Verbs denoting Motion in the Georgian Language

The Spatial Relations between the tools of linguistic realization a special attention is given to the verbs denoting motion. The linguistic reflection of motion causes great interest from both the linguistic and cognitive research point of view. This became particularly relevant in the last decade of the last century and an issue of concern for cognitive linguistics

The approaches of Cognitive Linguistics can be formed as follows:

  1. In any of the languages, on the one hand the determination of the number of semantic units, while, on the other hand, the linguistic (surface units) sets;

  2. To find out which specific semantic units of language means are expressed by which combinations and concerns, or which model is being used.

  3. To compare these models by language and determine a meta-model (universal principle).

  4. In ​​addition, it should be compared with the models of the various stages of the language (in Diachronic prism), any changes or vice versa should be indicated - non-variability that might occur by the influence of the meta-model (universal principle).

  5. Finally, cognitive processes should be considered, which could determine the events, on which the specific models are based.

The cognitive research is interested to what extent can these models be compared according to different languages. In particular, whether there is a great diversity of languages in the models, a smaller number of models (typology), or whether there is only one model (universal) [Talmy, 2000:21)

Thus, it is natural, that while studying these issues, it must be assessed in terms of research of a specific language, as well as in the context of a comparative study of languages.

Motion – as it seems – is a universal concept, which is in every language. But it is also a fact that languages ​​differ in terms of their linguistic expression. This distinction is so important that it is considered as a basis for the classification of languages. L. Talmy distinguishes two different types of languages, in particular languages, which express movement by the help of the auxiliary – preposition, preverbal suffixes and others (the so-called satellite-framed languages) and languages, which use mostly verbal roots to express movement (the so-called verb-framed languages) [Talmy, 2000:102].

Nowadays these classification looks like this:

Satellite-framed languages: Germanic (Danish, Dutch, English, German, Icelandic, Swedish, Yiddish); Slavic (Czech, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Ukrainian); The Finnish-Hungarian: (Finnish, Hungarian); Chinese (Mandarin).

Verb-framed languages: Romance (Catalan, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish); Semitic (Moroccan Arabic, Hebrew); Turkish; Basque; Japanese; Korean [Cifuentes-Ferez, 2009:29].

According to this classification where does the Georgian language fall into – Satellite-framed languages or Verb-framed languages? It is obvious that movement the Georgian language is possible only by means of preverbal suffixes and verbal root are totally neutral in this respect. For example - (mi)dis (goes) - verb root does not show direction and only through adding preverbal suffixes does it get this or that direction. It should be noted that this verb is not neutral connected only with direction, but it also indicates some universal means in Georgian. On the one hand, it marks a particular species the movement of - steps, changing places (human, animal), and on the other hand expresses almost all variations of movement: using public transport - the train goes, a boat goes, and the plane goes. We say: go to America and not fly; it also replaces the word flows: water, river goes; the fog rises, rain and snow falls; In addition, it is used in context such as time goes, the letter comes, and so forth. The Verb (mi)dis is important and noteworthy in many respect and needs further study, but as for now we just wanted to show that as a verb (mi)dis, as many other verbs, does not reflect movement in its roots and in this respect Georgian can be regarded as a Satellite-framed language.

In Georgian Linguistics the functions of preverbal suffixes are a topic for special research and along with it the peculiarities of the linguistic realization of movement [Ak. Shanidze, I. Veshapidze, A. Matriosov, Arn. Chikobava, A. Kiziria, Z. Chumburidze, A. Potskhishvili, etc.].

The first attempt of a semantic analysis of motion verbs belongs to L. Tamarashvili. His article “Description of the Vocabulary of Verbs denoting motion in the Georgian Language” was published in 1975 in the Works of the Institute of Control Systems (XIII–3) [Tamrashvili, 1975]. In this work, the verbs denoting motion are described according to the method of semantic multipliers. At that time this was one of the main and actual methods for the formalization of Semantics and aimed at the machined procession of the language. Some examples are brought beneath for a more vivid illustration:


To Move

1. Move

2. On hard surface

3. By something (on foot, by wheel)

4. Periodically


To Run

1. Move

2. On hard surface

3. On foot

4. both legs are simultaneously removed from the surface

5. Periodically


To Crawl

1. Move

2. On hard surface

3. Horizontally


To Swim

1. Move

2. In water


As the examples show, the article is an interesting attempt of the Semantic Formalization of verbs denoting movement. It should be noted that L. Tamarashvili, along with other scholars at the Institute took immense effort in this respect. Mostly, I would like to outline the material that was created within the framework of Explanatory-Combined Vocabulary of the Georgian language.

