I don't know if you've heard, but there's no Georgian on Duolingo. The reasons are myriad. However, it essentially boils down to that there aren't enough speakers for the popular language learning app to feel like they can justify an entire course (forget that they teach High Valyrian!). So today, we're going to look at why we at Ling disagree with that assessment and also some reasons why learning Georgian is more valuable than what you might think.
There are 5 million Georgian speakers globally, which doesn't sound like much until you consider that other languages like Icelandic and Irish barely have a million. Rather interestingly, Georgia is an endonym, the same as Germany(Deutschland) and Albania(Shqiptar). An endonym is when a country is known by a different name locally and internationally. Georgians call their country 'Sakartvelo.'
Not many people know this, but Georgia is the birthplace of wine culture. Its winemaking style (qveri) is so unique and culturally significant that it is protected by the U.N! But have no fear, wine drinking is not consigned to ancient Georgian history. Modern-day Georgians still love a tipple. There are thousands of small farmers producing some of the best wines in the world. In 2019 Georgia exported almost a 100million bottles of wine. That is a staggering number which represents 20 bottles of wine shipped for each Georgian citizen.
Sidenote: It is not surprising that Georgia became such a powerhouse when you consider how ideal the growing conditions are there. Summers are short, winters are mild, and there is a nice level of humidity year-round.
Georgia is a place for any budding Indiana Jones out there. In fact, skulls dating back 1.8 million years were found in Dmanisi. So who knows what caves and caverns there are for you to explore on your next vacation!
This perhaps swings both ways, but we at Ling are optimists who like a challenge. The Georgian language is hard. And we mean, really hard. Modern Georgians use a 33 letter alphabet known as Mkhedruli. Or perhaps it's a case of bad P.R over the years because the FSI lists Georgian as moderate with only 1100 hours of learning time. However, other experts have talked about how difficult it is to grasp. Georgian is like Albanian in the fact that it almost represents its own branch on the language tree. Something I read online said that the closest vocabulary you might find to it could be Persian! Compare that to English, where the quarter of the language is just French.
Georgia is renowned for its music. No, this isn't related to Justin Bieber and his peaches out in Georgia(that's the U.S state). Georgian folk singing is so widely and highly regarded that the song 'Chakrulo' is on a special disk launched with the Voyager spacecraft. Chakrulo is in the very esteemed company of Mozart, Bach, and Chuck Berry. Imagine that. Aliens turn up to Earth knowing the Georgian lyrics of Chakrulo, and you're left out because you didn't learn Georgian with Ling.
Considering its location and history, Georgia is a veritable melting pot. Its census data lists Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Russians, Yasidis, and Greeks. It is also remarkable to note the long history of Jewish settlement in Georgia(approx 2600 years old). In the 1990s, a lot of Georgian jews moved to Israel. So whether you're meeting migrants in Georgia or a foreign country, it is invaluable to speak the mother tongue.
Undoubtedly, the best option, our Georgian course. Preparation is key. You don't want to get to Tbilisi without doing the hard work and trying to make it up on the fly. Ling is designed so that 3 months before your trip, you put in 5 minutes a day and build up a solid list of memorized phrases. Question and answer. Question and answer. So that when you do find yourself in a situation in Georgia, you won't be fumbling around. It'll be like second nature.
For me, the most impressive feature is the chatbot which is as close as you can get to practicing spoken Georgian with a native speaker(Remember, teachers are expensive).
Unfortunately, at the moment, Ling is not currently doing a Georgian blog, but I'm personally writing an Albanian blog and a Lao blog. Although it might seem strange to be reading about any other language, I find it gives learners good ideas about what information to seek out in Georgian and how best to learn it.
Come on over to our website and start learning Georgian today. You will be fluent before you know it.
Until the next time.