USAGE BY COUNTRY (OFFICIAL LANGUAGE)Official Language: Georgia Home Speakers: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan also in adjoining areas in the western Caucasus, Turkey and Iran
BACKGROUNDOf the 40 or so native languages spoken in the Caucusian region, which, given its territorial size, can boast more peoples, languages and cultures than almost any other region on earth, Georgian is the most widely spoken. Native language of Georgia, located in Transcaucasia on the south-eastern corner of the Black Sea, Georgian is spoken by about 32million. Georgian belongs to the Caucasian family, but since these languages have been grouped more on the basis of geography than linguistics, it is questionable whether any of the other Caucasian languages are actually related to it. Besides being the most widely spoken of these languages, it is the only one with an ancient literary tradition. The origin of the Georgian alphabet is obscure, but it is known to have been invented in the 5th century A.D. It is written from left to right. The present script, called "Mkhedruli" (secular writing), replaced the original "Khutsuri" (church writing) in the 11th century. The Georgians call themselves "Kartvelebi" and their land "Sakartvelo". The language contains some formidable consonant clusters, as may be seen in the names of such Georgian cities as Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Tkvarcheli, and Tskhinvali.