Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Russian-English dictionary of colloquial expressions

A Russian-English dictionary of colloquial expressions. By Stanislav Silinsky. (LINCOM scientific Dictionaries 3.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2009. Pp. 300. ISBN 9783929075809. $124.88 (Hb).

Reviewed by Nikolai Penner, McMaster University

Every human language contains many words, collocations, phrases, and idiomatic expressions that are frequently used by native speakers in specific everyday situations. Although such expressions are a key element of vivid, colorful spoken language, language instructors slight them and traditional dictionaries frequently omit them. As a result, even the most talented language learners sometimes produce speech that is dry and unnatural to native speakers. Furthermore, such colloquial expressions may be crucial for successful communication by reflecting specific cultural realities or peculiarities of native speakers’ mentalities that are completely unknown to language learners.

A Russian-English dictionary of colloquial expressions by Stanislav Silinsky addresses this issue to help students of Russian and English as well as translators and interpreters, to speak in the target language accurately and idiomatically, based on the colloquial speech of a native speaker of contemporary Russian or American English (AE). The dictionary also points out common mistakes, awkward usages, and communication failures caused by cultural differences.

This dictionary contains more than six thousand entries that focus on concepts, notions, and phenomena unique to contemporary Russian life and culture. It is the first of its kind and differs from other dictionaries in several respects. First, most entries are frequently-used collocations and multi-word expressions, and in some cases even complete sentences, not often found in other existing dictionaries. Second, while listing colloquial expressions, the author deliberately avoids constructions that can be considered rude but nevertheless succeeds in including an abundance of high-frequency expressions typical to everyday Russian. Furthermore, because of its usage-oriented approach, the dictionary provides communicative as opposed to linguistic equivalents of words and expressions. In many cases, when a specific Russian expression or cultural object does not have a direct English equivalent, explanatory or descriptive variants or clues for the translator are provided.

Undoubtedly, examples of actual usage of most of the English expressions in the dictionary are one of its most useful features. They have been carefully selected from a variety of authentic sources, including modern literature, Internet sites, movie scripts, and interviews. The examples illustrate accurate and correct usage of the expression and provide the user with a model to follow. This feature can hardly be underestimated, especially when one considers that almost all words have been translated communicatively or descriptively (e.g. a single noun can be translated with a verb phrase or a multi-word construction).

To summarize, with its clear organization and the right amount of detail, this dictionary is easy to use. It should prove indispensable for translators and a valuable source of everyday phrases and collocations for learners of Russian and English. It will help them make their speech idiomatic, colorful, and truly colloquial.

The key to language

The key to language: An essay on the meaning that exists prior to and independent of language. By Laurence Sherzer. Naples, FL: Laurence Sherzer, 2009. Pp. xxiii, 206. $25.

Reviewed by Dustin De Felice, University of South Florida

Laurence Sherzer briefly discusses a theory of meaning that may answer some critical questions about language. S begins by stating that linguists associate the study of meaning with the meaning of words and operate under the assumption that the origin of language lies in the need to reference what has been experienced. In response, he argues for the following theoretical foundation: experience furnishes the mind, which in turn creates meaning. The study of (or the key to) language needs to originate in a well-defined concept of meaning.

The text can loosely be divided into three sections, with much overlap and repetition throughout the various chapters. Much of the content consists of S responding to quotes from various language scholars over the last century. In Chs. 1–5, S briefly treats two of the founders of modern linguistics, Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky, and the flaws he sees in their approaches to language from this meaning-based concept of language. He also attempts to delineate language myths and assumptions that scholars currently maintain, e.g. that words-as-a-concept are equated with meaning and that thought is indistinguishable from language.

In Chs. 6–14, S discusses linguists’ assumptions about language. He states that linguists believe that language occurs only after a child begins to speak, and that words (or sentences or grammar) are the beginnings for language study. To the contrary, S posits that language begins with experience and equates experiential language with ‘pre-linguistic conceptualizations of experience’ (53). S further states that speaking a word is just the evidence of the first act in learning a language.

In Chs. 15–18, S delineates a conceptual guide for a theory that will serve to extinguish the myths and assumptions held by linguists, and concludes with a list of sixty-five critical points that must be addressed in developing a new theory of meaning.

