Problem of Expression of Plural in relation to Complex Sentence of One Type (Which one or which ones?)

In any language junction of separate groups (we mean those of the Parts of Speech) is the grammatical mean for revealing of the syntactic peculiarities. In the first turn it represents the independent linguistic rules within the concrete language and binds the semantic conjunction on the lexical-morphological levels. As far as the final goal of junction of words is formation of a sentence as a whole structure, the syntaxes of the sentence qualitatively is the quantity which determines the content of language and acquires the value of communicative-functional importance.  

Georgian scholar L.Kvachadze states in "The Syntax of Modern Georgian Language": "Syntax defines which and what type of words go with each other and what is the meaning of the words in the sentence; it considers the sentence structure, its types and grammatical peculiarities typical to each of them and also those means with the help of which the matching of words in a sentence and in word-combinations is realized" [Kvachadze, 1966:4].

Main issue of our report deals with one problem of junction of words available in Georgian language, namely, depiction of plurality of subordinate junctions, i.e. expression of plural. This latter appears in complex subjunctive sentences. Today the Georgian Linguistics' opinion envisages at some extent the consideration of Leo Kvachadze in connection to the indicated issue. The scholar remarks: "Sometimes, though rarely, there is a case when two different words define the word-form: the first - according to the case, the second according to the number. An example of this is relative pronoun which (also what): this pronoun fulfills the role of subordinating conjuncture in a complex sentence: links the subordinate clause with the principle clause. In the declension it regards that word of the subordinate clause with which it is in syntactic bond but in the number -the word referring to the principle clause. For example, "mdinaris napirzed shavad mochanda aka-ik patara ciskvilebi, romlebsac ghamis ubralo qvebisagan dzlivs gamoarchevdit (Kazbegi) [Kvachadze, 1966:22].

Thus, the form of the relative pronoun, on the one hand, is defined by the number of the subject of the main clause ( „ciskvilebi") and, on the other hand, with the verb of the subordinate clause that governs the mentioned conjunction in the dative case („romlebsac... gamoarchevdit"). In scholarly literature it is noted that "parataxis, i.e. complex "composed" or complex sentence historically precedes the hypotax, i.e. compound sentence" and "the manifestation of relativity for certain words represents the function of secondary and, thus, future time" [Dondua, 1940: 329-330].

L.Kvachadze's textbook "Syntax of Modern Georgian Language" deals with the issue as to what form the juncture of the subordinate clause should have in case when it refers to the subject which agrees with the word (syntactically - determiner) denoting plural in the principle clause. It is said: "If the defining member of the principle clause has such member as an attribute the lexical meaning of which implies more than one (the numerals: two, three... many, numerous; pronouns: several, all ...), the defining member is in singular and the relative name is in plural" [Kvachadze, 1966:22].

We put the question in the following way: which lingual form will be correct in the following sentences:

1."aivanze ijda ramdenime aznauri, romelic axalmortmeul xils miirtmevda".

2. "aivanze ijda ramdenime aznauri, romlebic axalmortmeul xils miirtmevdnen".

Due to the fact that the standards of modern Georgian literary language are not quite regulated in this respect, of above given examples the specialists of the Georgian language deem the second construction rightful:

In principle clause

Definition of indicator of plurality + subject  - in  singular

In subordinate clause

Member-junctions: which/ such as  -- in plural


At first glance in such syntactic construction there is really nothing that might significantly contradict the nature of Georgian language and syntactical formula almost  established as a standard of Georgian literary language; but let us try to see all these contradictions that reveal themselves in such kind of sentences. Proceeding from the fact that "semantic and grammatical relations of the parts of complex sentence is diverse" [Kvachadze, 1966:319], in a majority of cases this diversity makes even more difficult to preserve grammatical balance in syntactic constructions of the sentence. In our case it will concern first of all that syntactic dependency which is called agreement and which on the basis of paired category tries to form semantic and grammatical chain in the sentence. In pair form of syntactical relation everything is clear: of two units of the word one is syntactically stronger than the second. Now, let us consider such kind of compound sentence from the viewpoint of agreement that contains attributive clause and requires junction: "romelic" (in plural - romlebic; or: romelnic). For example:

By the counter were standing three workers, who had hung down their heads and were not going to say the truth".

