Georgian Language

2015 2016

One year ends, another begins. A time to reflect, a time to look ahead. My resolution once again is to get to grips with the Georgian Language. This was my resolution last year 2015 resolution and the year before and the year before that…

I have some ideas of how to go about learning a foreign language, I need to get away from the theory and start the practise even 40minutes a day, consistently, should reap results. It is important to communicate with people and I have the perfect opportunity living here in Tbilisi, Georgia.

2015 wasn’t an especially remarkable year. I continue to teach English to private students ranging from 4 to over 50 years old. We went twice to UK, the first time to see my mum and the second time to help her to move into an old people’s home (my brother, Danny, did most of the work). In 2016 we would like to go to Italy.

We visited some interesting places in Georgia, mostly on trips with my wife’s colleagues. Khevsureti was spectacular and involved a very long walk to the Abudelauri lakes.


Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

I seem to spend far too much time on Facebook interacting with 801 friends, many of whom I’ve never met in real life.

The blog continues to get more views over 11 000 in 2015. Thank you for your views and comments.

Screenshot from 2015-12-31 11:42:17

Screenshot from 2015-12-31 11:46:43

Countries from which I have had the most views: Top 10

I have two other blogs one for diecast model car collecting My Diecast Model Cars Blog and one for my book reviews

Dodge (6)

Diecast Dodges

The Diecast blog gets far more views but far less likes and has a different geographical spread of viewers.

DScreenshot from 2015-12-31 11:55:13

Screenshot from 2015-12-31 11:59:34

Diecast blog : top 10 countries by views

I have been taking my granddaughter to school, a chore, I find to be quite pleasurable and we have a few photo opportunities en route. Ana is getting good at seeing interesting pictures and modelling accordingly.


Ana in the autumn leaves en route to school.

Happy New Year to all my viewers and followers, I hope 2016 brings you happiness and fulfilment.


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.

Six Years in Georgia: the good and the bad

I have now lived in Georgia for six and a half years, the country not the US state (it needs qualifying every time). I am often asked do I like Georgia? Well, my answer is “Yes and no”. Some things I like, some I don’t.

I love the light. Lots of clear sunny days make for good photos.



The mountains are spectacular, some are higher than any in the Alps.

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Abudelauri Lake (Blue)

Georgian women are very pleasing on the eye, strangely Georgian men seem to fantasise about Ukrainian women. Foreign women should be wary of Georgian men, have a look at this blogpost: Should you date a Georgian?

Georgian model

Georgian model

Georgians rave about their cuisine, I am not so impressed and miss English roast dinners and puddings. I don’t really like khachapuri, their signature dish, a cheese filled pastry, I find it too salty. Georgian meals are important events and most birthdays and holidays are marked with a feast or “supra”. Georgians are also proud of their wine and claim to have been the nation which invented wine back in the mists of time, some 8 000 years ago, a claim for which there is some archaeological support in the region. Georgian wine



The language is a nightmare for me, using a different alphabet and having long words with tricky consonant clusters. Anyone following my blog will have noticed my postings about my struggles with the language.

Little Red Riding Hood Text in English and Georgian

Little Red Riding Hood Text in English and Georgian

One thing that saddens me is despite the Georgians singing so much that they are proud of their country, so many of them litter with abandon.


litter in the countryside near Borjomi

I like seeing old Soviet cars still around.



I can work here quite easily as an English teacher, many people want to learn English and there are not a lot of native English speakers. The cost of living is relatively cheap particularly things like public transport much cheaper in Tbilisi than in London, but wages are much lower.

Georgian people don’t smile much but they do have a tradition of hospitality.

Tbilisi feels a safe city, I have had no troubles, apparently it hasn’t always been like this, in the 1990s there was a lot of street crime. Walking around late at night in an English city on a Friday or Saturday night is more intimidating than walking around Tbilisi at night.

The public transport, though cheap can be very overcrowded.

The traffic is scary at times, the drivers have little respect for pedestrians and won’t stop just because you are at a pedestrian crossing. When asked by Georgians what I don’t like I usually say “the traffic” and they nod in agreement, though apparently it is even worse in Iran.


Religion is important here, despite the Bolsheviks trying to stamp out religion in the past, there are many new churches and most Georgians are Orthodox Christians. I have been baptised into the Orthodox church but I find their intolerance of other denominations rather un-Christian. My wife is quite devout and prays twice a day, every day.



In the UK we joked about health and safety overkill, but here in Georgia it is common to see construction workers working without helmets or safety equipment. The cars also have no requirements for any roadworthy test.


GAZ M20 “Pobeda”

There are many other pluses and minuses to living in Georgia, my home for the foreseeable future. I might add to this post later.

New Year’s Resolution 2015: Learn Georgian კიდე (again!)

My New Year’s resolution every year for the last five years has been to learn Georgian, and every year my progress has been woeful.

How can I make this time different?

Suggestions welcome.

What has stopped me before ?

  1. My laziness, learning a language is hard work, I like an easy life.
  2. My busy schedule…some days, I have too much to do, to fit in learning Georgian. But only some days. Khato, my wife, is far busier than me, but still finds time to fit in her prayers amidst all her tasks in the day. If I could spend the amount of time learning Georgian as she does praying I’d be making significant progress.
  3. Distractions (especially Facebook), I spend a lot of my spare time on Facebook (often uploading photos) or following obscure threads….that aren’t usually very important.

On January 1, we’re all in. I’m going to do it! A month, a week, or a day later, we’ve backed out.
Nowadays, the word “resolution” almost comes with the understanding that it will fizzle out by February. Better to re-frame the process and call it a goal.

Vague platitudes (“learn Georgian”) are less effective than specific directives (“I will do an exercise from Basic Georgian by Nana Danelia each day”).

Basic Georgian is currently what I am resting my laptop on.

I know where to find my copy of "Basic Georgian"

I know where to find my copy of “Basic Georgian”

Motivation research tells us that three things need to be present to sustain your fire over time: autonomy (you control what you do, rather than letting others dictate it); competence (you have some success the more you do it); relatedness (you share the experience with others). Which means: You can manufacture your own motivation by choosing an action that includes all three elements.

How’s this for a terrible irony: the more you want your goal, the less you’re likely to plan for it, according to a forthcoming paper in the journal Behavioral Science and Policy, that’s because we tend to think good intentions are enough, but an actual plan prevents procrastination. People with plans stick to their goals way more often than those who wing it.

A review of my 2014

2014 is only the second year of my life, when I didn’t spend any time in England (the first was 1998, the worst year of my life, which I spent entirely in Wales).

We only left Georgia once in 2014, way back in January, to visit Ephesus. If you like ruined cities, Ephesus is a must. We spent a week in the area.

Ephesus 093In 2014, I finished teaching at the French School and started working at Opiza school, time will tell if this was a wise decision. I also teach private individuals.

This is me teaching.

This is me teaching.

2014 wasn’t a particularly exceptional year. I turned 50 (as I grow older the years seem to pass more quickly). In the late Summer we visited Qobuleti on the Black Sea coast, for a beach holiday…if it rains in Qobuleti there isn’t much to do (luckily it only rained on one day of our stay).

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

We have a new grandchild, Lazare, born on 1st August. Our oldest grandchild, Ana, started school in September, she still likes it (wonder how long that will last).

Ana ready for school

Ana ready for school

As the time I spent on the metro increased, so did my reading. 29 books read in 2013 and 47 books read in 2014. Highlights included “Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso FalconesIstanbul by Orhan Pamuk and “Dumb Witness” by Agatha Christie.

I took thousands of photos, sharing some on this blog and many more on Facebook.

I added around 240 model cars to my diecast collection and wrote about this in my diecast blog.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

Three Corgi Cars from my collection.

My Georgian Language skills made some slow progress, but I really need to resolve once again to learn Georgian seriously and consistently.

I posted 266 posts to this blog in 2014, regularly rising to the Weekly Photo Challenge, reviewing the books I have read, sharing my thoughts on the life of a foreigner in Tbilisi and generally writing about what interested me and I hope may have interested you, too.

I wish you all a Happy New year 2015.

Santas cycling.

Santas cycling.

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.

Did You Miss Me?

Did you miss me?

Did you even notice I was gone?

I have spent two weeks away from the Internet, as someone who wakes up and logs on, gets home and logs on and regularly sees their life frittering away on Facebook and other Internet sites, this was quite a feat.



I went to Kobuleti, a Black Sea resort in Ajara, Western Georgia. I purposely left my electronic notebook at home and avoided Internet Cafes.

"Bounce" on Nokia phone

“Bounce” on Nokia phone

At first I was a little bored, I even played the games on my very basic Nokia; no smartphone it only has three games Snake, Beach Rally and Bounce. That didn’t entertain me for long. I went to the beach and made towers of pebbles…a kind of stone age entertainment.

