Georgia or Sakartvelo
10 April, 2015
Georgia or Sakartvelo
How many people in the world would know that our darling Georgia has a birth name – Sakartvelo, which is authoritatively legitimized by the main law of the land? The word ‘Sakartvelo’ would translate into English as ‘the place where the Kartvels – Georgians – are living’. It so happened throughout centuries that the name of this country was made translatable into various languages, which means that different peoples of the world have given Sakartvelo different names. Is this good or bad? Many Georgians think that this is weird and unacceptable, saying that Sakartvelo must have the name which was granted to it historically and constitutionally, and not by the linguistic tradition of various other countries, for example: Georgia – English, Gruzia – Russian, Gurjistan – Azeri, and Vrastan – Armenian. There is a book (80 pages) out by the well-known Georgian publicist and public figure Anzor Babukhadia – compilation of articles and comments by a number of famous Georgians, supporting the idea of changing Georgia into Sakartvelo. They consider that it is incumbent on this generation of Georgian patriots to fulfill this historic mission. The idea is rather aged but it has not come to fruition yet, because the topic is also very controversial and connected with certain amount of difficulties to be implemented. The overall understanding is that Georgia deserves and needs to be mentioned worldwide by its legal and correct name, dropping the appellations which were imposed on Sakartvelo via various historical circumstances. Now the time has come, as the author of the book is trying to persuade the reader together with his fellow thinkers that Sakartvelo be mentioned universally as Sakartvelo, Georgian as Kartuli, and the Georgians as Kartveli. Fair enough! Probably! Now the thing is how easy or difficult it would be to make the idea work and achieve the goal. Based on what the present publication clearly states, most Kartvels – Georgians – are going to hold this curious idea up and make it turn into reality as soon as time and situation might allow. Why not? Time will pass and the world will get used to the new name of Georgia – Sakartvelo, but would this happen unanimously and without any sting at all? This is exactly where I would like to go ahead and knock at the door of the discussion club, to which I might either be welcome or not.
Saying that the consensus on the subject is definite would be a slight exaggeration. I have to admit that my good friend and fellow patriot Anzor Babukhadia has done a titanic job to bring the idea to successful end, having voluntarily and benevolently used his time and resource for the public good. I too have made some research before I had ventured to create this piece, written with a tremulous pen. Many are ready to give a green light to Georgia’s name-change, but just as many are vehemently defying the idea, considering it weird and irrelevant. Cutting a long story short, the pros and cons are equally split in my research, pros having one mutual argument that Sakartvelo fits Georgia better than any other given name, and cons are throwing in numerous arguments against this heavy toponymic alteration. One of those antagonistic arguments is concentrated on phonetic handicaps for foreigners, who usually mispronounce the words of other languages, especially of the tongue like Georgian, full of phonetic peculiarities – imagine Sakartvelo funnily uttered every step of the way on international arena! Another view point is that change of the name might trigger even a bigger confusion about Georgia’s current unlucky name on international arena, further diminishing the recognizability of the country. Some of the challengers of this country’s renaming into Sakartvelo are trying to prove that the historians, interested in Georgia, would have a problem in their scientific research provided the modification takes place. Most of the negative thinkers would say that the endeavor seems to be vain, giving nothing to the nation except a headache of global caliber. I remember my long-ago encounter with the late president of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia who asked me not to mention our country as Soviet Georgia while I was on TV journalistic mission in the United States. When I asked him what name to use instead for rendering it discernible from the American Georgia, his suggestion followed promptly, offering to mention Sakartvelo as Caucasian Georgia. Then I explained forthwith that the word ‘Caucasian’ would sound in America as a word describing white race and might raise a couple of eyebrows in explicable indignation. My collocutor agreed and we were left with no choice to proceed with. So I had to keep mentioning our country as Soviet Georgia in my tremendously popular TV reports. To wit, there are so many other Georgias in the world that the name truly sounds like a pain in the neck for us the Georgians who want to be easily distinguishable on international showground. This is one of the reasons that make us wish to alter our name, another solid reason being that it is translatable into other languages which constitutes another inconvenience for us in terms of Sakartvelo’s recognizability. So what to do? The only rational answer to this question is to put the issue on scale of wider national discussion, and also, to let the problem be sitting on high governmental desks for a final decision without being too far removed from reasonable solution.
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