This volume is a challenging read. S raises interesting questions but would have been better served in providing more information and observations instead of reacting to scholars like Leonard Bloomfield, Noam Chomsky, and Steven Pinker. One of the most interesting examples given by S involves children and mathematics (150), drawn from his experience as a professor of mathematics. More examples from his experience would have added stronger and clearer support to his approach.

Contemporary Indian English

Contemporary Indian English: Variation and change. By Andreas Sedlatschek. (Varieties of English around the world G38.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xix, 363. ISBN 9789027248985. $158 (Hb).

Reviewed by Susanne Wagner, Chemnitz University of Technology

This book, which has grown out of Andreas Sedlatschek’s Ph.D dissertation, offers a comprehensive corpus-based description of Contemporary Indian English (IndE). Results range from the refutation of traditional characterizations of the variety’s idiosyncrasies (e.g. IndE underuses articles because Hindi does not have articles) to the careful statement of tendencies (e.g. particle verbs show only quantitative differences, p. 160). S discusses features from a wide range of fields, from vocabulary via lexicosyntax to morphosyntax and sentence-level phenomena, covering all major areas except phonology.

After a brief introduction and a discussion of methodology and framework (Chs. 1 and 2), the bulk of the book (over 250 pages) focuses on individual features discussed in earlier work as typical characteristics of IndE. Each construction is described, analyzed in the primary corpus (a small-scale ‘early’ ICE India compiled in 2000, comprising 180,000 words) and an online corpus (domain searches across a number of Indian newspaper websites), put into perspective internationally with the help of a Google Advanced Search (by country domain), and evaluated critically in light of the corpus findings.

Ch. 3, ‘Vocabulary’ (51–148), discusses a range of phenomena, from loan words to the alleged Americanization of IndE in terms of vocabulary preferences (generally not true) and the more ‘conservative’ nature of the IndE lexicon (also too general). Ch. 4, ‘Lexicosyntax’ (149–96), focuses on particle verbs, traditionally known as an area of variation in second language Englishes. Additional case studies are provided on general complementation patterns (e.g. want that) and divergent transitivity patterns (e.g. to protest something). Ch. 5 ‘Morphosyntax’ (197–310), features both quantitative and qualitative analyses of well-known variables: articles, countable non-count nouns, concord with collective nouns, the past perfect, verb forms with since and other past adverbials, and the use of the mandative subjunctive in the VP domain.

The book shows some of the challenges in contemporary corpus-based research. For example, there was a long time lag of nine years between some of the corpus queries and publication, and ICE India was not yet available when much of the study was undertaken. Moreover, there are methodological problems with some of the web-based research. Thus, the domain .us is not representative of American English (even .gov has more sites), and the domain .in likewise has less prestige in India than .com and is probably not representative; the occasional contradictory results are not surprising (e.g. 165, 167). Similarly, the details of individual searches and search patterns are not always spelled out: for example, searches for verb patterns were mostly (but not always) run for the progressive form, although it is generally less frequent than other verbs forms; while the reason for this is obvious, it is not explicitly stated.

These shortcomings notwithstanding, S provides a very good overview of the investigated phenomena. His main result is identical for practically all areas: earlier statements tend to be too general; at the most, there are tendencies to over- or under-represent certain words and structures.

A grammatical study of Innu-aimun particles

A grammatical study of Innu-aimun particles. By Will Oxford. (Algonquian and Iroquoian linguistics memoir 20.) Winnipeg, Manitoba: Algonquian and Iroquoian Linguistics, 2008. Pp. xii, 301. ISBN 9780921064206. $40.

Reviewed by Michael W. Morgan, Addis Ababa University

Numerous Algonquian languages are still spoken across northern North America, and as a group they present a typological profile significantly different from other language families. Famous for verb transitivity classes, animacy distinctions in declension, and obviation, as well as their non-configurational and polysynthetic structure, they have traditionally been described as having three parts of speech: nouns (including pronouns and demonstratives), verbs, and particles, a loose class of indeclinables. Innu-aimun, also known as Montagnais and Naskapi, is a typical Algonquian language spoken in Labrador and Quebec. In the present work, Will Oxford presents and analyzes data on Innu-aimun particles, based mostly on the Eastern Montagnais dialect of Sheshatshiu, Labrador, but with occasional reference to other dialects and to varieties of Cree.

