Gorgeous Georgian

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Vordhosbn
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Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:17 am

It dawned on me about a week ago that I haven't thrown my credit card at anything languages-related in a while. So began my treasure hunt for some highly elusive tomes. And my efforts paid off: I managed to snag both volumes, in near-pristine condition, of Kita Tschenkéli's excellent Einführung in die Georgische Sprache. I paid a pretty penny indeed, but never have I felt so blessed to know the German language!

I've also had Dodona Kiziria's little manual sitting on my shelf for what must be close to ten years now. My plan is to start with that, thereafter move on to Buske Verlag's Lehrbuch der Georgischen Sprache, followed by Tschenkéli, and hopefully by that point Aronson won't feel so impenetrably abstruse.

Given my predilection for wanderlust and distraction, we'll see how far this goes. But I at least have some familiarity with the alphabet now. Next stop, those pesky ejectives...
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Deinonysus » Mon Aug 02, 2021 11:57 am

Best of luck! Georgian is a very interesting language with a beautiful script! It bears some surprising similarities to Navajo, including a somewhat similar phonemic inventory, SOV word order, and a template of how certain affixes attach to the verb (although with Navajo, the root comes at the very end).

I've found that ejectives were surprisingly easy to pronounce. I found a great suggestion from a video about Navajo pronunciation that the sound you might make while imitating a lawn sprinkler is [ts’] repeated rhythmically. Another helpful suggestion was that regular voiceless consonants come out as ejectives if you pronounce them while you're holding your breath, but they gave a warning not to hold your breath too long or you'll pass out!
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Tue Aug 31, 2021 1:53 am

Halfway through Kiziria now. I've so far skipped all the exercises and most of the grammatical explanations (referring to them only as needed), and have instead opted to sentence mine the lessons by typing out selected sentences for review. As a result of this exercise, I can now type Georgian relatively comfortably and am slowly moving out of the "search and peck" phase. :D

I additionally exported the accompanying audio sentences and wrote a little shell script to create a CSV file for bulk-importing this data into Anki.

I was also extremely fortunate to obtain, free of charge from Donald Rayfield himself, an expanded and updated (2019) digital (PDF) edition of A Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary (still available in physical form through Queen Mary University of London). I will probably write a small application to parse this document and make it easier to search.

In other news, I watched the movie My Happy Family (ჩემი ბედნიერი ოჯახი) on Netflix, about a middle-aged Georgian wife who struggles to break free of her suffocating family and live in her own apartment. The plot, while mundane, gave a glimpse into the kind of social norms that still seem to exist within Georgian society. It was also much more watchable than almost anything I've managed to find so far on Georgian television, most of which seems to consist primarily of skit-based comedies and soap operas.

And last but not least, more goodies turned up today! The Lehrbuch will be my next port of call once I'm done with the present book I'm using. The other two books are a set of verb tables which will prove indispensable, and a themed collection of some 3,800 example sentences. Ideally I would have the latter book made into a copy+paste-able format and recorded for the purpose of sentence mining. I've sent an e-mail to Buske asking if it is available as a PDF, since a number of their offerings are in fact available in digital form. The alternative options are to transcribe them all myself, a painstaking task, or have them transcribed by a third party which will be costly. Add to that the challenge of getting them recorded and we're looking at an exorbitant amount of money for the contents of a single book. So instead what I will probably do is leave that one until I'm around a more intermediate level and then I can selectively transcribe them and simply exclude the audio.

The only other resources I am still waiting on are Dunwoody Press's Advanced Georgian Reader, and the audio CDs for their Georgian Newspaper Reader. No rush on these; it will be many, many months before I can hope to profit from them.

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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Expugnator » Tue Nov 23, 2021 4:51 pm

You definitely started with the best! None of these existed when I struggled in the first half of the 2010's (it seems so long ago now).

I'm not sure I have caught a glimpse of the Advanced Georgian Reader yet, and I'm looking forward to reading your impressions when the time comes.

