South Caucasian languages

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Approximate main distribution areas of the South Caucasian or Cartelian languages

The South Caucasian languages , also known as the Kartwelian languages or the Kartwels languages (Georgian ქართველური ენები kartveluri enebi ), are a family of languages that are part of the complex of Caucasian languages . The science that deals with the South Caucasian languages ​​is known as kartwelology . The terminology South Caucasian / Kartvelisch causes great disagreement among linguists as well as among speakers of the Lasic language . South Caucasian as a neutral scientific term for the language family is certainly more harmless.

The group consists of five individual languages :

  • The Georgian language is around 5 million speakers by far the largest single language group. It is the official language in Georgia and therefore the only South Caucasian language with official status. Smaller speaker groups can be found in Turkey , Iran , Armenia , Azerbaijan , Russia and Ukraine .
  • The Judeo-Georgian language (also Jewish Georgian, Georgian also obsolete Qivruli ) is often viewed as an independent language, but sometimes only as a dialect of Georgian. It is the language of the Georgian Jews and is characterized by numerous Aramaic and Hebrew loanwords. In Georgia today there are only less than 10,000 speakers. Most Georgian Jews emigrated to Israel in the decades after the fall of the Soviet Union ; Around 60,000 speakers still live there today, and other groups of emigrants moved to the USA , Russia and Western Europe .
  • The Lasic language is spoken by the Lasen people, who number around 250,000 and live in southwest Georgia and northeast Turkey on the Black Sea coast.
  • The Mingrelian language , with around 500,000 speakers of the second largest single language of the South Caucasian language branch. It is spoken by the Mingrelians in western Georgia ( Mingrelia ) .
Lasian and Mingrelian are more closely related to each other, so some also summarize them as dialects of the so-called Sanian or Colchian language , which is associated with the ancient kingdom of Colchis .
  • The Svanetian language is spoken by around 40,000 people in some mountain valleys in northern Georgia. It first split off from the common Kartvelian basic language .

Georgian and Judeo-Georgian are the only written languages ​​in the group. Georgian has been written in its own alphabet, the Mchedruli , since the 3rd century . The Hebrew alphabet is used for Judeo-Georgian . These two languages ​​are also the only two mutually understandable languages.

The Mingrelier , Lasen and Swanen in Georgia traditionally understand themselves to this day as part of the Georgians and use the Georgian language as a written language. The number of Lasen in Georgia is around 3,000. The majority of the Lasen live in Turkey (250,000), mostly consider themselves to be part of the Turkish nation and use the Latin alphabet.

A relationship between the Kartwelian language family and other languages ​​has not yet been proven (not even to other Caucasian languages ). However, some linguists suspect a relationship with a number of other language families (see Nostratisch ).


  • Rusudan Amerijibi-Mullen (Ed.): K'olxuri (megrul-lazuri) ena. Colchian (Megrelian-Laz) language . The International Center for Georgian Language. Universali, Tbilisi 2006.
  • Heinz Fähnrich , Zurab Sardshweladze: Etymological dictionary of the Kartwel languages . Handbook of Oriental Studies. Dept. I, Vol. 24. Brill, Leiden 1995. ISBN 90-04-10444-5 .
  • Heinz Fähnrich (Ed.): Kartwelsprachen . Reichert, Wiesbaden 2008. ISBN 3-89500-653-X .
  • Tamaz V. Gamqrelidze , Givi I. Mačavariani: Sonant system and ablaut in the Kartwelsprachen . Translated from the Georgian by Winfried Boeder. Narr, Tübingen 1982. ISBN 3-87808-360-2 .
  • Alice C. Harris (Ed.): The indigenous languages ​​of the Caucasus . Vol. 1: The Kartvelian languages . Caravan Books, Delmar NY 1991. ISBN 0-88206-068-6 .
  • Georgij A. Klimov: Etymological dictionary of the Kartvelian languages . Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin and New York 1998. ISBN 3-11-015658-X .
  • Aleksandr Rostowzew-Popiel: Historical typology of the Kartwelian dialects (PDF; 3.0 MB). In: Georgica . Aachen 2005, pp. 136–153. ISSN  0232-4490 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. On numerous grammatical and lexical similarities between Old Georgian and Sumerian cf. Heinz Fähnrich: Grammar of the old Georgian language. Hamburg 1994, p. 250 ff.