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Georgian ( , kartuli ena) is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgiamarker, a country in the Caucasus.

Georgian is the primary language of about 3.9 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad (chiefly in Turkeymarker, Iranmarker, Russiamarker, the USAmarker and Europe). It is the literary language for all regional subgroups of the Georgian ethnos, including those who speak other South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages: Svan, Mingrelian, and the Laz. Judaeo-Georgian, sometimes considered a separate Jewish language, is spoken by an additional 20,000 in Georgia and 65,000 elsewhere (primarily 60,000 in Israelmarker).

Classification

Georgian is the most pervasive of the South Caucasian languages, a family that also includes Svan and Megrelian (chiefly spoken in Northwest Georgia) and Laz (chiefly spoken along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, from Melyat, Rizemarker to the Georgian frontier).

Dialects

Dialects of Georgian include Imeretianmarker, Racha-Lechkhumian, Gurianmarker, Adjaran, Imerkhevian (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetianmarker, Ingilo (in Azerbaijan), Tushmarker, Khevsurmarker, Mokhevian, Pshavian, Fereydan dialect in Iran in Fereydunshahr and Fereydan, Mtiuletian, Meskhetian.

History

Georgian shared a common ancestral language with and is believed to have separated from Svan and Mingrelian/Laz in the first millennium BC. Based on the degree of change, linguists (e.g. Klimov, T. Gamkrelidze, G. Machavariani) conjecture that the earliest split occurred in the second millennium BC or earlier, separating Svan from the other languages. Megrelian and Laz separated from Georgian roughly a thousand years later.

The earliest allusion to spoken Georgian may be a passage of the Roman grammarian Marcus Cornelius Fronto in the 2nd century AD: Fronto imagines the Iberians addressing the emperor Marcus Aurelius in their incomprehensible tongue.

The evolution of Georgian into a written language was a consequence of the conversion of the Georgian elite to Christianity in the mid-4th century. The new literary language was constructed on an already well-established cultural infrastructure, appropriating the functions, conventions, and status of Aramaic, the literary language of pagan Georgia, and the new national religion. The first Georgian texts are inscriptions and palimpsests dating to the 5th century. Georgian has a rich literary tradition. The oldest surviving literary work in Georgian is the "Martyrdom of the Holy Queen Shushanik" (Tsamebay tsmindisa Shushanikisi, dedoplisa) by Iakob Tsurtaveli, from the 5th century AD. The Georgian national epic, "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" (Vepkhistqaosani), by Shota Rustaveli, dates from the 12th century.

The history of Georgian can conventionally be divided into:
  • Early Old Georgian: 5th-8th centuries
  • Classical Old Georgian: 9th-11th centuries
  • Middle Georgian: 12th-18th centuries
  • Modern Georgian: 18th-21st centuries


Sounds

Consonants

Symbols on the left are those of the and those on the right are of the Georgian alphabet
Georgian consonants
  Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Post-
alveolar
Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal
Plosive aspirated
voiced
ejective
Affricate plain
voiced
ejective
Fricative voiceless 1
voiced 1
Rhotic
Lateral


  1. Opinions differ on how to classify and ; classifies them as post-velar, argues that they range from velar to uvular according to context, and many other scholars treat the phonemes as purely velar.


Vowels

Vowels
Front Back
Close
Mid
Open


Phonotactics

Some features of Georgian phonotactics.

  • The language contains some formidable consonant clusters, as may be seen in words like გვფრცქვნი gvprckvni ("You peel us") and მწვრთნელი mc'vrtneli ("trainer").


Writing system

Georgian has been written in a variety of scripts over its history. Currently one alphabet, mkhedruli ("military") is almost completely dominant; the others are mostly of interest to scholars reading historical documents.

Mkhedruli has 33 letters in common use; a half dozen more are now obsolete. The letters of mkhedruli correspond to the sounds of the Georgian language.

According to the traditional accounts written down by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century, the first Georgian alphabet was created by the first King of Caucasian Iberia (also called Kartli), Pharnavaz in the 3rd century BC. However, the first examples of that alphabet, or its modified version, date from the 5th centuries AD. Over many centuries, the alphabet was modernized. There are now three completely different Georgian alphabets. These alphabets are called asomtavruli (Capitals), nuskhuri (Small letters) and mkhedruli. The first two are used together as capital and small letters and they form a single alphabet used in the Georgian Orthodox Church and called khutsuri (priests').