In Ch. 1, ‘Introduction’, O gives an introduction to the affiliation of Innu-aimun within Algonquian, an overview of its salient typological features, and the sources of his data. Ch. 2, ‘A Classification of Innu-aimun particles’, presents the classificatory scheme of particles that is followed throughout the book (including a discussion of several items whose status is uncertain). Two categories of declinable words, pronouns/demonstratives and clefting words, share some properties with particles, and are discussed separately in Ch. 3 and Ch. 4, respectively.

Innu-aimun particles per se are categorized as adnominal particles (Ch. 5), prepositions (Ch. 6), adverbs (Ch. 7), and minor categories (Ch. 8). Adnominal particles include a very limited set of adjectives (a class normally said to be non-existent in Algonquian languages), as well as three types of quantifiers: numeral quantifiers, non-numeral quantifiers, and the numerous and interesting group of incorporated-noun quantifiers (similar in many ways to East Asian classifiers). Prepositions also fall into three classes (locative prepositions, incorporated-noun prepositions, and functional prepositions). They are basically locatives, but unlike normal noun locatives, they can take a nominal object.

Adverbs in Innu-aimun are classified semantically as follows: circumstantial (manner, spatial, temporal, and spatial/temporal), degree (amplifying and attenuating), and modal (epistemic, evidential, evaluative, and volitional). The presentation of Innu-aimun particles ends with a number of distinct classes not covered in the preceding chapters: focus particles, question particles, negators, conjunctions, and interjections. While each of these classes is minor in size, they are of great interest for Innu-aimun syntax.

Ch. 9 summarizes grammatical patterns recurring throughout the book and presents O’s conclusions. In addition to the standard bibliography and index, O includes an appendix containing a glossary of over 500 Innu-aimun particles and function words to illustrate how the classification scheme of the present book can be applied to the LabLex dictionary database.

Introducing English linguistics

Introducing English linguistics. By Charles F. Meyer. (Cambridge introductions to language and linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. x, 259. ISBN 9780521541220. $36.99.

Reviewed by Dustin De Felice, University of South Florida

Charles F. Meyer has written this text for English language educators with the goal of understanding the English language in structure and usage. In contrast to many linguistics texts, this book is written from a top-down perspective. It is divided into two main sections: the first deals with general characteristics of the English language (e.g. historical developments and pragmatic considerations) while the second describes its grammatical characteristics (e.g. English language structure, meaning, and sounds). The introductory page of each chapter provides a list of key terms and a paragraph-length preview. Within each chapter, there is an introduction that includes the main ideas or concepts of the following subsections. M uses linguistic descriptions based on examples of spoken and written English taken from either a linguistic corpus (both spoken and written) or newspaper articles.

Each chapter concludes with a summary, a set of self-study activities (an answer key is provided at the end of the text), and suggestions for further reading. The appendix describes the linguistic corpora consulted and provides instructions for locating examples used in the text. The glossary contains more than 225 terms.

In the first main section (Chs. 1–4), M covers the historical development of the English language and general pragmatic considerations. In Ch. 1, ‘The study of language’ (1–18), M surveys linguists and their perspectives on language, including a critique of their ideological perspectives. In Ch. 2, ‘The development of English’ (19–46), M discusses how languages develop and how linguists classify them. He also discusses the historical development of English and compares its typological features to other world languages. Ch. 3, ‘The social context of English’ (47–78), and Ch. 4, ‘The structure of English texts’ (79–109), discuss pragmatics, exploring speech act theory, Grice’s four maxims, and politeness.

In the second section, M delves into the linguistic structures of English. In Ch. 5, ‘English syntax’ (111–47), M discusses how words are grouped and ordered. In Ch. 6, ‘English words: Structure and meaning’ (149–93), M focuses on word structure and formation as well as the study of meaning. In Ch. 7, ‘The sounds of English’ (195–218), M looks at speech sounds, both segments and suprasegments.

Educators, students, and scholars will appreciate M’s top-down approach and find his real-life examples illuminating and useful. Students will enjoy the self-study activities and the accompanying answer key. Overall each chapter is text-heavy, with short examples following thorough descriptions of the linguistic features in action.

The sound structure of English

The sound structure of English: An introduction. By Christopher McCully. (Cambridge introductions to the English language.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. Pp. viii, 233 pp. ISBN 9780521615495. $34.99.

Reviewed by Marc Pierce, University of Texas at Austin

This book offers a lucid introduction to English phonetics and phonology for the absolute beginner. It consists of eleven chapters, each of which contains exercises, a list of key terms, and suggestions for further reading. There are also an IPA chart, glossary, list of references, and topical index. An accompanying website provides answers to some of the exercises and useful associated materials.

