Georgian Language

The Lord’s Prayer in Georgian

After nearly eight years in Georgia, to my embarrassment, I still can’t have a conversation in Georgian, but from my first days here,  I learnt the Lord’s Prayer (მამაო ჩვენო – mamao chveno) by heart. I say it every morning before breakfast, it is usually the only prayer I say in the day, unlike my devout Georgian wife, who spends at least 15 minutes often more, saying her prayers.  One of the conditions my wife had for our marriage was that I should be baptised into the Orthodox Church before the wedding. For this ceremony, I learnt mamao chveno (the Lord’s Prayer) by heart. I know the prayer in English, but when I am saying the Georgian words, it is strange, I do not actually know the meaning of the words as I say them apart from a few like “პური ჩვენი (puri chveni)” meaning “our bread”.

Here is the prayer with transliteration in the Roman alphabet beneath each line.

მამაო ჩვენო, რომელი ხარ ცათა შინა,
mamao chveno, romeli khar tsata shina,
წმინდა იყავნ სახელი შენი,
tsminda iqavn sakheli sheni,
მოვედინ სუფება შენი,
movedin supeva sheni,
იყავნ ნება შენი, ვითარცა ცათა შინა, ეგრეცა ქვეყანასა ზედა.
iqavn neba sheni, vitartsa tsata shina, egretsa kveqanasa zeda.
პური ჩვენი არსობისა მომეც ჩვენ დღეს
puri chveni arsobisa momets chven dghes
და მომიტევენ ჩვენ თანანადებნი ჩვენნი,
da momiteven chven tananadebni chvenni,
ვითარცა ჩვენ მივუტევებთ თანამდებთა მათ ჩვენთა,
vitartsa chven mivutevebt tanamdebta mat chventa,
და ნუ შემიყვანებ ჩვენ განსაცდელსა,
da nu shemiqvaneb chven gansatsdelsa,
არამედ მიხსნენ ჩვენ ბოროტისაგან,
aramed mikhsnen chven borotisagan,

რამეთუ შენი არს სუფევა, ძალი და დიდება,
ramethu sheni ars supheva,dzali da dideba,
სახელითა მამისა და ძისა და სულიწმიდისა,
sakhelitha mamisa da dzisa da sulitsmidisa,
აწ და მარადის და უკუნითი უკუნისამდე.
ats da maradis da ukunithi ukunisamde.

ამინ. – amin

The last lines I have marked in light blue as these aren’t usually said.

P1590655

candles in a Georgian church

Georgian Language Links

some games: Georgian language vocab games My high score : 32 (june 2016 my high score is now 392, progress as been made). (August 2016: high score 831)

You have a word and some pictures and you have to choose the correct picture for the word. ბამბა is cotton. (there are 285 words in the Georgian game).

Screenshot from 2016-02-02 14:34:44

ბამბა

As the game progresses there are more pictures to choose from.

Screenshot from 2016-08-10 00:04:08

831 high scoreMaster Any language : Georgian

These links are for me to find (yes, I know I could bookmark them) but if you are interested in testing your Georgian feel free to click on them.

Georgian one of the four hardest languages to learn

Why is Georgian so hard to learn?

February, a time to redo New Year’s Resolutions kind of New Year’s Resolutions version 1.2.

Georgian language games

beginner’s georgian

3 May 2017… still struggling

Weekly Photo Challenge: Alphabet

This week’s challenge Alphabet is interesting for me, as I am trying to get to grips with a new alphabet, the Georgian alphabet.

The Georgian alphabet is unique to Georgia and has 33 letters. Georgian is phonetic, each letter is sounded the same each time it is used. Georgian has no capital letters.

Alphabet P1380803.JPG

In Vake Cemetery this grave has a mix of Georgian and Cyrillic Letters

A movie poster for the new film featuring Rocky Balboa :”Creed”, the title has been changed to read როკი : მემკვიდრეობა which translates as “Rocky: Heritage”

Alphabet P1380881

Georgian Language: Reasons why it is so difficult for me to learn #3. Tricky consonants.

