Reading in Georgian: ვახტანგ გორგასალი Vakhtang Gorgasali

Vakhtang Gorgasali was a Georgian King in the fifth century.  His biography is the first in the series “დიდი ქართველები” (Great Georgians).

ვახტანგ გორგესალი Vakhtang Gorgesali

ვახტანგ გორგესალი Vakhtang Gorgesali

Vakhtang Gorgasali was the son of King Mihrdat V (მირდატ V) of Iberia (Eastern Georgia) and a Persian Noblewoman Sagdukht. His father died when he was just seven years old.

An equestrian statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali can be seen in front of Metekhi Church in the centre of Tbilisi. Vakhtang was famous for founding Tbilisi, at the time of his birth there was no Tbilisi and the capital was Mtskheta.

Night drawings and Vakhtang Gorgesali 019

Equestrian Statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali in front of Metekhi Church

I have been reading this with the help of Khato, my lovely Georgian wife. As she prepares the dinner (ხათო თლის ვაშლს), I read the text, painfully slowly, she then helps me translate the words. For a children’s text there are a lot of long words like “ქერპთაყვანისმცემელთა” (20 letters long!). Long words in Georgian should come as no surprise, where even a simple hello in Georgian is გამარჯობა (gamarjoba) which means something like “I wish thee victory”.

Night drawings and Vakhtang Gorgesali 020

ქერპთაყვანისმცემელთა (20 letter-long word)

Some useful vocabulary picked up in the first couple of pages. (I try to learn vocabulary by making associations in my mind, I find Georgian words much more difficult to remember than French, Spanish or even Russian words…:)

თითქმის    (titkmis)   almost…. this almost has rude associations…you might be disappointed if a Georgian girl offers to show you her თითი (titi) as this means finger (or toe) not what you might have been thinking!
მთავარი    (mtavari)  main   the “tav” in the middle is like” tavi” meaning head

გმირი  (gmiri)   hero  trying to imagine the Soviet Space station Mir inside a GI….

ქვეყანა   (kveq’ani)  country…the word doesn’t look like any country I know

სპარსეთი  (sparseti) Persia

სპარსი  (sparsi) Persian this looks a little like Farsi, the language of Iran/Persia

დედოფალი   (dedopali) queen დედა is mother so there is a similarity

მტერი … მტრები  (mteri…mtrebi) enemy…enemies the plural is very close to the Georgian word for pigeon (მტრედი) I can imagine a flock of pigeons crossing over the border invading Georgia…

მოკვდა  (mokvda)  died  this doesn’t suggest any associations to me…so I just have to learn it.

I still have several pages to go so I shall update this post as I make further progress.


  1. Hi Jim
    Pity you’re struggling with the language. It’s always been a mystery to me why some people (with the same background) find it easy to learn languages while others don’t. I grew up in a monolingual family in SW London, yet by the age of about 23 I could speak three or four languages almost without an accent. One secret, which not every language learner has thought of, is to talk to yourself. That’s hardly necessary in your situation, but for me, currently sitting in a hotel room in Ukraine and learning Georgian, it’s invaluable. Today, for example, I was going through Lesson 12 (Beverages) in 50languages:
    I was concentrating on the questions, so when the voice says “Do you drink coffee with sugar?”, I say “No, no. I drink coffee without sugar”, but I don’t stop at that. I play it again, and answer in different ways: I don’t like sugar. I don’t like lots of sugar. I sometimes drink tea. I don’t drink coffee in the evenings, etc. Always true sentences which I would be likely to use when meeting someone in Georgia.

    I could write a book on learning languages, but I’ll just mention two more points. One is to be always aware that learning a language consists of four very different skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. It’s great that you’ve increased your score so much in the Georgian language vocab game, as long as you don’t think “Wow, I’ve got much better at Georgian (= the language as a whole)”. You’ve got much better at reading Georgian, but it hasn’t improved your listening, speaking and writing skills at all.

    The second point is to concentrate on what’s likely to be useful to you, at the particular stage you’re at. At my present stage of Georgian, if I came across the word for “Persia” in a text (like you did), I wouldn’t bother with it. On the other hand “country” is obviously a word I’ll be using. I would write it down, and later practise saying aloud sentences like “Georgia is a beautiful country”.

    1. Thanks for the tips. I learnt French and can comfortably converse in French. But French is much closer to English, 25% of our vocabulary (vocabulaire) is of French origin. Georgian is not even in any of the European language families. The alphabet is unique and the consonant clusters tricky. I have met a few expats here who have mastered Georgian, but they are few. I shall persevere.

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