Prof. George Hewitt

Languages in contact in N W Georgia: Fact or Fiction?

"Languages in contact in N W Georgia: Fact or Fiction?", in: Caucasian Perspectives (ed. B. G. Hewitt), 1992, 244-258.

"One of the most important problems of our discipline is  to establish the date of the settlement of the Abkhazian population upon the territory of modern Abkhazia" -- the words of Svan linguist, Aleksandre  Oniani, used to open his 2-part article  Abkhazia and NW Georgia according to  the linguistic evidence, published in  saxalxo ganatleba (Narodnoe Obrazovanie) over the New Year 1989-90. Although we can all undoubtedly think of many other, rather more urgent tasks for  Caucasologists in general and Kartvelologists in particular, Oniani has presented a case, and it has to be answered, however tedious this may be.
Some may wish to interpose  at this point the observation that the article in question was answered in the self-same paper on the 8th March by Teimuraz Gvanceladze  and Merab Chuxua. But, as we shall see, what these two individuals set out to achieve can in no way be regarded as an attempt to challenge the central proposition of  Oniani's argument, namely that the people we call Abkhazians have resided in Abkhazia for no more than 400-500 years. How is this conclusion reached in terms of the linguistic data?

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