Chapter 1 Origins and Progress of the Study
The chapter includes a survey of those who have made the most significant contributions to our understanding of the nature of, and relations between, the relevant languages and notes some websites that offer sources of information.
Chapter 2 The Language-families and Individual Languages
The individual languages along with appropriate sociolinguistic data are here introduced.
Chapter 3 Phonological Systems
Consonant- and vowel-systems, with discussion of such interesting features as the level of minimalism in the North West Caucasian family and the differing consonantal inventories in the North East that one finds in the works of different commentators, are included here.
Chapter 4 Morphology
This is the first of the two central substantial chapters. It compares the ways in which the different families achieve their levels of complexity, with polysynthetic verbal systems coupled with minimal noun-morphology in the North West contrasting with complex nominal morphologies accompanied by relatively simply verbal structures in the North Central and North East, with South Caucasian occupying a middle area of reasonably complex verbal and nominal systems together.
Chapter 5 Syntax
This is the largest of the chapters and introduces material from members of all the families for all the major syntactic constructions. Since syntactic properties are normally not examined in detail in the traditional grammars produced by native linguists, the information contained here should be especially useful.
Chapter 6 Lexis
Some properties of word-formation are presented, especially the numerical systems.
Chapter 7 What Does the Future Hold?
There is is a discussion of the scripts employed for the literary languages of the region, and the opportunity is taken to stress views already expressed by the author as to the possibility of introducing a roman-based orthography that could be used to represent ANY of the northern languages. Failing this, a unified Cyrillic-based system is also discussed.
Appendix Kartvelian Preverbs
The book, which is dedicated to the memory of Helma van den Berg, who died during the final weeks of its preparation, is completed by a comprehensive list of references which should serve as a useful bibliography for anyone new to the subject.
Unlike G. Klimov's earlier introduction (available in both Russian and German translation), with its division into self-contained descriptions for the different language-families, information here is presented on a thematic basis.
George Hewitt FBA, is Professor of Caucasian Languages, NME Dept., SOAS.