The very sounds in Georgian are confusing for  English speakers as they use glottal stops to make sounds that look like the same sound, for example p and p’ (written as ფ and პ, respectively), but which they hear entirely differently. Georgians, not terribly used to having foreigners speak their language, have a hard time understanding you before you master this difference (I have been trying for six years on and off).

Certain Georgian consonants may sound very similar to each other, but they are pronounced differently. Each consonant pair represents two similar sounds; one is aspirated the other not. An aspirated sound produces a slight waft of air coming out of your mouth. An unaspirated sound does not. Keti Chikovani explains this and makes the sounds half way through Lesson 13 of learning Georgian for Peace Corps Georgia.

aspirated                           unaspirated

თ    (t)                                         ტ  (t’)

ქ     (q)                                        კ   (k)

ჩ    (ch)                                       ჭ  (t’ch)

ფ   (p)                                        პ  (p’)

ც    (ts)                                        წ   (t’s)

პაპა  (p’ap’a) means grandfather but ფაფა (papa) means porridge

Then there are some really difficult letters for which we don’t have sounds in English:

ხ (x) is pronounced like “ch” in the German composer Bach, my wife’s name is ხათუნა (Khatuna or Xatuna)

ღ (gh) is similar to the r in French, pronounced using the middle of the tongue (!)

ყ (k’) to pronounce this Keti in the video (6:40) suggests moving the middle part of the tongue to the roof of the mouth. My tongue has problems with this, like my body has problems squatting in the Georgian way in their squat toilets….

I practise ხელი (kheli) meaning hand and ყელი (k’eli) meaning throat with my granddaughter, Ana, but I haven’t yet reached the stage where I can say hand or throat with any confidence.

More Strides in Learning Georgian : Principles and actions for learning any language in six months

August is a month where I have very little teaching, it would be good to invest my time learning Georgian rather than wasting my time playing Pool on Facebook, or other such time killing activities. Most of my Pool opponents are Turkish, so I have learnt a few choice Turkish swearwords :/ but Turkish is not currently my target language.

Playing Pool on Facebook

Playing Pool on Facebook

Wasted time is worse than wasted money (Paulo Coelho)

Yesterday, having finished watching the Youtube Georgian Language podcasts, I turned my attention to some TedX talks about language learning, I watched four different clips. They were all interesting, the one I think might be the most useful is this one by Chris Lonsdale in Hong Kong.

His clip entitled “How to learn any language in six months” sounds promising. He identifies 5 principles and 7 actions.

5 Principles

  1.  Focus on language content relevant to you.
  2.  Use your language as a tool to communicate from day one.
  3. When you first understand the message you will unconsciously acquire the language. (Looking at body language, expressions and the like is useful here).
  4. Physiological training – if you can’t hear it you won’t understand. This is a problem I have with Georgian, some letters sound the same to me, like “თ” in “თბილისი” (Tbilisi) and “ტ” in “ნატალი” (Natalie), I have been trying since I began learning Georgian to distinguish these sounds.
  5. Psycho-Physiological State… if you are happy and relaxed you learn much better than if you are sad, angry or worried.

