The Georgian and English Phraseologisms Denoting a Person’s Physical and Mental Conditions

Contemporary humanitarian researches become more and more complex. Sometimes it’s difficult to determinate, which field has the prerogative of the study of a particular object, especially, when the language is researched. Contemporary linguistic studies have broadened their borders. The language is presented not only as a grammatical structure and system, but it is widely discussed as the means of creating culture and interaction. Therefore, the question of a language as a cultural product or a creator of a culture acquires the greatest importance.

speaking, the language is some kind of a “store house”, which contains experience, beliefs, connections and changes of the society. It is a verbalized culture. All human experiences are reflected on the language (and especially, on its lexical “layers”). The study of phraseologisms became the object of lingvo-culturological researches. They are the stable elements, which represent cultural identity, consciousness and mentality. During the last decades, phraseology has been considered as one of the main objects of the West-European and American linguistic researches. Linguists, culturologists, ethnologists and the representatives of other adjacent branches have realized, that the language and culture can’t be fully analyzed without phraseological data, which reflect linguistic and cultural peculiarities of speakers [Cowie, 1998:57].

denoting a person’s physical and mental conditions acquire great importance. It presents the relation of cultures to the person’s health, mood, psychological condition and the ways of their representation in the language.

(lexico-thematic) groups:

I. Phraseological units, which reflect the “opinions” of two cultures (Georgian and Anglo-American) about the physical health via underlining its greatest importance:

მთავარია ჯანმრთელობა, ჯანმრთელობის ფასი არაფერია -mtavaria janmrteloba, janmrtelobis pasi araperia (The health is most important, nothing costs more than health).

The first Wealth is health; You cannot buy health.

Despite their small number, the given units state the cultural opinions precisely and laconically. Moreover, they use a simple language.

II. Phraseologisms, which depict human beings’ ancient medical knowledge and experience presented in orderly phrases. This group includes the English phraseological units, which emphasize the connection between food and health:    

An apple a day keeps the doctor away; You are what you eat; Junk food; Health food.


These expressions are informal. They are realized in a speaking style and show Georgians’ relation towards food.

The expressions connected with the problem of weight are related with the questions of food and eating. These expressions are mainly concentrated on the esthetic side. Moreover, in contrast to the adults’ extra weight, children’s stoutness is not considered as a defect in the Georgian language. For example:

ფუნჩულa punchula (plump), ჩაპუტკუნებული - chaputkunebuli (plump); გოჭივითაა - gochivitaa (he/she looks like a piglet) (a child, a positive connotation);

ღორივითაა გასუქებული - ghorivitaa gasukebuli (as plump as a pig); ღიპი ადევს - ghipi adevs (he/she has a belly); ქონის ნაჭერია - konis nacheria (a piece of fat) (an adult, a negative connotation).

In the English language a person with an extra weight is characterized as:

Overweight (a neutral connotation),

Fat; As big as a whale; As big as a house (a negative connotation).

(slim), the English slim) both languages use expressions characterizing a thin person negatively, for instance: Bag of bones; Skinny, twig; Thin as rail.

III. The death and the relation to it. A person is the only creature, who knows about his/her mortality. A human being realizes the inevitability of this fact and expresses his/her attitude to the death in the philosophy, literature and religion. This relation is mainly determined by the religious views. There are a lot of works about the sociology and philosophy of death. It’s interesting to study the attitude towards it from the linguistic point of view. Hence, we will only present the Georgian and English phraseological units connected with the death.

This thematic block contains phraseologisms:

  1. constituting the fact of death in the Georgian and English languages:
    სულის განტევება; სულის უფლისათვის მიბარება; სულის ამოძრომა; სულის აღმოხდომა; გარდაცვალება - sulis ganteveba; sulis uplisatvis mibareba; sulis amodzroma; sulis aghmokhdoma; gardatsvaleba. The nucleus of these structural units is the soul (სული) or its modifications. This fact indicates to the influence of the Christian religion on the language and consciousness.
    The Georgian and English languages present idiomatic expressions, which describe the death, but are not marked with a religious mark:
    To pass away; Hit the dust; Kick the bucket; He fell asleep.
    ცხოვრების დატოვება; გაღმა გასვლა; მარილზე გასვლა; ბავშვების დაობლება; შავები ჩააცვა ცოლ-შვილს - tskhovrebis datoveba; gaghma gasvla; marilze gasvla; bavshvebis daobleba; shavebi chaatsva tsol-shvils (to leave the life; to go aside; to go for salt; to orphan the children; he dressed in black his wife and children)
  2. In both cases the structural and semantic similarities are seen.
  3. which does not express a person’s real attitude towards a terrible phenomenon. It shows an attempt of defeating. The same can be said about the English phraseological unit “pop one’s clogs”.