During the process of syntactic analysis of complex clause, in the first turn it should be taken into account that selection of syntactic pairs takes place separately on one party in principal clause, and on the other party in the subordinate clause. This idea, of course, considerably simplifies understanding of syntactic construction of the complex clause, but the case is that the syntactic contacts of the sentence and the understanding itself, in a wide sense of this grammar relation in a complex clause is never limited by only any sentence comprising it: neither - by the principal clause, nor - subordinate clause. And vice versa, these two ideas, two clauses coexist as one complete sentence with the aim that the complex clause could finally complete its logical-grammatical sequence. As a consequence, the area of dissemination of syntactic category is wider than  - the syntagma   (we think that the Georgian language is not essentially studied). The very such situation we'll deal with an attributive subordinate clause in case if the number of member-junction of this same subordinate clause is determined by the determinant-determined (i.e. by the independent members of the sentence) contemporarily (discretionally) and simultaneously on the number expressed semantically, lexically. In such a case we'll see that the verbs-predicates of subordinate clause will appear absolutely isolated from the principal clause both from semantic and   grammar points of view.

 If we examine syntactical pairs of the main clause (1. By the counter were standing"; 2. "three workers"; 3. "the worker was standing") we will see that the question of agreement of the subject and verb-predicate in number is solved depending as to what grammatical form has the agreed word ("the worker"), in this case animated subject; and not according to the number of the subject i.e. "three workers", their number is already plural). Thus, during the agreement the language does not count the forms expressing number at all (e.g. "several people were talking", "there are more than one means", and so forth).  The state of Georgian literary language at synchronic level is so stable in spite of considerable influence of European languages in which the number of a subject is also changeable in descriptive derivatives and we have construction [yvela adamianebi], that from this viewpoint Georgian language does not face the danger of subsystem change at all. Georgian linguist A.Chikobava writes in one of his works: "Coordination is called such syntactic relation when the word ruled in something by another word, itself rules this word in something" and states that "the role of a verb in coordination is clear: we have characterized it as a centre of coordination; though the circumstance that division of a sentence into three groups is based on the difference of verbs, gives enough information on its role in a word-combination" [Chikobava, 1928: 268]. In the case when a word (big coordinate)  connected with verb-predicate through coordination is morphologically non marked, name of zero form, logically and grammatically main coordinate is also in the singular ("bevri specialist fikrobs) but if big coordinate is rendered by grammatically marked form, the verb-predicate also changes the number ("specialist-eb-i fiqrob-en...").

Now, let us consider grammatical construction of subordinate clause and only then think how these two sentences are in conformity of language, namely its form and to what extent they represent grammatically balanced parts of the whole -complex sentence.

In case if the number of member-junction in subordinate clause is determined by the determinant-determined (i.e. by the independent members of the sentence) contemporarily (discretionally) and simultaneously on the number expressed semantically, lexically, we'll see that the verb-predicates of subordinate clause will appear absolutely isolated from the principal clause both from semantic and   grammatical points of view- here: "chaekindrat" and "apirebdnen" - both from semantic and grammatical viewpoints appear completely isolated from the main sentence. In the syntagms: 1. "romblebsac chaeqindrat: or: 2. "romlebic [ar] apirebdnen" the agreement in number does not break; but the thing is that in a complex sentence in spite of its complexity, does not represent a simple mixture of absolutely separated from each other sentences. The verb: "chaekindrat" and "apirebdnen" are in direct grammatical link with the subject "[three (sami)] workers (musha)" in the main clause. It appears that the correct variant must be recognized: "sam mushas chekindrat"; or: "sami musha [ar] apirbdnen"; and this reflects neither modern state of Georgian literary language, nor linguistic tendency. As was noted above, the mentioned phenomenon is characteristic to space of Indo-European languages; with the difference that in these languages the attributive as a word denoting plurality must have influenced the subject too and we would have a construction - [three workers were standing "sami mushebi idgnen"]. At the same time, in Georgian scholarly literature it is noted that: "when in a (principle) clause the determinant-determined is given even when the determinant follows the determined (basic norm of the old Georgian) and with it stands close to the relative pronoun, the addressing word is usually supposed the determined" and it is explained that: "correlation is of great importance for recognizing the addressing word: approximately addressing word is the one which has a correlate or equal word of relative pronoun in the main clause. This rule is essential for New Georgian too." [Dzidziguri, 1989: 244-245]. Proceeding from the above mentioned the addressing word which identical (correlated) language variant is morphologically represented by relative pronoun and syntactically by member-juncture, is an ordinary noun and not determinant word. The same situation is in Old Georgian. For example:

