Georgian (Kartuli) is the official language of Georgien and the country's most widely spoken language, used on all street signs and in all aspects of everyday life. There are about 4.1 million people who speak Georgian on a daily basis: ~3.9 million living in Georgia and the rest living abroad, notably in Russia. Georgian uses one of the world's 12 unique alphabets, Mkhedruli—"that of the warrior." Georgian (Kartuli) is related to three other languages, all spoken within Georgia and Northeastern Turkey: Megreli, Svan, and Laz.
Yes, Georgian pronunciation is difficult for foreigners, but certainly nowhere near as impossible as its reputation would suggest. Try not to get bogged down by the exotic consonants and tongue-twisting consonant clusters; truly almost nothing will please Georgians more than your efforts to speak their language and they will be very patient with your attempts!
Also on the positive side, there are no capital letters in Georgian; no need to memorize two characters per letter! Moreover, Georgian is phonetically regular—letters are always pronounced exactly as written. Lastly, it is an unstressed language—each syllable receives equal weight. If you are not used to speaking an unstressed language, approximate the sound by placing stress on the first syllable of the word. But don't "stress" out about this—you will be understood!
If you are familiar with Spanish, Georgian vowel sounds are very similar.
Georgian distinguishes between aspirated and non-aspirated (ejective) consonants. An aspirated consonant is accompanied by a puff of air when you say it. In Georgian, there is even more of a "puff" of air for aspirated consonants than you would hear in English.
A non-aspirated consonant in Georgian, however, actually contains no puff of air whatsoever. Georgians close the back of their throat, similar to what you do before you cough or the closed throat moment between uh and oh in "uh-oh." They then pronounce the non-aspirated consonants without any exhalation at all. Don't worry if you have trouble producing this type of sound, though, in context you will be understood! Non-aspirated consonants are marked above with an apostrophe.
Georgian Aspirated & Non-Aspirated Consonants
Finally, the Georgian letter ყ is difficult for most Westerners to pronounce. It is similar to the Arabic "qaf" (ﻕ). To pronounce this letter, try to pronounce the English letter k, only way down at the bottom of your throat. The Georgian ყ is non-aspirated.
Dipthongen ist in Georgienisch nicht—every vowel is given equal weight and every syllable has only one vowel.
Wie geht es Ihnen?
როგორა ხართ? (roh-goh-rah khahrt?)
კარგად, გმადლობთ. (k'ahr-gahd, mahd-lohbt)
Wie ist Ihren Name?
რა გკვიათ? (rah gk'vee-ahd?)
Ich heiße ______ .
ჩემი სახელია ______ . (cheh-mee sah-kheh-lee-ah _____ .)
Nice to meet you.
ძალიან სასიამოვნოა. (dzah-lee-ahn sah-see-ah-mohv-nee-ah)
თუ შეიძლება. (tu sheh-eedz-leh-bah)
ჰო or ხო (hoh or khoh)
Entschuldigung. (getting attention)
Entschuldigung. (begging pardon)
Es tut mir Leid.
Ich spreche nicht [gut] Georgisch.
"ქართული ენა" არ [კარგად] ვიცი. ( kahr-too-lee eh-nah ahr [k'ahr-gahd] vee-tsee)