First Impressions of the Georgian language

 

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Source: https://www.omniglot.com/writing/georgian2.htm

Well, I have officially been learning Georgian for six days now. Let me tell you, it is a very difficult language. Being from Texas, the first foreign language I ever studied was Spanish, in part because my high school had a limited foreign languages department, and because I had been taking Spanish classes since middle school. At my undergraduate university I decided to study Russian which proved to be a challenging but also beautiful language.

Georgian, however, is a whole different type of challenge, because it is part of its own language family with no relation to either Russian, Spanish, or English. That being said, a couple of the fun facts, listed below, will make Spanish and Russian speakers chuckle. Here are some of the interesting aspects I’ve learned so far about Georgian;

  • Georgian language has no genders; everything is either “it” or “they/them”
  • Georgian has no capitalization
  • Georgian letters are written on a kind of music scale rather than all on one line
  • The Georgian word “es” means “this”
  • The Georgian word “da” means “sister” and “and”; meaning is understood through context clues
  • Georgian script, thankfully, is read left to right
  • Georgian has loan words from Arabic, Farsi/Persian, Russian, Turkish due to its history under those empires and the Soviet Union
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View of Old Tbilisi (photo taken by classmate Callie Anderson)

While I don’t know enough Georgian to have a conversation, I’ve realized words like “hello”, “goodbye”, and “thank you” go a long way. Even though it is obvious I can’t speak much Georgian, I’ve found that Georgians always seem happy whenever I greet them or thank them in Georgian, and then we switch to English or Russian for the rest of the conversation. I think it is a subtle way of showing respect, and trying to show you are a good “guest” in their country. However, I am definitely looking forward to the moment when I can ask for (and understand) directions in Georgian.

Nakhvamdis (good bye) until the next blog!

By: Lucia Winkeler

Program: Peace and Security in the South Caucasus

Term: Summer 2019

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