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
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").
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Ejectives: პ, ტ, კ, ჭ, წ, and ყ (p', t', k', ch', ts', and q)
Ejectives are the hardest sounds for non-Georgian speakers to pronounce.
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).
|ა||U+10D0||an||A a||A a||А а||/ɑ/|
|ბ||U+10D1||ban||B b||B b||B b||/b/|
|გ||U+10D2||gan||G g||G g||G g||/ɡ/|
|დ||U+10D3||don||D d||D d||D d||/d/|
|ე||U+10D4||en||E e||E e||E e||/ɛ/|
|ვ||U+10D5||vin||V v||V v||V v||/v/|
|ზ||U+10D6||zen||Z z||Z z||Z z||/z/|
|თ||U+10D7||t'an||T t||T' t'||T' t'||/tʰ/|
|ი||U+10D8||in||I i||I i||I i||/i/|
|კ||U+10D9||kan||K' k'||K k||K k||/kʼ/|
|ლ||U+10DA||las||L l||L l||L l||/l/|
|მ||U+10DB||man||M m||M m||M m||/m/|
|ნ||U+10DC||nar||N n||N n||N n||/n/|
|ო||U+10DD||on||O o||O o||O o||/ɔ/|
|პ||U+10DE||par||P' p'||P p||P p||/pʼ/|
|ჟ||U+10DF||žan||Zh zh||Ž ž||Zh zh||/ʒ/|
|რ||U+10E0||rae||R r||R r||R r||/r/|
|ს||U+10E1||san||S s||S s||S s||/s/|
|ტ||U+10E2||tar||T' t'||T' t'||T t||/tʼ/|
|უ||U+10E3||un||U u||U u||U u||/u/|
|ფ||U+10E4||p'ar||P p||P' p'||P' p'||/pʰ/|
|ქ||U+10E5||kan||K k||K' k'||K' k'||/kʰ/|
|ღ||U+10E6||ḡan||Gh gh||Ḡ ḡ||Gh gh||/ɣ/|
|ყ||U+10E7||qar||Q' q'||Q q||Q q||/qʼ/|
|შ||U+10E8||šin||Sh sh||Š š||Sh sh||/ʃ/|
|ჩ||U+10E9||č'in||Ch ch||Č' č'||Ch' ch'||/tʃ/|
|ც||U+10EA||c'an||Ts ts||C' c'||Ts' ts'||/ts/|
|ძ||U+10EB||jil||Dz dz||J j||Dz dz||/dz/|
|წ||U+10EC||cil||Ts' ts'||C c||Ts ts||/tsʼ/|
|ჭ||U+10ED||čar||Ch' ch'||Č č||Ch ch||/tʃʼ/|
|ხ||U+10EE||xan||Kh kh||X x||Kh kh||/x/|
|ჯ||U+10EF||ǰan||J j||J̌ ǰ||J j||/dʒ/|
|ჰ||U+10F0||hae||H h||H h||H h||/h/|
Latin transcription in this book
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.