An adjective is a word that describes a noun or states a characteristic about it, such as “red truck”. In describing Sursurunga, we have used the term “modifier” instead of “adjective”.

Alienable noun

An alienable noun is one which can be talked about without having to say who or what it belongs to (kon, bát, lamrut). See: inalienable noun.


Antonyms are words that have meanings opposite to each other, such as mas (‘full’) and matpám (‘hungry’).


This refers to a group of words that have both a subject and a verb. Someone or something is described or does an action. In Sursurunga, this can be as little as a pronoun plus a verb (a siusiu) or it can contain long phrases for both the subject and the verb.


This part of speech links one word or one part of what you’re saying to an other (má, ngo, ki).

Direct Object

This term is refers to the person or thing that something, usually an action, happens to. The direct object is usually a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun and occurs following a verb (ái Kori a up Adam, iau sawi kaukau).

Dyadic term

This is the form of an inalienable noun used when indicating the relationship between two or more people. It must always occur with a pronoun (diar tinán, ditul káwán, dihat káwáliklik).

First person

This is used to refer to a person speaking about himself or about a group of which he is a part. English and Sursurunga equivalents are:
I/me iau
we gitar, gitul, githat, git, giur, gimtul, gimhat, gim

Free pronoun

A free pronoun is one that can occur alone without a verb following it. Free pronouns are used for emphasis, as in iau iau parai ngorer tungu (literally, ‘me I said like that previously’, meaning ‘me, I said that before’).


Homonyms are two or more words that sound exactly alike but have different meanings. In English, the word “light” can refer to the brightness the sun provides, or to something which is not heavy. In Sursurunga, bau can mean ‘closed, sealed’ but also ‘stupid, foolish’. In this dictionary, each homonym has its own entry which is numbered, and homonym numbers are always indicated by a small lowered number (subscript) immediately following the keyword.


An idiom is an expression whose actual meaning is different than what it looks like if you use the literal meaning of each word, as damdam lim (liter ally ‘licking hand’, meaning ‘insufficient food’) and soi nitán (literally ‘spear his liver’, meaning ‘cause great sorrow’).

Inalienable noun

An inalienable noun is one for which you must include the part that shows who or what it belongs to (tuang, matam, lalin). See: alienable noun.

Indirect Object

This term is used of the person or thing that is helped by or receives anoth er thing. In Sursurunga, this is expressed by si (‘to, for’) plus a noun or non-singular pronoun, or by special singular pronouns.

Intransitive verb

An intransitive verb is the kind of verb that does not require a direct object. It is used to describe someone or something, or to say an action that the sub ject is doing (mirik, siusiu).


This refers to actions or states that have not yet occurred, typically future tense in English but including the ideas of ‘might, should, potentially, hypo thetically’.

Irregular verb

An irregular verb is a kind of transitive verb that has two forms, but where knowing one form will not help you predict the other.


This refers to words or phrases that show where you are talking about (muda, iatung).


This kind of word describes something in more detail and always occurs with another word like a noun or a verb (dolon kálámul, kálik lu hanhan).

Non-singular English pronouns have only two distinctions for number, that is, how many people or things are being spoken about. Sursurunga has five distinctions as shown in the chart below. Four of those are used to express more than one person or thing. Plural is only one of those four. All the forms for expressing more than one are in this category called non-singular.

English Sursurunga
Singular (1) Singular (1) Singular Dual (2)

Plural (more than 1)
Trial (3, a few) Non-singular Quadral (4, several)
Plural (more than 4, many)


This kind of word is the name of something or someone (rum, dan, Iesu). Number verb This is a kind of intransitive verb that expresses a number (ru, mar).


A particle is a word that has a grammatical function but does not belong to any other part of speech. Particles are used to change meaning or add flair (apong, sár).


This refers to two or more words that belong together, that describe some thing or someone (tan teten páu imuni ‘bunches of nuts up there’, kesi
kálámul án tám tuar sang ‘person of hypocrisy indeed’), or describe an action (kálik lu hanhan ‘going slowly’), and that can be replaced by a single word. This is different from a clause because it does not need a subject or a verb, but in Sursurunga many descriptive phrases have clauses in them (kálámul a dol, literally ‘man he is long’, meaning ‘tall man’).


This shows that something or someone belongs to another, as in the English “my house” or “his mother”.
Prefix A prefix is a small bit added to the beginning of a word to give it a slightly different meaning. In Sursurunga, the prefix ara- attached to a kinship term indicates a group of people who are related to each other in the same way, so tuán (‘his brother’) with the prefix ara- on it becomes aratuán (‘group who are brothers’).


A preposition is a word that relates another word or phrase to the rest of the clause or sentence. They are often used to show things like possession, loca tion or time. Common English prepositions include “of, in, on”.


