- 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)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Georgian: A Learner's Grammar (Routledge Essential Grammars) Paperback – 23 Jun 2005
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‘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)
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
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.
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.
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.
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