The Kartvelologist

The Kartvelologist” is a bilingual (Georgian and English) peer-reviewed, academic journal, covering all spheres of Kartvelological scholarship. Along with introducing scholarly novelties in Georgian Studies, it aims at popularization of essays of Georgian researchers on the international level and diffusion of foreign Kartvelological scholarship in Georgian scholarly circles.

“The Kartvelologist” issues both in printed and electronic form. In 1993-2009 it came out only in printed form (#1-15). The publisher is the “Centre for Kartvelian Studies” (TSU), financially supported by the “Fund of the Kartvelological School”. In 2011-2013 the journal is financed by Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation.

Yasuhiro Kojima



1. Georgian has two conjunctions, rom and tu, which introduce a conditional clause. The predicate verb in rom conditional clauses is in the subjunctive mood. When an adverbial clause led by rom has an indicative predicate, it expresses time rather than condition, as in (1).

[rom + indicative]
(1) č’išk’ar-tan rom mivida,    isev    šemobrunda. (Dumbadze)
      gate.dat-at if      went.aor  again  turned.aor
     ‘When he went up to the gate, he turned again.’

[rom + subjunctive]
(2) es        rom čemi saxl-i             iq’os,      aravi-s       šemovušvebdi. (Chiladze)
     this.nom   if   my   house-nom  is.aorsbj  nobody-dat
     ‘If this were my house, I would not let anybody in.’

The conjunction tu, on the other hand, may be accompanied by a verb of either mood to form a conditional clause.

[tu + indicative]
(3) tu   ar             gamoxval,                         milicia-s                 moviq’van. (Chokheli)
      if    NEG        you.will.come.out.FUT   policeman-DAT   I.will.bring.FUT
     ‘If you don’t come out, I will bring a policeman here.’

[tu + subjunctive]
(4) ğvino             tu     dagč’irdes,                ar       momerido! (Dumbadze)
      wine.NOM    if     you.need.AORSBJ  NEG
      ‘If you need some wine, don’t hesitate!’

Table 1 illustrates the combination of a conjunction and the mood of the subordinate verb and the function of the clause.

Table 1. Conjunction, mood of the subordinate verb and function

rom tu
mood of the subordinate verb indicative time condition
subjunctive condition condition

2. The question then is what the difference is among the three types of conditional constructions in terms of their function. According to Vogt (4, pp. 209-10), rom introduces a hypothetical proposition, while tu, when combined with an indicative verb, presents a condition necessary for the apodosis situation. When tu co-occurs with a subjunctive verb, however, the meaning approaches that of rom protases.

Hewitt [7, pp. 73] drawing on “a general division between ‘vivid’ (otherwise known as ‘real’, ‘immediate’ or ‘open’) and ‘vague’ (otherwise known as ‘unreal’, ‘remote’ or ‘closed’) conditionals”, considers that tu generally forms vivid conditionals, while rom vague ones. Although the subjunctive mood is characteristic of vague conditions, the combination of tu and a subjunctive verb is semantically close to vivid conditionals [7, pp. 79]. He notes that when the conjunction is tu, “the appropriate indicative may be substituted for the subjunctive with almost no change of meaning, whereas rom cannot substitute for tu without a definite change being introduced”

What is problematic is thus the analysis of the combination of tu and a subjunctive verb. It seems indeed the case that every subjunctive verb in tu protases can be replaced by the appropriate indicative form without any significant change in the meaning, but not vice versa. That is, every indicative verb in tu protases cannot be freely replaced by the corresponding subjunctive form. The substitution often results in ill-formed sentences. The use of subjunctive verbs is actually highly restricted in tu protases. Given this, the purpose of the present paper is to make clear when tu protases can be used with a subjunctive verb.

3. In terms of frequency, it is far more usual for a verb in tu conditional clauses to be in the indicative mood, rather than in the subjunctive mood. Dzidziguri [5, pp. 372; 6, pp. 372] even goes so far as to say that the combination of tu and a subjunctive verb deviates from the norm of the modern standard language. However, such instances are, though occasionally, certainly encountered in the colloquial language as well as in literary works. The following are examples taken from modern literary works.

(5) agi   ulvaš-i                   gamp’arse,           ase        tu  ar        knas! (Dumbadze)
      this moustache-NOM    like.this if  NEG   does.AORSBJ
      ‘Shave this moustache of mine, if he does not do this!’

(6) es               tu  k’ameč-is        k’vercx-i  ar        iq’os,       tav-s movič’ri. (Chokheli)
       this.NOM if   buffalo-GEN egg-NOM NEG is.AORSBJ self-DAT I.cut.myself.FUT
      ‘If this should not be a buffallo’s egg, I will cut my throat.’

