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Georgian language

Georgian language

Overview
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 and the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, a country in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

.

Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad. It is the literary language
Literary language
A literary language is a register of a language that is used in literary writing. This may also include liturgical writing. The difference between literary and non-literary forms is more marked in some languages than in others...

 for all regional subgroups of the Georgian ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, including those who speak other Kartvelian (South Caucasian) languages: Svans, Mingrelian
Mingrelians
The Mingrelians are a subethnic group of Georgians that mostly live in Samegrelo region of Georgia. They also live in considerable numbers in Abkhazia and Tbilisi...

s, and the Laz
Laz people
The Laz are an ethnic group native to the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia...

. Judaeo-Georgian, sometimes considered a separate Jewish language
Jewish languages
Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities around the world.Although Hebrew was the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries, by the fifth century BCE, the closely related Aramaic joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea and by the third...

, though some just consider it Georgian, is spoken by an additional 20,000 in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

).


Georgian is the most pervasive of the South Caucasian languages
South Caucasian languages
The Kartvelian languages are spoken primarily in Georgia, with a large group of ethnic Georgian speakers in Russia, the United States, the European Union, and northeastern parts of Turkey. There are approximately 5.2 million speakers of this language family worldwide.It is not known to be related...

, a family that also includes Svan
Svan language
The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...

 and Megrelian
Megrelian language
Mingrelian, or Megrelian , is a Kartvelian language spoken in Western Georgia , primarily by Georgians of Mingrelian origin. The language was also called Iverian in the early 20th century...

 (chiefly spoken in Northwest Georgia) and Laz
Laz language
The Laz language is a South Caucasian language spoken by the Laz people on the Southeast shore of the Black Sea...

 (chiefly spoken along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, from Melyat, Rize
Rize
Rize is the capital of Rize Province, in northeast Turkey, on the Black Sea coast.-Etymology:The name comes from Greek or Ριζαίον , meaning "mountain slopes". In modern times, its name in Greek was usually Ριζούντα . Its Latin forms are Rhizus and Rhizaeum...

 to the Georgian frontier).


Dialects of Georgian include Imereti
Imereti
Imereti is a province in Georgia situated along the middle and upper reaches of the Rioni river. It consists of the following Georgian administrative-territorial units:#Kutaisi #Baghdati region#Vani region#Zestafoni region...

an, Racha
Racha
Racha is a highland area in western Georgia, located in the upper Rioni river valley and hemmed in by the Greater Caucasus mountains...

-Lechkhumi
Lechkhumi
Lechkhumi is a historic province in northwestern Georgia which comprises the area along the middle basin of the Rioni and Tskhenistskali and also the Lajanuri river valley. Now part of the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, it corresponds roughly to the present day Tsageri district as well...

an, Guria
Guria
Guria is a region in Georgia, in the western part of the country, bordered by the eastern end of the Black Sea. The region has a population of 143,357 and Ozurgeti is a regional capital.-Geography:...

n, Adjarian, Imerkhevi
Imerkhevi
Imerkhevi is a valley in the north of Şavşat district in Artvin Province of Turkey along the border with Georgia. There are 14 villages in this area....

an (in Turkey), Kartli
Kartli
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

an, Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

an, Ingilo
Saingilo
Saingilo is a 19th-century term that is used to indicate parts of the districts of Balakan, Zaqatala and Qakh—territory of 4,780 km2—currently parts of Azerbaijan, populated by the ethnic Georgians—Ingiloi.-History:...

 (in Azerbaijan), Tush
Tusheti
Tusheti is a historic region in northeast Georgia.-Geography:Located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, Tusheti is bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan to the north and east, respectively; and by the Georgian historic provinces Kakheti and...

, Khevsur, Mokhevian
Khevi
Khevi is a small historical-geographic area in northeastern Georgia. It is included in the modern-day Kazbegi district, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region...

, Pshavi
Pshavi
Pshavi is a small historic-geographic area in Georgia, included in today’s Mtskheta-Mtianeti region and laying chiefly on the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains along Aragvi River and the lower Iori River. The Pshavs, who are locally called the Pshaveli, speak a Georgian dialect...

an, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan
Fereydan
- Georgians in Fereydan :The Fereydan Georgians are an ethnographic group of the Georgian people who mostly live in the city of Fereydoon Shahr and in the Fereydan region of Iran.- Origins :...

