Georgian (ႵႠႰႧႳႪႨ ႤႬႠ / ⴕⴀⴐⴇⴓⴊⴈ ⴄⴌⴀ / 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 (ႠႱႭႫႧႠႥႰႳႺႠ)

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 (ႠႱႭႫႧႠႥႰႳႺႠ - "capital letters") or Mrglovani (ႫႰႢႥႪႭႥႠႬႨ - "rounded"), which was used until the 9th century. Asomtavruli was probably modelled on the Greek alphabet, though nobody knows who was responsible for this. Armenian scholars believe that Mesrop Mashtots' (Մեսրոպ Մաշտոց), an Armenian missionary, created Asomtavruli, while Georgian scholars believe that King Pharnavaz I (ფარნავაზი) of Kartli (Iberia) did so.

Georgian Asomtavruli (ႠႱႭႫႧႠႥႰႳႺႠ) alphabet

Nuskhuri (ⴌⴓⴑⴞⴓⴐⴈ)

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 1860s when Ilia Chavchavadze introduced a number of reforms.

Mkhedruli alphabet (მხედრული)

Georgian Mkhedruli alphabet

Notes

  • The letters in red are no longer used.
  • The names of the letters in the Georgian alphabet are the formal, traditional names. The letters names in the IPA are the usual way to refer to them.
  • The letters used to have the numerical values shown.

Georgian pronunciation

Georgian pronunciation

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

Downloads

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

Sample text in Georgian in the Asomtavruli alphabet

ႷႥႤႪႠ ႠႣႠႫႨႠႬႨ ႨႡႠႣႤႡႠ ႧႠႥႨႱႳႴႠႪႨ ႣႠ ႧႠႬႠႱႼႭႰႨ ႧႠႥႨႱႨ ႶႨႰႱႤႡႨႧႠ ႣႠ ႳႴႪႤႡႤႡႨႧ. ႫႠႧ ႫႨႬႨႽႤႡႳႪႨ ႠႵႥႧ ႢႭႬႤႡႠ ႣႠ ႱႨႬႣႨႱႨ ႣႠ ႤႰႧႫႠႬႤႧႨႱ ႫႨႫႠႰႧ ႳႬႣႠ ႨႵႺႤႭႣႬႤႬ ძႫႭႡႨႱ ႱႳႪႨႱႩႥႤႧႤႡႨႧ.

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.

Transliteration

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

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

Information about Georgian | Georgian phrases | Georgian numbers | Tower of Babel in Georgian | Songs in Georgian | Georgian language learning materials

Links

Information about the Georgian language and alphabets
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_language
http://www.aboutgeorgia.net/language/

Georgian language courses
http://www.101languages.net/georgian/
http://mylanguages.org/georgian_audio.php
http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~shorena/
http://www.georgian-language.com

Georgian - a reading grammar (PDF)
http://www.seelrc.org:8080/grammar/pdf/stand_alone_georgian.pdf

Georgian phrases
http://ggdavid.tripod.com/georgia/language/gphrases.htm
http://www.aboutgeorgia.ge/language/phrases.html?page=1
http://wikitravel.org/en/Georgian_phrasebook
http://www.masteranylanguage.com/cgi/f/rView.pl?pc=MALGeorgian&tc=CommonPhrases&vm=fc
http://mylanguages.org/georgian_phrases.php
http://omnestour.ge/travel-info/useful-georgian-phrases
http://georgiaphiles.wordpress.com/2013/03/01/everyday-georgian-phrases/

Online Georgian dictionaries
http://www.translate.ge
http://www.georgianweb.com/language/dictionary/

Georgian transliteration and spell checkers
http://ge.translit.cc/
http://www.translitteration.com/transliteration/en/georgian/national/

Georgian fonts
http://www.fonts.ge
http://www.wazu.jp/gallery/Fonts_Georgian.html

Online Georgian news and radio
http://www.tavisupleba.org/

South Caucasian languages

Georgian, Laz, Mingrelian, Svan

Alphabets

Armenian, Avestan, Bassa (Vah), Beitha Kukju, Borama / Gadabuursi, Carian, Carpathian Basin Rovas, Chinuk pipa, Coorgi-Cox, Coptic, Cyrillic, Dalecarlian runes, Elbasan, Etruscan, Galik, Georgian (Asomtavruli), Georgian (Nuskhuri), Georgian (Mkhedruli), Glagolitic, Gothic, Greek, Irish (Uncial), Kaddare, Khazarian Rovas, Korean, Latin, Leptonic, Lycian, Lydian, Manchu, Meroïtic, Mongolian, N'Ko, Ogham, Old Church Slavonic, Oirat Clear Script, Old Italic, Old Permic, Orkhon, Phrygian, Pollard script, Runic, Santali, Székely-Hungarian Rovás (Hungarian Runes), Somali (Osmanya), Sutton SignWriting, Tai Lue, Thaana, Todhri, Uyghur