Hallo, Sakartvelo!

I apologize, to those of you who still sporadically check this blog, that I basically never write.  My life is a whirl of grading and frantically skimming Russian lit and way to many contact hours with students and professors.

It will all end in two short weeks.

In the meantime, I have exciting news.  I’m going to the Republic of Georgia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_%28country%29) this summer, for a two month-ish jaunt to learn to language and travel about, eating, drinking, and speaking in only consonants.

I’ve been taking Georgian for two years now, but, I often feel that I’ve made as much progress with Georgian as Koko the gorilla has with English syntax…(that means disappointingly not enough…)

Anyway, although I have regular classes in Georgian, I decided to up the ante in prep for summer travel and started reviewing basics using a Georgian grammar book  that the boyfriend had (he is actually the type of guy who just has grammars of Caucasian languages lying around….).

The book isn’t great, helpful enough, but a pedagogical nightmare.  If you’ve ever used language learning text books, you’re familiar with all the types of exercises books have—fill in the blanks, short dialogues, simple translations, MAYBE a very easy crossword.  This book has word jumbles.  Yup—scrambled collections of letters you’re supposed to turn into grammatical phrases.  By the second lesson.  Can you imagine if you were two lessons into learning English and you were given an exercise such as

1. eghsietsnestrgar ( solution: the grass is green)

Anyway, the real gem of this book is the reference section in the back for those traveling to Georgia.  Now, the book was published in the 1990’s, but clearly exhibits a Soviet vibe, as the author studied Georgian almost entirely while Georgia was under the Soviet yoke.

The book is nearly 500 pages long, but only has about 6-7 pages of phrases.   Highlights include (organized by “scenario”):

“On the street”:

What did that lad say?

–  He’s asking for a match.

Are you a believer?

–  No, I don’t believe in God. (no alternative answer is supplied!)

I’ve amassed a mountain of washing.

(Immediately followed by:)

They will arrest that couple and lock them up separately from each other.

I’ve apparently got a splinter in my finger.

X’s life hangs by a thread

Why did you give that child a slap? [why indeed????]

Is left-handedness a common phenomenon in Transcaucasia?

– I haven’t a clue.

What have we got left to be proud of?

– We can at least take pride in our history

You’ve apparently got soaked in the rain. (seems a bit obnoxious, but what do I know…)

“In the restaurant”:

I don’t fancy tripe today [no other food options included]

God, what shall we do if she’s been poisoned by this sour cream?

A fish-bone apparently got stuck in her throat.

“At the Doctor’s”:

Don’t hasten the end of my life for me!

Willingly or unwillingly you will swallow this pill!

“Customs/Documents”:

Nothing will be left unnoticed by them [oh Soviet border guards…]

Don’t poke you’re nose into my business! (Does that work with customs officials??)

Yup, I can see that with a little bit more study, I’ll be prepared for Gulag-interrogations, sinister medical professionals and the constant threat of death by sour cream….

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