language learning

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.

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


/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…



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?


What makes Georgian such a difficult language for foreigners?