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Georgian: A Learner's Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars) Paperback – 23 Jun 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (23 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415333717
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415333719
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,538,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


‘There is no doubt that this book is necessary and unique. It has no serious rival.’ -Donald Rayfield, Queen Mary College, University of London, UK

About the Author

Born/educated: Doncaster, scholarship in Classics St. John's College Cambridge , Cambridge Linguistics Diploma, MA, Ph.D. (Georgian-Abkhaz syntax). Twice British Council exchange-postgrad (Tbilisi). Linguistics lecturer (Hull); Lecturer (Linguistics/Georgian), Reader & Professor (Caucasian languages) at SOAS (1988-). Fellow of the British Academy (1997). Authored: 'Georgian: A Learner's Grammar' (Routledge), 'Georgian: A Structural Reference Grammar' (Benjamin), 'A Georgian Reader' (SOAS)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There is something rather mysterious and attractive about obscure language such as Georgian, Armenian, Azeri, Kazak, Tadjik, Uzbek and so on. Georgian and Armenian have the added attraction of having beautiful and mysterious alphabets. In particular, the Georgian alphabet is one of the most bizarre and extraordinary that I have ever seen. A Russian, born in Georgia, once told me that the inventor of the Georgian alphabet is said to have designed the letters by throwing bits of spaghetti onto the floor. What then of the Georgian language? In my opinion, learning a language is a mental exercise, to be approached in a scientific and rational way. The Georgian language is complex and irregular in the extreme - that, at least, is the impression of one who has studied only Indo-European languages, The author, George Hewitt, clearly knows his stuff, and imparts his knowledge concisely. It is a pity, however, that there is so little flavour of Georgia and Georgian culture. Could we not have some Georgian proverbs and some Georgian songs? These are the things that inspire the willing student. Currently, the English reader has little alternative but to buy this book if he wishes to study Georgian. If any readers of these words is able to help me in locating other means of studying Georgian then please could they email me? I am only aware of the Centre for Georgian studies at the University of Tbilisi.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 2.7 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ok, to an extent 10 Jan. 2010
By ksiezycowy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I understand that Georgian textbooks are a small commodity, it does not mean that one should buy anything about Georgian. I do have a copy of 'Georgian: A Learner's Grammar,' as well as 'Beginner's Georgian,' 'Georgian: A Reading Grammar' and 'Georgian Language and Culture.' As far as this book is concerned, I was not aware of it's short-comings when I bought it. Though I do have the 2005 version as apposed to the earlier version. The 2005 version has been 'revised and corrected' and two Georgian speakers have proof-read the book, but I wouldn't know how much has changed between the two versions and if it has been improved to be a viable textbook. The grammar is comprehensive (though I don't know how correct it is, yet). The explanations are still a little dense and hard to follow. The book attempts to be very through with the grammar that is introduced. I think that is the books greatest flaw. It tries to present so much in such a short time. And the explanations are not the clearest for non-linguists. Also there is no audio for the book. Audio is essential for anyone learning another language, especially one this different from English.

I find it very compelling that Dodona Kiziria (a professor of Georgian language, and native speaker!), wrote a review herself, and pointed out the short-comings that us learners could never see ourselves. My thanks to her. Though she did write it about the '96 version, not the revised '05 version.

I would steer people towards the other books I cited in my review first, and then if they wish, to use this book (with caution) after getting a good foundation in the language. Georgian: A Reading Grammar, 'Georgian Language and Culture' (which is a bit hard to come-by now-a-days), and Beginner's Georgian are your best bet to start in Georgian.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 29 April 2015
By Karolina Vanek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The only comprehensive Georgian grammar book on the market:-)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars It is about taking a complex subject and making it easy. It is about breaking things into bite-sized chunks ... 15 Sept. 2014
By Andrew Rucker Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
After buying this book (presumably the first edition) some 15 years ago before marrying my Georgian wife, I have repeatedly tried learning Georgian from it, and have repeatedly failed. I am fluent in German, and have had no difficulties with Hungarian and Japanese, as long as I had the time to devote to them -- languages are not a problem for me. But every time I get back from a visit in Georgia, I renew my commitment to be able to speak to my in-laws, and pick this book up as soon as I get home. I have never gotten past chapter four.

Why? For the reasons listed by other reviewers. This is not intended to be a book for learners of the language, despite the title. It is visually and didactically a mess. Mr. Hewitt presents what is likely a comprehensive review of Georgian grammar (though my well-educated wife has taken issue with many supposed points of grammar as presented by Mr. Hewitt, and long since dismissed the book as incorrect and inadequate), but teaching is about leading the student through the learning process. It is about taking a complex subject and making it easy. It is about breaking things into bite-sized chunks and mastering those before moving on to exceptions, extensions, or new subjects. It is about presenting them in a way that makes absorbing information easy.

Why is it, then, that there are no tables for things like pronouns in different cases? Instead, they are thrown into long block paragraphs like the following.

"The dative singular of the 3rd person personal pronouns (he/she/it) and the demonstrative pronouns (this one and both forms of that one) also ends in -s (e.g. ma-s, ama-s, maga-s, ima-s), but the plurals are different (ma-t, ama-t, maga-t, ima-t). Though the 1st and 2nd person personal pronouns do not alter for case when construed with verbs, and although postpositions are just added to three of the pronominal forms given in Lesson 1 (shen-ze on you (sing.), chven-ze on us, tkvenze on you (pl.)), the form to which these postpositions are attached for the 1st person singular pronoun is the same as appears in the 1st person singular possessives (e.g. chem-ze on me)."