, Mtiuleti
Mtiuleti
Mtiuleti is a historical province in eastern Georgia, on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It primarily comprises the White Aragvi Valley, and is bordered by Gudamakari on the east, Khando on the south, Tskhrazma on the west, and Khevi on the north. Mtiuleti occupies parts of...

an, Meskheti
Meskheti
Meskheti is in a mountainous area of Moschia and is a former province in southwestern Georgia. The ancient Georgian tribes of Meskhi and Mosiniks were the indigenous population of this region. A majority of the modern Georgian population of Meskheti are descendants of these ancient tribes...

an.

Georgian shared a common ancestral language with and is believed to have separated from Svan
Svan language
The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...

 and Mingrelian
Megrelian language
Mingrelian, or Megrelian , is a Kartvelian language spoken in Western Georgia , primarily by Georgians of Mingrelian origin. The language was also called Iverian in the early 20th century...

/Laz
Laz language
The Laz language is a South Caucasian language spoken by the Laz people on the Southeast shore of the Black Sea...

 in the first millennium BC.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 and the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

, a country in the Caucasus
Caucasus
The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

.

Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad. It is the literary language
Literary language
A literary language is a register of a language that is used in literary writing. This may also include liturgical writing. The difference between literary and non-literary forms is more marked in some languages than in others...

 for all regional subgroups of the Georgian ethnos
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

, including those who speak other Kartvelian (South Caucasian) languages: Svans, Mingrelian
Mingrelians
The Mingrelians are a subethnic group of Georgians that mostly live in Samegrelo region of Georgia. They also live in considerable numbers in Abkhazia and Tbilisi...

s, and the Laz
Laz people
The Laz are an ethnic group native to the Black Sea coastal regions of Turkey and Georgia...

. Judaeo-Georgian, sometimes considered a separate Jewish language
Jewish languages
Jewish languages are the various languages and dialects that developed in Jewish communities around the world.Although Hebrew was the daily speech of the Jewish people for centuries, by the fifth century BCE, the closely related Aramaic joined Hebrew as the spoken language in Judea and by the third...

, though some just consider it Georgian, is spoken by an additional 20,000 in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

).

Classification



Georgian is the most pervasive of the South Caucasian languages
South Caucasian languages
The Kartvelian languages are spoken primarily in Georgia, with a large group of ethnic Georgian speakers in Russia, the United States, the European Union, and northeastern parts of Turkey. There are approximately 5.2 million speakers of this language family worldwide.It is not known to be related...

, a family that also includes Svan
Svan language
The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...

 and Megrelian
Megrelian language
Mingrelian, or Megrelian , is a Kartvelian language spoken in Western Georgia , primarily by Georgians of Mingrelian origin. The language was also called Iverian in the early 20th century...

 (chiefly spoken in Northwest Georgia) and Laz
Laz language
The Laz language is a South Caucasian language spoken by the Laz people on the Southeast shore of the Black Sea...

 (chiefly spoken along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, from Melyat, Rize
Rize
Rize is the capital of Rize Province, in northeast Turkey, on the Black Sea coast.-Etymology:The name comes from Greek or Ριζαίον , meaning "mountain slopes". In modern times, its name in Greek was usually Ριζούντα . Its Latin forms are Rhizus and Rhizaeum...

 to the Georgian frontier).

Dialects



Dialects of Georgian include Imereti
Imereti
Imereti is a province in Georgia situated along the middle and upper reaches of the Rioni river. It consists of the following Georgian administrative-territorial units:#Kutaisi #Baghdati region#Vani region#Zestafoni region...

an, Racha
Racha
Racha is a highland area in western Georgia, located in the upper Rioni river valley and hemmed in by the Greater Caucasus mountains...

-Lechkhumi
Lechkhumi
Lechkhumi is a historic province in northwestern Georgia which comprises the area along the middle basin of the Rioni and Tskhenistskali and also the Lajanuri river valley. Now part of the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, it corresponds roughly to the present day Tsageri district as well...

an, Guria
Guria
Guria is a region in Georgia, in the western part of the country, bordered by the eastern end of the Black Sea. The region has a population of 143,357 and Ozurgeti is a regional capital.-Geography:...

n, Adjarian, Imerkhevi
Imerkhevi
Imerkhevi is a valley in the north of Şavşat district in Artvin Province of Turkey along the border with Georgia. There are 14 villages in this area....

an (in Turkey), Kartli
Kartli
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

an, Kakheti
Kakheti
Kakheti is a historical province in Eastern Georgia inhabited by Kakhetians who speak a local dialect of Georgian. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and the Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north, Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and...

an, Ingilo
Saingilo
Saingilo is a 19th-century term that is used to indicate parts of the districts of Balakan, Zaqatala and Qakh—territory of 4,780 km2—currently parts of Azerbaijan, populated by the ethnic Georgians—Ingiloi.-History:...