In mkhedruli, there are no separate forms for capital letters. Sometimes, however, a capital-like effect, called mtavruli (title or heading), is achieved by scaling and positioning the ordinary letters so that their vertical sizes are identical and they rest on the baseline with no descenders. These capital-like letters are often used in page headings, chapter titles, monumental inscriptions, and the like.

Grammar

Morphology

  • Georgian is an agglutinative language. There are certain prefixes and suffixes that are joined together in order to build a verb. In some cases, there can be up to 8 different morphemes in one verb at the same time. An example can be ageshenebinat ("you (pl) had built"). The verb can be broken down to parts: a-g-e-shen-eb-in-a-t. Each morpheme here contributes to the meaning of the verb tense or the person who has performed the verb (See Georgian grammar for a more detailed discussion).


Morphophonology

  • In Georgian morphophonology, syncope is a common phenomenon. When a suffix (especially the plural suffix -eb-) is attached to a word which has either of the vowels a or e in the last syllable, this vowel is, in most words, lost. For example, megob'ari means "friend." To say "friends," one says, megobØrebi (megobrebi), with the loss of a in the last syllable of the word root.


Inflection

  • Georgian has seven noun cases: nominative, ergative, dative, genitive, instrumental, adverbial and vocative. An interesting feature of Georgian is that, while the subject of a sentence is generally in the nominative case, and the object is in the accusative case (or dative), in Georgian, one can find this reversed in many situations (this depends mainly on the character of the verb). This is called the dative construction. In the past tense of the transitive verbs, and in the present tense of the verb "to know", the subject is in the ergative case.


Syntax

  • Georgian is a post-positional language, meaning that adpositions are placed after (rather than before) the nouns they modify, either as suffixes or as separate words. Many Georgian postpositions correspond to the meanings of prepositions in English. Each postposition requires the modified noun to be in a specific case. (This is similar to prepositions governing specific cases in many Indo-European languages such as German, Latin, Russian, and so on.)


  • Georgian has a subject-verb-object primary sentence structure, but the word order is not as strict as in some Germanic languages such as English. Not all word orders are acceptable, but it is also possible to encounter the structure of subject-object-verb. Georgian has no grammatical gender; even pronouns are gender-neutral. The language also has no article. Therefore, for example, "guest", "a guest" and "the guest" are said in the same way. In relative clauses, however, it is possible to establish the meaning of the definite article through use of some particles.


Vocabulary

Georgian has a rich word-derivation system. By using a root, and adding some definite prefixes and suffixes, one can derive many nouns and adjectives from the root. For example, from the root -Kart-, the following words can be derived: Kart'veli (a Georgian person), Kart'uli (the Georgian language) and Sakartvelo (Georgia).

Most Georgian surnames end in -dze ("son") (Western Georgia), -shvili ("child") (Eastern Georgia), -ia (Western Georgia, Samegrelo), -ani (Western Georgia, Svanetimarker), -uri (Eastern Georgia), etc. The ending -eli is a particle of nobility, equivalent to French de, German von or Polish -ski. At least two personalities with Georgian surnames are known abroad: Eduard Shevardnadze and Joseph Stalin, whose birth name was Dzhugashvili. In the 1990s, British soccer team Manchester City had a number of Georgian players with these surname endings, such as Georgi Kinkladze, Murtazi Shelia, Kakhaber Tskhadadze and Mikhail Kavelashvilli.

Georgian has a vigesimal number system, based on the counting system of 20, like Basque or Old French. In order to express a number greater than 20 and less than 100, first the number of 20s in the number is stated and the remaining number is added. For example, 93 is expressed as ოთხმოცდაცამეტი - otkh-m-ots-da-tsamet'i (lit. four-times-twenty-and-thirteen).

Examples

Word formations

Georgian has a word derivation system, which allows the derivation of nouns from verb roots both with prefixes and suffixes. For example:

  • From the root -ts'er- ("write"), the words ts'erili ("letter") and mts'erali ("writer") are derived.


  • From the root -tsa- ("give"), the word gada'tsema ("broadcast") is derived.


  • From the root -tsda- ("try"), the word gamo'tsda ("exam") is derived.


  • From the root -gav- ("resemble"), the words ms'gavsi ("similar") and msgavseba ("similarity") are derived.


  • From the root -šen- ("build"), the word šenoba ("building") is derived.


