The Georgian Mkhedruli alphabet developed from the Nuskhuri alphabet during the 10th century. The oldest known inscription in Mkhedruli dates from 982 AD and was found in Ateni Sioni Church in the village of Ateni in central Georgia.
The name Mkhedruli means "cavalry" or "military", and comes from the word მხედარი (mkhedari), which means horseman, knight or warrior.
At first Mkhedruli was used only for secular writing, while for religious writings a mixture of the two older alphabets (Asomtavruli and Nuskhuri) 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 Khutsuri (clerical).
By the 19th century Mkhedruli became the main alphabet used to write Georgian, although Georgian Orthodox Church continues to use all three alphabets. Moreover, 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 alphabet, 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.
Download Georgian alphabet charts in Excel, Word or PDF format
Information about the Georgian alphabet from Konstantin Gugeshashvili
Georgian (Mkhedruli) alphabet learning game
How to write and pronounce Mkhedruli alphabet:
q'vela adamiani ibadeba tavisupali da tanasts'ori tavisi ghirsebita da uplebebit. mat gaachniat goneba da sindisi da ertmanetis mimart unda iktseodnen da-dzmobis sulisk'vetebit.
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)
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Information about the Mkhedruli alphabet
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Page last modified: 15.03.23
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