The book opens with an ‘Introduction’ (1–18), which covers topics like the differences between written and spoken English .It is followed by three chapters on the English consonant system. The first, ‘Consonants (1): Contrastiveness’ (19–33), discusses how consonants contrast with each other and proposes a consonant inventory for English (determined by the extensive use of minimal pairs), while the second, ‘Consonants (2): Classification’ (34–50), lays out the classification of English consonants. The next chapter, ‘Consonants (3): Distribution’ (51–61), introduces the concept of the allophone and discusses such matters as the phonemic status of the glottal stop.

The next three chapters deal with syllables and syllabification in English. ‘Syllables (1): Introduction’ (62–73) covers topics like stress and the status of schwa. ‘Syllables (2): Constituents’ (74–90) develops the idea of syllable constituents and discusses sonority and syllable typology. ‘Syllables (3): Structure’ (91–106) presents a more extensive discussion of syllable constituents in English and introduces the idea of syllable weight.

The next three chapters turn to the English vowel system. ‘Vowels (1): Short vowels’ (107–26) and ‘Vowels (2): Long vowels and diphthongs’ (127–47) discuss the various subsystems of English vowels. ‘Vowels (3): Variation’ (148–79) examines diachronic and synchronic variation in the English vowel system, covering issues like the Great Vowel Shift and a synchronic process of vowel tensing.

The final chapter, ‘Problems, theories and representations’ (180–211), is the most theoretical of the volume, as it introduces the notion of distinctive features, examines derivational theories of phonology and optimality theory, and explicates them through reference to English phonological processes (e.g. r-insertion).

This book is a successful introductory text. The discussion is clear and careful, the style is accessible, and the exercises and accompanying web material definitely enhance the value of the book. Those intending to use the book in a North American setting should be aware that it is aimed at a British audience, but this is not a major barrier to the success of the book.

Representing time

Representing time: An essay on temporality as modality. By Kasia M. Jaszczolt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Pp. xiii, 192. ISBN 9780199214440. $49.95.

Reviewed by Ana Bravo, Granada University

The idea that time and modality are interconnected is by no means new. In fact, it is a long standing hypothesis in relation to the future tense. The main thesis defended by Kasia M. Jaszczolt in this book—that time is modality—is much less often argued and is much more controversial. J holds that time is not a primitive concept. Instead, internal psychological time is constructed out of basic concepts such as possibility (the past and the future) and certainty (the present). Real time, on which internal time is supervenient, may be identified in turn with possibilities of states and events. The link between time and space is described in several places throughout the essay.

The book also aims to build a semantic representation of temporality. Since the representation of time in semantic theory has to directly reflect mental representation—or, to put it the other way round, since semantic categories are a window on conceptual categories—and human conceptualization of time is modal, the author’s fundamental claim is that modal concepts will suffice for a semantic representation of time.

Ch. 1, ‘Real time and the concept of time’ (5–31), addresses such philosophical questions as the existence and flow of time, from Husserl and Heidegger to McTaggart, Einstein, and Hawking. J’s main conclusions are: (i) there must be distinctions between real, ontological time and internal, psychological time; (ii) real time is a feature of the universe, and internal time constitutes our consciousness of time; and (iii) real time does not flow, and the flow of time belongs to human experience.

In Ch. 2, ‘Time as modality’ (32–95), the modal nature of statements about the present, past, and future is demonstrated. J first presents a working notion for the conceptual and semantic category of modality, including evidentiality. Second, general arguments for the conceptual affinity between temporal and modal statements are reviewed, some of which, such as those based on the historical development of future tenses, are well known to linguists. Third, the modality of the concepts of the future, present, and past is examined in detail. In all three cases, internal time is demonstrated to assess internal detachment from certainty.

Having shown that time is modality, J proceeds in Ch. 4, ‘Time in default semantics’ (124–64), to offer a semantic representation of temporality within the framework of default semantics. Previously, in Ch. 3, ‘Semantic representation of time: A preamble’ (96–123), the author argues in favor of using propositions, not events, as the units on which the operator of temporality/epistemic modality operates. In default semantics, compositionality extends to pragmatic information, in the sense that all sources of information about meaning are treated on an equal footing. As a consequence, propositions are merged propositions, and thus tense-time mismatches follow from one of the sources of a merged proposition, so no additional rules are needed.

