Georgian Language

Georgian Lesson 2

Four and a half years I have lived in Georgia. Georgian is very different from the European languages I know (French, Spanish, German or English).  I lived in France for six years and after two years I was reasonably fluent in the language. I thought Georgian would be similarly acquired but that isn’t the case. It will require some effort on my part and I am lazy.

Georgian lesson 2 : დალევა / სმა

Georgian lesson 2 : დალევა / სმა

I’ve been reading a few children’s books in Georgian, and translating them with the help of Khato (my lovely Georgian wife), a small Georgian English dictionary and Google Translate.

I asked Khato for lessons and marked 5 hours in the week when we could meet for lessons. The first lesson was on Tuesday 18 March, it took place in the kitchen and included phrases like:

ხათო თლის კარტოფილს    Khato peels potatoes

ხათო რეცხავს კარტოფილს  Khato washes potatoes

ხათო ჭრის კარტოფილს  Khato cuts potatoes

ხათო წვავს კარტოფილს  Khato fries potatoes

Talking with Charlie, a teaching colleague at the French school on Wednesday, I asked him for some suggestions for learning Georgian. He is an American who has been in Georgia for a much shorter time than me but gets by in Georgian.

He told me he’d take a verb and write it down in the various cases.  He also said it was better to use Georgian characters from the outset than using Georgian transcribed with Roman letters.

So for my next lesson that’s what I did.

I took the verb სმა or  დალევა (if someone Georgian can tell me the difference between the two I’d be grateful) meaning drink and got Khato to show me how it conjugated.


მე სვამ            I drink                                                   ჩვენ სვამთ   we drink

me vsvam                                                                            chven vsvamt

შენ სვამ           you drink                                             თქვენ სვამთ   you drink

shen svam                                                                          tkven svamt

ის სვამს           he/she drinks                                      ისინი სვამენ   they drink

is svams                                                                               isini svamen


მე დალიე           I drank                                                  ჩვენ დალიე   we drank

me davlie                                                                             chven davliet

შენ  დალიე          you drank                                      თქვენ დალიე   you drank

shen dalie                                                                            tkven daliet

მას დალი            he/she drank                                  მათ დალიე   they drank

mas dalia                                                                          mat dalies



მე დალე            I will drink                                     ჩვენ დალევ   we will drink

me davlev                                                                            chven davlevt

შენ დალე          you drink                                     თქვენ დალე   you will  drink

shen dalev                                                                          tkven dalevt

ის და          he/she will drink                      ისინი დალეენ   they will drink

is dalevs                                                                              isini daleven

As you might see from the transcription, Georgian has unusual combinations of letters to an English ear. ვსვამ! (vsvam)

მე ვსვამ ჩაის (me vsvam chais) I drink tea or I am drinking tea

We also looked at words for the family brother-in-law is the same as son-in-law (სიძე) .

Two recent factors will help my Georgian, I hope.

In September. I moved to Varketili (Var ketili means I am kind in Georgian), my mother- in -law, Zoia, moved in, she speaks very little English, so if we are to communicate, I need to learn Georgian. Also my hours at the French school have been greatly reduced this year, which is good for my Georgian. Before when I was thinking in “foreign” I was thinking in French, now I use Georgian more in daily life than French.

The longest journey starts with a single step.

I need to get motivated and learn Georgian….




Reading in Georgian: ჭრიჭინა და ჭიანჭველა

ჭრიჭინა და ჭიანჭველა or “The Grasshopper and the Ant” is a tale of two insects.


ჭრიჭინა და ჭიანჭველა (The Grasshopper and the Ant)

The grasshopper has a carefree attitude; spending the days singing and lazing around. The ant is hard working storing up grain for the Winter ahead.

the ant and the grasshopper 002

ჭიანჭველა კი მუშაობდა The ant worked.

The story is quite predictable, the winter comes and the ant is warm and has plenty to eat, whilst the grasshopper is shivering from cold and hungry.

the ant and the grasshopper 003

It all ends happily with the ant inviting the grasshopper in out of the cold and the grasshopper promising to work the following Summer.

I hope I will reach a level soon where I can read more interesting books. These book have nice illustrations but the stories aren’t exactly page-turners.

Reading in Georgian: 3 მელა და წერო (The Fox and the Stork)

“The Fox and the Stork” is a tale with a moral.


მელა და წერო.

I first started reading books in a foreign language when I lived in France. In January 1993, I read Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel Voyage au Centre de la Terre in French. I knew the story having read the book previously in English and having also seen the film. It took me a month to get through the novel underlining words I didn’t know, checking in a bilingual English-French dictionary and marking the book in pencil with the English translation. I have since read over a hundred books in French.


