Georgian alphabet. One of only 14 alphabets in the World


The Georgian alphabet is the writing systemused to write the Georgian language and other Kartvelian languages (Mingrelian, Svan, sometimes Laz), and occasionally other languages of the Caucasus such as Ossetic and Abkhaz during the 1940s. The Georgian language has phonemic orthography and the modern alphabet has thirty-three letters.

The word meaning "alphabet", Georgian: ანბანი – anbani, is derived from the names of the first two letters of each of the three Georgian alphabets. The three alphabets look very different from one another but share the same alphabetic order and letter names. The alphabets may be seen mixed to some extent, though Georgian is officially unicameral meaning there is normally no distinction between upper and lower case in any of the alphabets.


The writing of the Georgian language has progressed through three forms, known by their Georgian names: Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri, and Mkhedruli. They have always been distinct alphabets, even though they have been used together to write the same languages, and even though these alphabets share the same letter names and collation. Although the most recent alphabet, Mkhedruli, contains more letters than the two historical ones, those extra letters are no longer needed for writing modern Georgian.

The Georgian kingdom of Iberia converted to Christianity in 326 AD. Scholars believe that the creation of an Old Georgian alphabet was instrumental in making religious scripture more accessible to the Georgians. This happened in the 4th or 5th century, not long after conversion. The oldest uncontested example of Georgian writing is an Asomtavruli inscription from 430 AD in a church in Bethlehem.

It has been asserted that the Georgian alphabet was created by Mesrop Mashtots (who also created the Armenian alphabet around 405 AD and the Caucasian Albanian alphabet). This viewpoint is accepted by encyclopedias, as well as by authoritative scholars. Other authorities such as John Greppin and A.G. Perikhanian have concluded that while Mesrop Mashtots may not have been the only creator of the Georgian alphabet, it could not have appeared without his participation. The Encyclopaedia Britannica suggests that the Old Georgian script must have been derived from the Greek alphabet, on account of the order of the alphabet and the shapes of some of the characters, although the shapes of the majority of the signs appear to be a result of a free creation of its inventor.

Georgian historical tradition attributes the invention of the Georgian alphabets to the semi-mythical Parnavaz I of Iberia in the 3rd century BC. Georgian scholars have asserted that the Georgian alphabet was created before Mesrop Mashtots. The modern Georgian scholar Levan Chilashvili, on the basis of dating the Nekresi inscription in eastern Georgia to the 1st–2nd century AD, claimed that Parnavaz probably created the scripts in order to translate the Avesta (sacred Zoroastrian writings) into Georgian. However, a pre-Christian origin for the Georgian scripts has not been firmly supported by archaeological evidence. According to Donald Rayfield, the assumption that the Georgian script has pre-Christian origin, is rather unfounded and was not confirmed by archaeological findings. Stephen H. Rapp, too, has questioned such a dating. Victor Schnirelmann has noted that the Georgian historians' somewhat painful attitude towards Mesrop Mashtots is conditioned by the "myth of some pure original indigenous culture."

Text source: Wikipedia
Alphabet illustration by Aleksandrs Znovs ©


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  1. Pingback: Georgia's Top 8 Culture Characteristics - Eurasia Northwest

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