I am a man and I’m wearing a hat

My old friend Kakha from Georgia was visiting us last week, and at one point I asked him whether Rabbie Burns was well-kent in Georgia.

“Absolutely, we love the song about the man and his hat,” replied Kakha.

“The man and his hat?!?”

“Yes, you know: კაცი ვარ და ქუდი მხურავს (‘I am a man and I’m wearing a hat’),” said Kakha. He started to sing: “კაცი ვარ და ქუდი მხურავს // ქედს არ ვუხრი არავის. // არც არავის ვემონები // არც ვბატონობ არავის.” (“Ḳaci var da kudi mxuravs // keds ar vuxri aravis. // Arc aravis vemonebi // arc vbaṭonob aravis.”)

I managed to find a YouTube clip of Georgians singing this:

At first I couldn’t find any poem by Burns that matched the lyrics, but the line “არც ვბატონობ არავის” (“and I don’t rule over anybody”) gave me a clue. It must be “I hae a wife o’ my ain“:

I Hae a wife of my ain, 
I’ll partake wi’ naebody; 
I’ll take Cuckold frae nane, 
I’ll gie Cuckold to naebody. 

I hae a penny to spend, 
There — thanks to naebody! 
I hae naething to lend, 
I'll borrow frae naebody. 

I am naebody’s lord, 
I’ll be slave to naebody; 
I hae a gude braid sword, 
I’ll tak dunts frae naebody. 

I’ll be merry and free, 
I’ll be sad for naebody; 
Naebody cares for me, 
I care for naebody. 

Georgians love this song — they feel it describes them. It’ll never cease to amaze me how Burns was able to write songs that reach out to people from all countries at all times.

The screeve

From Howard I. Aronson’s Georgian: A Reading Grammar:



Guinness reaches Tbilisi
Originally uploaded by viralbus

A final term must be introduced here, the screeve (coined by the Georgian linguist Ak ?ak ?i Šanije from the Georgian word mc ?k ?rivi ‘row’). A screeve is what is traditionally called a tense, i.e., a set of six forms of a given verb differing only in person and number, as in Latin amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant. But since the various “tenses” do not always have temporal meaning, but may have modal or aspectual meanings instead, we prefer the more unusual but less misleading term of screeves.

Ever since I studied Georgian, I’ve continued using the word screeve instead of tense mentally, although of course I have to translate it when I’m speaking to non-Kartvelists. I really wish its use would increase.

Der er dog et problem med, hvordan man skal oversætte det til dansk. Et skriv lyder ikke så godt. 🙁

Multilingual blogging

Som en del af la Journée européenne des langues, today is the Day of Multilingual Blogging.

Para la mayoría de los bloggers no es difícil, ?????? ??? ??? ????? ?????? ?? ????? ????? ??????, och alla läsare förstår genast att det inte er vanligt, kiam ili skribas en nekutima lingvo.

Men hvis jeg havde blogget på spansk eller tysk, hätten alle wohl gedacht che sia completamente normale.

???, co jsem mohl d?lat? ?? ?????? ????: !??? ??? ??????? ???? ????????? ??? ???? ??????

Problem solved!

Tschenkéli’s Georgian-German dictionary is in print again!

Great news!

The famed three-volume Georgian-German dictionary by Kita Tschenkéli (???? ????????), “Georgisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch”, which is the best bilingual dictionary of Georgian into any language, including English and Russian, is in print again!

When I studied Georgian in Tbilisi, my dad had to get all 2508 pages photocopied from the university library’s copy and sent to me because it was absolutely essential but impossible to buy anywhere.

The price is €145, which is really quite cheap for this type of work. The only reason I’m not ordering it is because I still have my prized photocopies.

They’re also selling his excellent Einführung in die Georgische Sprache at €75. This is not essential in the same way, but it’s definitely worth having if you’re serious about learning Georgian. I don’t own it, but I’ve spent many happy hours with it in the library of the Department of Linguistics in Aarhus.

The beer revolution

Asmus Rotne, who studied in Tbilisi the year before I did, today posted on Facebook that he had “just heard that the Georgian patriarch declared that toasting with beer is ok and carries the same significance as toasting with wine! It is a revolution!”

It is a revolution indeed, although you probably need to be familiar with Georgian culture to realise it.

In Georgia, socially acceptable drinking mainly happens at the keipi (?????), a highly codified dinner party.

It is normally for men only, with the women cooking and serving and drinking fruit schapps in the kitchen. Each man will choose at the beginning whether they’re drinking wine (?????), brandy (???????) or vodka (????), although often wine is the only thing on offer. The tamada (??????) (“toast master”) will at regular intervals make toasts, empty his glass, and all the men will in turn make a speech on the same topic and empty their glasses, after which the glasses will be refilled.

Beer (????), on the other hand, has till now not been acceptable in that context. Many people like to drink beer with their xink’ali (???????), some sort of huge ravioli, which is probably the only dish than men cook, but apart from that, beer is drunk without food, and because toasting is a ritual, it has been impossible to offer toasts in beer.

So the patriarch’s decision will lead to huge social change.

Pirosmani


Eating ???????????
Originally uploaded by viralbus

Phyllis and I spent the weekend in Paris with Anna.

Close to our hotel, on the Rue Boutebrie, we found a wonderful Georgian restaurant, called Pirosmani (named after the painter, of course).

I had lobio and xink’ali, and Phyllis had ajapsandali and kharcho, but Anna liked the ajapsandali best.

??????????? ajapsandali (recipe here) is diced aubergine that has been cooked till it’s very tender with tomato and lots of herbs, and she just loved it.

Why aren’t there any Georgian restaurants in Glasgow? My lobio was just great, and if Pirosmani had been here instead, I’d definitely go there often.