A pronoun is a word that is used instead of using a noun. Usually it is clear who or what it refers to (gimtul, iáu, koner).


This refers to actions or states that are real, typically past and present tense in English.


This refers to a thing that happens because of something else, as “she fell and broke her arm”. See also Sequential.
Second person This is used to refer to the person or people one is talking to, the addressee.

English and Sursurunga equivalents are:
you (1) u, iáu
you (group) gaur. gamtul, gamhat, gam
Sentence This term refers to one or more clauses which can stand alone to say some thing, or which are part of a longer speech, conversation or story.


This refers to something that happens right after another thing, as “he stood up and walked along the beach”. See also Result.

Serial verb

This means two or more verbs which occur right after each other (tola páptai literally ‘seize attach’ meaning ‘catch and hold’, pán arsuar mai, literally ‘awaken face-to-face with’ meaning ‘wake up to, meet up with’).


This term is used for the part of a word that carries the main meaning, and that is added to with a pronoun or a prefix or suffix. Kinship terms and body parts add non-singular pronouns to the noun stem to show possession (mám gitar, lim ditul). Verbs add suffixes to the verb stem to show that the direct object is a noun phrase or a third person singular object (hul-i, mák-ái).


This term is used of the person or thing that is doing an action or is being described. This is usually a noun, noun phrase, or pronoun and it occurs with a verb (iau siusiu, a boptin ái kauh, rum erei na pur).


A suffix is a small bit added to the end of a word to give it a slightly different meaning. In Sursurunga, the suffix -a added to a pronoun indicates that the action has not yet happened, so gitar siusiu (‘we two are swimming’) be comes gitar-a siusiu (‘we two are going to swim’).


A syllable is the smallest part of a word that can be said alone. Many words have only one syllable (mat, so). An example of a word with two syllables is mat-pám, and one with three syllables is si-bor-bor.

Syncopated verb

In Sursurunga, this is a kind of transitive verb where one form of the verb is shortened by omitting or dropping a letter from the middle of the word and adding -i to the end to make the other form of the verb (susuk/suski).


Synonyms are words that mean the same thing or something similar to each other, as banrai and gunrai both mean to ‘shake or move something back and forth’.

Third person

This is used by one person speaking to another person about someone else, a third person or a group which that someone else is a part of. English and Sursurunga equivalents are:
he, she, it a, ái
they diar, ditul, dihat, di


This refers to words or phrases that show the time you are speaking about (latiu, iraru i Bung Lim).

Transitive verb

A transitive verb is the kind of verb that requires a direct object, so it speaks of action being done to someone or something. In Sursurunga, these verbs end in -i or are followed by on (sawi, hustap on).


A variant is another way of saying the same word. Sometimes people in another area of Sursurunga pronounce a word slightly differently than you do, and sometimes it’s just another way to say it that is accepted by everyone.


This kind of word tells about doing an action or describes something (siusiu, ubi, mirik, dol).

Verbal noun

This is a small class or group of verbs that end in a vowel plus n, so they look like inalienable nouns and modifiers. Most can be used as nouns or as modi fiers as well as verbs, and some can be used in all three ways.


This means that a word, often a kinship term, is used instead of a person’s name when speaking to that person (tuang, tata).
When you see three dots between two words like this: …, it indicates that some words are left out. This is used to show several things.
• A discontinuous combination that together mean one thing, as ai…ái (‘where’) or ngádáh… ngoi (‘how’).
• A combination that never occurs by itself but where something is always added on, as kán liu a kis i… (literally ‘his life sits on…’ meaning ‘he is devoted to…’).
• A combination where one person says the first part and a different person responds with the second part, as lame…pate (‘story introduction’).
• A gap in an example taken from a Sursurunga story or from the New Testament where what is left out just makes the example longer without being relevant to it.
Cross references list other keywords that are related to the keyword you are looking at. This in cludes such things as:
• Other words that come from the same root or stem
• Intransitive forms or counterparts of transitive verbs, and vice-versa
• Other terms expressing the same kinship relationship
• Other forms of location words with the same meaning
• Other forms of the same prefix or suffix that do the same thing
• Generic or general terms for specific birds, fish, vines, etc, and vice-versa

Using cross references
In entries where the keyword is more than one word,
• No cross references are listed if all words appear in the exact same form in their own en tries, as the entry for kurtángsin láklák will have no cross references because each of those words has its own entry where the keyword is in the exact same form as they appear in this entry.
• Cross references are listed for words which do not appear in the exact same form, as the entry for mák pasi will have a cross reference to mákái.
• Cross references are listed for words which have a homonym, a word that sounds the same as another word but has a different meaning, so the entry for mák pasi will have a cross reference to pasi1.