 7 Actions

  1. Listen a lot. This is to pick up on the rhythm and cadence of the language.
  2. Focus on getting the meaning first (it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand every single word).
  3. Use patterns you already know (this is easier when learning a language related to your own, Georgian has little in common with English).
  4. Focus on the core. The high frequency language. In English the most common word is “the”, in Georgian there is no word for “the”, Georgian doesn’t have articles. In Georgian the most common word is და meaning “and”, I tried finding a list of the most common Georgian words, the first list I came across had “როგორც” meaning “as” at the top of the list, but then I also found they’d listed “as” as the most common word in their list of most common Greek Words and most common Galician words… The second list I found was a list of the most common words inputted to the Georgian pages of Wikipedia. This was more useful but had some interesting anomalies, the second most common word was “რედაკტირება“, the Georgian word for “edit” (a common feature of Wiki pages). Georgian frequency list.
  5. Find a language parent. A child often learns their first language from their mother. A language parent is someone who the learner can work with who tries to understand them but without correcting them and using simple words like a mother would to her child. If any Georgians reading this are interested in being my “language parent”, let me know. (We could do an exchange English for Georgian). Apparently spouses don’t make good language parents. I don’t think my mother-in-law would make a good language parent either!
  6. Copy the face. Look at people speaking the language and see how they move their faces to make the sounds.
  7. Make direct connections. Make images related to the word. The Georgian word for tiger is “ვეფხვი“, this looks like it has four limbs.
    tiger

    tiger

    More ideas: There is no definitive method to learn a language, nor any tool or teacher that will single-handedly deliver you to the holy grail of fluency. Language is written, spoken, read and heard. Each of these areas is considered a core skill within which there are myriad potential inputs; would you restrict yourself to one in your native language? All too often, people enter their weekly language class to converse with their teacher, but then barely have any contact with other native speakers or the media being broadcast in their target language. Try something new every day. Listen to a cheesy song, read a newspaper article from a newspaper whose politics differ from your own, write a story for kids, attempt some improvised theatre and talk to yourself while cooking.

    more tips

 

Georgian Language: Reasons why it is so difficult for me to learn #2. Peculiarities of the verb “have”

  • Some of the most frequent and necessary word forms are not only irregular but also highly counterintuitive, which means you have to learn them early along with the more straightforward parts of the grammar.  For example, the verb ‘to have’ seems like it should be very basic, but you need to know that it takes a dative case subject that agrees with what look like object prefixes, a nominative case object that agree with subject suffixes, and you also need to know whether the possessee is animate or inanimate, because there are two entirely different verbs for ‘have’ that depend on that fact.  Also, these two verbs use different irregular stems in every tense, so they require a lot of memorization.

მყავს I have (animate object). მე მყავს ერთი და. I have a brother.

but

მაქვს  I have (inanimate object) მე მაქვს ერთი სახლი. I have a house.

and transport is an exception…

მანქანა მყავს… I have a car

Thomas Wier (Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the Free University of Tbilisi) remarked on the Georgian language: “The language itself has features that few languages around the world have. Compounding the problem is the fact that the context in which you learn the language (the resources available, and the attitude Georgians take towards foreigners speaking their language), means that foreigners have an uphill struggle even if the language itself were not unusual,”

Georgian Language: Reasons why it is so difficult for me to learn #1. Consonant Clusters

I know, I am lazy and not gifted at learning new languages but six years in Georgia, I should have made better progress, some of the blame might be apportioned to the difficulty of the language. I intend this to be the first of a few posts of observations as to why Georgian is so difficult to learn unless you are a child in Georgia.

I can see only two reasons for wanting to learn Georgian:
1. You want to live there for a long time.

2. You want the challenge of learning a REALLY difficult language (Hungarian, Polish or Cantonese Chinese might have a similar level of difficulty).

Outside Georgia, there isn’t much need for Georgian. I’m planning to stay here for a long while more, maybe for the rest of my life, so I have to get to grips with this tongue twisting tongue.

 #1 Exorbitant consonant clusters, both quantitatively and qualitatively are more complex in Georgian than almost any other language, making simple articulation of the language difficult for non-Georgians.

English is not completely devoid of consonant clusters consider “tchb”, looks foreign or certainly not English but we say it without thinking in “matchbox”, “sks” in asks causes some native English speakers problems.

Georgian takes consonant clusters to another level. The Georgian alphabet has 5 vowels like the English alphabet but 28 consonants.

