Five Things About Kartuli That’ll Make You Say “Vaime!”
24 October, 2019
Five Things About Kartuli That’ll Make You Say “Vaime!”
Home to a history that spans millennia and one of the world’s most diverse (and delicious!) cuisines, Georgia’s got a lot to brag about. But did you also know that it also holds the title for one of the world’s oldest languages? Belonging to the Kartvelian family tree which consists of the Georgian, Svan, Mingrelian and Las tongues, there are so many things that make it an especially beautiful language.

A Victorious Greeting

Georgia is home to a long and bloody
history filled with tugs of war over this ancient slice of Caucus heaven. Because of this, independence and patriotism is deeply rooted in Georgian identity. In fact, their history of resistance and triumph is reflected in their greetings “Hello” or “Gamarjoba” is a direct translation of “victory”.

Origins Unknown

Though the exact origin of the language is unknown, many historians speculate that it could date back as a written language as far as 5th-8th Century BC and as early as 3rd Century BC. While it’s exact ancestry is still a bit of a mystery, most agree that King Parnavaz who reigned throughout the 3rd century BC, was widely responsible for the distribution of the script throughout Georgia.
View over Stepantsminda (Kazbegi) and Gergeti church

Three Unicase Scripts

The alphabet has evolved from Asomtavruli script into Nuskhuri and finally into the Mkhedruli alphabet which consists of 33 characters is what’s used today. Each script is unicase and has remained in the same original order with the letters sharing the same names, differing only in shape.
Georgian alphabet

4.5 Million People Worldwide

In terms of exclusivity, Kartuli is in a league of it’s own. With only 4.5 million people speaking Georgian as a first or second language worldwide, it is quite a fascination for linguists. Georgia is also home to Abkhaz, Bats and Ossete which are all endangered languages and unique in their own rites.
Scenery over Stepantsminda

Vigesimal Counting System

Georgian uses a vigesimal counting system, which is really just a fancy way of saying their system counts by twenty instead of ten. Ever heard people joke about how complicated it is to count in French? Well, Georgian is the same way. Instead of saying “ninety-seven”, as you would do in numerically binary languages, in Georgian, you’d say four-twenty-and-seventeen.

This article was written by Melanie Hamilton,
Travel Writer and Founder of From Texas With Love

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