I now have books in three languages to read. I no longer need a pencil and dictionary for reading in French, only occasionally do I find a word, I don’t know. The Georgian book is a library book, so I won’t mark it. I use a notebook to copy out each line of Georgian then use a combination of what I know, Google Translate and my wonderful Georgian wife, to translate each line into English. I am not at a stage yet, where I can think in Georgian.


The books are short, so I can get through one in a couple of hours.


This story is about a fox (მელა) and a stork (წერო), who are friends but the naughty fox likes to play tricks on his friends.

მელა წეროს ხშირად ეხუმრებოდა … The fox liked playing tricks on the stork.

The fox had an idea for a new trick and invited the stork to lunch. The poor stork was unable to eat the soup from a bowl.


საბრალო წერო! Poor stork! You can see her difficulties from the delightful illustrations.

As you might have guessed the stork got her own back, inviting the fox for a meal which he couldn’t eat, because it was served in tall thin glasses.


The moral of the tale being: always treat your friends well and they won’t trick you.

Now I have a third book in the Usbourne first reading series.


ჭრიჭინა და და ჭიანჭველა (The Cricket and the Ant). I think it will be a while before I can read the works of famous Georgian writers like Rustaveli, Vazha-Pshavela or Tabidze in the original Georgian.

Reading in Georgian: 2 ლომი და ტაგვი


Four years and five months in Georgia and my knowledge of the language is still woeful.  On Friday, I joined the Mediatek (library) and borrowed some children’s books, with the aim of finally learning Georgian through reading.

Three of the books are level one readers aimed at Georgian children, the fourth is a book about the Georgian painter, Pirosmani (ფიროსმანი).

I started with the tale of the lion and the mouse ლომი და ტაგვი.



ხის ძირას ლომს ეძინა … a lion was sleeping under a tree…Georgian has six cases as does Latin but they are not quite the same… lion is ლომი but here it is ლომს the -ს is at the end for some reason and tree is ხე  but here it is ხის… this is complicated!



Now there is something about a mouse jumping over the lion causing the sleeping cat to wake… “ღრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრრ…” is how lion’s roar in Georgian.



Plenty more books when I finish reading about the lion and the mouse. I did manage to read the lion and the mouse today, to Ana, my five year old grand daughter. I didn’t understand everything, so I’ll have to go through it again. I understood the main drift of the story: The lion was angry for having been woken up, and wants to eat the little mouse but the frightened mouse begs for mercy and the lion spares him, the mouse says he will help the lion in future, which causes the lion to laugh. Then one day, the lion is caught in a hunter’s trap, the mouse hears the lion’s cries for help and gnaws through the rope net, freeing the lion, they become friends and live happily ever after…

Now maybe I should read about the fox and the stork or perhaps, the ant and the cricket. ..

Reading in Georgian: 1: არრა My first book in Georgian

Four years and three months in Georgia and my knowledge of the language is woeful. Last New Year’s day, I made a resolution to learn Georgian by this New Year’s Day. I don’t think this will be a resolution I can keep. I know quite a few Georgian words but stringing them together is a problem.

Georgian is so unlike the European languages I am familiar with. They have their own unique alphabet ა,ბ,გ,დ,ე etc… The 33 letters look to me rather like twisted paper clips. On the plus side it reads from left to right (unlike Hebrew, Arabic or Chinese).

My wife speaks English very well, so there is no motivation for me to learn Georgian to communicate with her. Since September we have been living with my mother-in-law, Zoya, who doesn’t speak English so this provides more motivation to learn.

I find learning the words difficult, they are often long and have no resemblance to words I’m familiar with. Even simple words like mother is დედა (deda) and father is  მამა (mama). Hello is გამარჯობა (gamarjoba).

There are a number of letters, which to Georgians sound different like  and , but in English both are “t” the first is the “t” in Natalie, the second the “t” in “tbilisi”.

At the Christmas Expo I found a children’s book called “არრა!”


I have read this once to my granddaughter, Ana, without understanding everything I was reading, and my reading speed being frustratingly slow for both me and Ana.

Now I am determined to read it and learn the relevant vocabulary.

The story is a simple story of a naughty dog who thinks he is very good (დაან კარგი). He also thinks his name is “Nooo!” (არრა!), because that is what people constantly tell him.


Here he is dutifully tasting the chicken for his humans. We see on the right the speech bubble “არ-ა !!” (ar-a!! meaning no!!).

Wish me luck! (how do you say that in Georgian?)