The Georgian alphabet is one of only 14 existing alphabets in the world and was recently granted the national status of cultural heritage.
Georgian script itself was created in the 3rd century BC by Georgian King Parnavaz. According to archeological data, the creation of Georgian alphabet dates back to the 4th and 5th centuries. There are three historical forms in the Georgian alphabet: asomtavruli (capitals), nuskhuri (small letters) and mkhedruli. Each script has its own individual graphical style.
Georgians currently use the mkhedruli script, as it corresponds closely to the phonemes of the Georgian language style. This manuscript is distinctive and unusual to a stranger’s eye. The Georgian manuscript is regarded as one of the most beautiful along with the Birman, Tagalog and Javanese scripts. The mkhedruli alphabet dates back to the 11th century and, as some linguists say, the Arabian manuscript style and calligraphy had a deep influence on mkhedruli script formation. Its lettering is not complicated with an outline on verticals and rounded contours.
The Georgian alphabet has 33 letters – 5 vowels and 28 consonants. There are no capital or small letters in the modern alphabet and the letters in the Georgian alphabet follow a similar order to the Greek alphabet – the first 25 letters have the same order but the second part consists of those Georgian characteristic letters which do not exist in the Greek alphabet.
Based on long-term studies, British linguists consider that the first common language for humanity originates from the Caucasus. British scientist Mark Pagel had quite an impact when he asserted that the first language of humanity appeared on the territory of Georgia. Pagel also sees traces of an ancient language in Georgian. There are other theories as well, and some scientists connect traces of Georgian language with Egyptian civilization.
- The first Georgian published book “Georgian Alphabet with prayers” was published in 1629 in Rome. The book consists of the Georgian mkhedruli script, prayers, the Ten Commandments and the hymn of Virgin Mary – in the Georgian language with Latin transcriptions.
- The first publishing-house in Tbilisi was established by King Vakhtang VI in 1708-1709, consequently becoming known as Vakhtang’s Publishing-house. The first book issued here was the “Gospel”. The publishing-house had several prints: Georgian, khutsuri, mkhedruli, Greek and Lathin.
- Georgian script is unified in computer systems according to Unicode standard, where asomtavruli, nuskhuri, and mkhedruli are recognized as independent manuscripts. The most common Georgian computer font is Sylfaen.