The Georgian language is a Kartvelian language, of the Karto-Zan branch. Kartvelian is also known as South Caucasian. Though this branch of language is spoken majoritively in Georgia, there are large groups of Georgian speakers in Russia and the United States, with around five million speakers of this language family across the world.
Georgian is believed to have branched linguistically apart from the Svan and Mingrelian languages in 100BC, with the full split happening around 900AD, when these three languages became distinctly separate from each other.
There are four eras or ages of the Georgian language: Early Old Georgian, Classical Old Georgian, Middle Georgian and Modern Georgian. Early Old Georgian lasted from 500AD to 800AD, with Classical Old Georgian lasting for only a couple of centuries after this. The language progressed to Middle Georgian, where it remained as this language for another 600 years until finally Modern Georgian emerged in the 18th century, and this is the Georgian language that is in use today.
The Georgian language became a written language as a consequence of the Georgian peoples conversion to Christianity around the 4th century. Replacing Aramaic, which was a much more pagan language, Georgian appropriated the language forms and certain conventions in order to become a much more widely used language among the elite of Georgia.
In Georgia, there are around 4 million speakers of the Georgian language, and for those 4 million people it is their primary language. However, there are around half a million speakers of Georgia who live abroad. There are several regional subgroups of Georgian, with Georgian being the literary language for these subgroups. Judaeo-Georgian, a sub-language of Georgian itself, is also spoken by around 80,000 people of Jewish descent globally.
The Georgian language is spoken not only in Georgia, but in Russia, Israel, Ukraine, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the USA. There are several Georgian dialects that have formed as a result of this spread of the language, yet around eighteen dialects can be identified within Georgia itself that can be categorized into one of two regional dialects. These dialects are Eastern and Western, with Standard Georgian being primarily of the Eastern dialect, which is the dialect that has spread throughout the Georgian-speaking communities of the world as being the standard for theirs as well.
With such interesting features as split ergativity and a polypersonal verb system, the Georgian language is quite different from many Slavic languages. There are many levels to pronunciation in the Georgian language, with stress, intonation and rhythm all affecting the way that the language is interpreted by the receiver. The stress of the words within sentences is a highly contended issue among linguists, and becoming fluent in this language will almost certainly require speaking to native speakers of the Georgian language.
The Georgian language also contains many harmonic clusters. Harmonic clusters are combinations of two consonants which are pronounced together. This means that certain words or phrases in the Georgian language do not have vowels in them, and can be a little daunting to English speakers! It is also an agglutinative language, and so it is relatively easy to break the words and sentences down to their component parts.
This language also follows a very typical pattern of Subject Verb Object, although the word order is not as strict as in many Germanic languages. This means that for many sentences, the word order can also be spoken or written in Subject Object Verb form. Interestingly, the Georgian language also has no articles, so, for example, “a dog” and “the dog” are written and spoken in exactly the same way.
Why Learn The Georgian Language?
Georgia is one of the countries in the world that has managed to resist too much of an outside influence from the rest of the world. As a result, Georgia has a rich folkloric history, with unique traditional music, cinema and theatre. Essentially, the arts world of Georgia is beautifully singular, with many aspects of the arts maintaining a very strong historical vibe.
There is a distinctly refined air to many of the arts scenes in Georgia, with the country having many prominent classical dancers and artists emerging in the last few hundred years. Not to mention the stunning architecture of the country, Georgia has a very strong religious aspect to it, and if you are interested in this kind of beautiful, gentle atmosphere then Georgia would be an excellent place for you to visit. The Georgian language is a wonderful one to learn if you would like to delve deeper into the lovely arts world that Georgia has to offer.