For a Semantic Classification of Svan Onomatopoeic Vocabulary

The study of the meaning of phonosemantic lexical units occupies an outstanding place in linguistic researches, because its results are valuable for linguistics and other scientific disciplines. It is also worth mentioning that lexical meanings are considered as major objects of semantic studies.

     The main aim of our work is a semantic analysis of Svan onomatopoeic vocabulary on the basis of the data of dialects and sub-dialects of the Svan language.

     The analyzed material is based on the data of publications dedicated to the Svan language as well as on the appropriate illustrative material gathered by us during field works carried out in both gorges (Enguri and Tskhenistskali) of Svaneti. The discussion of the given issue was not restricted to the material of traditionally known Svan dialects (Balszemouri, Balskvemouri, Lashkhuri and Lentekhuri). The data of Choluruli speech and Lakhamuluri sub-dialect were also used.

       The urgency of the issue obliges us to consider appropriate illustrative materials presented in the linguistic works by V. Topuria, L. Sanikidze, M. Sagliani, L. Giglemiani, Al. Davitiani, R. Chkadua, etc.

      Like other Kartvelian languages, in Svan, the onomatopoeic (vocalic and consonantal) vocabulary is 1 arbitrarily divided into four main semantic groups 2:

1. Specifically onomatopoeic vocabulary (expression of diverse sounds), which, in its turn, can be divided into several subgroups:

a) Words that denote the sounds accompanying certain actions: რბ (Bz., Chol.) „banging/cracking..."; თხურპ (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), თხურპუნ (Bk., Lnt.) „sniffing"; ტურშ (Bz.), ტურშუნ (Bk.) „crashing"; ტყურსგ (Bz.), ტყურსგუნ (Bk.) „cracking"; რბ (Lkhm.) „the sound of crushing"; რწკ (Bz., Lshkh.), რწკ (Bk., Lnt.) „gnashing"; რჯ (Bk.) „the sound of crumbling"; რფ (Zs., Chol.), ყურფუნ (Bk.) „cracking (of a bone)"; შყურბუნ (Bk.) „tramping"; რგ (Chol.) „rushing"; ჩხურმ (Bz.), ჩხურმუნ (Bk.) „crashing"; რცხ (Bk.) „fizzing"; რწკ (Bk.) „creaking"; რწკ (Bk.) „ringing  (of a clock)"; რპ (Bz.) „crunching"; ლდ (Bk.) „shaking", etc.

b) Lexical units denoting the manner of speech: ბურდღუნ (Zs.) „muttering"; რბ (Bk., Chol.) „stuttering"; რტ (Zs., Ks.) „neighing"; რყ (Lshkh.), რყ (Bk., Chol.) „peels of laughter"; რტ (Bz., Lshkh.), რტ (Bk., Lnt.), „staggering"; რფ (Bk.) „meaningless staggering"; რყ (Bz., Lshkh.),   რყ (Bk., Lnt.),  „croaking"; ცურც (Bz., Lshkh.),  ცურცუნ (Bk., Lnt.), „whispering"; რპ (Zs.) „peeping"; რწ (Bk.), რწ (Lshkh., Chol.) „peeping  of a chick"; ჭკ რპ (Bk.) „gnashing"; ხურხ (Bz., Lshkh.),  ხურხუნ (Bk.) „purring (of a cat)"; რტ (Bk., Chol.) „rattling"; ჯურჯღუნ (Bk.) „grumbling", etc.

c) Lexical units denoting the sounds of water and other liquids: დგურბუნ (Bk., Chol.) „bubbling (of water)"; თქურფუნ (Bk., Chol.) „splashing (of water, blood...)“; კურკუნ (Chol.) „dribble (of water); ჟურთქუნ (Bk.) „noise of waters coming from rocks"; ღურღუნ (Chol.) „bubbling (of water)"; წურქ (Bz.) „წანწკარი"; ჴურჴუნ (Bk., Chol.)  „burble (of water)“; იფ-იფ (Chol.) „bubbling (of water)"; ლი-შხრ -ე (Bk.) „an intensive shedding of blood", etc.

       According to the scientific literature, a principal classifying feature is the opposition between sounds made by animate creatures (sounds made by humans, animals and birds) and those made by inanimate objects.