There's a book called Teach Yourself Georgian which also showed up when I was not a beginner anymore. It has no affiliation to the UK house whatsoever and is actually more learner-friendly. It's not so much paced for self-learning because I couldn't find answer key or audio.
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Fri Jan 14, 2022 6:05 am

Still trudging along. I've been overwhelmingly preoccupied with unrelated projects and work, however as part of a New Year's Resolution, I have been putting in a minimum of 30 minutes a day - and often much more - which I have so far successfully kept up.

As it stands, I would like to regard January 1, 2022 as my "proper" start date for Georgian, as the neglected months between my last post eroded most of what little I had learned, and besides, who doesn't like a fresh start?

I am currently on lesson 11 of Lehrbuch der Georgischen Sprache (which I might more easily refer to as A&L after the authors). It's a short lesson, and one I was looking forward to for this very reason, however things definitely slowed down with the introduction of "inversive Verben" (indirect or inverse verbs), which has provided my first proper glimpse into the counterintuitive nature of the verbal system. Georgian had initially struck me as remarkably Indo-European-like, and somewhat disappointingly so, since I was looking forward to taking on something difficult and different. My brief experience dabbling in Korean seemed more obviously foreign from the get-go; what's the big deal with Georgian? Beginner's ignorance, no doubt: even a simple, basic sentence like the following required a bit of mental gymnastics to understand, and it's still not particularly intuitive:

შეგიძლია ჩემთან მოსვლა?
Can you come to me?

The literal rendering in German is given as: "Ist dir möglich, das Kommen zu mir?". All the parts individually appear to make sense to me, but the challenge is in understanding the sentence intuitively as a whole. More study, more examples, and more time should solve all of this.

I'll sign off with a preview of my copy of Dunwoody Press' "Advanced Georgian Reader", which I can only dream of being able to read someday:
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Vordhosbn
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Wed Feb 09, 2022 11:19 am

Finished lessons 1-20 of Lehrbuch der Georgischen Sprache (A&L). Unfortunately I just found out that the next two lessons were inexplicably left unrecorded, as well lesson 24, and also the final lessons 31-33. I've written to the publisher (Buske Verlag) about this. Perhaps they were in fact recorded but accidentally omitted...

Georgian is already a relatively under-resourced language, and this just adds insult to injury. Furthermore, A&L is not particularly well designed; vocabulary, verb conjugations (especially complex in Georgian) and miscellaneous grammar is all kind of thrown at you in haphazardly produced lessons which vary randomly in length and complexity. The explanations are added to the vocabulary lists, a rather unusual structure that takes some getting used to, and the translations are often idiomatic, leaving it to the learner to attempt to derive the literal meaning herself.

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother...

On the plus side, it has a concise bird's-eye overview of the grammar in the appendix, intelligent exercises and a collection of verb tables highlighting the most common irregular verbs. The texts themselves eventually become quite substantive, although they deal primarily with history, which won't interest everyone.

It's clear that there is still much to get out of this book, and I had intended to use it as preparatory material for Tschenkeli's much more demanding Einführung in die georgische Sprache (pictured in my original post). It seems now that exactly the opposite will happen: I don't want to work with material that is missing either text or audio, not at the novice stage, and so with much annoyance I am going to shelve this one for now and commence with Tschenkeli, a considerably more systematic and comprehensive work, the completion of which constitutes my specific language goal for this year. It's arguably more of a grammar reference than a textbook, but it has clear, efficient explanations, lots and lots of example sentences, and a chrestomathy at the back - all complete with recordings! - albeit in rather low quality, having been digitized from decades-old cassette tapes.

I expect this will take me around six months, studying every day, to complete the 48 lessons. The chrestomathy is anyone's guess, and given some other resources I have, I might by that point be champing at the bit, desperate for something new and fresh. We'll see!
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Vordhosbn
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Fri Feb 11, 2022 6:54 am

I received a reply regarding the missing audio recordings for the A&L book:
Buske Verlag wrote:Die vermissten Sprachaufnahmen fehlen nicht, vielmehr folgt die Auswahl der aufgenommenen Texte den Vorgaben der Autoren. Wir werden Ihre Anregung aber zur Vorbereitung der nächsten Auflage an die Autoren weiterleiten.

