Kartuli (Georgian) written in the Georgian alphabet
|Native to||Georgia (Including Abkhazia and South Ossetia)
Russia, United States, Israel, Ukraine, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan
|Native speakers||6–7 million (1998)|
|Writing system||Georgian alphabet|
|Official language in||Georgia|
|Regulated by||Cabinet of Georgia|
|ISO 639-2||geo (B)
|All three Georgian Alphabets
1st Georgian Alphabet
Georgian Asomtavruli Alphabet
Some fonts for modern Georgian do not show the actual Asomtavruli forms for these letters, but instead show taller ("capitalized") variants of the modern Mkhedruli alphabet
Ⴀ Ⴁ Ⴂ Ⴃ Ⴄ Ⴅ Ⴆ Ⴡ Ⴇ Ⴈ Ⴉ Ⴊ Ⴋ Ⴌ Ⴢ Ⴍ Ⴎ Ⴏ Ⴐ Ⴑ Ⴒ Ⴣ Ⴓ Ⴔ Ⴕ Ⴖ Ⴗ Ⴘ Ⴙ Ⴚ Ⴛ Ⴜ Ⴝ Ⴞ Ⴤ Ⴟ Ⴠ Ⴥ
|2nd Georgian Alphabet
Georgian Nuskhuri Alphabet
ⴀ ⴁ ⴂ ⴃ ⴄ ⴅ ⴆ ⴡ ⴇ ⴈ ⴉ ⴊ ⴋ ⴌ ⴢ ⴍ ⴎ ⴏ ⴐ ⴑ ⴒ ⴣ ⴓ ⴔ ⴕ ⴖ ⴗ ⴘ ⴙ ⴚ ⴛ ⴜ ⴝ ⴞ ⴤ ⴟ ⴠ ⴥ
|3rd Georgian Alphabet
Georgian Mkhedruli Alphabet
|The first two Georgian alphabets are used by the Georgian Orthodox Church; the third one is the alphabet currently used by Georgian speakers.|
Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad. It is the literary language for all regional subgroups of the Georgian ethnos, including those who speak other Kartvelian (South Caucasian) languages: Svans, Mingrelians, and the Lazs. Judaeo-Georgian is spoken by an additional 20,000 in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israel).
|Part of a series on|
|Ancient Kartvelian people|
|Colchians · Iberians|
|Svans · Mingrelians · Adjarians · Khevsurians · Tushetians · Chveneburi|
|Music · Media · Sport · Calligraphy · Cinema · Cuisine · Dances · Costume · Calendar · Mythology · Architecture|
|Alphabet · Grammar · Dialects|
|Saint George · Saint Nino
Georgian Orthodox Church
Christianity · Catholicism
Judaism · Islam
|Cross of Saint George · Borjgali · Cross of Bolnisi · Grapevine cross|
|History of Georgia|
Georgian is the most pervasive of the Kartvelian languages, a family that also includes Svan and Megrelian (chiefly spoken in Northwest Georgia) and Laz (chiefly spoken along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, from Melyat, Rize to the Georgian frontier).
Dialects of Georgian are from Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi, Guria, Adjara, Imerkhevi (in Turkey), Kartli, Kakheti, Saingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tusheti, Khevsureti, Khevi, Pshavi, Fereydan, Mtiuleti and Meskheti.
Georgian shares a common ancestral language with Svan and Mingrelian/Laz, and is believed to have become distinct from all of its relatives in the first millennium BC. Based on the degree of change, linguists (e.g. Klimov, T. Gamkrelidze, G. Machavariani) conjecture that the earliest split occurred in the second millennium BC or earlier, separating Svan from the other languages. Megrelian and Laz diverged from Georgian roughly a thousand years later.
The earliest allusion to spoken Georgian may be a passage of the Roman grammarian Marcus Cornelius Fronto in the 2nd century AD: Fronto imagines the Iberians addressing the emperor Marcus Aurelius in their incomprehensible tongue.
The evolution of Georgian into a written language was a consequence of the conversion of the Georgian elite to Christianity in the mid-4th century. The new literary language was constructed on an already well-established cultural infrastructure, appropriating the functions, conventions, and status of Aramaic, the literary language of pagan Georgia, and the new national religion. The first Georgian texts are inscriptions and palimpsests dating to the 5th century. Georgian has a rich literary tradition. The oldest surviving literary work in Georgian is the "Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik" (Georgian: წამებაჲ წმიდისა შუშანიკისი დედოფლისაჲ, Tsamebay tsmidisa Shushanikisi dedoplisay) by Iakob Tsurtaveli, from the 5th century AD. The Georgian national epic, "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" (Georgian: ვეფხისტყაოსანი, Vepkhistqaosani), by Shota Rustaveli, dates from the 12th century.