The capital Tbilisi თბილისი, puts a T in front of a b, something never seen in English at the beginning of a word, Mtskheta ( მცხეთა), a former capital is even worse.

Thanks is “gmadloba”… გმადლობა.

მწვრთნელი ” meaning trainer contains one of the most formidable examples of consonant clusters, the first six letters მწვრთ are all consonants, which would be transliterated into English as seven consonants in succession… “mtsvrtneli.”

The vowels in Georgian are ა ე ი ო უ (equivalent to a, e, i, o and u).

Here is a bilingual text of Little Red Riding Hood…I’d  place the tortoise in front of the Georgian text and the hare before the English text.

Little Red Riding Hood Text

Little Red Riding Hood Text

I’ll say “nakhvamdis” for now.

More Georgian მეტი ქართული ენა

I have just found how to change to the Georgian alphabet on my computer. მოხარული ვარ 🙂

I have also borrowed a couple of books from the library to help with my Georgian.

We Learn Georgian

We Learn Georgian

The Georgian alphabet has 33 letters.

ა ბ გ დ like Greek it starts a b g d (alpha beta gamma delta) not a b c d

The Georgian alphabet can be said like an, ban, gan, don…but rarely is, as gandon is the Georgian word for a condom!

After ა ბ გ დ it goes a bit crazy… ე ვ ზ თ …e v z t …..this makes checking in dictionaries more difficult…especially as I hear the “t” sound in თ (first letter of Tbilisi) ტ (first letter of talc)  წ (ts) and ც (also ts)

ი კ ლ მ ნ ო პ this is like English without the j …i k l m n o p

then it goes a little awry again ჟ რ ს ტ უ ფ

Finally there are the really strange letters ქ ღ ყ შ ჩ ც ძ წ ჭ ხ ჯ ჰ

Mყ name “Jim” would be “ჯიმ” Georgians add an “ი” so it is more Jimi (Like Hendrix, cool)

Georgian Alphabet

Georgian Alphabet

The second book I borrowed was an English-Georgian version of Little Red Riding Hood “სითელქუდა”….”The classic bilingual tales provide young readers with an amusing way to learn and recognize words in two languages.”

Little Red Riding Hood Text

Little Red Riding Hood Text

For some reason the English text is marked with a tortoise and the Georgian text with a hare, an allusion to Aesop’s tale?

The “Little Red Riding Hood“of the story in Georgian is just one long word… წითელქუდას. Georgian adds prefixes and suffixes to words where English would have separate words like prepositions. So the first sentence in English has 9 words but just 4 words in Georgian.

Pronunciation is important, if you say a word wrong your audience may hear something different.

In English “beach” and “bitch” cause confusion for Georgian speakers as they don’t distinguish between the long i of beach (/i:/) and the short i of bitch (/I/).

Chinese is tonal and Mandarin uses four tones to clarify the meanings of words, “ma” can mean mother (mā 媽), cannabis (má 麻),  horse (mǎ 馬) or scold (mà 罵).

Similarly Georgian has words which are very similar with different meanings კარი (kari) is door but  ქარი (qari) is wind. Galaktion Tabidze’s famous poem beginning “ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის…” The wind blows, the wind blows, the wind blows…”

My granddaughter Ana has valiantly tried repeatedly to demonstrate the difference between ხელი (hand) and ყელი (throat), but I find it hard to tell the difference.

Here are the lyrics of a song I like but the translation is a little strange:

ტაში ბიჭო გიორგუნა (Clap your hands little boy George)