Though technically accurate, I find myself having to read that paragraph repeatedly to understand what he's trying to tell me, and I wish I had a table instead of references to earlier lessons, comparisons to other cases, a discussion of postpositions, and a wild mixture of first, second, and third person. Most of the paragraphs in this book are written like the above.

Why does Mr. Hewitt present the dative and the genitive cases in adjacent paragraphs, giving the reader no time to learn, digest, and apply between these two important points, especially since these two cases look similar and are sometimes even identical in appearance? And why, in his exposition on the pronouns in the genitive case does Mr. Hewitt reference the heretofore unmentioned ergative case, which is not presented until six lessons later?

There is a reason I have never gotten past chapter four in particular. Mr. Hewitt presents the first three chapters in transliteration with short dialogs. (Yes, the dialogs are miserable and nonsensical, as others have already written.) Suddenly in the fourth chapter everything is in the Georgian script, and the dialogs and associated vocabulary lists approximately triple in length. How is one supposed to learn under such circumstances?

I have come to the conclusion, after years of forgiveness in Mr. Hewitt's direction and self-blame, that my failure to learn Georgian is in fact not my fault, and never has been. I did not have the proper learning material starting fifteen years ago. I'm now going to try to find it here on Amazon. Perhaps not just anything is better than this book, but nothing is worse -- it fails to teach, and that it its central purpose.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and UTTERLY WORTHLESS! 26 Jan. 2009
By N. Jacobs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book in hopes of learning Georgian when I was 18, and it was way, way, way over my head back then. Now, nearly 10 years later, this book still collects dust, and I've forgotten pretty much everything.

The book luckily starts with the alphabet and some easy phrases, but then drops you off in the deep end, introducing rather heavy topics that will go over the heads of anyone who is not extremely well versed in linguistic and grammatical terms (which I now am, yet still loathe this book). The pronunciation is all based on English English, and gives examples which are different in other forms of English, or just obscure.

The worst part is that a lot of the material here is not useful outside of the book. Just have a look at the "handy phrases" in the back of the book, if you need any more proof! The explaination of the grammar makes this already daunting language even more difficult, and I'm sure will turn many people off from learning Georgian if they start with this book.

One review stated that this "has no serious rival." I hope that will soon change, and some other book will knock this waste of paper off that pedestal. Just because it is the only book on the subject, does not mean that it is good. In fact, in this case, it just flat out sucks, to use the parlance of our times.
149 of 156 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Coming from a Georgian Pofessor... 9 Sept. 2000
By Professor Dodona Kiziria - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Professor George Hewitt obviously did not condescend to have his manuscript checked by a native speaker. probably having assumed his knowledge of Georgian is flawless. BUT GEORGIANS DO NOT SPEAK THE WAY MR. HEWITT ASSUMES THEY DO! Besides numerous grammatical mistakes, many syntactically clumsy sentences can be understood only if they are translated verbatim back into English. The author constantly mixes different speech styles, polite formulas with rude or substandard expressions. Here is a piece of "friendly" conversation among two students: "Oh dear, what are those boils (that have) popped out on your face?!", asked one student. "There are no pimples (on my face), you good for nothing", retaliates the latter. The Georgian equivalent of "good for nothing" is far more insulting and far less expected to be used among friends than in English.
The book also contains a number of thoroughly politicized dialogues that refer to extremely complex and sensitive political and ethnic problems plaguing contemporary Georgia. The author, however, has no problem finding the "right" answers and never hesitates to offer (through the mouth of his fictional characters) "wise" advise to Georgians, who are invariably presented as obnoxious, servile, and vulgar. On page 172, a Georgian congratulates his British acquaintance who "has guessed the Georgians' boastfulness. In another dialogue a speaker asks his friend: "Was it our obnoxious character that caused the mistakes we made?" (page 334) A certain Paata is telling his interlocutor (his boss or someone his senior) that he, just like every Georgian, "doesn't give a damn" what the words on his T-shirt mean, as long as it is foreign made (page 191) The Georgian equivalent of the expression "don't give a damn" (literally "it's hanging on my legs") is much ruder than the English, and nobody would use it while speaking to his superior, unless one would want to be intentionally rude.
In order to demonstrate a certain type of verb conjugation, Professor Hewitt found it admissible to use the obscenities "you pee" and "you take a crap", which he translates as "you urinate" and "you defecate" respectively (page 52). One can imagine how embarrassed a person would find himself if he were to use these words in a conversation with a doctor, for instance. Professor Hewitt must have decide to "improve" even Georgian folklore and has transformed a humorous tongue twister: " A frog is croaking in the water" into " A frog is croaking in the putrid water" (page 5). An English speaker would certainly be surprised to read something like: " Peter Piper Picked a peck of putrid peppers". Professor Hewitt is known as a talented linguist and it is a pity that he has disgraced himself by writing a textbook which is insulting and humiliating the people whose language he is supposed to be teaching to unsuspecting students. Furthermore, Georgian a Learner's Grammar should be subtitled "Hate the Georgians!" Such a title would best reflect the sense of venom which permeates the entire book. Sincerely, Professor Dodona Kiziria Indiana University
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