The history of Georgian can conventionally be divided into:
- Early Old Georgian: 5th–8th centuries
- Classical Old Georgian: 9th–11th centuries
- Middle Georgian: 12th–18th centuries
- Modern Georgian: 18th century – present.
|Nasal||m მ||n ნ|
|Plosive||aspirated||pʰ ფ||tʰ თ||kʰ ქ|
|voiced||b ბ||d დ||ɡ გ|
|ejective||pʼ პ||tʼ ტ||kʼ კ||qʼ ყ|
|Affricate||(aspirated)||t͡s ც||t͡ʃ ჩ|
|voiced||d͡z ძ||d͡ʒ ჯ|
|ejective||t͡sʼ წ||t͡ʃ ʼ ჭ|
|Fricative||voiceless||s ს||ʃ შ||x 1 ხ||h ჰ|
|voiced||v ვ||z ზ||ʒ ჟ||ɣ 1 ღ|
- Opinions differ on how to classify /x/ and /ɣ/; Aronson (1990) classifies them as post-velar, Hewitt (1995) argues that they range from velar to uvular according to context, and many other scholars[who?] treat the phonemes as purely velar. Opinions also differ on the aspiration of /t͡s, t͡ʃ/.
Some consonant phones with letters in the extended Georgian alphabet, but which are not phonemes of Georgian, are [qʰ] ჴ, [ɢ] ჹ, and [f] ჶ.
|Close||i ი||u უ|
|Mid||ɛ ე||ɔ ო|
Prosody in Georgian involves stress, intonation, and rhythm. Stress is very weak, and linguists disagree as to where stress occurs in words. Jun, Vicenik, and Lofstedt have proposed that Georgian stress and intonation are the result of pitch accents on the first syllable of a word and near the end of a phrase. The rhythm of Georgian speech is syllable-timed.
Georgian contains many "harmonic clusters" involving two consonants of a similar type (voiced, aspirated, or ejective) which are pronounced with only a single release; e.g., ბგერა bgera (sound), ცხოვრება cxovreba (life), and წყალი c'q'ali (water). There are also frequent consonant clusters, sometimes involving more than six consonants in a row, as may be seen in words like გვფრცქვნი gvprckvni ("You peel us") and მწვრთნელი mc'vrtneli ("trainer").
Georgian has been written in a variety of scripts over its history. Currently one alphabet, mkhedruli ("military"), is almost completely dominant; the others are mostly of interest to scholars reading historical documents.
Mkhedruli has 33 letters in common use; a half dozen more are now obsolete. The letters of mkhedruli correspond phonetically to the sounds of the Georgian language.
According to the traditional accounts written down by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century, the first Georgian alphabet was created by the first King of Caucasian Iberia (also called Kartli), Pharnavaz in the 3rd century BC. However, the first examples of that alphabet, or its modified version, date from the 5th century AD. Over many centuries, the alphabet was modernized. There are now three completely different Georgian alphabets. These alphabets are called asomtavruli (capitals), nuskhuri (small letters) and mkhedruli. The first two are used together as capital and small letters and they form a single alphabet used in the Georgian Orthodox Church and called khutsuri (priests' [alphabet]).
In mkhedruli, there are no separate forms for capital letters. Sometimes, however, a capital-like effect, called mtavruli (title or heading), is achieved by scaling and positioning the ordinary letters so that their vertical sizes are identical and they rest on the baseline with no descenders. These capital-like letters are often used in page headings, chapter titles, monumental inscriptions, and the like.
- Georgian is an agglutinative language. There are certain prefixes and suffixes that are joined together in order to build a verb. In some cases, there can be up to 8 different morphemes in one verb at the same time. An example can be ageshenebinat ("you (pl) had built"). The verb can be broken down to parts: a-g-e-shen-eb-in-a-t. Each morpheme here contributes to the meaning of the verb tense or the person who has performed the verb. The verb conjugation also exhibits polypersonalism; a verb may potentially include morphemes representing both the subject and the object.
- In Georgian morphophonology, syncope is a common phenomenon. When a suffix (especially the plural suffix -eb-) is attached to a word which has either of the vowels a or e in the last syllable, this vowel is, in most words, lost. For example, megobari means "friend." To say "friends," one says, megobØrebi (megobrebi), with the loss of a in the last syllable of the word root.
- Georgian has seven noun cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, instrumental, adverbial and vocative. An interesting feature of Georgian is that, while the subject of a sentence is generally in the nominative case, and the object is in the accusative case (or dative), in Georgian, one can find this reversed in many situations (this depends mainly on the character of the verb). This is called the dative construction. In the past tense of the transitive verbs, and in the present tense of the verb "to know", the subject is in the ergative case.
- Georgian is a left-branching language, in which adjectives precede nouns, possessors precede possessions, objects normally precede verbs, and postpositions are used instead of prepositions.