ლერწამისა ხესაო, ქორი მოჯდა წვერსაო,
აქ ჩამოდი ჩვენსაო, ქალი მიქნევს ხელსაო,
ხაჭაპურსაც გამოგიცხობ, ცარიელსა ქერსაო,
ვარიასაც ქვე დაგიკლავ, ცარიელსა -საო,
ღვინოსაც დაგალევინებ, ცარიელსა თხლესაო,
ლერწამისა ხესაო, ქორი მოჯდა წვერსაო, ჰეე
რაშობდა, დელი ოდელიო დელა, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, ჩამოვიარე თელაო, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, გოგოები იძახიან, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, ნეტა ვის სახლში შევაო, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, მამასახლისი გამოდის, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, ერთი-ორი მეც მომარტყეს, რაშობდა,
რაშობდა, დელი ოდელიო დელა, რაშობდა, ჰეეეე,
ტაში ბიჭო გიორგუნა, ტაში ბიჭო გიორგუნა,
დოუკვირდი მაგასაო, მაგასაო, მაგი ყიდის კაბასაო,
გოუსვი და გამოუსვი, ვითომ ჭიანურია,
მეზობლის ქალს ხელს ნუ ახლებ, ისიც შინაურია,
აბა განი, დოსტა განი, განი ბიჭო განიო,
გოგონებო გენაცვალეთ გავლა-გამოვლაშიო,
ტაში ბიჭო გიორგუნა, არ გოუშვა ე ბოშუნა,
ტაში ბიჭო გიორგუნა, არ გოუშვა ე ბოშუნა,
დოუკვირდი მაგასაო, მაგი ყიდის კაბასაო,
კაბასაო , დაამადლი გოგოს კაბის განასაო,
ჩამოდექით, განი, განი, ტაში ბიჭო, ტაშიო,
გოგოვ შენ კი გენაცვალე გავლა-გამოვლაშიო,
ჩამოდექით, განი-განი, ტაში ბიჭო, ტაშიო,
გოგოვ შენ კი გენაცვალე გავლა-გამოვლაშიო,
აბა განი, დასტა განი, განი ბიჭო, განიო,
გოგონებო გენაცვალეთ გავლა-გამოვლაშიო,
გოუსვი და გამოუსვი, ვითომ ჭიანურია,
მეზობლის ქალს ხელს ნუ ახლებ, ისიც შინაურია,
აბა განი, დასტა განი, განი ბიჭო განიო,
გოგოებო გენაცვალეთ გავლა-გამოვლაშიო,
ლერწამისა ხესაო, ქორი მოჯდა წვერსაო,
აქ ჩამოდი ჩვენსაო, ქალი მიქნევს ხელსაო,
ხაჭაპურსაც გამოგიცხობ, ცარიელსა ქერსაო,
ვარიასაც ქვე დაგიკლავ, ცარიელსა -საო,
ღვინოსაც დაგალევინებ, ცარიელსა თხლესაო, ლერწამისა ხესაო, ქორი მოჯდა წვერსაო, ჰეე
 The translation I have:

On the cane tree, a hawk sat down on top,
Come to see us, a woman is waving her hand to me,
I’ll bake you a cheese-pie, but with barley,
I’ll roast a chicken to you, but very skinny,
I’ll give you some wine to drink, but just the sediment,
On the cane tree, a hawk sat down on top, heeeeeh,
Rashobda, deli odelio dela, rashobda,
Rashobda, I went past the elm, rashobda,
Rashobda, the girls are saying, rashobda,
Rashobda, I wonder which family she’ll get into, rashobda,
Rashobda, the village elder appears, rashobda,
Rashobda, they hit me one or two, rashobda,
Rashobda, deli odelio dela, rashobda, heeeeeh,
Clap your hands little boy George, [x2]
Watch him carefully, he’s selling a dress,
Move your hand up and down, as if it were a chianure, (popular musical instrument)
Don’t touch your neighbour’s wife, she’s your family member too,
So give a space, give him a space, space boy, space,
Oh girls, how I love the way you walk,
Clap your hands little boy George, don’t let go this girl,
Clap your hands little boy George, don’t let go this girl,
Watch him carefully, he’s selling a dress,
A dress, will you reproach her for having bought a dress,
Everyone give a space, clap your hands boy, clap,
Oh girl, how I love you and your manner of walking,
Everyone give a space, clap your hands boy, clap,
Oh girl, how I love you and your manner of walking,
So give a space, give him a space, space boy, space,
Oh girls, how I love the way you walk,
Move your hand up and down, as if it were a chianure, Don’t touch your neighbour’s wife, she’s your family member too,
So give a space, give him a space, space boy, space,
Oh girls, how I love the way you walk,
On the cane tree, a hawk sat down on top,
Come to see us, a woman is waving her hand to me,
I’ll bake you a cheese-pie, but with barley,
I’ll roast a chicken to you, but very skinny,
I’ll give you some wine to drink, but just the sediment,
On the cane tree, a hawk sat down on top, heeeeeh
You can see the clip here: Welcome to Racha