In one case an absolute analogy is revealed:

when a person occurs in a risky situation. In this case a bold character of the action is underlined.

which are used to express a person’s terrible emotional condition.

V. The English and Georgian languages are rich of the phraseologisms denoting different physical conditions of a person. The center of this semantic field is occupied by phraseological units expressing a person’s good and unsatisfactory (bad health) physical conditions, while the periphery is presented by the word-combinations denoting a “satisfactory health”. The lexical units are divided into the following subgroups:

  1. Good physical condition:
    In the pink health; In the prime of one’s life; Picture of good health; Full of beans; Hale and healthy; As fit as fiddle; Right as rain
    ხარივით ჯანმრთელია - kharivit janmrtelia (he/she is as healthy as a bull) , კაჟივითაა - kazhivitaa (he/she is like a flint); კენჭივითაა  - kenchivitaa (a robust fellow).
  2. Unsatisfactory physical condition:
    ჯანმრთელობის შერყევა - janmrtelobis sherkeva (“shake” of health); ჯანმრთელობის გაუარესება - janmrtelobis gauareseba (worthening of health); ცუდ ფიზიკურ მდომარეობაში ყოფნა - tsud pizikur mdgomareobashi kopna (being in a bad physical condition); ლოგინად ჩავარდნა - loginad chavardna (to “become” bedridden); ჯანის გატეხვა - janis gatekhva (breaking one’s health)  
    Off color; In bad shape; Under the weather; Touch-and-go; On your last legs/On its last legs; Run down; Fall ill.
  3. Satisfactory physical condition:
    ვარ რა?! – var ra?! (to be so-so); ნელ-თბილად ყოფნა - nel-tbilad kopna (to be so-so); არც ცოცხლებში წერია, არც მკვდრებში - arts tsotskhlebshi tseria, arts mkvdrebshi (he/she is written neither in living beings, nor in dead persons)
    To be so-so; To be OK; I’m hanging in there; I’ve be better.
  4. idioms, which denote the degree of the pain/the illness: an adjective + a noun.
    სუსტი ტკივილი - susti tkivili (weak pain); ყრუ ტკივილი - kru tkivili (dull ache); გულისგამაწვრილებელი ტკივილი - gulisgamatsvrilebeli tkivili; საშინელი ტკივილი - sashineli tkivili (terrible pain ); ძლიერი ტკივილი- dzlieri tkivili (severe ache)
    Severe ache;  Splitting headache; Severe cancer; Sharp pain; Minor pain.

 VI. The production of a future generation was connected with a risk, beliefs and cultural regulations at the early ages of the development of the society. Ethnographers and historians have studied the English and Georgian rituals connected with pregnancy, delivery of a child and his/her upbringing. Moreover, the English and Georgian languages present a small group of phrases about pregnancy and giving birth. The usage of euphemisms is obviously connected with the defense of the future mother from the so-called evil eye and evil forces     

მუცლით ახალ სიცოცხლეს ატარებს - mutslit axal sitsotskhles atarebs (she has a new life in her stomach); ბავშვი ჰყავს მუცელში - bavshvi hkavs mutselshi (she has a baby in her stomach); ფეხმძიმედაა - pekhmdzimedaa (she is pregnant)

In the family way; A bun in the owen; Expecting; With child; Prego.

 b)ახალ სიცოცხლეს ბადებს - akhal sitsotskhles badebs (she is delivering a new life);  ახალ სიცოცხლეს შობს - akhal sitsotskhles shobs (she is delivering a new life)

 Giving birth; Delivering the birth; Had a baby.

c) მძიმე ორსულობა -mdzime orsuloba (difficult pregnancy); ორსულობის შეწყვეტა - orsulobis shetakveta (to stop the pregnancy); ნაყოფის მოკვლა - nakopis mokvla (to kill the child)  

To dye the child; Difficult pregnancy; Miscarriage; Lost the baby.