      The sounds made by animate creatures:

       A human being: რტ (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), რტ (Bk., Lnt.) „a woman’s thundering voice"; რგ (Chol.) „rushing"; ბურდღუნ (Zs.) „muttering"; რყ (Lshkh.), რყ (Bk. Chol.) „roars of laughter"; ფურსდ (Bz., Lshkh.), ფურსდუნ (Bk., Lnt.)  „whispering"; რფ (Bk.)  „meaningless staggering"; რყ (Bz., Lshkh.), რყ (Bk., Lnt.) „croaking"; რტ (Bk., Chol.) „rattling"; რხ (Bk.) „wheezing"; რჩ (Bk.) „a child’s burbling; muttering"... 3

      An animal: რგ (Chol.)  „rushing "; რტ (Zs., Ks.) „neighing"; რყ (Bz., Lshkh.), რყ (Bk., Lnt.)  „croaking"; რქ (Bz., Lshkh.), რქ (Bk., Lnt., Chol.) “neighing "; ხურხ (Bz., Lshkh.), ხურხუნ (Bk.)  “purring (of a cat)"; ლიზ ლი (Bz. Lshkh., Chol.), ლიზული (Bk., Lnt.)  „lowing (of a cow)"; ლიპყ ლი (Lshkh., Chol.) „cackling, lowing (of a goat)"; ლიყ თი/ (Chol.)  „cackling (of a hen)"; ლიგ ლი (Bz., Lshkh.), ლიგული (Bk., Lnt.) „baying (of a wolf)", რწ (Bz., Lshkh. Chol.), რწ (Bk., Lnt.)  „screeching of a mouse"...

            A bird: / რზ (Bk.), ზურზუნ (Lkhm.) „buzzing"; წიწი (Bz.) „cheeping, peeping (of a bird)";   რპ (Zs.) „cheeping, peeping (of a bird)"; რწ (Bk.), რწ (Lshkh., Chol.)  „ peeping (of a chick)"; ჭყურტუნ (Bk., Chol.), ჭყურტ (Chol.) „cheeping (of a quail)"; ლიყ ლალ (Bk.) „crowing (of a cock)"; ლიყოხე (Bk.) cackling (of a broody hen)"; ლიჩხ ეშტი (Bk.)  „the sound of a thrush"; ლიკარკ ცე (Lshkh., Chol.)  „cackling (of birds)", ლი-წირ -ელ-ი/ლი- -ელ-ი (Zs.) „chanting; peeping (of a bird)"; ლიჭრი ხე 4 (Lshkh.)  „cackling (of birds)"...

        An insect: ლიწ ლი (Bz., Lshkh. Chol.), ლიწული (Bk., Lnt.)  „whining"; ლიბზ ლი (Bz.)  „buzzing"; ბჟ ლმაბჟ (Bz.), ბჟ ლმაბჟ (Bk., Lnt.)  „buzzing"; ლიბ/ რზ ნი (Bk.)  „buzzing, whining"; ზურზუნ (Lkhm.) „buzzing"...

       A reptile: ლის ლი (Bz., Lshkh. Chol.), ლის ლი (Bk., Lnt.), (Bz., Lshkh. Chol.), (Bk., Lnt.) „hissing of a snake"...

       The analysis of the material revealed that animate creatures can be classified  according to biological types i.e. according to the sounds of a human being, an animal, a bird, an insect and a reptile.

       The sounds made by inanimate objects: ლიყურჭლა (Lshkh., Chol.) „rumbling (of a stomach)"; ლიჩხრუნე (Bk. Chol.) „tinkling..."; ტკ რც (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), ტკ რც (Bk.) „crackling"; რფ (ზს., ჩოლ.), ყურფუნ (Bk.) „crackling (of a bone)"; რშხ (Bz., Lshkh.), რშხ (Bk., Lnt.) „bubbling (of meat, fat...)"; რცხ (Bk.) „boiling"; რწკ (Bk.) „screeching"; რგ (Bz., Lshkh.), რგ (Bk.), ხურგ (Lnt.) „rattling (of the furniture)"...

     The presented vocabulary can be characterized according to classifying semantic features, for instance, a pitch of voice, intensity, repetition, duration, length, etc.

2) The vocabulary denoting the movement of light and fire: ლი-დღ -ე (Bk.) „luster"; ლი- -ე (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), ლი- -ე (Bk., Lnt.) „glow, radiance"; ლი-რს -ე (Bk.) „luster, glare"; ლი- ლტ -ე (Bk.) „glow, radiance"; ლი-ფარფ -ი (Chol.) „flaming (of fire)"; ლი- -ე (Bk.) „shining (of grass...)"; ჭკ /უნ (Bk.) „flickering (of stars)"; ლი-ჯღ -ე (Bz.) „sparkling", etc.