The issues J covers will be of interest to formal semanticists working in discourse representation theory and researchers of the categories of time (and tenses), situations, and eventualities.

Language history, language change, and language relationship

Language history, language change, and language relationship: An introduction to historical and comparative linguistics. 2nd edn. By Hans Henrich Hock and Brian D. Joseph. (Mouton textbook.) New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009. Pp. xvii, 588. ISBN 9783110214291. $44.95.

Reviewed by Nikolai Penner, McMaster University

The second edition of this highly readable introductory textbook is aimed at the non-specialist but provides a tremendous degree of detail and ample illustrations from both familiar and more exotic languages. The book is divided into six sections.

The introductory section includes three chapters. The first sets the stage for the rest of the book by asking why languages change, discussing the types of linguistic change, and introducing the issue of language relationship. Ch. 2 discusses the Indo-European languages and provides a brief history of each of its branches. The next chapter, on the history of writing, looks at the writing systems of the world.

The second section deals with structural change in language, with three chapters on changes in the sound system, morphology, and syntax, respectively. The basic tools and concepts used to describe, classify, and analyze these changes are presented. The following section, ‘Change in the lexicon’, investigates vocabulary change, focusing on semantic change (Ch. 7) and lexical borrowing (Ch. 8). The last chapter in this section discusses the connection between language change and etymology.

The fourth section concerns the relations between language, dialect, and standard language as well as the effects of their interaction, and revisits the claim that a language is ‘a dialect with an army and a navy’. Linguistic change due to intense, long-lasting language contact is the topic of the fifth section. The opening chapter introduces the terminology needed for the further discussion, e.g. interference, code-switching, code-mixing, and koinés. Ch. 13 discusses language convergence and illustrates it with examples from large-scale convergence areas, such as the Balkans and South Asia. The next chapter concerns the outcomes of extremely intense language contact (pidgins and creoles), followed by a short chapter on language death.

The final section is devoted to language relationships. Ch. 16 presents the comparative method and discusses the possibility of establishing that several linguistic varieties are related to each other. Ch. 17 discusses whether it is possible to establish a common ancestor to all human languages and how human language arose in the distant past. Finally, the methods and interpretation of linguistic reconstruction are examined and some insights that historical linguistics holds for broader issues are discussed.

In order to increase the book’s readability, the authors avoided footnotes and excluded many references from the text. However, there is an extensive section of chapter notes at the end of the volume giving additional information and recommendations for further reading.

All in all, with this highly readable and informative book, the authors make the study of language history, contact, and change as exciting to their readers as they find it themselves.


Uchumataqu: The lost language of the Urus of Bolivia. A grammatical description of the language as documented between 1894 and 1952. By Katja Hannß. (Indigenous languages of Latin America 7.) Leiden: CNWS Publications, 2008. Pp. xiv, 304. ISBN 9789057891588. $62.16.

Reviewed by Michael W Morgan, Addis Ababa University

Like many native languages, the now extinct Bolivian language Uchumataqu was never fully documented. Basing her study on a variety of sources collected between 1894 and 1952, when the language was already in decline, Katja Hannß has compiled all that can be known about the language and presented us with a grammatical description.

In Ch. 1, Hintroduces us to the Uru people and what we know of their language, Uchumataqu. H discusses her sources in detail, which yield data limited in quantity and often in quality, and keeps us informed throughout of their reliability.

The grammar proper consists of chapters on phonology, morphological processes and word classes, the nominal system, the verbal system, adverbs, postpositions and negation, and clauses. Given the nature of the sources (word lists, elicited paradigms, and translated sentences), the sections on phonology and morphology (Chs. 2–6) constitute the bulk of the description. The discussion of phonology provides a coherent synthesis of the extremely divergent transcription systems of the original sources.

Ch. 3 describes that Uchumataqu is a moderately agglutinative language, although less so than Quechua and Aymara, the predominant languages of the area. While all parts of speech may have up to two affixes attached to the stem, the bulk of affixal morphology is on verbs, which generally have two affixes, but may have up to four. In addition, compounding, incorporation, and reduplication are discussed. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the characteristics of the parts of speech, especially nouns, adjectives, and verbs.

