Swimming Against the Stream

Georgian Lessons Addendum #1: The Alphabet

7 Poster Confusion

This is what awaits you in Georgia.

One of the fascinating and unnerving things about visiting Georgia for the first time is trying to get a grasp of the alphabet, one of this old earth’s few distinct separate alphabets. There is a bit of Latin script and English in a few spots but generally one is confronted by a lot of hooks and squiggles that bear no relationship to anything else, as with the language itself. In this little addenda I thought I’d give you some of my observations of the signage around Tbilisi.

8 Alphabet Posters

What awaits the traveler trying to decide what to do.

10 Dance Poster

I thought this might be an announcement for a Georgian dance program. It was actually a call for Georgian dancers to join a new troupe.

12 Men's Clothing Sign

After a while I started to make a little sense of the signs. I’m guessing that this was tailor for men’s traditional clothes.

13 Boot Sign

Must be boots for the ladies.

14 Animal Art

Ah! NOT a pet store.

16 My Street!

And where I could read the language it still wasn’t that clear. This was the name of the street I stayed on. I never could pronounce it. That seven consonant car crash in the middle didn’t help. And it gets worse when you realize that the ‘gh’ is pronounced like ‘ch’ in chanukah or Bach with a hard ‘g’ sound and the ‘r’ is heavily rolled.  And the ‘v’ is more like a ‘w’.

17 Doktor

This is a sort of Rosetta Stone, with the English, Russian and Georgian… except that the Georgian isn’t pronounced anything like doctor.

18 Copious

Finally some real English! Uh, but why is this pharmacy ‘copious’?

20 Don't the Car Stop

Well the first English line might sense if you’re from Alabama or Mississippi and the brakes don’t work.

21 Second Hand

Second hand what?

22 Black Taste

Word up!    (This was actually an add for a local beer. But for a second I thought I was back in Harlem.)

23 Fresh Meet

I told you it’s the people you meat in Georgia.

24 Vet Cabinet Grooming

Okay I’m utterly confused now. Any thoughts on what this might mean?

But don’t let the Georgian alphabet deter you. The Georgian people more than make up for any confusion you will feel. I would go back in a heartbeat!

Byrne Power

Haines, Alaska


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