3) The vocabulary denoting the dynamics – movement and action: ლი- რც -ლ (ბზ., ჩოლ.), ლი- რცან-ალ (Bk.) „staggering"; რგ (ბქ., ჩოლ.) ლი- რგან-ალ (Bk.) „staggering"; ლი- რძგ -ე (Lshkh.), ლი- რძგ -ე (Chol.) „shivering"; ლი-რს -ე (Lshkh., Chol.) „ shivering "; ლი-ტრ ნტ-ე (Lshkh., Chol.) „staggering"; ლი-ჰამბუნ-ალ (Bk.) „swinging on the spot"; ჯინდრიკ (Chol.) „jogging"; ჯულჯუნ (Bk.) „jogging"; ლგ (Bk.) „waddling", etc.

            The field of movement includes all kinds of movements denoting various forms of displacement in space (walking, going, flying, swimming, also the words denoting movement on the spot).

  1. Lexical units denoting going, walking: 5

        ლიზელ (Bz.), ლიზელ (Bk., Lnt.), ლიზელ (Lshkh., Chol.) „walking"; ლიბიჭყანალ (Bk.) „walking in an ungraceful manner (of a woman, a child)"; ლის რბ თე (Bz.) „waking to and from"; ლიდრ მან (Bz.), ლიდ რიმანალ (Bk.) „walking (of a big man)"; ლიჟ რე (Chol.) „თავგზააბნეული სიარული"; ლიჰიმბორ­ალ (Bk.), ლიჰიმბორ (Lkhm.) „staggering "; რდღ (Lkhm.) „moving, walking of a gawky, clumsy man"; ლიქურქ ანალ 6 (Bk.) „moving of a short, fat woman"; ლიზიპზიპი (Lshkh.) „clumsy walking of a fat man"; ლიტ რკანალ (Bk.) „rushing", etc. The above-mentioned verbs chiefly denote movements in a vertical position – walking, running, jumping/leaping – with diverse semantic components: a pace of movement, a degree of energy, an untargeted movement  - walking (ლიქ ლიზ , ლიცინგლა ალ, ლიდრ მან ...), running (ლიქინალ, ძღ რკ , ლიტ რკანალ...), jumping (ლიკ ჩხე/ალ, ლისკნალ, ლიკ ფხალ...), different semantic components:

  • A tempo of movement: (fast: ლიქ ლიზ /ლიქურზ , კურზუნ, რკ , ძღ რკ ...; slow: ლიჰიმბორ , ლიბანდუნალ, ლიზიპზიპი...);
  • A degree of energy (ლიდრ მან , ლიბანდუნალ, ლიჰიმბორ , ლიქურზანალ/ლიქირმოზალ...);
  • An aimless movement (ლისირგლა ალ, ლიდ ნდ , ლისრ გან …), which is divided into several groups according to the emotional coloring [Tchkadua, 2015:34-235]: 1. Characterization according to the external features of a moving thing (subject); 2. Indication to the clothes of a subject; 3. Lexemes expressing a negative attitude towards a subject; 4. Expressing sympathy and compassion towards a subject.
  • Movement on a smooth surface (ლიჩ რხ /ლიჩრახალ, ლისოლ /-ლისიოლალ, ლიქიმფოლალ...)
  • A disorder of a balance (ლიბ რც ნჲ /ლიბ რცანელ, ლიტირონტალ, ლიგინწალ...)
  • A manner of walking (ლიკ კან /ლიკიკანალ/ლიკ კან , ლისრ გან , ლიშ ნგუნ , ლიბ ჯღანა ...), etc.

Note: Similarly to other Kartvelian languages [Loladze, 2015], one and the same verb is often presented in different groups (For example: იბანდუნალ  “slowly walks, moves” abdicates to the tempo and degree of the movement). Therefore, the meanings of some verbs comprises several components.

2. The vocabulary denoting stationary movement: ლიბ რც ნჲ (Bz.), ლიბ რცანელ (Bk.) „staggering"; ლიტ ნტ{ინ} (Bz.), ლიტრონტალ (Bk.), ლიტრ ნტე (Lshkh., Chol.) „tottering"; ლიჰამბუნალ (Bk.) „swaying on the spot"; ლიპ /ტყან (Lshkh.) „ staggering"; ლიგინწალ (Bk.) „waggle, weave of a tall drunk man"; ლიზანკუნალ (Bk.) „swaying"...