- Each postposition (whether a suffix or a separate word) requires the modified noun to be in a specific case. (This is similar to the way prepositions govern specific cases in many Indo-European languages such as German, Latin, or Russian.)
- Georgian is a pro-drop language: both subject and object pronouns are frequently omitted except for emphasis or to resolve ambiguity.
- A study by Skopeteas et al. concluded that Georgian word order tends to place the focus of a sentence immediately before the verb, and the topic before the focus. A subject–object–verb (SOV) word order is common in idiomatic expressions and when the focus of a sentence is on the object. A subject–verb–object (SVO) word order is common when the focus is on the subject, or in longer sentences. Object-initial word orders (OSV or OVS) are also possible, but less common. Verb-initial word orders including both subject and object (VSO or VOS) are extremely rare.
- Georgian has no grammatical gender; even the pronouns are gender-neutral.
- Georgian has no articles. Therefore, for example, "guest", "a guest" and "the guest" are said in the same way. In relative clauses, however, it is possible to establish the meaning of the definite article through use of some particles.
Georgian has a rich word-derivation system. By using a root, and adding some definite prefixes and suffixes, one can derive many nouns and adjectives from the root. For example, from the root -kartv-, the following words can be derived: Kartveli (a Georgian person), Kartuli (the Georgian language) and Sakartvelo (Georgia).
Most Georgian surnames end in -dze ("son") (Western Georgia), -shvili ("child") (Eastern Georgia), -ia (Western Georgia, Samegrelo), -ani (Western Georgia, Svaneti), -uri (Eastern Georgia), etc. The ending -eli is a particle of nobility, equivalent to French de, German von or Polish -ski.
Georgian has a vigesimal number system, based on the counting system of 20, like Basque or French. In order to express a number greater than 20 and less than 100, first the number of 20s in the number is stated and the remaining number is added. For example, 93 is expressed as ოთხმოცდაცამეტი - otkh-m-ots-da-tsamet'i (lit. four-times-twenty-and-thirteen).
Georgian has a word derivation system, which allows the derivation of nouns from verb roots both with prefixes and suffixes. For example:
- From the root -ts'er- ("write"), the words ts'erili ("letter") and mts'erali ("writer") are derived.
- From the root -tsa- ("give"), the word gadatsema ("broadcast") is derived.
- From the root -tsda- ("try"), the word gamotsda ("exam") is derived.
- From the root -gav- ("resemble"), the words msgavsi ("similar") and msgavseba ("similarity") are derived.
- From the root -šen- ("build"), the word šenoba ("building") is derived.
- From the root -tskh- ("bake"), the word namtskhvari ("cake") is derived.
- From the root -tsiv- ("cold"), the word matsivari ("refrigerator") is derived.
- From the root -pr- ("fly"), the words tvitmprinavi ("plane") and aprena ("take-off") are derived.
It is also possible to derive verbs from nouns:
- From the noun -omi- ("war"), the verb omob ("wage war") is derived.
- From the noun -sadili- ("lunch"), the verb sadilob ("eat lunch") is derived.
- From the noun -sauzme ("breakfast"), the verb ts'asauzmeba ("eat a little breakfast") is derived; the preverb ts'a- in Georgian could add the meaning "VERBing a little."
- From the noun -sakhli- ("home"), the verb gadasakhleba (the infinite form of the verb "to relocate, to move") is derived.
Likewise, verbs can be derived from adjectives:
- From the adjective -ts'iteli- ("red"), the verb gats'itleba (the infinite form of both "to blush" and "to make one blush") is derived. This kind of derivation can be done with many adjectives in Georgian. Other examples can be:
- From the adjective -brma ("blind"), the verbs dabrmaveba (the infinite form of both "to become blind" and "to blind someone") are derived.
- From the adjective -lamazi- ("beautiful"), the verb galamazeba (the infinite form of the verb "to become beautiful") is derived.
Words that begin with multiple consonants
In Georgian many nouns and adjectives begin with two or more contiguous consonants.
- Some linguists[who?] assert that almost half of the words in Georgian begin with double consonants. This is because most syllables in the language begin with certain two consonants. Some examples of words that begin with double consonants are:
- There are also many words that begin with three contiguous consonants:
- თქვენ, (tkven), "you (plural)"
- მწვანე, (mts'vane), "green"
- ცხვირი, (tskhviri), "nose"
- ტკბილი, (t'k'bili), "sweet"
- მტკივნეული, (mt'k'ivneuli), "painful"
- ჩრდილოეთი, (črdiloeti), "north"
- There are also a few words in Georgian that begin with four contiguous consonants. Examples are:
- მკვლელი, (mk'vleli), "murderer"
- მკვდარი, (mk'vdari), "dead"
- მთვრალი, (mtvrali), "drunk"
- მწკრივი; (mts'k'rivi), "row"
- There can also be some extreme cases in Georgian. For example, the following word begins with six contiguous consonants:
- მწვრთნელი, (mts'vrtneli), "trainer"
- And the following words begin with eight consonants:
- გვფრცქვნი (gvprtskvni), "you peel us"
- გვბრდღვნი (gvbrdgvni), "you tear us"
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Georgian:
ყველა ადამიანი იბადება თავისუფალი და თანასწორი თავისი ღირსებითა და უფლებებით. მათ მინიჭებული აქვთ გონება და სინდისი და ერთმანეთის მიმართ უნდა იქცეოდნენ ძმობის სულისკვეთებით.
