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Georgian
Quick Facts
TypeC&V Alphabetic
GenealogyProto-Sinaitic
LocationWest Asia > Georgia
Time5th century CE to Present
DirectionLeft to Right

Situated on the eastern shore of the Black Sea and nestled in the Caucasus mountains, Georgia has always been the crossroads of the ancient world. Greeks, Iranians, and local nations interacted to create a rich culture. One of these traits is the Georgian alphabet, which was influenced by Greek and Iranian scripts but shaped into something uniquely Georgian.

Like its neighbor Armenian, Georgian displays Greek influence in its letter ordering, which is essentially Greek (/a/, /b/, /g/, /d/, /e/, etc). On the other hand, Iranian influences are also visible, as the cursive shapes of the letters (especially the ancient forms) and the abundance of sibilants are reminiscent of Pahlavi, an ancient Iranian script.

The exact date of the creation of the Georgian alphabet is in much debate. The earliest example is an inscription found in a church in Palestine from the 5th century CE, written in a script called Asomtavruli or "capital letter" as its letters were of an uniform height due to the lack of ascenders and descenders. The Asomtavruli is also called Mrglovani which means "rounded" because of the rounded appearance of its letters. In fact, as the Asomtavruli script evolved, it became more angular and by the 9th century CE it lead to the Nuskha-Khutsuri script, also known as the Kutkhovani or "angular" script. Ironically, the letters became rounded again, and by the 13th century CE another script, the Mkhedruli, became more prominent and replaced the Nuskha-Khutsuri as the dominant script for secular writing. In fact, the name Mkhedruli stemmed the word mkhedari, which means "warrior" thus reflecting its secular origin. The older scripts continued to be used in religious media in a combined form called the Khutsuri or "priestly" script, but they eventually gave way to Mkhedruli as well.

Modern Georgian is essentially the Mkhedruli script, as illustrated in the table below. Note that Georgian does not in reality have "capital letters". Sometimes titles of texts and newspaper headlines are written with letters jammed into an uniform height for emphasis. In addition, the ancient Asomtavruli script has been used sporadically to denote names and start of sentences like capital letters in Latin and Greek alphabets, but such attempts have been successful and widespread.

One interesting feature of the Georgian language (and languages in the Caucasus region in general) is the existence of voiceless ejective or glottalized consonants. These sounds are marked by a "normal" consonant followed by the symbol ʔ (which looks like a question without the dot) or the number 7, such as /pʔ/ or /p7/. The way to pronounce an ejective sounds is to say the consonant and the glottal stop (you can visit Phonetics for explanation of the glottal stop) simultaneously, causing a little explosion to occur at the throat. Note that this is different from a voiceless aspirated consonant where the explosive sound comes from the back of the mouth. In fact, Georgian also has voiceless aspirated consonants as well as plain voiced consonants as the following table shows.

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