A Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary

Rayfield, Donald (Editor-in-chief) A Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary (Garnett Press, London 2006) ISBN 0-9535878-3-5

Rayfield, Donald (Editor-in-chief) A Comprehensive Georgian-English Dictionary (Garnett Press, London 2006) ISBN 0-9535878-3-5

The indispensable Georgian-English dictionary, unrivalled in its breadth and quality

This two-volume dictionary is a sine qua non for the serious student of the Georgian language. It has every Georgian word I can think of, or have come across – as well as many that I have never seen – and has a huge quantity of idiomatic expressions, proverbs and examples.

I am particularly impressed by its treatment of the Georgian verb: unlike the Gvarjaladze Georgian-English dictionary, where verbs only appear in the “masdar” form – which, when one is reading, is highly unlikely to be the form one encounters, thus leaving one having to guess the masdar – this dictionary also contains entries for the third person present tense, both active and passive forms – and in some cases even more forms.

So, for example, whilst Gvarjaladze has just one entry for the verb “to say” (which is tqma), this dictionary also has an entry for ambobs [he/she says] (and this entry itself shows the additional forms of the same verb tqma, tqvi, utqvams, it’q’vis – as well as the form uambnia, which I have to admit I have never heard*) – and there are also individual dictionary entries for the following words, which all represent other forms of the very same verb: tqva, tqma, utqvams, utxra, it’q’vis, eubneba and et’yvis – and probably some more which I can’t think of (or perhaps have never heard) – and each of these entries shows various other forms and examples. No wonder the dictionary is so big!** 

In fact, whilst I am loath to criticise this masterwork in any way, if I were to criticise it then it would be for its length. A shortened version, eliminating most of the archaic and regional words, in a single volume which could easily be transported, would be extremely useful. But as it is, this dictionary is the best Georgian-English dictionary that I have ever seen. 

Review by Anthony Stobart (December 2016)

*I understand that it means “he/she has told, recounted”

**The fact that there are so many forms of the verb “to say” (compared to English, which has just three forms – say, says and said) also helps explain why Georgian is so difficult to learn.

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