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Georgian (ქართული ენა)

Georgian is a South Caucasian or Kartvelian language spoken by about 4.1 million people mainly in Georgia, and also in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran.

Georgian is related to Mingrelian (მარგალური ნინა), Laz (ლაზური ნენა), and Svan (ლუშნუ ნინ), all of which are spoken mainly in Georgia and are written with the Georgian (Mkhedruli) alphabet.

Georgian is thought to share a common ancestral language with the other South Caucasian languages. Svan is believed to have split from this language during the 2nd millenium BC, and the other languages split up around 1,000 years later.

Written Georgian

The Georgian language first appeared in writing in about 430 AD in an inscription in a church in Palestine in an alphabet known as Asomtavruli. Before then the main written language used in Georgia was a form of Aramaic known as Armazuli (არმაზული დამწერლობა). Two other alphabets have been used to write Georgian: Nushkhuri and Mkhedruli, which is the alphabet currently used.

Asomtavruli (ასომთავრული)

The Georgian language first appeared in writing in about 430 AD in an inscription in a church in Palestine. At that time it was written with an alphabet known as Asomtavruli (ასომთავრული - "capital letters") or Mrglovani (რგლოვანი - "rounded"), which was used until the 9th century. Asomtavruli was probably modelled on the Greek alphabet, and Georgian scholars believe that King Pharnavaz I (ფარნავაზი) of Kartli (Iberia) created it.

Georgian Asomtavruli (ႠႱႭႫႧႠႥႰႳႺႠ) alphabet

Nuskhuri (ნუსხური)

During the 9th century, Asomtavruli was gradually replaced by a more angular alphabet known as Nuskhuri ("minuscule, lowercase"), which was used until the 11th century.

Georgian Nuskhuri (ⴌⴓⴑⴞⴓⴐⴈ) alphabet

Mkhedruli (მხედრული)

The Mkhedruli alphabet developed from Nuskhuri between the 11th and 13th centuries. The name Mkhedruli comes from the word mkhedari which means 'of horseman'.

At first Mkhedruli was used only for secular writing, while for religious writings a mixture of the two older alphabets was used. Eventually Nuskhuri became the main alphabet for religious texts and Asomtavruli was used only for titles and for the first letters of sentences. This system of mixing the two alphabets was known as khucesi (priest) writing.

Eventually the two older alphabets fell out of use and Mkhedruli became the sole alphabet used to write Georgian. However, in the writings of a linguist called Akaki Shanidze (1887-1987) and in works written in his honour, letters from the Asomtavruli alphabet are used to mark proper names and the beginning of sentences. Shanidze's attempt to popularise such usage met with little success.

The first printed material in the Mkhedruli language, a Georgian-Italian dictionary, was published in 1629 in Rome. Since then the alphabet has changed very little, though a few letters were added by Anton I in the 18th century, and 5 letters were dropped in the 1879 when the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians (ქართველთა შორის წერა-კითხვის გამავრცელებელი საზოგადოება), founded by Prince Ilia Chavchavadze (ილია ჭავჭავაძე), introduced a number of reforms.

Mkhedruli alphabet (მხედრული)

Georgian Mkhedruli alphabet


Georgian (Mkhedruli) alphabet learning game

Georgian pronunciation

Georgian pronunciation

The transcription system used here is known as the National Transcription System, and was adopted in February 2002 by the State Department of Geodesy and Cartography of Georgia and the Institute of Linguistics of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.

Information about the Georgian alphabet from Konstantin Gugeshashvili

Chart showing the three Georgian alphabets together

The top row of letters on each line is in the Asomtavruli alphabet, the second row is in the Nuskhuri alphabet, and third row is in the Mkhedruli alphabet.

Georgian Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri and Mkhedruli alphabets


Download a Georgian alphabet charts in Excel, Word or PDF format

Sample text in Georgian in the Asomtavruli alphabet


Sample text in Georgian in the Nuskhuri alphabet

ⴗⴅⴄⴊⴀ ⴀⴃⴀⴋⴈⴀⴌⴈ ⴈⴁⴀⴃⴄⴁⴀ ⴇⴀⴅⴈⴑⴓⴔⴀⴊⴈ ⴃⴀ ⴇⴀⴌⴀⴑⴜⴍⴐⴈ ⴇⴀⴅⴈⴑⴈ ⴖⴈⴐⴑⴄⴁⴈⴇⴀ ⴃⴀ ⴓⴔⴊⴄⴁⴄⴁⴈⴇ. ⴋⴀⴇ ⴋⴈⴌⴈⴝⴄⴁⴓⴊⴈ ⴀⴕⴅⴇ ⴂⴍⴌⴄⴁⴀ ⴃⴀ ⴑⴈⴌⴃⴈⴑⴈ ⴃⴀ ⴄⴐⴇⴋⴀⴌⴄⴇⴈⴑ ⴋⴈⴋⴀⴐⴇ ⴓⴌⴃⴀ ⴈⴕⴚⴄⴍⴃⴌⴄⴌ ⴛⴋⴍⴁⴈⴑ ⴑⴓⴊⴈⴑⴉⴅⴄⴇⴄⴁⴈⴇ.

Sample text in Georgian in the Mkhedruli alphabet

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 tavisupali da tanasts'ori tavisi ghirsebita da uplebebit. Mat minich'ebuli akvt goneba da sindisi da ertmanetis mimart unda iktseodnen dzmobis sulisk'vetebit.

A recording of this text by George Keretchashvili


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.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Sample video in Georgian

Information about Georgian | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Songs | Learning materials


Information about the Georgian language and alphabets

Georgian language courses

Georgian - a reading grammar (PDF)

Georgian phrases

Online Georgian dictionaries

Georgian transliteration and spell checkers

Georgian fonts

Online Georgian news and radio

South Caucasian languages

Georgian, Laz, Mingrelian, Svan


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