 (in Azerbaijan), Tush
Tusheti
Tusheti is a historic region in northeast Georgia.-Geography:Located on the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains, Tusheti is bordered by the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan to the north and east, respectively; and by the Georgian historic provinces Kakheti and...

, Khevsur, Mokhevian
Khevi
Khevi is a small historical-geographic area in northeastern Georgia. It is included in the modern-day Kazbegi district, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region...

, Pshavi
Pshavi
Pshavi is a small historic-geographic area in Georgia, included in today’s Mtskheta-Mtianeti region and laying chiefly on the southern foothills of the Greater Caucasus mountains along Aragvi River and the lower Iori River. The Pshavs, who are locally called the Pshaveli, speak a Georgian dialect...

an, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan
Fereydan
- Georgians in Fereydan :The Fereydan Georgians are an ethnographic group of the Georgian people who mostly live in the city of Fereydoon Shahr and in the Fereydan region of Iran.- Origins :...

, Mtiuleti
Mtiuleti
Mtiuleti is a historical province in eastern Georgia, on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It primarily comprises the White Aragvi Valley, and is bordered by Gudamakari on the east, Khando on the south, Tskhrazma on the west, and Khevi on the north. Mtiuleti occupies parts of...

an, Meskheti
Meskheti
Meskheti is in a mountainous area of Moschia and is a former province in southwestern Georgia. The ancient Georgian tribes of Meskhi and Mosiniks were the indigenous population of this region. A majority of the modern Georgian population of Meskheti are descendants of these ancient tribes...

an.

History


Georgian shared a common ancestral language with and is believed to have separated from Svan
Svan language
The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...

 and Mingrelian
Megrelian language
Mingrelian, or Megrelian , is a Kartvelian language spoken in Western Georgia , primarily by Georgians of Mingrelian origin. The language was also called Iverian in the early 20th century...

/Laz
Laz language
The Laz language is a South Caucasian language spoken by the Laz people on the Southeast shore of the Black Sea...

 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
Svan language
The Svan language is a Kartvelian language spoken in the Western Georgian region of Svaneti primarily by the Georgians of Svan origin...

 from the other languages. Megrelian and Laz separated from Georgian roughly a thousand years later.

The earliest allusion to spoken Georgian may be a passage of the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 grammarian Marcus Cornelius Fronto
Marcus Cornelius Fronto
Marcus Cornelius Fronto , Roman grammarian, rhetorician and advocate, was born at Cirta in Numidia. He also was suffect consul of 142.- Life :Fronto, who was born a Roman citizen c...

 in the 2nd century AD: Fronto imagines the Iberians
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 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 palimpsest
Palimpsest
A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος originally compounded from πάλιν and ψάω literally meaning “scraped...

s 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
Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik
The Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik is the first extant piece of Georgian literature. Purported to have been written between 476 and 483, the earliest surviving manuscript dates from the 10th century...

" (Tsamebay tsmidisa Shushanikisi dedoplisay) by Iakob Tsurtaveli
Iakob Tsurtaveli
Jacob of Tsurtavi also known as Jacob the Priest was the 5th-century Georgian religious writer and priest from Tsurtavi, then the major town of Gogarene and the Lower Iberia....

, from the 5th century AD. The Georgian national epic, "The Knight in the Panther's Skin
The Knight in the Panther's Skin
The Knight in the Panther's Skin is an epic poem, consisting of over 1600 shairi quatrains, was written in the 12th century by the Georgian epic-poet Shota Rustaveli, who was a Prince and Treasurer at the royal court of Queen Tamar of Georgia. The Knight in the Panther's Skin is often seen as...

" (Vepkhistqaosani), by Shota Rustaveli
Shota Rustaveli
Shota Rustaveli was a Georgian poet of the 12th century, and one of the greatest contributors to Georgian literature. He is author of "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" , the Georgian national epic poem....