(7) mok’vdes        pxora,           tu  mt’r-is           xel-ši           čagagdos! (Važa)
      dies.AORSBJ Pkhora.NOM if enemy-GEN hand.DAT-
      ‘May Pkhora die, if he hands over you to enemies.’

(8) svet’icxovel-is damkcev-i        viq’o,           tu    giğalat’o. (Leonidze)
       S.-GEN          ruiner-NOM if
        ‘May I be the ruiner of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral, if I ever betray you.’

(9) tu valent’ina ivanovna-m gamomxedos, manišne. (Rcheulishvili)
        if Valentina Ivanovna-ERG
       ‘If Valentina Ivanovna looks at me, give me a signal.’

(10) tu daleva mogindes, sxvagan nuğar c’axval, isev ak dalie-o. (Inanishvili)
      if drinking.NOM you.want.AORSBJ elsewhere no.more you.go.FUT again drink.IMP-QUOT
     ‘If you want to drink, don’t go anywhere else anymore, drink here again.’

(11) tu šegxvdes sadme, gahq’evi da misi vinaoba šemat’q’obine.
       if somewhere follow.her.IMP and her identity-NOM     
      ‘If you come across her somewhere, follow her and let me know who she is.’ (Javakhishvili)    

(12) tu mogenat’rot, c’eril-i gamomigzavnet samt’redia-ši. (Dumbadze)
         if letter-NOM Samtredia.DAT-in
         ‘If you miss me, send me a letter to Samtredia.’

4. Among subjunctive forms, those can be used with tu are Aorist Subjunctive, Present Subjunctive, and Perfect Subjunctive. Hewitt [7, pp. 89] distinguishes the function of tu plus Aorist subjunctive and that of tu plus Present Subjunctive or Perfect Subjunctive. As for the former, he notes that it does not differ any semantic difference from the corresponding indicative construction (i.e. tu plus Aorist), drawing the following example, in which tu is combined with Aorist Subjunctive as well as with Aorist in the same context.

(13) tu erts čvengans bič’i eq’olos [AORSBJ] da meores — kali, mašin kali važs ševrtot: xolo tu kalebi gveq’olos [AORSBJ] orives, oriveni debsavit unda gavzardot da mebs ševrtot; tu orives važebi gveq’ola [AOR], mebi unda iq’vnen ertgulebi …

‘If one of us should father a boy and the other a girl, then let us marry them to each other; and if we both should father girls, we must rear them both like sisters and marry them to a pair of brothers; if we both father lads, they must be faithful brothers…’ ( [7, pp. 80; 2, pp. 113] boldface by me)

According to native speakers I consulted, the use of the Aorist Subjunctive forms eq’olos and gveq’olos with tu in (13) sounds rather archaic. Hewitt (1987: 80) remarks that such use of Aorist Subjunctive to express “a pure, future condition may be a relic from Old Georgian”. However, it is not the case that every expression of a future conditional situation by tu and a subjunctive verb should be treated alike. Other examples given in the present paper, at least, do not leave an archaic impression on native speakers as (13). In this light, (13) is exceptional and hence is left out of consideration as an archaism.

5. The combination of tu and Present Subjunctive or Perfect Subjunctive, on the other hand, is considered to be used when “the speaker wishes to asseverate his absolute conviction that the predicate of the protasis is contrary to fact” [7, pp. 82]), as in the examples (14) and (15). The apodosis then “seems usually to contain either an imperative or an Aorist subjunctive functioning as an optative” [7, გვ. 82].

(14) ğmert-i       gamic’q’res,                            tu   gexumrebode.
         god-NOM if
        “May God bring his wrath upon me, if I am joking with you.”
         (Hewitt 1987: 81, quoted from Kldiashvili; boldface by me)

(15) šečvenebul-i viq’ve, tu vt’q’uode, tu rodisme hq’olodes!
        damned-NOM if if anytime she.has.had.PFSBJ
       ‘May I be damned, if (it transpires that) I am lying (and) she has ever had (sc. a child)!’
       (Hewitt 1987: 82, quoted from Kldiashvili; boldface by me)

It is certainly one of the functions of tu protases having a subjunctive verb to make an assertion that the protasis content is not true. The function is, however, not restricted to Present Subjunctive and Perfect Subjunctive, but is common to all the three subjunctive forms that may co-occur with tu. The examples (5)-(8) presented above illustrate tu plus Aorist Subjunctive of the same function. The tu protasis having a subjunctive verb can be treated as a special construction expressing negative conviction of the speaker toward the protasis content.