We would like to pay special attention to an article by R. Kurdadze “For the Semantics of the verbs denoting movement in Georgian Literary language and Dialects”. It should be noted that R. Kurdadze highlights the verbs denoting relocation among the verbs of movement. The article is rather interesting due to the examples that are brought from the Dialects of the Georgian Language and R. Kurdadze gives the features for classification of such verbs. Thus, Ramaz Kurdaze singles out the following groups among the verbs denoting motion:


  1. Verbs denoting the direction of movement;

  2. The motion verbs denoting manner of motion;

  3. The motion verbs having an attitude towards the object they are moving to;

  4. The verbs denoting motion considering the surface on which they are moving;’’ [Kurdadze, 2011:30–31].


In the Kartvelian Languages, especially in the Megrelian, noteworthy are B. Koblava’s works on the features, aims, peculiarities of preverbal suffixes in the Megrelian language [Kobalava, 2002 A; Kobalava, 2002 B].

We think that such researches are vital and should become more active in Georgian, as well as other Kartvelian languages and the full description and classification of the movement verbs is utterly necessary.

We tried to classify motion, especially the verbs connected with movement, using the methodology of Cognitive Linguistics. Based on the works of Leonard Talmy we outlined the following semantic categories:


The figure: A moving object.

  • individual or group.

  • Type: people, animals, birds, etc.

  • Pose: change of position at the start or at the end.

Background: on which the figure moves.

  • Source: original location.

  • The goal: the final location.

  • Boundary: Location along the direction.

  • Overcoming Obstacles.

  • Environment, soil: meadow, river.

  • Unstable environment: air, fog, storm/storm, darkness, etc.

Path: Trajectory of the Figure.

  • Direction of Movement: Forward, Upward.

  • Deixis: Movement from the direction of the speaker.

  • Outline: circular way, zigzag, etc.

Manner: Method, manner, which ends the movement.

  • The kind of movement, which is being used (walk, jog, jump, swim, fly)

  • Power

  • Quality of Speed

  • Means of Movement: animal, car, plane

Purpose: what causes movement.


From these we want to outline categories: Manner and Path. For the term path – Ramaz Kurdadze uses the concept of course, which Akaki Shanidze established in Georgian Linguistic Space [Shanidze, 1980:248–260], but because path includes course as well as orientation, we think that the term path is more appropriate for this semantic category.

We stopped our attention on the verbs expressing the manner of motion. Before we move on to the issue, we should begin with that motion is a wide concept that consists of two elements: first - when the subject is moving on one place, so that it does not move and second - when the subject changes the place of movement, i.e. relocates. These characteristics can be attributed both to Satellite-framed languages or Verb-framed languages.

The main problem that arises while analyzing the verbs denoting manner of motion is that the category of manner is rather general. It includes a variety of information: the speed of movement, emotional state, the basic skills (walking, jogging, jumping, etc.), transportation, contact type, etc. In addition, one verb may include in itself different details of segregated mannerisms. Therefore, despite the existence of general trends, each linguistic system gives a unique picture of expressing the manner of movement.

While expressing the manner of movement the Georgian Language pays a special attention to the spatial localization of the subject: the movement in a) Vertical and b) Horizontal position; the basic models of vertical position movement are: a.1. Walk; a.2. Run; a.3. Jump.

In each of them there can also be separated different semantic component:


A.1. Walk;

A1.1. the pace of movement

A.1.1.a. Quick - mikunkulebs, mitsukhtsukhebs (goes, goes fast).1

A.1.1.b. Slow - mighoghavs, mighoghialebs (creeps, crawls).

A .1.2. The magnitude of the steps

A .1.2. A) Large steps - mialajebs, miabotebs (takes big steps).

A .1.2. B) Short steps - mitsuntsulebs, mitsukhtsukhebs (takes small steps).

A 1.3. The degree of virility - mibandalebs, milaslasebs, miizlazneba, michanchalebs; michochavs (pushes up, mumbles, drags oneself along).

A.1.4. Aimless movement - micherchetebs, dabodialobs,2, daborialobs, daqialobs, wanders, datantalebs, datuntulebs, datsantsalebs, datsotsialobs (wander).

A .1.5. The pleasure from movement – miseirnobs (walks).

A .1.6. Move on a smooth surface - Misrialebs (skims).

