Monday, June 2, 2014

Language Profile: Georgian

Today we're taking a brief look at Georgian, the sole official language of Georgia. It is a member of the Kartvelian language family, which includes four closely related languages that are all primarily spoken in Georgia: Laz, Mingrelian, Svan, and Georgian. 

Alphabetic Tower in Batumi, Georgia
features the Georgian alphabet
In terms of its morphology, Georgian is an agglutinative language. This means that many of the words in its lexicon are created by adding specific prefixes and suffixes to a root word. However, we find the most interesting feature of the Georgian language to be its unique writing systems, the three Georgian scripts.

The Georgian scripts are used to write the Georgian language as well as the other Kartvelian languages. The oldest Georgian script is called Asmotavruli, which means "capital letters". Contrary to its name, the script is unicameral, meaning it doesn't have different cases of letters, such as the upper and lower cases used in Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets. Both Asmotavruli and Nuskhuri, the second oldest Georgian script, are today used primarily for writings related to religion, specifically those of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The final Georgian script is Mkhedruli, which means "military". It is the standard script used to write the Georgian language and its fellow Kartvelian languages. The Georgian alphabet contains 33 letters, while Mingrelian, Laz and Svan contain additional letters.