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The Georgian language

Georgische Schrift an einer sowjetischen Bushaltestelle
Georgian script, mosaic at the bus stop near Ananuri, Georgia

Georgian belongs to the oldest and the most difficult languages in the world. It is one of the Kartvelian language group, which is completely uniqie and independent not being related to any other language group, i.a. Indo-European, or any neighbouring languages (Slavic, Turkish, Armenian, Persian ...).

The Georgian alphabet has also a long-standing tradition, the oldest findings of letters date back to the 2. century AD.

Kartvelian language group

The Caucasus wa known to the commercial travellers in medieval times as "Mountain of languages". The Roman historian Plinius reports, that the Romans needed hundreds of traslators to their business.

Most of those languages were driven out or died out in course of time. The Georgian language survived to be one of the few oldest languages of civilised world. Georgian belongs to the "Southcaucasian", aca "Kartvelian" language group consisting of three languages, all of them spoken in Georgia (Georgian beeing the official language, and the other two, Svanian and Mengrelian - regional dialects).

All the languages of the world (present or extinct) are grouped in 25 language families according to their linguistic relationship. The Kartvelian language group is one of them, which emphasises its age and uniqueness even more. In contrast: Roman, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Slavonic, Hindi, Persian, Armenian languages groups, all belong to the Indo-European language family.

Georgian, one of the oldest languages of civilised world

Linguistic and archeological research suggests that the Georgians are the indigenous people of the Caucasus. Their homeland was stretched across the territory between the Greater and the Lesser Caucasus to the North Mesopotamia, where since the 5.-4. millenia BC they have come into contact with the proto Indo-European and proto Semitic language systems.

The Kartvelian language group today consists of only three languages: Mengrelian-Lazian, Svanian and Georgian. All three languages are spoken within Georgia, Georgian is the only official language of the three.

 

The Georgian script

Georgian script characters
Georgische Schriftzeichen (Avaza Mtavruli) © Georgia Insight

The Georgian Alphabet

The Georgian Alphabet belongs to the oldest scriptures of the world and is one of the 14 official writing systems stil used today. There are three Georgian scriptures which were developed in course time. Two variants for church literature, and the "Warriors-script" derived thereof in the 11. c. to serve worldy purposes, which in its turn resulted - with minor changes - in the present script.

The "Inscription of Palestine" (5. c.) was long thought to be the oldest example of an inscript in the Georgian language. But, in terms of palaeographic perspective the inscription is of such elegance, that the existence of a precursor, a so called developing-stage was strongly assumed. 

Meanwhile, in eastern Georgia archeologists have unearthed important findings with scripture dating back to the 2. century.