, 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-21st centuries

Consonants


Symbols on the left are those of the IPA and those on the right are of the Georgian alphabet
Georgian alphabet
The Georgian alphabet is the writing system used to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages , and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s...

.
Georgian consonants
  Labial
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Dental/
Alveolar
Post-
alveolar
Postalveolar consonant
Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the back of the alveolar ridge, further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Uvular
Uvular consonant
Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be plosives, fricatives, nasal stops, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and...

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m   მ n   ნ
Plosive aspirated
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

pʰ   ფ tʰ   თ kʰ   ქ
voiced b   ბ d   დ ɡ   გ
ejective
Ejective consonant
In phonetics, ejective consonants are voiceless consonants that are pronounced with simultaneous closure of the glottis. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with aspirated or tenuis consonants...

pʼ   პ tʼ   ტ kʼ   კ qʼ   ყ
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

plain t͡s   ც t͡ʃ   ჩ
voiced d͡z   ძ d͡ʒ   ჯ
ejective
Ejective consonant
In phonetics, ejective consonants are voiceless consonants that are pronounced with simultaneous closure of the glottis. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with aspirated or tenuis consonants...

t͡sʼ   წ t͡ʃʼ   ჭ
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

voiceless s   ს ʃ   შ x 1   ხ h   ჰ
voiced v   ვ z   ზ ʒ   ჟ ɣ 1   ღ
Rhotic
Rhotic consonant
In phonetics, rhotic consonants, also called tremulants or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Greek letter rho, including "R, r" from the Roman alphabet and "Р, p" from the Cyrillic alphabet...

r   რ
Lateral
Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

l   ლ

  1. Opinions differ on how to classify /x/ and /ɣ/; classifies them as post-velar, argues that they range from velar to uvular according to context, and many other scholars treat the phonemes as purely velar.

Vowels

Vowels
Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i   ი u   უ
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

ɛ   ე ɔ   ო
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a~ɑ   ა

Prosody


Prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

 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 accent
Pitch accent
Pitch accent is a linguistic term of convenience for a variety of restricted tone systems that use variations in pitch to give prominence to a syllable or mora within a word. The placement of this tone or the way it is realized can give different meanings to otherwise similar words...

s on the first syllable of a word and near the end of a phrase. The rhythm of Georgian speech is syllable-timed.

Phonotactics


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 cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s, 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").

Vicenik has observed that Georgian vowels following ejective stops have creaky voice
Creaky voice
In linguistics, creaky voice , is a special kind of phonation in which the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together; as a result, the vocal folds are compressed rather tightly, becoming relatively slack and compact...

 and suggests this may be one cue distinguishing ejectives from their aspirated and voiced counterparts.

Writing system


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 to the sounds of the Georgian language.

According to the traditional accounts written down by Leonti Mroveli
Leonti Mroveli
Leonti Mroveli was the 11th-century Georgian chronicler, presumably an ecclesiastic. Mroveli is not his last name, but the adjective for the diocese of Ruisi, whose bishop he probably was...

 in the 11th century, the first Georgian alphabet was created by the first King of Caucasian Iberia
Caucasian Iberia
Iberia , also known as Iveria , was a name given by the ancient Greeks and Romans to the ancient Georgian kingdom of Kartli , corresponding roughly to the eastern and southern parts of the present day Georgia...

 (also called Kartli
Kartli
Kartli is a historical region in central-to-eastern Georgia traversed by the river Mtkvari , on which Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, is situated. Known to the Classical authors as Iberia, Kartli played a crucial role in ethnic and political consolidation of the Georgians in the Middle Ages...

), Pharnavaz
Pharnavaz I of Iberia
Pharnavaz I was the first king of Kartli, an ancient Georgian kingdom known as Iberia to the Classical sources, who is credited by the medieval Georgian written tradition with founding the kingship of Kartli and the Parnavaziani dynasty...

 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
Khutsuri
Khutsuri is the writing system composed by the Asomtavruli and Nuskhuri alphabets....

 (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.

Morphology

  • 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.

Morphophonology

  • In Georgian morphophonology
    Morphophonology
    Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics which studies, in general, the interaction between morphological and phonetic processes. When a morpheme is attached to a word, it can alter the phonetic environments of other morphemes in that word. Morphophonemics attempts to describe this process...

    , 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.

