Georgian Grammar Part 4: Pluperfect Tense & Masdars

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Georgian Grammar Part 4: Pluperfect Tense & Masdars 2017-05-23T13:14:52+00:00

Now that you have learned the cases, the present subjunctive tense of the verb ყოფნა – to be and the main verb using the ყოფნა conjugation as well as მისვლა – to go and all the prefixes, you are ready to advance further in Georgian grammar.

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The Pluperfect Tense

One of the most complicated tenses in the Georgian grammar is the pluperfect tense. What exactly is the pluperfect tense? The pluperfect tense is a form of past tense which indicates a past tense performing a non-habitual action. This means, where the past subjunctive or a present subjunctive might consist of a habitual action, an action which is done repeatedly, the pluperfect gives a concise period of time when an action is performed.

Case Endings and Noun Modification with the Pluperfect Tense

Technically, the pluperfect takes the nominative case, however, the ending of the noun does change and will take the ending ნი when you have the pluperfect tense. The verb is conjugated much in the same way as the aorist tense. See the examples below.

გუშინშვიდნიგურჯანელნისანადიროწავიდნენ. Yesterday, the seven lads from Gurjaani went out hunting. *
გუშინზურაბნისანთელიდაანთა. Yesterday, Zurab lit a candle.
რამდენნიიყნენროცაშენიმანქანამოგიფარეს ? How many were there when they stole your car?

* The very first sentence in these examples above is based on a famous Kakhetian legend song, გუშინ შვიდნი გურჯაანელნი (Yesterday Seven Gurjaanians) . This song dates back to the Tenth Century and is during a time that the Kingdom of Persia occupied much of Kakheti and other parts of eastern Georgia. The song is about seven boys from the Kakhetian town of Gurjaani, near Telavi. These boys went out hunting and killed a white wild pig. This was at a time in the 10th Century when the Persians were invading the eastern Georgian province of Kakheti. The Persians were a group of early Muslims who were very superstitious and feared any part of the pig. Their brand of Islam believed that the pig was an unclean animal and were possessed by evil, thus they would run away from them.

 

There is an ancient monastery on a rocky hill in Gremi. The Persians were approaching Gremi to desecrate the Gremi monastery and many people came from the surrounding towns, including Gurjaani, and they build a wall surrounding the Gremi monastery with pigs heads. When the invading Persians saw all the pigs heads surrounding the monastery, they fled in fear and the monastery was saved from desecration. Since that event, Gremi is the only Orthodox Christian monastery in the whole world where Easter baskets containing meats can be blessed inside the church with the other Easter baskets. Any other Orthodox church has the Easter baskets containing meats blessed outside the church. This folk song is a very famous Georgian folk song with the traditional acapella polyphonic Georgian singing. This song is especially popular in Kakheti.

Video: The Georgian Folk Song “Yesterday Seven Gurjaanians

Yesterday Seven Gurjaanians performed by the popular Georgian folklore singer Hamlet Gonashvili

The Georgian folk song mentioned above is a perfect example of use of the Georgian pluperfect tense. If you look at the first verse of the song below, you will notice the ending of the nominative case change with the verb. See the first verse below and especially pay attention to the endings highlighted in red.

გუშინშვიდნიგურჯაანელნი, გუშინშვიდნიგურჯაანელნი-აიჰაი… გუშინშვიდნიგურჯაანელნი, გუშინშვიდნიგურჯაანელნი… სანადიროწავიდნენ.

As you can see in the first verse of the above mentioned song, there are many factors which make the action in the pluperfect tense. The translation is below.

Yesterday, the seven lads from Gurjaani, Oh, yesterday the seven lads from Gurjaani – ai hai… Yesterday, the seven lads from Gurjaani went out hunting…

As you can see in the translation, the seven lads from Gurjaani went out hunting and several words in the sentence denote the pluperfect, as they were not habitually hunting. As you can see, this verse of the song starts with გუშინ, yesterday. These lads went hunting yesterday. This means they hunted once, yesterday. The verse implies an action performed only once in the past.

In the pluperfect, the subject is in the nominative, but the suffix -ნი is added to the noun. The verb is conjugated much like that of the aorist.

Masdars

Unique to Georgian grammar is a group of words known as masdars. The only other language which has masdars in its grammar is Arabic. What are masdars? Well, basically, masdars are verbs which have been converted into nouns. Typically, the root of the verb is used in its infinitive form to create the masdar and usually it is the noun form of the example.

  • ქურდობა (to steal, to rob)
  • ქურდობა (theft, burglary)
  • ქურდი (thief, robber)

Many of the verbs which are used as masdars are typically associated with trades, different lines of work or habitual activities. Some masdar verbs and their corresponding nouns are listed below.

  • ქურდობა (to steal, to rob)
  • აშენება (to build)
  • დაპატიმრება (to arrest)
  • მუშაობა (to work)
  • სწავლობა (to study, to learn)
  • მოკლვა (to kill, to murder)
  • ქურდონა (theft, burglary)
  • შენებლობა (construction)
  • პატიმრობა (arrest)
  • მუშაობა (work, labor)
  • სწავლობა (studying)
  • მომკლელობა (killing)
  • ქურდი (thief, robber)
  • შენობა (building)
  • პატიმარი (sb. under arrest, prisoner)
  • მუშაკი (worker, laborer)
  • მოსწავლე (student, pupil)
  • მომკლელი (killer, murderer)

Above are some of the basic masdar verbs you will come across frequently. However, you will need to understand that masdars can be even more complex. For example, the medial verb, სწავლობა (to learn), has more masdars than shown above. As shown above, masdar nouns from this verb do include სწავლობა (studying), which is identical to the infinitive of the verb, but can also change to მოსწავლე (student or pupil,, but also მასწავლებელი (teacher or educator).

The verb ნათლობა has many different masdar nouns and meanings. When you add the prefix მო-, the medial verb means to be baptized. When the root stands by itself, then ნათლობა means baptism.

If you add the prefix გა- to the ნათლობა masdar and change the ending, you get განათლება, which means education.

What is interesting about this verb is that it actually is derived from the noun სინათლე, which means light. This definition is also tied to Georgia’s ancient Christian culture. Basically, the idiomatic definition of ნათლობა is to shed light. Hence, the noun ნათლობა means baptism, as in getting the light of God.

Likewise, with education, the masdar noun of განათლება means enlightenment. This basically indicates the education in Georgia to be enlightening people.

This concludes the Georgian grammar. Georgian is a wonderful, yet complicated language with a very complicated grammar. It is a great language to learn and Georgia is an amazing country to visit.

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