Cities in GEORGIA
Georgian is the official language of Georgia and is used as the first language by approximately 70% of the population. Linguists have not so far been able to establish a relationship between Georgian and any other language or language family, not even within the Caucasian languages. The Caucasian languages are therefore grouped together more geographically than linguistically.
The Georgian languages, also called Kartveel languages or South Caucasian languages, is a language family formed by Georgian, Mingrelian, Laz and Svan. Georgian is the most important Cartel language (approx. 3.5 million speakers), has a literary tradition of almost 15 centuries and is one of the oldest languages in the world. Mingrelian is spoken along the central and southern coast of the Black Sea, mainly in Samegrelo (South Ossetia). Laz is mainly spoken in the areas bordering north-eastern Turkey. Svan has no alphabet and is mainly spoken by mountainous people of Svaneti. The Svan language is most similar to the old Cartel language.
Some regional dialects are Imeruli (spoken in Imereti), Rachuli (Racha), Guroeli (Goeria), Khakuri (Kakhetia) and Acharoeli (Adjara). Some dialects are only spoken in remote mountainous regions, including Pyavi, Khevsureti, Toesheti and Mtioeleti.
There is no linguistic relationship with Russian, although it is spoken and understood by most people, especially by minority groups who do not speak Georgian. English as a second or third language is mainly spoken and understood by the younger generation, and then only in Tbilisi and other big cities.
How the Georgian script originated is not yet clear. It is thought that the Georgian script is closely related to the Phoenician-Aramaic script. The Georgian alphabet has 40 letters, seven of which are no longer used, and there is no difference between upper and lower case letters. Since becoming a written language, Georgian has had three alphabetical systems. What is used now is the Mchedroeli from the 11th century. The Hoetsuri script (church script), which is no longer used today, contains 38 letters, both upper and lower case. Some Georgian words (sometimes recognisable as loanwords*):
Hello - gamar jobat
Good morning - dila mshvidobisa
Thank you - didi madloba
Water - tskali
Milk - rdze
One - erti
Two - ori
Three - sami
Ten - ati
One hundred - asi
Monday - orshabati
Saturday - shabati
Airport - aeroporti*
Bus - avtobusi*
Train - matarebeli
Petrol - benzini*
Vegetable - bostneuli
Tomato - pamidori*
In the autonomous republic of Abkhazia, about 90 000 people still speak Abkhazian, which has been regarded as the official state language since 1991. Abkhazian is a member of the North-West Caucasian language family, which also includes Circassian and Ubykh. Abkhazian is not related to Georgian and its alphabet has been in existence since 1862.
Ossetian, spoken by ethnic Ossetians, is spoken in various parts of Georgia, but mainly in South Ossetia. This language is a member of the Ossetian language family.
Many Georgian surnames end in idze or adze, which means "son of". The ending vili is also common and means "child".
Of the approximately 150 newspapers, 120 are written in Georgian. There are also newspapers in Russian, Armenian, Abkhazian and Ossetian.
Georgia is descended from "Gurj", the name given to the people of Georgia by Arabs and Persians.
Burford, T. / Georgia
Georgia, Armenia & Azerbaijan
Rosen, R. / Georgia
Spilling, M. / Georgia
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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