d) Problems in getting pregnant, infertility: არ ჰყვება (ნაყოფი)ar hkveba nakopi (she can’t get pregnant); ბერწი - bertsi (barren); უნაყოფო- unakopo (barren) (the first and the second elements characterize a woman, while უნაყოფო characterizes the representatives of both sex)

Problems in getting pregnant; Infertility (is used with a woman and a man), Shooting blanks (characterizes a man).

questions. Speaking about them needs special correctness (political correctness) [Linguistic… 2011:4]. We are going to name some diseases – mental diseases, which are not discussed “aloud” in the society. Moreover, speaking about them is regarded as incorrectness. Perhaps, this is a common characteristic feature of the Georgian and Anglo-American cultures.

The following euphemistic expressions are used for denoting a psychological state:

გონებრივი პრობლემები აქვს - gonebrivi problemebi akvs (he/she has mental problems); მთლად კარგად ვერ არის - mtlad kargad ver aris (he/she is not quite well); ავი თვალი აქვს ნაკრავი - avi tvali akvs nakravi (he/she was stroke by an evil eye); ეშინებულია - sheshinebulia (he/she is frightened);

 Go nuts; Mentally disturbed;  Mentally unstable; With mental problems; Lost his marbels; A screw is loose.

b) The following euphemistic expressions are used for denoting an emotional state:

ემოციურად მდგრადია - emotsiurad mdgradia (he/she is emotionally stable); ემოციურად არასტაბილურია - emotsiurad arastabiluria (he/she is emotionally unstable); ვერ აკონტროლებს საკუთარ საქციელს - ver akontrolebs sakutar saktsiels (he/she cannot control his/her behaviour); ადვილად კარგავს კონტროლს - advilad kargavs kontrols (easily looses control) , ფეთქებადი - petkebadi (explosive).

 Go nuts; Out of sorts; Emotional; Rollercoaster.

We will include in the same group phraseologisms denoting emotional unstability        and depression, for instance:

 გაშტერებულივითაა - gashterebulivitaa (he/she is dumbfounded); შემოლაწუნება უნდა - shemolatsuneba unda (he/she needs slapping in the face); თითქოს უჟმური ჰყავს შემძვრალი - titkos uzhmuri hkavs shemdzvrali (informal).

Feel blue; Down in the dumps; In a slump; being in a bad place.

c) The last group presents phraseologisms, which denote a person’s good emotional condition:

ცეცხლივითაა -tsetskhlivitaa (he/she is like a fire); ორი კაცის ჯანი აქვს - ori katsis jani akvs (he/she has the health of two persons); რკინის ფსიქიკა აქვს - rkinis psikika akvs (he/she has an iron psychics); ახალი სუნთქვის გახსნა -akhali suntkvis gakhsna (opening a new breath).

A new lease of life; A shot in the arm; Reacharge your batteries;  Vim and vigor; Fresh and dasy.

We have tried to study the Georgian and English phraseological units denoting a person’s physical and mental conditions.

The phraseologisms denoting a person’s physical activity contain a group of elements, which  have not acquired the main marker - steadiness. These elements change their meanings according to the context. For example:

ფერი დაკარგა (peri dakarga) - Color draining:  denotes a bad physical condition, illness.

ფერმკრთალი (permktali)  - Pale: contains pointing to the visual side.

წონა დაკარგა (tsona dakarga) -Wasting away: illness.

წონაში დაიკლო  (tsonashi daiklo) - Loosing weight : physical condition.

 The following Georgian homonyms can be discussed from the same point of view:

გონება დაკარგა - goneba dakarga (he/she lost consciousness)  (direct meaning)

გონება დაკარგა -  goneba dakarga ( his/her ability of judgment lowered).

 Although we have discussed radically different cultures, there is a great similarity between the phraseological units denoting a person’s physical and mental conditions. In case of English and Georgian, a cultural-lingual transfer is excluded. Therefore, there are universal human values  described by different cultures via their prisms.  In most cases they correspond with one another.  



Вавилова Л.Н.
К вопросу об эвфемизации современной русской речи: [ინტერნეტრესურსი]
Cowie A. P.
Theory, Analysis, and Applications; Oxford Studies in Lexicology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Linguistic politics and language usage in the debate on political correctness 2011 [ინტერნეტრესურსი]