Qvela adamiani ibadeba t'avisup'ali da t'anascori tavisi ġirsebit'a da uplebebit'. Mat miničebuli ak'vt' goneba da sindisi da ert'manet'is mimart' unda ik'c'eodnen żmobis suliskvet'ebit'.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
- Old Georgian language
- Georgian dialects
- Georgian alphabet
- Georgian calligraphy
- Georgian calendar
- Georgian grammar
- Georgian numerals
- Price (1998:80)
- Braund, David (1994), Georgia in Antiquity; a History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 B.C. – A.D. 562, p. 216. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-814473-3
- Tuite, Kevin, "Early Georgian", pp. 145-6, in: Woodard, Roger D. (2008), The Ancient Languages of Asia Minor. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-68496-X
- Shosted & Shikovani (2006:255)
- Shosted & Chikovani (2006:261)
- Aronson (1990) describes this vowel as more fronted than [ɑ]
- Aronson (1990:18)
- Jun, Vicenik & Lofstedt (2007)
- Aronson (1990:33)
- Vicenik (2010:87)
- Skopeteas, Féry & Asatiani (2009:2–5)
- About Georgia: Georgian Alphabet
- Aronson, Howard I. (1990), Georgian: a reading grammar (second ed.), Columbus, OH: Slavica
- Zaza Aleksidze. Epistoleta Tsigni, Tbilisi, 1968, 150 pp (in Georgian)
- Korneli Danelia, Zurab Sarjveladze. Questions of Georgian Paleography, Tbilisi, 1997, 150 pp (in Georgian, English summary)
- Hewitt, B. G. (1995), Georgian: a structural reference grammar, Amsterdam: John Benjamins
- Hewitt, B. G. (1996), Georgian: a Learner's Grammar, London: Routledge
- Pavle Ingorokva. Georgian inscriptions of antique.- Bulletin of ENIMK, vol. X, Tbilisi, 1941, pp. 411–427 (in Georgian)
- Ivane Javakhishvili. Georgian Paleography, Tbilisi, 1949, 500 pp (in Georgian)
- Jun, Sun-Ah; Vicenik, Chad; Lofstedt, Ingvar (2007), "Intonational Phonology of Georgian", UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics (106): 41–57
- Kiziria, Dodona (2009), Beginner's Georgian with 2 Audio CDs, New York: Hippocrene, ISBN 0-7818-1230-5
- Kraveishvili, M. & Nakhutsrishvili, G. (1972), Teach Yourself Georgian for English Speaking Georgians, Tbilisi: The Georgian Society for Cultural Relations with Compatriots Abroad
- Elene Machavariani. The graphical basis of the Georgian Alphabet, Tbilisi, 1982, 107 pp (in Georgian, French summary)
- Ramaz Pataridze. The Georgian Asomtavruli, Tbilisi, 1980, 600 pp (in Georgian)
- Price, Glanville (1998), An Encyclopedia of the Languages of Europe, Blackwell
- Shosted, Ryan K.; Vakhtang, Chikovani (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659
- "Great discovery" (about the expedition of Academician Levan Chilashvili).- Newspaper Kviris Palitra, Tbilisi, April 21–27, 2003 (in Georgian)
- Vicenik, Chad (2010), "An acoustic study of Georgian stop consonants", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (1): 59–92
- Skopeteas, Stavros; Féry, Caroline; Asatiani, Rusudan (2009), Word order and intonation in Georgian, University of Potsdam
|Georgian language edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
- Georgian language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
- Georgian language in the World Atlas of Language Structures Online
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Georgian language
- Georgian English, English Georgian online dictionary
- English-Georgian, German-Georgian and Russian-Georgian dictionaries
- English-Georgian HTML Dictionary
- Georgian Swadesh list of basic vocabulary words (from Wiktionary's Swadesh-list appendix)
- Georgian fonts, compliant with Unicode 4.0, also available for MAC OS 9 or X
- A keyboard for typing georgian characters for firefox
Literature and culture
- About Georgia - Language and Alphabet
- Summer School of Georgian at Tbilisi State University
- Learn how to write Georgian hand-written letters correctly