6. Separately from this function, tu protases may also contain a subjunctive verb when the apodosis expresses a command to the hearer, as in the examples (4) and (9)-(12). The protasis then describes a conditional non-past situation and accordingly the verb may be in Aorist Subjunctive or Present Subjunctive as in (16) and (17). Perfect Subjunctive is unavailable.

(16) xurda            tu gkondes,                 momeci.
       change.NOM if  you.have.PRSSBJ
‘If you have some change, give me.’

(17) tu  vinme   st’udent’-s     icnobde,                   gamacani.
        if someone student-DAT you.know.PRSSBJ
        ‘If you know any student, introduce him to me.’

What has to be noticed is that these examples, (4), (9)-(12), (16) and (17), do not convey any negative conviction of the speaker. The speaker appears neutral to the probability of the situation described in the protasis. In this point, these examples are distinguished from those discussed above, (5)-(8), (14), and (15).

Note also that the apodosis does not necessarily contain an imperative expression. In the following examples , the apodosis is formally declarative, but implies a command to the hearer (i.e. ‘Have the bread’ in (18), ‘Call me there’ or ‘Tell the caller so’ in (19)).

(18) tu mogšivdes, magida-ze p’uri devs.
       If you.get.hungry.AORSBJ table.DAT-on bread.NOM lies.PRS
       ‘If you get hungry, there is some bread on the table.’

(19) tu vinme-m darek’os, otax-ši var.
       If someone-ERG calls.AORSBJ room.DAT-in
      ‘If anyone calls, I am in the room.’

7. The combination of tu and a subjunctive verb is, in principle, not available outside the two uses discussed above. Take (20) for a simple example. When the tu protasis has a subjunctive verb, the apodosis may represent a command, whether affirmative (a) or negative (b), but it cannot be hortative (c), jussive expression in the third person (d), nor can be declarative without any imperative implication (e). (If the indicative form ic’vimebs [FUT] or ic’vimos [AOR] is substituted for the subjunctive ic’vimos, (a)-(e) all become well acceptable.)

(20) tu ic’vimos, … ‘If it rains, …’
(a) c’adi [FUT]. ‘… go.’
(b) ar c’axvide [AORSBJ]. ‘… don’t go’
(c) ?? (ar) c’avidet [AORSBJ]. ‘… let’s (not) go’
(d) ?? (ar) c’avides [AORSBJ]. ‘… s/he should (not) go.’
(e) ?? dasveldebi [FUT]. ‘… you will get wet.’

8. To conclude, tu protases can have a subjunctive predicate verb in two cases:

(i) when the speaker asserts that the protasis content is not true;
(ii) when the apodosis expresses a command to the hearer.

Such semantic and pragmatic conditions are proper to this type of conditional construction and do not apply to rom protases or tu protases having an indicative predicate verb. How do these particular conditions arise through the interaction between the choice of the conjunction, on the one hand, and the choice of the predicate mood, on the other, is to be elucidated in future by a comprehensive analysis of conditional constructions of Georgian.

AOR Aorist
DAT Dative case
ERG Ergative case
FUT Future
GEN Genitive case
IMP Imperative
NEG Negation
NOM Nominative
PFSBJ Perfect Subjunctive
AORSBJ Aorist Subjunctive
PRS Present
COND Conditional
QUOTE Quotation
PRSSBJ Present Subjunctive

Chokheli, Goderdzi, “Tevzis c’erili”, “Ucnauri k’vercxi”
Chiladze, Otar, “Rk’inis teat’ri”
Dumbadze, Nodar, “Me, bebia, ilik’o da ilarioni”
Inanishvili, Revaz, “Pirosmani”
Javakhishvili, Mikheil, “Okros k’bili”
Kldiashvili, Davit, “Samanišvilis dedinacvali”
Leonidze, Giorgi, “ğvinjua”
Rcheulishvili, Guram, “Moxucebuli”
Vazha-Pshavela, “Sataguri”

1. Dancygier, Barbara, Conditionals and Prediction: Time, knowledge, and causation in conditional constructions, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988.
2. Sikharulidze, K., Kartuli Xalxuri Sit’q’viereba [Georgian Folk Literature], Tbilisi University Press. 1970
3. Sweetser, Eve, From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and cultural aspects of semantic structure. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1990.
4. Vogt, Hans, Grammaire de la langue géorgienne. Universitetsforlaget, Oslo. 1971
5. Dzidziguri, Shota, K’avširebi Kartul Enaši [Conjunctions in Georgian]. Tbilisi: Tbilisi State University Press. 1973.
6. Dzidziguri, Shota, K’avširebi Kartul Enaši [Conjunctions in Georgian]. Tbilisi: Tbilisi State University Press. 1973.
7. Hewitt, Brian G., The Typology of Subordination in Georgian and Abkhaz, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 1987.