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The Written Language of Georgia
The Republic of Georgia has been a place where East meets West for thousands of years. That confluence is reflected in the alphabet and script of the Georgian language.
Georgia's roots predate Christianity, and it was the site of frequent conflict between the Roman Empire and the Persian Empire. The first known example of Georgian writing dates from about the fifth century. It was at that time that Christianity came to the region, through the efforts of Mesrob and others at the behest of the Eastern Roman emperors. Some Georgian scholars believe that the written language predates the birth of Christ but the evidence is inconclusive.
About Georgia.ge: "According to the traditional accounts written down by Leonti Mroveli in the 11th century, the Georgian alphabet was created by the first King of Caucasian Iberia/Kartli Pharnavaz in the 3rd century BC. However, the first examples of that alphabet, or its modified version, dates from the 4th-5th centuries AD."
The Georgian alphabet and script developed at that time seems to have borrowed from both Greek and Persian. The order of the letters resembles Greek and the curved letters take their influence from Persian. Historically there are three versions of the Georgian alphabet, the Asomtavruli, the Nuskhuri and the Mkhedruli. The Mkhedruli version is the one presently used by Georgians. In 2002 the Georgian government created a transliteration list that tied Georgian letters to a Latin script counterpart.
Omniglot, a website about scripts and alphabets, has much to say about the Georgian alphabet. The modern Georgian alphabet has 33 letters. The script does not differentiate between capital and lower case letters. It is written left to right and horizontally just as English is. Georgian has no symbols for numbers and each letter has a numeric values as well as an alphabetic one. Most commonly the Georgians use Western numbers, 0 through 9.
To illustrate the beauty of the Georgian written language, here is some sample text:
Hello. How are you? I am fine, thanks.
áƒ’áƒáƒ›áƒáƒ áƒ¯áƒáƒ‘áƒ. áƒ áƒáƒ’áƒáƒáƒ®áƒáƒ ? áƒ›áƒ” áƒ™áƒáƒ áƒ’áƒáƒ“, áƒ’áƒ›áƒáƒ“áƒšáƒáƒ‘áƒ—.
More information about Georgian can be found at the Armazi.com website, including some poems written in Georgian. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty offer on-line listening for radio broadcasts in Georgian as does the Voice of America.