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  • Georgian is the most important of the South Caucasian languages, a family that also includes Svan and Megrelian (chefly spoken in Northwest Georgia) and Laz (chiefly spoken along the Black Sea coast of Turkey, from Trabzon to the Georgian frontier).

  • spoken by almost 4 million people in Georgia, and also by some 40 thousand people in Turkey.

  • (also Kartvelian; Kartuli in Georgian)

  • Dialects of Georgian include Imeretian, Racha-Lechkhum, Gurian, Ajarian, Imerxev (in Turkey), Kartlian, Kakhetian, Ingilo, Tush, Khevsur, Mokhev, Pshav, Mtiul, Ferjeidan (in Iran), Meskhetian.

  • Georgian is believed to have separated from Megrelian and Laz in the third millennium BC. Based on the degree of change, linguists (e.g. G.Klimov, T.Gamkrelidze, G.Machavariani) conjecture that the earliest split occurred in the second millennium BC or earlier, separating Svan from the other languages. Megrelian and Laz separated from Georgian roughly a thousands years later.

  • Georgian has a very rich literary tradition. The oldest surviving literary text in Georgian is the "Martyrdom of Saint Shushaniki, of the Queen" (C'amebaj c'midisa Shushanik'isi, dedoplisa) by Iakob Tsurtaveli, from the 5th century AD.

  • The oldest form of the Georgian script, the Asomtavruli ("capital") alphabet, was invented in 412 BC by Georgian priests of the cult of Matra (Persian Mithra). The Asomtavruli alphabet was reformed in 284 BC by king Farnavaz I of Iberia. It is still mistakenly attributed by many to Saint Mesrob Mashtots, who invented the Armenian alphabet.

  • The modern alphabet, called Mkhedruli (მხედრული, "secular" or "military writing"), first appeared in the 11th century. It was used for non-religious purposes up until the 18th century, when it completely replaced Khutsuri. Georgian linguists claim that the orthography is phonemic.





     

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