Georgian script is a straightforward alphabet and largely phonemic. It probably in the fourth or more probably fifth century and became quickly popular in the context of the fresh christianization. The ordering of the letters betrays Greek or Aramaic influence, but the letter shapes have no clear resemblance to Greek. In all these featerues, it strongly reminds of the Armenian alphabet, but the relation between the two is not clear.
The modern script (mkhedruli [მხედრული], first column in the table) does not distinguish between capitals and small letters; for emphasis, the letters are often scaled to a uniform height (this is sometimes seen in titles). Besides, mkhedruli, there is also a more archaic form (khutsuri [ხუცური]) that has separate minuscle (nuskhuri [ნუსური], second column) and majuscle (asomtavruli [ასომთავრული], third column) typefaces; the latter are used today rarely as ornamentals. Before Unicode 4.1, nuskhuri have been unified with mkhedruli, and even now they are poorly supported in fonts.
The difficulties of that script are not structural; instead, it becomes complicated by the rather large number of
letters, which are determined by the complex phonetics of Georgian. The languages has a large number of consonants
(plosives and affricates), with four contrasting series: A voiced series (which gets devoiced in some environments)
plus three voiceless: Plain voiceless, aspirated and ejective. I’ll refer to the four series as
ejective. Only the ejective series is complete.
The many sounds make romanisation a real problem. I use a self-designed system that comes close to the IKE-Transliteration, but uses more diacritical signs to achieve higher consistency. The Caron indicates palatal sounds in č, š, ž and ǰ (plain c and j, rather surprisingly, stand for affricates /ts/ and /dz/, respectively); other diacritics indicate the articulation: voiceless (cedilla), aspirated (acute) and ejective (dot below). Some letters carry two diacritics at the same time, e. g., č̣ (c with caron and dot below) for a ejective palatal plosive. Such signs are likely to display poorly on some browsers.
Georgia has an official romanization system employing an apostroph to denote ejectives, while voiceless and aspirated consonants are unmarked. The system uses digraphs extensively and can thus manage with the basic ASCII letters, although this creates occasional ambiguity. ISO 9984 has an opposite convention, favouring diacritics over digraphs and leaving ejective consonants unmarked, while the apostroph denotes either voiceless oder aspirated sounds. That’s bad enough, but there are more romanizations that combine these features somehow: The Library of Congress Romanization is similar to ISO 9984, while the linguistically motivated IKE-standard marks ejectived with a dot below (or, in some versions, a dot above).
In the text of the spice pages, I employ the Georgian official system rigorously.
- Top of Georgian Index
- German version of this file
- Table of Contents
- Alphabetic Index
- Botanic Index
- Geographic Index
- Morphologic Index
- Spice mixture Index