Inflection

  • Georgian has seven noun cases: nominative
    Nominative case
    The nominative case is one of the grammatical cases of a noun or other part of speech, which generally marks the subject of a verb or the predicate noun or predicate adjective, as opposed to its object or other verb arguments...

    , ergative
    Ergative case
    The ergative case is the grammatical case that identifies the subject of a transitive verb in ergative-absolutive languages.-Characteristics:...

    , dative
    Dative case
    The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

    , genitive
    Genitive case
    In grammar, genitive is the grammatical case that marks a noun as modifying another noun...

    , instrumental
    Instrumental case
    The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

    , adverbial
    Adverbial case
    The adverbial case is a noun case in the Abkhaz language and Georgian language that has a function similar to the translative and essive cases in Finnic languages. It is also featured in the Udmurt language. The term is sometimes used to refer to the ablative case in other languages.-Examples:In...

     and vocative
    Vocative case
    The vocative case is the case used for a noun identifying the person being addressed and/or occasionally the determiners of that noun. A vocative expression is an expression of direct address, wherein the identity of the party being spoken to is set forth expressly within a sentence...

    . 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
    Accusative case
    The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of prepositions...

     (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
    Dative construction
    The dative construction is a grammatical way of constructing a sentence, with the subject in the dative case and the direct object in the nominative case...

    . 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.

Syntax

  • Georgian is a left-branching language, in which adjectives precede nouns, possessors
    Possession (linguistics)
    Possession, in the context of linguistics, is an asymmetric relationship between two constituents, the referent of one of which possesses the referent of the other ....

     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
    German language
    German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

    , Latin, or Russian
    Russian language
    Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

    .)

  • 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
    Grammatical gender
    Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

    ; even the pronouns are gender-neutral.

  • Georgian has no article
    Article (grammar)
    An article is a word that combines with a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. Articles specify the grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the and a/an, and some...

    s. Therefore, for example, "guest", "a guest" and "the guest" are said in the same way. In relative clause
    Relative clause
    A relative clause is a subordinate clause that modifies a noun phrase, most commonly a noun. For example, the phrase "the man who wasn't there" contains the noun man, which is modified by the relative clause who wasn't there...

    s, however, it is possible to establish the meaning of the definite article through use of some particles.

Vocabulary


Georgian has a rich word-derivation
Derivation (linguistics)
In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

 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 -Kart-, the following words can be derived: Kartveli (a Georgian person), Kartuli (the Georgian language) and Sakartvelo (Georgia).

Most Georgian surnames
Georgian surnames
Most Georgian surnames are derived either from patronymics or, less frequently, from toponyms, with addition of various suffixes. The Georgian surnames are frequently specific to a particular province. Thus, many surnames from western Georgia end in the suffix –dze , literally meaning “a son”,...

 end in -dze ("son") (Western Georgia), -shvili ("child") (Eastern Georgia), -ia (Western Georgia, Samegrelo
Samegrelo
Samegrelo/Samargalo or Megrelia, Mingrelia is a historic province in the western part of Georgia, formerly also known as Odishi.It is inhabited by the Megrelians, an ethnic subgroup of the Georgians.-Geography and Climate:...

), -ani (Western Georgia, Svaneti
Svaneti
Svaneti is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country. It is inhabited by the Svans, a geographic subgroup of the Georgians.- Geography :...

), -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
Vigesimal
The vigesimal or base 20 numeral system is based on twenty .- Places :...

 number system, based on the counting system of 20, like Basque
Basque language
Basque is the ancestral language of the Basque people, who inhabit the Basque Country, a region spanning an area in northeastern Spain and southwestern France. It is spoken by 25.7% of Basques in all territories...

 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).

Word formations


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 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:
    • , (ts'q'ali), "water"
    • სწორი, (sts'ori), "correct"
    • რძე , (rdze), "milk"
    • თმა, (tma), "hair"
    • მთა, (mta), "mountain"
    • ცხენი, (tskheni), "horse"
  • 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
      Screeve
      A screeve is a term of grammatical description in traditional Georgian grammars that roughly corresponds to TAM marking in the Western grammatical tradition. It derives from the Georgian word mts'k'rivi , which means "row". Formally, it refers to a set of six verb forms inflected for person and...

      ; (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"

Language example


Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 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.
  • Transliteration:

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'.
  • Translation:

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.

See also

  • Culture of Georgia
  • Georgian in Iran
  • 1978 Tbilisi Demonstrations
  • Georgians in Turkey

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Literature and culture