"mashin herode vitarca ixila, rametu moikica moguta matgan, ganrisxna friad da caravlina da mocyvda yvela yrmebi, romelni iyvnen betlems" [Matt. 2:16]/


"[gankvirvebaman sheipyra] ... egretve iakob da ioane, dzeni zebedesni, romelni iyvnes ziarni simonisni" [Luke, 5:10].

While considering the complex sentences, the linguist F.Ertelishvili states: "Against the background of [this] semantic link of the sentences there is distinguished specific syntactic connection between the words which apart from other types of sentences is typical only for the complex sentences" and "subordinate clause that contains relative pronoun, connects the principle clause by means of relative pronoun. This pronoun is usually connected not generally to the principle clause but to any of its member - the addressing word. The relationship of this addressing word and relative pronoun gives a kind of syntactic relation between the words within the complex sentence" [Ertelishvili, 1963: 7]. It is a fact that during subordination with relative pronoun, it represents neither equal lexical unit of addressing word of only the principle clause nor member of subordinate clause. It is the most important connecting unit in semantic-grammatical course of the complex sentence and that is why F.Ertelishvili terms it the word expressing "double possessive" [Ertelishvili, 1963:19].

Proceeding from the above mentioned, it is clear what great significance grammatical form of member-junction has, how much depends on it, on the one hand, the structure of the principle clause and, on the other, subordinate clause. We consider that in New Georgian the plurality reflected in member-junction is not justified in all cases. Nobody argues that we deal with the category of number expressed morphologically in the member of a sentence, than the conjunction which is attributed to this member, should be in the same number. For example: "The passengers who had been sitting at the border of the road were impatiently waiting for appearing of unknown person"[mgzavrebi, romlebic gzis piras chamomsxdariyvnen, moutmenlad moelodnen ucnobis gamochenas].

As to the version considered above by us in which the number of the member-conjunction is not defined in grammatically simulated form (//morphologically marked) form, the situation is considerably complicated and it follows that if we match the predicate represented in the singular form with the subordinating conjunction (with relative pronoun), e.g. "mravali kartveli, romlebic... grdznobdned", the syntax of the complex sentence, as a whole (one totality) and we'll receive a completely unbalanced lingual flatness from the point of view of matching.

The question arises as to what is the way out of the current situation and what position the normative language must take when it concerns descriptive plurality and member-conjunction subordinated to it.

In our opinion, first of all it should be envisaged: 1) A grammatical form of that word (in narrow sense) to which this junction is directed and 2) The syntactic interrelation of this same member with the main coordinates - verb-predicates -  from the point of view of category of number. The attempt that on the basis  of the semantic data the category of number be reflected in the form of subordinating conjunction, considerably changes and violates the interrelations between the parts of complex sentence and makes disproportional structure of  sequence (agreement) (we mean a wide understanding of this syntactic notion) within the whole sentence.   

In addition to this, it appears that language rule acts differently when using the conjuncture "which". Particularly, in one case it obeys lexical level and the reflection of semantically rendered number occurs in the conjunction ("mravali sakitxi, romlebic...") and the second case it is not interested in lexically expressed number at all. We mean the subordination attached to the collective nouns. E.g.: "xalxi, romelic utyvad idga, adgilad dadzvras ar apirebda".

