It is spoken in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and the US.
It is believed that the word Georgian comes from Old Persian “Gurjar,” which means ‘a Georgian person’.
The first printed material in Georgian, in the Mkhedruli alphabet, was published in 1669. Since then, the alphabet has undergone very few changes, some letters were added, some others were lost, but these were not major reforms.
Some features of the language include:
- As opposed to other languages, it is not based on a syllabary, but on an alphabet.
- It is written from left to right, horizontally.
- In its written form, the Mkhedruli letters are not connected to one another, although they can be written in cursive.
- There are no a capital letters as in the Latin alphabet.
- The Georgian language does not have any symbols for numerals. Instead, each letter has a numerical value besides its phonological one. Also, you can often see the numbers as they are commonly known (1.2, 3 …).
- The order of the Mkhedruli letters is based on the Greek alphabet, and those letters that do not come from Greek are located at the end of the alphabet.
- The Georgian language grammar does not distinguish between genders. A given pronoun can be either ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘it’.
- Just like every other language, it has been enriched by words from other languages with which it has come in contact due to geographical or cultural proximity. It is common to find loanwords from Arabic, Persian and Turkish. You can also find some loanwords from Greek and Russian.
In order to see the impact that culture has on language, in Georgian greetings you can find phrases that point to a somewhat troubled past…
- dila mshvidobisa: ‘a morning of peace’ = good morning
- gamarjoba: ‘victory’ = hello!
- gagimarjos: ‘Let’s hope for victory’ = cheers!
Other Caucasian languages that share the Georgian writing system are:
- Minglelian: a language spoken in Northern Georgia;
- Laz: a language that can be found in Turkey and Georgia;
- Svan: a language from Northwestern Georgia.
If you have any questions about South Caucasian languages, you can contact us at: