Learning Georgian the Easy Way

June 4th, 2013

The easiest way to learn Georgian is to start with its unfamiliar alphabet and proceed on to audio recordings and visuals.

Learning Georgian Alphabet

Georgian technically uses a variety of alphabets and scripts depending on region, but in practice there is one alphabet that’s in common use, called Mkhedruli (which means military). The Mkhedruli alphabet has 33 letters in common use. Strangely, it also has about a dozen letters not in common use, that you will likely never use. It’s not often you encounter alphabets with unnecessary bits in them!

Learning these 33 letters and their pronunciation is the easiest place to start learning Georgian. Some of these Georgian letters have English equivalents – for example, the letter “ა” is equivalent to the Latin letter “A” and is even pronounced like the “A” in “apple.” On the other hand, the letter “ღ”, which would be written as “gh” in a Latin alphabet, doesn’t have a pronunciation equivalent in English at all.

Georgian Literature

One of the best and easiest ways to learn Georgian, aside from simply studying it like an academic pursuit, is to take this basic knowledge of its alphabet and pronunciation and read texts in Georgian. The literary tradition of Georgian is rich and deep, going back thousands of years. Puzzling through the unfamiliar script with this alphabet guide in one hand and a Georgian-English dictionary in the other is the simplest way to simultaneously learn how to speak and understand Georgian! In fact, if you can find some audiobooks to accompany you, you will have a clear-cut guide to pronunciation.

Once you’re getting the hang of listening to and speaking the language, the next step is to tune into audio recordings of Georgian, or even live broadcasts of Georgian-language television. Because Georgian is so popular, it isn’t that hard to locate these recordings, as a rule. Hearing the language spoken in context, with visual imagery, is always helpful when learning a new language.

The great part about this approach is how easy and passive it is. It’s mainly absorbing information by sheer experience, and forming connections in your subconscious mind. This doesn’t even feel like effort, for the most part, and while you won’t be a free translation expert by the end of a few months, you will be surprised how much of the language you pick up!

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