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Georgian (was Re: all possible cases ;-)

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg.rhiemeier@...>
Date:Thursday, October 18, 2001, 20:07
daniel andreasson <danielandreasson@...> writes:

> Jörg Rhiemeier wrote: > > > [no "case construction kit" in Georgian] > > Oh. You're right. I don't know how I mixed that up. Georgian > uses a system of postpositions which in turn govern case (dative, > genitive, instrumental and adverbial). Much like IE languages. I > wonder if there has been any influence from e.g. Russian.
Some linguists assume a distant genealogical relation to IE (as well as Uralic, Altaic, Afro-Asiatic and several others), but the majority of linguists are sceptical of this "Nostratic" hypothesis. The grammar of Classical Georgian, however, might have been thoroughly influenced by Greek. I have read in a book once that the "screeves" (tense/aspect/mood forms) of Classical Georgian correspond almost 1:1 with Greek forms not in form, but in meaning (e.g., there is an aorist that is used just like the Greek aorist). As so often in the Christian world, the literary standard of the language was set by the Bible translation; possibly, the Georgian monks (or whoever) who translated the Bible from Greek consistently mapped Greek constructions onto Georgian constructions of similar meaning in order to achieve as precise a rendering of the original text as possible. And because the Bible set the standard for the language, the Classical Georgian grammar closely parallels that of Greek. I don't know, however, how far these parallels really go. Certainly, this did not expand to case alignment, for example. It also required a fair degree of comparability of grammar forms between Georgian and Greek to start with. But anyway, it makes for a good entry in John Cowan's essentialist explanation list: Classical Georgian is essentially a bad literal translation of New Testament Greek into Kartvelian.
> The cases are nominative, narrative, dative, genitive, instrumental, > adverbial and vocative. The nominative is more like nominative/ > absolutive, the narrative is more like ergative and the dative > often behaves like the accusative. Oh well. That's what you get > in a split-ergative / active language.
Yes, it is an interesting split system. The "screeves" of the Georgian verb fall into three series, usually called the "present", "aorist" and "perfect" series. The difference is mainly aspectual: the "present" series contains imperfective, the other two perfective forms. In the "present" series, the alignment is nominative/accusative, using the dative for accusative; in the "aorist" series, it seems to be active (according to what I have seen), marking agents with narrative (ergative) and patients with nominative; the "perfect" series is similar, but uses the dative as agent case. Experiencer-subjects (as in sentences such as "I hear you"), however, are always in dative and the object in nominative. ObConlang: in my Elvish languages, I use a system similar to the Georgian aorist series system. ...brought to you by the Weeping Elf