            3. Phonosemantic stems denoting flying and swimming: ლიპ რიელ (Bz.), ლიპრელ (Bk.), ლიპ რჲელ (Lshkh.), ლიპერიელ (Lnt.) „flying"; ლიცრო (Bz.), ლიცრო (Bk.), ლიც რა/ლიც რა {} (Lshkh.), ლიცურა (Lnt.) „swimming"; ლილც (Bz.), ლილცუზალ (Lshkh.) „swimming"; ლიქნალ (Bk.) „swimming"; ლიპ რტყანალ/ლიტყ რპანალ (Bk.) „flying or swimming of a bird (in the water) with the clapping of wings"; ლიტყუპნა/ლიღუტნა  (Chol.) „swimming of a bird (in the water) with the clapping of wings"; ლიპიოლ (Chol.) „swimming lightly on the surface"...

         Phonosemantic stems denoting flying and swimming as well as the lexical units denoting going and walking are less presented in Svan.

4. The vocabulary simultaneously denoting a type of the action and the sound made during  the action: ბიჩხ-ბაჩხ (Bk.) „the sound of hitting"; რთქ (Zs., Ks.) „banging"; დგურბუნ (Bk. Chol.) „chugging"; ჟიტყ-ჟატყ (Bk.) „the sound of cracking of a wave"; რისტ-რასტ (Bk., Lshkh., Chol.) „the sound of hitting";  ტყ ისგ-ტყ ასგ (Bk.) „the sound of shooting";  ფხ რკ (Bz., Lshkh.), ფხ რკ (Bk., Lnt.) „the sound of scratching"; ისგ- ასგ (Zs.) „the sound of shooting"; ჩხიკ-ჩხაკ (Zs., Chol.) „jangling and jingling", etc.

            From the semantic viewpoint, the above-mentioned group is the most diverse. It embraces all types of movements accompanied by the sound/noise. Like other Kartvelian languages, this category embraces:

  • a vocabulary related to the processing of the food (eating, chewing, gnawing, nibbling);
  • a vocabulary denoting drinking;
  • a vocabulary denoting speaking;
  • a vocabulary expressing emotions (laughing, crying);
  • a vocabulary denoting beating/hitting;
  • a vocabulary denoting movements and sounds of natural phenomena (air, water, fire/light).


1. A vocabulary related to the processing of food (eating, chewing, gnawing, nibbling): ლიგ რზინე (Bk.) „clumsy chewing of a hard food"; ლიკანკლა (Lshkh.) „eating with a fast movement of a mouth"; ლიკუკ (Bk.) „a slow eating, picking"; ლიმანტყლა (Lshkh.) „eating loudly"; ლიყანყლ (Bz.) „swallowing clumsily"; ლილურქ ინე (Bk.) „eating/chewing"; ლიქანქლა (Chol.) „swallowing promptly"; ლიფთ (Zs.) „swallowing with big lumps"...

2. A vocabulary denoting drinking: ლიგ ლიბი (Bk.) „drinking with big gulps (of water, alcohol…)";  ლიყ ლწე/ლიყლ წე/ლიყრიაწინე (Lshkh.) „downing";  ლითხ ლიპი (Bz.) „sipping";  ლიხრიასინე (Lshkh.) „drinking with big gulps (noisily)"; ლიხ ლი (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), ლიხული (Bk., Lnt.) „sipping";  ლითხ ლიპი (Bz.) „sipping"; ლიწ (Bz., Lshkh) „sipping"...

3. A vocabulary denoting speaking: რგლა (Bz.), გარგლა (Lshkh.), გარგალა (Lnt.) „speaking"; რაგ (Bk.) „speaking"; ლიბ რბ ნი (Bk. Chol.) „a man’s stammering speech"; ლიდარდ ლი (Chol.) „loud speaking of a big woman”; ლიშყ რბლ (Bz.) „speaking thoughtlessly"; ლიყარყ ლი (Chol.) „talking a lot by a lazy, party-going man”…

4. A vocabulary expressing emotions (laughing, crying)

) A vocabulary expressing laughing: (Bz.), ლიც ნა/ (Bk.), (Lshkh., Chol.), ლინც (Lnt.) „laughing"; ლიქ ზან (Bz.) „laughing"; ლიღ (Lshkh.) „laughing"; ცქ რტ (Bk.) „reserved laughter of women"; რკ (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), რკ (Bk., Lnt.), რკ (Lnt., Chol.) „peels of laughter"; რხ (Bk.) „laughing loudly, booming"...

