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THEORY: Noun-adjective order in Georgian (and a comparison to Arabic)

From:Danny Wier <dawier@...>
Date:Friday, June 16, 2000, 19:56
I found the printout of all of P. J. Hillery's grammatical sketch of
Georgian at the website (a Georgian/Kartvelian cultural
site).  Studied noun declension since I was looking for parallels with IE
and Uralic...  and found this convention for a reversal of noun and
adjective.  Normally, the order is adjective-noun, and both are declined
differently (but very similarly).  A more 'poetic' order of noun-adjective
may be used (just as in English), but in that case, both words are declined
as nouns.

Here's an example.  I'll decline 'new window' in both orders:
               Adjective-Noun      Noun-Adjective
Nominative     axali panjri        panjri axali
Ergative       axalma panjrma      panjrma axalma
Dative         axal panjrsa        panjrsa axalsa
Genitive       axali panjris       panjris axalis
Instrumental   axalo panjrit       panjrit axalit
Adverbial      axal panjrad        panjrad axalad
Vocative       axalo panjro        panjro axalo
Nominative     axalebi panjrebi    panjrebi axalebi
Ergative       axalebma panjrebma  panjrebma axalebma
Dative         axaleb panjrebs     panjrebs axalebs
Genitive       axalebi panjrebis   panjrebis axalebis
Instrumental   axalebi panjrebit   panjrebit axalebit
Adverbial      axaleb panjrebda    panjrebda axalebda
Vocative       axalebo panjrebo    panjrebo axalebo

The phrase in N-A order, which grammatically functions as two nouns (the
latter equivalent to the English appositive, or a Greek literary epithet),
acts like Arabic, but word order is N-A, not A-N.  And both nouns are marked
with definite article (al-kitaab-ul-'aswaad[u] 'the black book';
al-kitaab-al-'aswaad[a] 'of the black book').  If there are any cases of A-N
order, I know of none.  (Georgian does not use any articles, definite or
indefinite; the -eb- affix is the normal way of forming plurals but -n- can
be found in some cases, and there is no dual number.)

I'm doing more study on Georgian.  It's an ergative language, but an unusual
case of an ergative language.  The subject can be nominative, ergative or
dative (possibly a remnant of an accusative case), depending on what
tense/aspect/mood/status the verb is in the clause.  (Word order is normally

Tech grammar is going to be very similar, indicating noun case by a
combination of case endings (marking primary case) and prepositional
particles (marking secondary case); I expect there to be ten or more
suffixal cases and an unknown number of prepositions which change meaning
with different combinations of suffix-marked cases.  Subjects can be
nominative, ergative or accusative, depending on what role of control the
subject has over an action or state, etc.

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