By Professor Dodona Kiziria (Georgia)
Professor George Hewitt obviously did not condescend to have his manuscript checked by a native speaker. probably having assumed his knowledge of Georgian is flawless. BUT GEORGIANS DO NOT SPEAK THE WAY MR. HEWITT ASSUMES THEY DO! Besides numerous grammatical mistakes, many syntactically clumsy sentences can be understood only if they are translated verbatim back into English. The author constantly mixes different speech styles, polite formulas with rude or substandard expressions. Here is a piece of "friendly" conversation among two students: "Oh dear, what are those boils (that have) popped out on your face?!", asked one student. "There are no pimples (on my face), you good for nothing", retaliates the latter. The Georgian equivalent of "good for nothing" is far more insulting and far less expected to be used among friends than in English.
The book also contains a number of thoroughly politicized dialogues that refer to extremely complex and sensitive political and ethnic problems plaguing contemporary Georgia. The author, however, has no problem finding the "right" answers and never hesitates to offer (through the mouth of his fictional characters) "wise" advise to Georgians, who are invariably presented as obnoxious, servile, and vulgar. On page 172, a Georgian congratulates his British acquaintance who "has guessed the Georgians' boastfulness. In another dialogue a speaker asks his friend: "Was it our obnoxious character that caused the mistakes we made?" (page 334) A certain Paata is telling his interlocutor (his boss or someone his senior) that he, just like every Georgian, "doesn't give a damn" what the words on his T-shirt mean, as long as it is foreign made (page 191) The Georgian equivalent of the expression "don't give a damn" (literally "it's hanging on my legs") is much ruder than the English, and nobody would use it while speaking to his superior, unless one would want to be intentionally rude.
In order to demonstrate a certain type of verb conjugation, Professor Hewitt found it admissible to use the obscenities "you pee" and "you take a crap", which he translates as "you urinate" and "you defecate" respectively (page 52). One can imagine how embarrassed a person would find himself if he were to use these words in a conversation with a doctor, for instance. Professor Hewitt must have decide to "improve" even Georgian folklore and has transformed a humorous tongue twister: " A frog is croaking in the water" into " A frog is croaking in the putrid water" (page 5). An English speaker would certainly be surprised to read something like: " Peter Piper Picked a peck of putrid peppers". Professor Hewitt is known as a talented linguist and it is a pity that he has disgraced himself by writing a textbook which is insulting and humiliating the people whose language he is supposed to be teaching to unsuspecting students. Furthermore, Georgian a Learner's Grammar should be subtitled "Hate the Georgians!" Such a title would best reflect the sense of venom which permeates the entire book.
Sincerely, Professor Dodona Kiziria Indiana University