For those of you who functively investigate Wikipedia until you are dead, here is something to whet your appetite for an entire 23150926403-hour-stretch of fun linguistic tourism.
CONSIDER: All the languages of Europe (save Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian) are on the Indo-European language tree. That includes the Slavic branch (aaaallllllllll those wild and crazy tongues spawned from Old Church Slavonic that Borat parodies, including Russian, Serbian, and Czech), the Germanic (WOOOOOOOOOO ENGLISH) and Italic (OUIIIIIIIIII BIENNNNNNNNN). Those wacky Proto-Indo-Europers spread from the tips of Portugal all the way to Bangladesh and South Fucking Africa. Whoa! Can you imagine!??! That’s a lot of miles (and 1.7 billion people) for one single language family!!! Go us. (Czech that shit out here. You will die.)
Georgian is related to none of ’em. Georgian has its own language family, the South Caucasian family, and is related to three other languages, total, which are all spoken in Georgia. (Mingrelian, Svan, and Lav). That’s it. Maybe 5 million speakers of South Caucasian languages.
THAT IS NOT THE WEIRD PART THOUGH IT DOES MAKE GEORGIAN PRETTY TOUGH TO LEARN. The weird part is the whole Caucasus region. Like, there are two other countries right next to Georgia, and neither one speaks a South Caucasian Language. Azerbaijan speaks Azeri (related to Turkic) and Armenia has Armenian (an orphan branch of Indo-European).
Also, you should know, that Georgia doesn’t really just border Russia–it borders the Russian Federation, which is full of fun places famous in the West for violence, like Chyechnya. By the way, did you know that Chechnians don’t speak Russian as their first language? No, no, they speak Chechan, which is in… the Northeastern Caucasian language family. Each of the little provinces in the Federation (does this sound like star trek now) all have their own bizness, too–Dagestan, Ingush, Circassia, Abkhazia… Add Turkish and Iranian, and you’ve got about 10 major language groups as unrelated to each other as Hebrew is to French in the area the size of, oh, Montana. NOTHING IS RELATED TO ANYTHING ELSE. That’s 11 million people who pretty much can’t communicate in their native tongue to anyone outside a 50 mile circle, and sometimes within that circle, and usually not even to their neighbors. Not surprisingly, everyone knows at least a little Russian.
Anyways. I’ve been teaching myself Georgian using a bootlegged peace corps manual. The title of this post is “very good.” I can now introduce myself, ask where the toilet is, and ask for cheese. (Q’veli minda?)