) A vocabulary expressing crying: ლიგ ნი (Zs., Lshkh., Chol.), ლიგნი (Lnt.) „crying"; ჭურჭყუნ (Bk.) „grumbling"; ლიჟღ ლი (Zs.) „a child’s loud crying";  ლილჭ (Bz.), ლილჭა/ (Bk.), ლირჭ (Lshkh.), ლირეჭ (Lnt.) „mourning"; ლიჟ ნტე (Bz.), ლიჟ ნტე (Bk.) „a child’s bothering/non-stop crying";   ლიჩულყუნ ლი (Bz.) „crying on the verge of tears"; ლიყთ ნე (Bk.) „crying of a mourner"...

5. A vocabulary denoting beating/hitting: ბიჩხ-ბაჩხ (Bk.) „the sound of hitting"; ბიტყ-ბატყ (Chol.) „the sound of hitting";  ტკიჩ-ტკაჩ (Zs.)  „the sound of hitting";  ტკ რჩ (Bz., Lshkh., Chol.), ტკ რჩ (Bk.)  „the sound of hitting";  ლიტყ მბე (Bz.) „beating"; ლიტყ ფი (Zs.) “hitting a palm"; ლიშხპი (Bk.) „whipping"...

6. A vocabulary denoting movements and sounds of natural phenomena (air, water, fire/light).

) A vocabulary denoting sounds of the thunderstorm: გურჰ (Bz., Lshkh.), გურხ (Bz.), გურჰ/ხუნ (Bk.), გურხუნ (Lnt.) „thundering"; ლიგურხუნი (Zs. Lnt.) „thundering"; ლირხუნ (Bz.), ლირხუნალ (Bk.) „thundering, thunderstorm"; რხ (Bz.), რხ (Bk.) „thundering"; ლიჰლ (Bz.), ლიჰლალ (Bk.), ლი (Lshkh.) „lightning"...

) A vocabulary denoting sounds of water: დგურბუნ (Bk. Chol.) “strong roaring";  ჟურთქუნ (Bk.) „noise of waters coming from rocks"; ჩხ რფ (ზს., ჩოლ.), ლი-ჩხფუნ-ე (Bz.), ლი-ჩხფ -ე (Bk.) “strong roaring"; წურქ (Bz.) „roaring"; წყ რგ (Bk. Chol.) „roaring "; იფ- იფ (Chol.) „roaring"...

) A vocabulary denoting sounds of fire/light: ლი-რფ -ე (Zs., Ks.) „flickering (play of light)"; ლი-ფარფ -ი (Chol.) „blazing (of fire)"; ლი-ღა --ი (Chol.) „flickering with the color of embers"; ლი- -ე (Bz., Lshkh.), ლი-ღუზ-ე (Bk., Lnt.) „blazing (of fire)"; ლი- რეკ-ი (Bz.) „shimmering"; ლიდაღჩე (Bk.) „twinkling (of light)"; ლიდღმე (Bz.) „twinkling (of light)";  ლი- -ე (Bz.), ლი- -ე (Bk.) „shining"…


4. The vocabulary denoting static situations – appearance, looking, watching, mental states.

      As in other Kartvelian languages, in the Svan  language, dynamic verbs i.e. those denoting actions, as processes happening in a certain period of time, are opposed by static verbs i.e. those, which denote an permanent, unchanged state. As the research of the Svan material has proved, static verbs denote a standard location or a state -  ლიყ (Bz.), ლიყ (Bk., Lnt.), ლიყ ნალ (Bk.), ლიყ (Lshkh.) „lie (down)", ლიყ რე (Bk.) „lie", ლიგნე|გენა 7 „stand", ლისგ რე (Zs., Lshkh.), ლისკ რე (Lnt., Chol.) „sit", ლიდი/ლიდ სგი (Bz.), ლიდისგ (Bk.) „lie (inanimate), ლიგემ (Zs., Ks.) „being put, laid", etc. Alongside with these standard verbs, there are numerous onomatopoeic lexical units describing a subject’s appearance, character, mental state.

