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For more information see Georgian alphabet at Wikipedia

The Georgian alphabet (ქართული დამწერლობა) is the writing system currently used to write the Georgian language and other South Caucasian languages spoken in Georgia (Laz, Mingrellian, and Svan). The Georgian word for "alphabet" is ანბანი (anbani), after the names of the first two letters of the Georgian alphabets.

History of the Georgian alphabet[edit | edit source]

The three forms of the Georgian alphabet

Historically there have been three different alphabets to write the Georgian language, each used for a different purpose. The only one we care about is the currently used alphabet, called mkhedruli (მხედრული, "secular" or "military writing").

Letters[edit | edit source]

The modern Georgian alphabet has thirty-three letters. Additionally, seven of the original forty mkhedruli letters are now obsolete, and are in blue on the table.

The Georgian script makes no distinction between upper and lower case. However, some Georgian fonts include capitals, which are just larger versions of the letters, and certain modern writers have experimented with using the obsolete asomtavruli letters as capitals.

Mkhedruli letters

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

The Georgian language has a phonemic orthography; this means some letters are pronounced differently depending on where they are in the word. Fortunately this means that if you know the rules Georgian is very predictable. English has sounds similar to most of the sounds in Georgian, including all of the vowels and twenty of the consonants. However some of the consonants have different rules, and eight are very different from sounds in English.

Vowels[edit | edit source]

Georgian only has five vowels, as in Spanish and many other languages. These are (pronunciations based on General American English):

  • ა or "a" pronounced as in "father"
  • ე or "e" pronounced as in "egg"
  • ი or "i" pronounced like the double-e in "feet"
  • ო or "o" pronounced like in "or" (not like the "oa" sound in "boat")
  • უ or "u" pronounced like the double-o in "loot"

However when you pronounce the "o" and "u" sounds, try not to round your lips as you do in English.

Consonants[edit | edit source]

Georgian has 28 consonants. Most of these are fairly easy for English speakers to pronounce, however there are six ejective consonants, and two velar fricatives which English-speakers will often find difficult.

Sonorants: მ, ნ, ლ, რ (m, n, l, r); and Voiced stops: ბ, დ, გ, ჯ, and ძ(b, d, g, dj, and dz)[edit | edit source]

These six letters are pronounced more or less the same as in English

  • მ or m as in mother
  • ნ or n as in never
  • ლ or l as in lever
  • რ or r as in red
  • ბ or b as in bet
  • დ or d as in debt
  • გ or g as in get
  • ჯ or (d)j as in jet
  • ძ or dz, as in the "ds" sound in ads

Fricatives: ვ, ს, ზ, შ, ჟ, ჰ (v, s, z, sh, zh, h)[edit | edit source]

Georgian has eight fricatives, six of which are found in English.

  • ვ or v as in vet
  • ს or s as in set
  • ზ or z as in zepplin
  • შ or sh as in shed
  • ჟ or zh like the "s" in Asia
  • ჰ or h as in hat

Aspirated stops: ფ, თ, ქ, ჩ, ც (p, t, k, ch, ts)[edit | edit source]

The six aspirated consonants are pronounced like the corresponding letters when they start a syllable, with a small puff of air. (Compare the "t" sounds in "tar" and "star" by holding your finger in front of your mouth.) We don't pronounce these letters this way when they are not the first letter in a syllable, which will take some getting used to.

  • ფ or p as in pet
  • თ or t as in tent
  • ქ or k as in the "c" in can't
  • ჩ or ch as in chant
  • ც or ts like the "zz" in pizza

Velar fricatives: ხ and ღ (kh and gh)[edit | edit source]

Ejectives: პ, ტ, კ, ჭ, წ, and ყ (p', t', k', ch', ts', and q)[edit | edit source]

Ejectives are the hardest sounds for non-Georgian speakers to pronounce.

Transcription[edit | edit source]

To write Georgian, you will need to install a Georgian font and keyboard on your computer. For this, see Georgian on your computer.

This table only lists the modern (monocameral) mkhedruli alphabet (i.e. 33 letters that are also convertible to the other two alphabets, excluding the 7 additional mkhedruli letters that are now obsolete).

Letters Unicode Name National ISO 9984 BGN IPA
U+10D0 an A a A a А а /ɑ/
U+10D1 ban B b B b B b /b/
U+10D2 gan G g G g G g /ɡ/
U+10D3 don D d D d D d /d/
U+10D4 en E e E e E e /ɛ/
U+10D5 vin V v V v V v /v/
U+10D6 zen Z z Z z Z z /z/
U+10D7 t'an T t T' t' T' t' /tʰ/
U+10D8 in I i I i I i /i/
U+10D9 kan K' k' K k K k /kʼ/
U+10DA las L l L l L l /l/
U+10DB man M m M m M m /m/
U+10DC nar N n N n N n /n/
U+10DD on O o O o O o /ɔ/
U+10DE par P' p' P p P p /pʼ/
U+10DF žan Zh zh Ž ž Zh zh /ʒ/
U+10E0 rae R r R r R r /r/
U+10E1 san S s S s S s /s/
U+10E2 tar T' t' T' t' T t /tʼ/
U+10E3 un U u U u U u /u/
U+10E4 p'ar P p P' p' P' p' /pʰ/
U+10E5 kan K k K' k' K' k' /kʰ/
U+10E6 ḡan Gh gh Ḡ ḡ Gh gh /ɣ/
U+10E7 qar Q' q' Q q Q q /qʼ/
U+10E8 šin Sh sh Š š Sh sh /ʃ/
U+10E9 č'in Ch ch Č' č' Ch' ch' /tʃ/
U+10EA c'an Ts ts C' c' Ts' ts' /ts/
U+10EB jil Dz dz J j Dz dz /dz/
U+10EC cil Ts' ts' C c Ts ts /tsʼ/
U+10ED čar Ch' ch' Č č Ch ch /tʃʼ/
U+10EE xan Kh kh X x Kh kh /x/
U+10EF ǰan J j J̌ ǰ J j /dʒ/
U+10F0 hae H h H h H h /h/

Latin transcription in this book[edit | edit source]

For the first unit, and the appendices, we will include the transcription of Georgian words into Latin letters in parentheses. The system we use is the Georgian National romanization in the system above with one exception: in this book, because there is only one "q", the ejective one we write it as "q" rather than "q'". Keep in mind that other sources will try to write words the way they think they sound to English-speakers. (Wikivoyage, for instance writes the vowels ah, eh, ee, oh, oo.) Keep this in mind, and try to learn the Georgian alphabet, where there can be no confusion.

External links[edit | edit source]