Today we began learning the ergative case in Georgian, which can be somewhat tricky to apply for an English speaker. Dr. Kiziria thought it would be helpful to teach us using a repetitive Georgian poem, somewhat like the English “Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”: a vineyard is damaged by a goat that is eaten by a wolf that is shot by a gun that is destroyed by rust that crumbles into dirt, etc.
After reading the original version, Dr. Kiziria provided us with a version she created herself. An ardent environmentalist and Georgian patriot, she admits to experiencing bouts of depression at times, seeing as both the environment and Georgia have historically been stomped on with impunity. Here is the resulting rhyme:
მოდი, ვნახოთ საქართველო. რამ შეჭამა საქართველო?
Come, let’s look at Georgia. What ate Georgia?
მიველ, ვნახე საქართველო–რუსეთმა ჭამა საქართველო
I went, I saw Georgia, Russia ate Georgia.
მოდი, ვნახოთ რუსეთი. რამ შეჭამა რუსეთი?
Come, let’s look at Russia. What ate Russia?
მიველ, ვნახე რუსეთი, ჩინეთმა ჭამა რუსეთი.
I went, I saw Russia–China ate Russia.
მოდი, ვნახოთ ჩინეთი. რამ შეჭამა ჩინეთი?
Come, let’s look at China. What ate China?
მიველ, ვნახე ჩინეთი, მიწამ ჭამა ჩინეთი
I went, I saw China–the Earth ate China (for its pollution)
მოდი, ვნახოთ მიწა. რამ შეჭამა მიწა?
Come, let’s look at the Earth. What ate the Earth?
მიველ, ვნახე მიწა, აღარ იყო მიწა
I went, I saw the Earth, but there was no more Earth.
Don’t forget your case endings!