1. Appearance:

            A human being: რიმანა (Bk.) „(mainly a woman) with an ugly broad face"; მიჩ (Bk.) „a man with an ugly face"; წკ ირ (Bk.) „small-eyed"; დბეზილ (Bk.) „a low pot-bellied man"; ნილ (Bk.) „very low"; გიქს (Bk.) „a tall, slim woman"; ტყ რბელე (Bk.) „freckled"; წჲ (Bk.) „lanky"; იბლ (Bk.) „"; ჩხ ინდ (Bk.) „a man/woman with an ugly nose" მარღიაჲ/მარღა (Lshkh., Chol.) „white-faced", etc.

            External characteristics of a human being can be divided into two groups:

1. Words having negative connotation (for example:  თიღ , იბლ , სხპჲ , ჩხ ინდ , წჲ ...), whose number is greater and

2. Words having negative connotation (for example: დღ , ბრანჯალ , ბოდღორ , მარღიაჲ/მარღაჲ...).

It is obvious that these lexical units will be characterized from the point of view of the gender.

            Non-human: ჩხორკ (Bk.) „a skinny cattle"; ლუჰორყე (Bk.) „a straight-bellied animal"; პტყ ნე (Bk.) „a skinny hen"; ლუხონკე (Bk.) „a skinny bent cattle"; წიოტია (Bk.) „a thin hen"; ხგუნე (Bz.), ხგ ნე (Bk.)„a skinny cattle";   რგილა (Bz.) „a skinny cattle";   რგ (Lkhm.) „a skinny (horse)"; გორგ (Lkhm.) „a skinny (horse)"...

            Feature: /ხერყლჲ (Bk.) „insatiable"; უჩფანთ ირ (Bk.) „slob"; უჩქმირ (Bk.) „slob"; კასბ /კაპ /ყარსბ (Bk.) „garrulous"; რჭყნ (Bk.) „whiner"; რტნ (Bk.) „quarrelling with a thunder-like voice"; წოლკ (Bk.) „someone, who nibbles"; რხნ (Bz.), ხნ (Bk.) „denouncer"; ტურხ  (Bz.) „denouncer";  ტურღულ (Chol.) „denouncer"; ურაკაკა (Bk.) „chatterbox, denouncer (woman)"...       

            2. A mental concept

ყირყონჯ (Bk.) „fool"; ფორგ (Bk.) „slob"; ბალაყანტ ირ (Bk.) „fool, careless";  ლუბჟურე (Bk.) „embarrassed"; ყე (Bz.), ლუსოყე (Bk.) „mad"; ტენტერ, ტენტეშ (Ushg., Lshkh.) “stupid” მითრულ (Lshkh.) „mad";   (Bk.) „mentally defective"; ბჟ (Zs.), ბჟი (Lkhm.) „a stupid clumsy man/woman";  ჩამ ირ (Lkhm.) „a clumsy man/woman"; იტ (Bz.) “brainless"; ჭარჭალიკ (Chol.)...

The given class comprises the gerund and adjectives. They denote the character of a thing (an object or a subject).

Phonosemantic lexical units can be grouped according to other semantic features -  size-weight, height, thinness-plumpness - via the indication to a particular organ.

) Size-weight: ითმათ (Bk.) „a big man/woman"; დოდღობ (Bz.), დოდღობ (Bk.) „a big well-built man/woman"; ბათქია (Lshkh.) „a big well-built man/woman";  ბრანჯალ (Bk.) „broad-shouldered"; ხორგიაჲ (Lshkh.) „big"; ხოშა სახ იშ (Bk.) „huge"; ძგი (Bz.) „huge";  ყრ მი (Bz.) „huge"...

) Height: ფანგალ (Bz.), ფანგალ (Bk.) „a strong, tall, slim man/woman "; წჲ (Bk.) „extra tall"; გიქს (Bk.) „tall, slim, with extremely straightened shoulders"; ყრანგალ (Bk.) „a tall ugly man/woman"; ანჰალ (Bk.) „tall, plump"; ცხიპლა(Chol.) „a tall well-built man/woman"...

) Shortness: ნილ (Bk.) „short";   ტილ (Bk.), (ლნტ.) „a short man "; ჩოჩბირა (Bz.) „short";  {} (Bz.),  ჲლ (Bk.) „short and plump"; ნილ „short"; ჩათარაჲ (Lshkh.) „a short plump man"; ფირხილ|ფრიხილ (Bk.) „a short man "...

