There are seven grammatical cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, instrumental, adverbial and vocative. Although the inclusion of the vocative case in this list is question by Arnold Chikobava and others for the reason that in Georgian a word in the vocative case is never involved in a syntactic collocation with neither a verb nor a noun.
In Georgian, there is no accusative; instead that syntactic function is served by the nominative (ex. მხატვარმა დახატა სურათი) and dative (ex. მხატვარი ხატავს სურათს) cases.
There is only one type of noun declension in Georgian, though some phonetic changes may happen during the inflection.
The declension of a noun depends on whether the root of the noun ends with a vowel or a consonant. Stems may end with any of the vowels (ა (a), ე (e), ი (i), ო (o), უ (u)), though ი is very uncommon, and is chiefly restricted to borrowings (such as ჩაი (č’ai), ტრამვაი (tramvai), ჟოკეი (žokei), პაი (pai), გეი (gei)) and personal names (such as გიორგი (giorgi), ამროსი (amrosi), აკაკი (akaki), and კორნელი (korneli)). Stems ending with a consonant have -ი (-i) as a nominative case marker. In Old Georgian all nouns ended with ი/ჲ (for example დედაჲ (deday), მამაჲ (mamay), and კლდეჲ (kldey)). Some dialects of Georgian preserved this (for example რაი (rai), გზაი (gzai), and ქვაი (k’vai)).
The roles of noun casesEdit
Georgian has seven cases as described below. Adjectives and pronouns can also be inflected in these cases.
- The nominative case marker: -ი (-i)
The nominative case is used for the subjects of intransitive verbs in all screeves, for the subjects of transitive verbs in the present series, for the direct objects of transitive verbs in the other series, and for the direct objects of indirect verbs. It is also the case in which nouns are cited.
- The narrative case marker: -მა (-ma)
- The dative case marker: -ს (-s)
The dative case is used for subjects of indirect verbs and of transitive verbs in the perfect series. It is also used for the direct object of transitive verbs in the present series, and to mark the indirect objects of transitive verbs (except in the perfect series) and of intransitive verbs. The dative is also found in expressions of place and time.
- The genitive case marker: -ის (-is)
- The instrumental case marker: -ით (-it’)
- ბადით თევზაობს.
- badit' tevzaobs.
- (He) is fishing with a net.
- The adverbial case marker: -ად (-ad)
The adverbial case is found in contexts such as the following:
- მდივნად დანიშნეს
- mdivnad danišnes
- He was appointed secretary
- მასწავლებლად მუშაობს
- mascavleblad mušaobs
- (He/she/it) works as a teacher
This case can often be translated using as (‘They appointed him as secretary’, ‘He works as a teacher.’).
- The vocative case marker: -ო (-o)
The vocative case is used in direct address, as in ჩემო კარგო! (č'emo kargo!) (‘my dear’, ‘darling’).
Phonetically there are three forms of declension:
- Neither case marker nor stem affects each other.
- This is the simplest and most common form. Words pertaining to this category end with a consonant.
- Examples: კაცი (kac’i), სახელი (saxeli), ამხანაგი (amxanagi), კვარკი (kvarki), პროჭი (proči), მეტლახი (metlaxi), პიდარასტი (pidarasti), ქლიავი (k’liavi), კაი ბიჭი (kai biči), ნაბიჭვარი (nabičvari), ტრაკი (traki)
- Case marker that starts with a vowel affects a stem and either:
- Stem's interior vowel is dropped (called syncope)
- Comment: there is no strict rule, but usually, stems ending with -ალ-, -არ-, -ან-, -ელ-, -ოლ- or -ორ- are affected. However, there are exceptions (such as ქალი (k’ali), მხარი (mxari), ცალი (c’ali), დარი (dari)).
- Stem's interior vowel weakens and changes into ვ (v)
- Stem's last vowel gets truncated
- Stem's last and some interior vowels drop
- Comment: this can be seen as a combination of the first and third cases.
- Examples: ქვეყანა (k’veqana)
- Stem's last vowel affects case marker
- Case marker's first vowel is dropped.
- Comment: obviously this applies to only nouns that end in a vowel. The genitive and instrumental cases are affected. There are four situations where this type of declension happens:
- When a noun's stem ends in -ო (-o), -უ (-u) or -ი (-i):
- When stems ending with vowel denote a personal name or surname:
- When a noun is formed by the suffix -ა:
- When the word is a borrowing:
- When certain words (such as დედა (deda) or მამა (mama)) is used to refer not to the general concept that the noun represents, but rather to the a specific one relevant to the speaker:
- “Georgian noun declension” in Arnold Chikobava (editor-in-chief) (1950–64), k’art’uli enis ganmartebit’i lek’sikoni [Explanatory Dictionary of the Georgian language], in 8 vols, Tbilisi