A .1.7. Losing Balance – mibarbatsebs (reels).

A.1.8. Foot-specific movement - michlatunebs, mipratunebs; Lame walk - dachlakhunobs.

A.1.9. Movement, accompanied by sound edition - mibakunebs, miimgheris, mirakhrakhebs (to make noise with heels)

A.2. Run

A.2.1 Pace of movement

A.2.1.a. Slow - mijanjalebs, mitsuntsulebs, midzundzulebs (jogs, procrastinates)

A .3. Jumping

B.1. To move on land by the use of the whole body - mibobghavs, mipopkhavs, mighoghavs, miportkhavs, micocavs (crawls).


Georgian, of course, distinguishes movement between solid ground, air and water and these verbs are characterized according to the pace of movement, efficiency and other characteristics.

The Semantics of one verb may unite several elements, such as: way + manner; way + manner + figure, etc.3 As noted by R. Kurdadze, the majority of verbs in the Georgian language “only through adding preverbal suffixes (in this case mi-, mo-, ga-,) do the verbs get Semantic of movement [Kurdadze, 2011:31]. Thus, this mould for the semantics of the movement verbs is very productive and potentially allows the separation of new semantic features.

After defining the Semantic characteristics of the movement verbs these verbs should be described and united in the vocabulary of movement verbs. Such dictionaries exist for different languages and they are united in the electronic database of verbal data4. The verbs in the dictionary have the following information:


The verb expresses movement itself or relocation;

Which semantic component is important – way, manner, or the combination of both;

The semantic details of way or manner are indicated; the concrete variety;

The definitions are given based on the source from the dictionaries.


The electronic database of verbal data which is based on these principles gives us the opportunity of statistical research, will it be one language or through comparing the languages. An example is brought beneath for illustration: as the research showed, in English the manner of movement is denoted by 276 verbs, out of which the Semantics of jumping is 11, that are 3.99% of the manner verbs. In the Spanish language the manner of movement is denoted by only 1235, out of which the Semantics of jumping is 3, which are 2.44% of the manner verbs [Cifuentes-Ferez, 2009:151]. Thus statistical analysis according to any features is possible.

It should be noted that during the compilation of electronic dictionaries the analysis of the semantic structure is based on the textual database, linguistic corpus, because in the dictionaries such vocabulary needs definition. For example: bobgavs (crawls) – walks on four by the help of hands; popkhavs (crawls) - walks on four by the help of hands and feet [KEGL]. Such a situation is in all the explanatory dictionaries of other languages as well, as the dictionary format does not allow the fixation of every small detail. Hopefully, it will soon be possible to create a database and use it afterwards for the study of the Georgian language

Finally, it should be noted that such study has both theoretical and practical purposes. The creation of the electronic dictionary of the verbs of motion is important not only in terms of fundamental research of the Georgian language, but is also profitable in the case of language teaching and translation.


1 Some verbs have more than one component and therefore can be united in different groups. For example, mitsukhtsukhebs – both means to go fast and at the same time to take small steps.
2 It is more natural to use the preverbal suffix da- before such semantic verbs.
3 Noteworthy is the note by R. Kurdadze that in the Georgian verbs of movement, in particular, the movement of animals and birds should be expressed with special verbs [Kurdadze,2011:30].
4 Online verb databases: ADRESSE, FrameNet, WordNet.


5 The Spanish language belongs to verb-framed languages and this difference is due to it.




Tamarashvili L.
“Description of the Vocabulary of Verbs denoting motion in the Georgian Language”; Works of the Institute of Control Systems (XIII–3)

KEGL (Kartuli Enis Ganmartebiti Lexikoni) The Dictionary of the Georgian language; edited by Professor Artnold Chikobava Volumes I-VIII
Kobalava I.
The importance of preverbal suffixes in the Megrelian Language, Lingusitic issues, 4
Kobalava I.
Semantic classification of preverbal suffixes in the Megrelian Language; Materials of the 63 scientific session of the Institute of Linguistics.
Kurdadze R.
“For the Semantics of the verbs denoting movement in Georgian Literary language and Dialects”; Social and Cultural Aspects of the Modern Georgian Language.
Shanidze A.
Works in Eleven Volumes. Volume III. The basic grammar of the Georgian language.
Cifuentes-Férez P.
A Cosslinguistic Stady on Semantics of Motion Verbs in English and Spanish. Online ... Online verb databases: ADRESSE, FrameNet, WordNet.
Talmy L.
Toward a Cognitive Semantics, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press