) Thinness: ჩხკ ნე (Zs., Ks.) „skinny"; ჩხ რკე (Bz.) „skinny";  ლუჰორყე (Bk.) „skinny";  ჩხორკ (Bk.) „skinny";   ცმ (Bz.), დაცმულ (Lshkh., Chol.) „weak, slim"; წიოტია (Bk.) „skinny";   ხგუნე (Bz.), ხგ ნე (Bk.) „skinny"...

) Plumpness: ტყჲ(Bk.) „a plump and an ugly man/woman"; ფი (Lshkh., Chol.) „plump"; ზამპალ (Bk.) „a plump and an ugly man/woman"; ტკ იცა(Chol.) „plump (girl, bird, hen...)"; ჯიჯა (Chol.) „a plump, short man"; ზანტყალ (Bk.) „an uglily  plump woman"...

) Particular organs of a body: ჩხ ინდ (Bk.) „big-nosed"; ზონკ (Bk.) „hunchbacked"; პილოჩ (Bz.), პილოჩ (Bk.) „with big lips"; ჭყირ (Bk.) “many-colored eye"; კოკ (Bz.) „squint-eyed";  შხი (Bk.) „with black eyes and eyebrows"; იბლ (Bk.) „big-headed"; შგი(Chol.) „squint-eyed";   იღ(Zs.), იღ რა (Lkhm.) „squint-eyed"; ბიბრანდ (Bz.) „squint-eyed"; აშ ორბლიან (უშგ.) „big-headed"...

      The research of the phonosemantic material proved that there are four major semantic groups in the Svan language. They can be divided into sub-groups. This classification is based on Charles Osgood’s method of semantic differentiation. Naturally, like Georgian, in Svan, the above-mentioned groups are extremely diverse. Hence, the classification provided in the given paper cannot fully describe the abundant possibilities of the onomatopoeic vocabulary of the Svan language. We believe that our work is a valuable acquisition for Svan (one of the endangered Kartvelian languages), because the study of the given issue has never been done on the basis of a rich empirical material.


1 It is known that in Georgian four major semantic groups are singled out (see. Melikishvili 1999].

2 It is obvious that in each group sub-groups will be presented for more illustration.

3 The presented vocabulary can be characterized from the point of view of gender (for example,  რტ , éრტé  are used only for denoting a woman’s  thundery voice, რჩ  - for a child’s burbling; muttering", ლიბ რბ ნი  - for a man’s stammering speech, etc.).

4 Comp. Geo. (Imer., Gur.) ჭრიახ-ი.

5 The lexical units denoting crawling, creeping and skipping appear here.

6 The given lexeme mainly denotes walking of a female hen. Its secondary meaning indicates to the manner of woman’s walking.  

7 These two forms oppose each other as a masdar and an abstract name. It is obvious that ლიგნე is a  more extended form, while გენა  is used in a particular context and is directed to a human being (for example,  გენა დემე ხარ   (Bk.) “works all the time and has no possibility to relax (exactly – has not got დგმა)".


Gersamia R., Kikvidze Z., Lomia M., Mamiseishvili N., Sagliani M.
Phonosemantic vocabulary in the Kartvelian languages. Tbilisi.
Giglemiani L.
Hydro-lexis in Georgian. Candidate dissertation. Tbilisi.
Davitiani A.
For the lexis of inner character in Svan. Iberian-Caucasian linguistics. XXXXVI. Tbilisi.
Topuria V.
For the study of the names of plants. Works. III. Tbilisi
Loladze N.
Verbs denoting Motion in the Georgian Language. TSU Bilingual Scholarly Peer-Reviewed Journal Spekali. №9. Tbilisi.
Melikishvili I.
For onomatopoeic vocabulary in Georgian. Linguistic Papers. №3. Tbilisi.
Sanikidze L.
Reduplication in Svan and Zan. Tselitsdeuli of Iberian-Caucasian linguistics. IV. Tbilisi.
Sagliani M.
Vocabulary denoting walking, drinking and eating in Svan. Thesis. Tbilisi.
Tchkadua R.
For the interrelation of the principles of root-derivation in Svan. Ike. XII. Tbilisi.
Tchkadua R.
Morpho-semantic analysis of one type of verbs denoting manners of movement in Svan. Ike. XLIII. Tbilisi.