Pebble Tower, Kobuleti Beach

Pebble Tower, Kobuleti Beach

I took four books in English and read all four, I had to slow down on the last because I didn’t want to be deprived of reading matter. I also took three books in Georgian and managed to get through a simple biography of the Georgian painter Pirosmani, with my wife’s help.

Holiday reading. 4 books in Three books in the biography of Pirosmani.

Holiday reading. 4 books in Englsih…read. Three books in Georgian…read the biography of Pirosmani.

Reading about Pirosmani on the beach in Gerogian

Reading about Pirosmani on the beach in Gerogian

I took a sketch pad with high hopes of doing some drawing but all I managed were a few biro sketches in a little notebook.

sketches in biro

sketches in biro

Without the Internet, I wrote no blog posts and kept a physical (pen and paper) diary….I have a few ideas for blog posts from my trip (starting with this one).

Diary, Coca Cola and a collection of Galaktion Tabidze's poems at a beachside bar.

Diary, Coca Cola and a collection of Galaktion Tabidze’s poems at a beachside bar.

Facebook informs me:

“123 friends posted on your Timeline for your birthday.”

Facebook doesn’t inform me how I can see these messages.

I also came back to 93 notifications and 9 messages, my camera had 1309 photos, which I’m still sifting through. I didn’t hear any football results and was completely oblivious to world news events. It was weird.

The days were a routine of swim in the sea, relax on the beach, lunch, siesta, swim in the sea again, evening meal then a promenade along the beachfront. There were a few breaks from this routine, a visit to the neighbouring resort of Batumi and its botanical garden and an invitation to a Georgian feast (სუფრა) in the countryside at Ozurgeti. One day it rained and then there was nothing to do, except shelter in the guest house and read or chat.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severly limited.

When it rains in Kobuleti options are severely limited.

Will the experiment change my Internet habits? We shall see. I should reduce my Facebook activity as most of it is doing very little to develop me as a person. I didn’t miss the Internet as much as I had imagined I would, there were times reading that I wanted to Google something,  like a picture of a 1938 Panhard Dynamic when reading Alan Furst’s “Mission to Paris” and I wanted to find more out about the Dominican Republic and the dictator Trujillo when reading “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz (that was the last of my books in English and I took my time, it was worth savouring…I have four or five book reviews to write up in the coming days). Would I do it again? Maybe for a week or two, but I don’t envision quitting the Internet forever.

Reading in Georgian: ჯინი ბოთლში The Genie in the Bottle

ჯინი ბ ბოთლში

ჯინი ბოთლში

I have stepped up now to level 2 of the Usborne First readers translated into Georgian. This is a retelling of the classic “Genie in a Bottle” story.

A fisherman is not having much luck fishing apart from catching some seaweed, some colourful shells and an old sock (ფუუუ!)…but then he finds an old bottle in his net.


მეთევზემ ბოტლს თავსახური მოხსნა და შიგ ჩაიხედა.
The fisherman removed the cap and looked inside the bottle.

At first it seems there is nothing in the bottle, that it is empty (ცარიელია!) and he throws it away. But then there is a cloud of smoke and an angry genie appears.


=^_^= “მიაუ !”

The genie has been trapped inside the bottle for 1000 years, he is very hungry and wants to eat the fisherman, but the fisherman has an idea….

Level 2 readers have a vocabulary range of 250 words (level one was 150 words). I got through the book laboriously by copying out the Georgian then making a translation in English. For this I am helped by a dictionary, my Georgian wife and Google Translate (which isn’t too slick on Georgian!).

Later I may read the book in Georgian to one of my grand daughters.

Some useful Georgian vocabulary from the book:

მერე   then

ძველი   old

უცებ   suddenly

მაგრამ   but

Not useful Georgian vocabulary:

ჯინი   genie (not a word I will need every day….sorry, Christina Aguilera)

აურუყრუყდა this is the sound the genie’s stomach (მუცელი) makes when he is hungry


ქართულს სწავლობ ნელ-ნელა

Some problems using the Georgian Language


lemons in the market

lemons in the market


I find when I go to the market and attempt to speak in Georgian, my interlocutors reply in Russian 😦


Me: რა ღირს?                      (How much? in Georgian)

Seller: шестьдесят               (sixty in Russian)

Me: სამოცი?                        (sixty in Georgian)

(hands over 1 lari, gets forty tetri back and goods)

Me: დიდი მადლობა           (thank you in Georgian)

Seller: спасибо                    (thank you in Russian)

Is my Georgian pronunciation so bad?

Do they think because I’m not Georgian I will automatically understand Russian (I don’t)?



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.