  • From the root -tskh- ("bake"), the word nam'tskhvari ("cake") is derived.


  • From the root -tsiv- ("cold"), the word ma'tsivari ("refrigerator") is derived.


  • From the root -pr- ("fly"), the words tvitm'prinavi ("plane") and aprena ("take-off") are derived.


It is also possible to derive verbs from nouns:

  • From the noun -omi- ("war"), the verb omob ("wage war") is derived.


  • From the noun -sadili- ("lunch"), the verb sadilob ("eat lunch") is derived.


  • From the noun -sauzme ("breakfast"), the verb ts'a'sauzmeba ("eat a little breakfast") is derived; the preverb ts'a- in Georgian could add the meaning "VERBing a little."


  • From the noun -sakhli- ("home"), the verb gada'sakhleba (the infinite form of the verb "to relocate, to move") is derived.


Likewise, verbs can be derived from adjectives:

  • From the adjective -ts'iteli- ("red"), the verb ga'ts'itleba (the infinite form of both "to blush" and "to make one blush") is derived. This kind of derivation can be done with many adjectives in Georgian. Other examples can be:


  • From the adjective -brma ("blind"), the verbs da'brmaveba (the infinite form of both "to become blind" and "to blind someone") are derived.


  • From the adjective -lamazi- ("beautiful"), the verb ga'lamazeba (the infinite form of the verb "to become beautiful") is derived.


Words that begin with multiple consonants

In Georgian many nouns and adjectives begin with two or more contiguous consonants.

  • Some linguists assert that almost half of the words in Georgian begin with double consonants. This is because most syllables in the language begin with certain two consonants. Some examples of words that begin with double consonants are:
    • , (ts'qali), "water"
    • სწორი, (stsori), "correct"
    • რძე , (rdze), "milk"
    • თმა, (tma), "hair"
    • მთა, (mta), "mountain"
    • ცხენი, (tskheni), "horse"
  • There are also many words that begin with three contiguous consonants:
    • თქვენ, (tkven), "you (plural)"
    • მწვანე, (mts'vane), "green"
    • ცხვირი, (tskhviri), "nose"
    • ტკბილი, (t'k'bili), "sweet"
    • მტკივნეული, (mt'k' ivneuli), "painful"
    • ჩრდილოეთი, (črdiloeti), "north"
  • There are also a few words in Georgian that begin with four contiguous consonants. Examples are:
    • მკვლელი, (mk'vleli), "murderer"
    • მკვდარი, (mk'vdari), "dead"
    • მთვრალი, (mtvrali), "drunk"
    • მწკრივი; (mts'k'rivi), "row"
  • There can also be some extreme cases in Georgian. For example, the following word begins with six contiguous consonants:
    • მწვრთნელი, (mts'vrtneli), "trainer"
  • And the following words begin with eight consonants:
    • გვფრცქვნი (gvprtskvni), "you peel us"
    • გვბრდღვნი (gvbrdgvni), "you tear us"


See also



References

  1. Braund, David (1994), Georgia in Antiquity; a History of Colchis and Transcaucasian Iberia, 550 B.C. – A.D. 562, p. 216. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198144733
  2. Tuite, Kevin, "Early Georgian", pp. 145-6, in: Woodard, Roger D. (2008), The Ancient Languages of Asia Minor. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 052168496X
  3. describes this vowel as more fronted than


Bibliography

  • Zaza Aleksidze. Epistoleta Tsigni, Tbilisi, 1968, 150 pp (in Georgian)
  • Korneli Danelia, Zurab Sarjveladze. Questions of Georgian Paleography, Tbilisi, 1997, 150 pp (in Georgian, English summary)
  • Pavle Ingorokva. Georgian inscriptions of antique.- Bulletin of ENIMK, vol. X, Tbilisi, 1941, pp. 411–427 (in Georgian)
  • Ivane Javakhishvili. Georgian Paleography, Tbilisi, 1949, 500 pp (in Georgian)
  • Elene Machavariani. The graphical basis of the Georgian Alphabet, Tbilisi, 1982, 107 pp (in Georgian, French summary)
  • Ramaz Pataridze. The Georgian Asomtavruli, Tbilisi, 1980, 600 pp (in Georgian)
  • "Great discovery" (about the expedition of Academician Levan Chilashvili).- Newspaper Kviris Palitra, Tbilisi, April 21-27, 2003 (in Georgian)


External links




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