Translation:

"The recordings aren't actually missing, rather they were selectively recorded in accordance with the authors' specifications. We'll pass on your suggestion to them as part of the preparation for the next edition of the book."

How bizzare.
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Feb 11, 2022 7:02 am

Vordhosbn wrote:I received a reply regarding the missing audio recordings for the A&L book:
Buske Verlag wrote:Die vermissten Sprachaufnahmen fehlen nicht, vielmehr folgt die Auswahl der aufgenommenen Texte den Vorgaben der Autoren. Wir werden Ihre Anregung aber zur Vorbereitung der nächsten Auflage an die Autoren weiterleiten.

Translation:

"The recordings aren't actually missing, rather they were selectively recorded in accordance with the authors' specifications. We'll pass on your suggestion to them as part of the preparation for the next edition of the book."

How bizzare.
The French Mauger Civilisation course's official audio only covered a few of the lessons too.
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Vordhosbn
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Wed Mar 30, 2022 9:58 am

Quick update: I've reached Lesson 12 of Einführung in die georgische Sprache (Tschenkeli), and it is already proving to be an exceptional piece of work. Although the book is fundamentally grammatical in its focus, the explanations are so clear and concise and systematically layered upon one another, that it is hard to imagine how Aronson could possibly top this. It is a book written by a master teacher, as well as an expert linguist, and though highly academic in tone, I find it eminently readable.

I recall Expugnator's exasperation at the many chapters on passive verbs (and a quick glance at later chapters confirms this - why so many??), and I'm only just getting into the real meat of the verbal system, but I am salivating at the amount of knowledge I will have accumulated on conclusion of the 48th and final lesson. :ugeek:

P.S. The most difficult thing about this language so far is that "mama" means father and "deda" means mother. My brain simply refuses to accept this any time I hear it.
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Re: Gorgeous Georgian

Postby Vordhosbn » Sat Apr 30, 2022 10:30 am

Alright, end-of-month update:

Still plodding along every day. I've actually made little progress on new lessons, but rather spent much of this month consolidating the knowledge from the first 12 lessons. I'll pick up speed next month (starting tomorrow, actually).

One feature that has struck me in Georgian so far is the difference in how verbs work in the future tense, as opposed to the present. I'll try to explain by way of examples, although German actually makes for a good reference language here:

Take the German verb schreiben, "to write". You can add a range of prefixes to modify the meaning, while still retaining the base meaning of the verb, e.g. abschreiben, einschreiben, aufschreiben and so on.

Georgian also has a set of prefixes and these can also be attached to verbs to modify their meaning just as German does. The fascinating difference is that these prefixes can only be used to indicate future tense. Let's look at an example:

მე ვწერ - me vts'er - I write

ვწერ / vts'er is the 1st person present tense. Let's think of it as the "base form" for the sake of illustration.

First, each verb has its own dedicated prefix which does not change the meaning, but simply puts the verb into future tense. Let's take a single example:

(Prefixes added in bold)

მე დავწერ - me davts'er - I will write

This is relatively straightforward, but still demands a kind of rote knowledge as to what each verb's dedicated future-marking prefix is. I suppose this is roughly akin to needing to know the gender of each noun in French, German, etc. Now let's look at some examples of the range of prefixes which both modify the meaning and put the verb into future tense:

მე გადავწერ - me gadavts'er - I will transcribe
მე ჩავწერ - me chavts'er - I will enter (a record)
მე აღვწერ - me aghvts'er - I will describe

Again: These prefixes modify the meaning of the base verb "to write" and put the verb into future tense.

So the question is: How the hell do you say the above three examples in the present tense?

The answer is: technically you can't! Well, of course you can, but in the present tense you must simply say: მე ვწერ - me vts'er - I write. The prefix modifiers are absent in the present tense and the range of possible meanings must instead be inferred from context. So the future tense provides clear disambiguation, whereas present tense gives you a single verb form to work with (obviously conjugated for person) which covers all of these meanings on its own.

Strange language.
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