Another disputable issue can be L.Kvachadze's following statement: "If the addressing word is rendered by the connected words, the relative pronoun is in the plural number. E.g. "uxmod mihyvedoda biliks kal-vazhi, romeltac jerac carmoutkmeli sassiyvarulo sityvebi uyvaodad gulshi" (Gams.; [Kvachadze, 1966: 378].

It is absolutely unclear what principle of the agreement the scholar's opinion is based on because two-and more meanings equally connected composites require verb-predicate in the singular number and not in plural. It is correct: "da-dzma mxurvaled loculobda"; or: "col-kmari chapikrebuli idga. In the "Norms of Modern Georgian Language" it is directly determined that: "the composite in spite of its root composition represents one word; both from morphological and syntactic viewpoints it fulfills the same role as a word containing simple or derived root, namely as a root entering in this composition. This fact is of a crucial importance from the viewpoint of solution of the problem of composites writing" [Modern ..., 1986:149]. 

In the case when equally connected composite is followed by subordinating conjuncture we again face the contradiction. Here it also appears that we will break the syntax of the whole sentence (complete form) and the basic coordinates of the principle and subordinate clauses which refer to one subject will be the indicator of different number. For example: "derepanshi idga kal-vazhi, romlebic gapacicebit adevnebdnen tvals yvela semomsvlels" (i.e. I - kal-vazhi idga; II. - kal-vazhi adevnednen).

In order to make it clear what ambiguous attitude exists today from the viewpoint of reflection plurality in the pronoun "which" (romelic), we present the schemes in which we make an attempt to define language levels:


Iseti shvili, romelic...= sing. - determined + sing. - conjunction   

Iseti shvilebi, romlebic... + pl. - determined + pl. - conjunction   

    * Morphological level of depiction the number is taken into account.



Bevri shvili, romlebic...+ sing. -   determined + pl. - conjunction  

* Lexical level of depiction the number is taken into account.



is xalxi, romelic... + sing. -determined + sing. - conjunction

    * Morphological level of the reflection the number is taken into account.



is kal-vazhi, romlebsac ... + sing. - determined +pl. -conjuncture 

 Neither morphological nor lexical levels are taken into account while depicting the plurality.

We think that the demurred issue needs the scientific positions of wide spectrum of the specialists by all means and establishing the final linguistic norm.  Here it should be noted that for the solution of the mentioned issue the account of the data of artistic-literary style may be not useful because generally from the viewpoint of agreement rather big diversity is noted. For example, the universally spread standard that the word denoting the plural must be followed by the determined member put in the singular, is often broken in literary style: "kali da kaci, moxuci da krma, maghali da dabali, yvela ertad adidebdnen ghmerts da akebdnen gmirebs" (Akaki "Bashi-Achuki").

The absolute majority of the standards spread today in the Modern Georgian literary language is based on important linguistic, grammatical principles characteristic to our language and aims at the establishment of linguistically correct forms. "Georgian literary language has centuries-old history and very rich traditions. It strictly preserves the forms originated in different epochs even today. The unification of the standards of such literary language is associated with the difficulties", - is written in the preface to the "Norms of the Modern Georgian literary language" [Norms of.. 1986:11]. Naturally, the attitude to the question put forward by us will be ambiguous. It is this nonuniformity that forces us to think once more on this theme and to establish the principle which further can be announced as a language standard on the basis of scholarly analysis.


Dondua K.
On the relationship of the relative pronoun and correlative word in Old Georgian, Enimkis Moambe, vol.VI. Tbilisi.
Ertelishvili P.
On the history of complex sentence in Georgian. I (the issues of hypotaxis), Tbilisi
Norms of…
Norms of the Modern Gerogian literary language. Tbilisi.
Kvachadze L.
Syntax of Modern Georgian Language. Tbilisi.
Chikobava A.
The problem of a simple sentence in Georgian. I. (Issue of subordination in Old Georgian). Tbilisi.
Dzidziguri Sh.
The problem of complex sentences in Georgian (on the principles of conjunction and connecting words), Tbilisi.