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.