Ch. 4 discusses the nominal system as well as pronouns, adjectives, and numerals. Nouns in Uchumataqu typically take a number of case suffixes and plural markers (the latter optionally). The pronominal system includes an exclusive/inclusive distinction in the first person plural pronouns, but separate possessives only for the first and, optionally, third person singular. The presentation of demonstrative, indefinite, and interrogative pronouns is followed by a number of interrogative-related phenomena, including a question marker, question-bound topic marker, and possibly a special second person singular pronoun found in interrogatives. Although she discusses them with nominals, H argues for adjectives being a separate word class.

Uchumataqu verbs show a future/non-future tense system, though there are markers for present and past tense and a resultative aspect marker as well. Only in the future and simple present is a person distinction made, with first person singular distinct from all other forms. Uchumataqu verbs may also be accompanied by markers of first person (singular or plural) subject, first person object (marked with the only productive prefix we know of in the language) or non-first person object. Finally, the verb system includes a causative suffix, subject and object relativizers, gerund, and switch-reference marker. The discussion of the verbal system concludes with mood, which includes imperative, irrealis (used for conditional, optative, potential, deontic modality, and future irrealis), and an evidential of validation.

Ch. 6 discusses the remaining word classes. Uchumataqu has the normal range of adverbs of time, space, manner, and degree, but in many cases adverbs can be marked with a predicator suffix also used optionally with adjectives. The language has a clausal affirmative clitic that can occur in all adverb subclasses. Ch. 7 gives a short description of clauses and clause types in Uchumataqu. Of particular interest are the clausal clitics: the declarative marker, topic marker, affirmative marker, and personal clitics that may occur on any part of speech. Finally, the book closes with a list of references and subject index.

In an age when we fret over the growing number of endangered languages, H has done us a great service by making available a coherent and interesting documentation of a language from beyond the grave.

A topical outline of Georgian grammar

A topical outline of Georgian grammar. By Julian Granberry. (LINCOM studies in Caucasian linguistics 18.) Munich: LINCOM Europa. 2009. Pp. 96. ISBN 9783929075144. $60.70.

Reviewed by Peter Freeouf, Chiang Mai University

Georgian has the largest number of speakers of any of the Caucasian languages, a geographical grouping consisting of three separate families: Northwest Caucasian, Northeast Caucasian, and South Caucasian, or Kartvelian, of which Georgian is the most prominent member. Georgian is the only Caucasian official language of an independent state. It also has the oldest continuous literary tradition, dating back to the fifth century CE.

This volume does not presuppose any knowledge of linguistic terminology but only a school-level familiarity with basic grammatical terms. The preface gives a brief bibliographic introduction to the study of Georgian. It is the only source of bibliographical information in the book. ‘Introduction: Sakartvelo and its language’ is a very short summary of the history of the country and its people.

The rest of the booklet is divided into eleven numbered sections: ‘The alphabet’ (13–19), ‘Grammatical categories, case usage, and word order’ (20–24), ‘Nouns and their declensions’ (25–31), ‘Adjectives’ (32–35), ‘Adverbs’ (36–38), ‘Interrogatives’ (39–40), ‘Numerals’ (41–43), ‘Conjunctions, particles, and interjections’ (44–48), ‘Pronouns’ (49–55), ’Postpositions’ (56–58), and ‘An introduction to the Georgian verb’ (59–96). The alphabet chart provides a useful overview of the writing and phonemic system and is organized phonemically, with transcription equivalents for each Georgian letter.

The second section gives a brief overview of Georgian grammatical categories that defines common grammar terms as they pertain to Georgian. In this section there is a schematic chart of the Georgian verb (23), a topic taken up again in more detail in the longest, final section of the book. The verb, with its profusion of affixes and inflections, is the most complex morphosyntactic feature of the language. The term ‘screeve,’ a Georgian category that subsumes tense, aspect, and mood as used in the description of other languages, is introduced and explained. This section on the Georgian verb provides numerous charts and tables illustrating some of the complexity of the verbal system.

There is practically no mention of syntax, except for one paragraph in the second section. There are no Georgian sentences or longer texts in the book. The Georgian forms are listed as paradigms in tabular form or as categorial lists of individual words or collocated phrases with English equivalents such as coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

A useful feature of the book is that every form and example in Georgian, from single sounds/letters to words and phrases, is given in both the Georgian alphabet and in Roman transliteration. This makes the book useful to both linguists looking for an overview of basic Georgian morphology and to those who wish to use it as a convenient reference in their study of the language. This outline of Georgian grammar is a useful summary of Georgian morphology and can serve as a small companion volume for either textbooks or reference grammars.