Learning Georgian

My New Year’s Resolution was to learn Georgian again. 4 months in, I’m not making great progress :/

I find it very difficult to remember the words which are so different from English:

შერეული this is “mixed” and sounds like /she-re-uli/ how should I remember that?

The process of visualizing a concrete image that captures the meaning or the sound of a word should help remember the next time I need the word.

The seasons in Georgian are: გაზაფხული, ზაფხული, შემოდგომა and ზამთარი

Autumn = შემოდგომა … sounds like /she-mod-go-ma/

…trying to visualise a female mod going to her mother’s…I should have added some falling leaves….

autumn is shemodgoma in Georgian

autumn is shemodgoma in Georgian

Tiger in Georgian is

ვეფხვი

/vepkhvi/…which sounds nothing like anything I can visualise…but the word in Georgian has 4 trailing limbs which I can imagine are the tiger’s legs…

tiger

tiger

Spring is გაზაფხული /gaz-ap-kh-uli/ so I combine a GAZ Volga 24 with an ape and Uli…Uli is a friend who has glasses and is slightly balding…

Georgian vocabulary and doodles to jog memory

Georgian vocabulary and doodles to jog memory

That was a lot of effort for just 6 words…anyone have any better ideas?

learning

What makes Georgian such a difficult language for foreigners?

გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე Galaktion Tabidze. როგორ თოვს!

I am still trying to learn Georgian. Some months ago I learnt Tabidze’s poem “ქარი კჰრის” by heart. Revisiting the poem of 10 lines. I find I have forgotten a lot.

ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, კარი ჰქრის,
ფოთლები მიჰქრიან ქარდაქარ…
ხეთა რიგს, ხეთა ჯარს, ხეთა ხრის,
სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ?
როგორ წვიმს, როგორ თოვს, როგორ თოვს,
ვერ გპოვებ ვერასდროს … ვერასდროს
შენი მე სახება დამდევს თან
ყოველ დროს, ყოველთვის, ყოველგან!..
შორი ცა ნისლიან ფიქრებს სწრის..
ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, კარი ჰქრის!

Galaktion Tabidze: Poems

Galaktion Tabidze: Poems

If we put that into Google Translate, we come out with:

Hkris wind, wind hkris, door hkris,
Leaves mihkrian kardakar …
Rows of trees, trees army, trees bows his head,
Where are you, where are you, where are you?
How rains snows, how it snows,
Gpoveb could never … never
I put it in your prototype
Each time, always, always it is! ..
From a distance, the sky overcast stsris thoughts ..
Hkris wind, wind hkris, door hkris!

This as you see doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Innes Merabshvili translates the title as “Whirls the Wind”

I was inspired to revisit the poem because of the words “როგორ თოვს” (How it snows!)

Today was the first snow of the winter in Tbilisi, it is usually February that has the snow.

როგორ თოვს

როგორ თოვს

Yesterday, I went to the theatre with my wife and two granddaughters Ana(6) and Elene (2), Elene wouldn’t stop crying so Khato took her home. I was left with Ana watching a Georgian play, of which to my shame I understood very little. At the interval, I thought the play had ended and was looking for the exit, when Ana explained it was just a break.