’Learning Georgian at all costs’
09 August, 2012
’Learning Georgian at all costs’


While I am Georgian by birth, as for many children of the former Soviet Union, Georgian is not my first language, nor is it the second. I do try to learn as much as I can, by reading books and talking to friends and family, but living in the States or any foreign country it requires somewhat of an effort to keep studying on my own. For people like me, and others willing to learn a new language, a Georgian Rosetta Stone would not be such a bad idea.


I keep that in mind as I spend tedious amount of time researching grants to allocate funds for such a venture. Meanwhile, for lack of such a program, I’ve stumbled onto something even better to help me learn a bit of my own language. As a child I remember watching American cartoons dubbed in Greek, because that was the only country my family could get foreign tapes from that were on European system. I watched ‘He-Man and She-Ra’ and ‘Transformers;. This was during pre-internet and definitely pre-google, basically the Dark Ages. No one in the family knew Greek, but my sister and I managed to figure out and memorize few key words that let us navigate the cartoons with more understanding. When we went to Greece years later, those words were still stuck in our heads and turned out to be quite useful, if you count telling the taxi driver to ‘Let’s hurry, we need to transform’ and ‘ I have lost my power’ to the hotel staff, when the power went out in our room. At least we tried. So in the same spirit, and with less heavy burden, because I do speak better Georgian than Greek, I started to watch Rustavi2 Series called ‘Chemi Colis Daqalebi’  translated as ‘My wife’s girlfriends.’ I figured if I could apply the same principles I did to ‘Transformers’, I would be able to speak fluent Georgian in no time. For those of you not familiar with the show, let me say it is brilliantly written, acted, produced and directed and definitely worth watching. The series is a story of three girlfriends, Nina, a married mother of two, Tina a working single woman living with her mother (the gem of the show, Neliko) and Kato, a single, and I’d like to say, working woman, but if you watch the show you’ll know the only thing

she works is her charm on men. All three characters are friends from school, and the series follows their interwoven lives and those of their close friends and sometimes enemies through Tbilisi streets, cafes, clubs and homes.

I was so excited to have found the show I could understand and learn from that I watched ten episodes a day (talk about complete emersion).  On day three, when I was almost all the way up to the latest episode, I went out with a Georgian friend of mine. I meant to talk about the latest series of paintings I was doing based on poetry, when I realized she was looking at me funny. Apparently I’ve been talking in Georgian, which wasn’t all that unusual, I always tried to speak it when I am out with my friend, but it was the kind of Georgian I was using that confused her. All of the sudden I was using words like ‘tekhavs’ and ‘vaime,’  ’au me ra vizi’ with intonations that did not belong to me. To my horror and my friend’s amusement out of all the characters on the show, I had picked up on Kato’s way of speech. Why couldn’t I pick up polite and accurate way of Tina’s speech? I don’t know, but I’ve got to hurry up and get Rosetta Stone to add Georgian into its repertoire or I am doomed to lifetime of ‘vaimes’.


Other Stories
David and Goliath: A Realpolitik Rendition
A Conservative Contrarian View on Georgia’s Geopolitical Dilemma
The Bleeding of Rustavi 2 - Our New August Surprise
When the powerful have to make something happen that they want few people to notice, they issue the statement late in the afternoon
The Good Neighbor
The Good Neighbor
In 2012, Georgia was promised to witness what ex-Prime Minister Ivanishvili called “a new age.” It would be achieved by “restarting”
Independence, Institutions and Corruption
People talk about Georgia choosing between Russia and the West as if Georgia ended up at a soccer game and, well, since we’re here we may
Confederate flags in Georgia
I have seen a few confederate flags in Tbilisi. Some on used cars that have come from the United States, stickers here and there, even a few
Politics, aggression, and listening
A record number of people in Georgia dislike all political forces. The strange thing is that if you look at Georgia’s media, that is not at all the picture
Thirty pieces of Russian silver
“But why are we speaking so long about one enemy who now avows that he is one, whom I now do not fear because a wall is between
Georgia and Iran - The key now is speed
After the 1979 Iranian revolution, the international community has not really known how to deal with Iran. And the fact of the revolution illustrates
Seven Deadly Sins of Georgian Business
For many years, all we’ve been hearing from our government(s) is how important small and medium enterprises are for the economy
Grexit and EuroGate
Grexit and EuroGate
Greece voted to reject the international offer to pay some of its enormous debts in exchange for continued budget cuts.
Slowness as a Policy and Habit
Transactions are slowing down in Georgia. You can feel it in business and all of the administrative acts of life. If you need some paper to make something
A Bout Of “Friendly banter” Between “Fraternal people”
In the morning of June 14, when the first photographs and videos of the devastation that took place in Tbilisi appeared on the internet, most
“Don’t Rain On My Parade: A Letter from a Serial Immigrant”
Tinatin Japaridze is a Georgian-born artist, composer and a Columbia University student currently studying cultural psychology
Eulogy for Alex Rondeli
For twenty five years since Georgia became independent when people from North America, Western Europe, and around the world
The Turkish elections
Turkey’s elections may not mean much of a change in Turkish-Georgian relations but they have some interesting lessons for Georgia.
The Coming Collapse of the Georgian Economy
There is great concern in Georgia about the dropping value of the lari and the rising cost of imports that it entails. Both sides of the political map
Victim Olympics
Victim Olympics
There are many abhorrent trends in the world today, too many to list all in one go. The fabric of civilized societies is being eroded from both
The British Elections and National Identity
The Conservative or Tory party won the British elections. David Cameron has promised a referendum by 2017 on EU membership that will be difficult
Putin’s Circus Comes to Town
Much like his Soviet predecessors, Russia’s current leader spares no effort for self-glorification. Starting with taxpayer-funded “Nashi” youth movement, who
The EU and Gazprom
A couple of weeks ago, something happened that was largely ignored or misunderstood by the Georgian press. The EU formally said Russian Gazprom
The US Presidential Elections and Georgia
The American presidential campaign is the longest and most expensive campaign in the world and has now officially started.
Georgia needs a Parliament Composed of Regions
Parliaments always have an easier time discussing small pointlesspolitical issues than big structural issues. But now is exactly thetime to solve one of the biggest
The US, EU, Georgia and Iran
Georgia Has Much to Gain and Nothing to Lose
Expats and Immigrants
Who is an expat and who is an immigrant in Georgia? My impression is that it has a great deal to do with skin color and to a smaller degree the wealth of the country of origin.
The New Volunteers
The New Volunteers
There is a large group of mainly but not entirely young people in Georgia that view their lives in a different way than those that came before them.
GEL Exchange
Other Stories