The Georgians have exceptionally strong traditions of hospitality, chivalry, and codes of personal honour. They believe that guests come from God. Friendship is prized highest among all the virtues. It is celebrated in Shota Rustaveli’s 12th century national epic, The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin (“ვეფხისტყაოსანი” or “Vepkhistqaosani“), in which a person’s worth is judged by the depth of his friendships. The Georgians are proud, passionate, and fiercely individualistic, yet deeply connected with each other by a shared sense of belonging to a greater Georgian family. Women are highly esteemed in society and are accorded a chivalric respect. The statue of Mother of Georgia (kartlis deda) that stands in the hills above Tbilisi perhaps best symbolizes the national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine with which she greets her friends and in her right is a sword drawn against her enemies.


For language fans, Georgian and its related languages are a real treat. For everyone else, they could be a nightmare. Georgian is a Caucasian language which is not in any way related to any languages spoken outside of Georgia, and it’s famous for its consonants. Not only are there quite a slew, but many, possibly even most, words start off with at least two and it’s possible to string together as many as eight, as in gvprtskvni (გვფრცქვნი), the admittedly rather theoretical lament “you peel us”. This combination of formidable consonant clusters and an original alphabet make Georgian a hard language to acquire.

While everyone who visits should attempt to learn at least a few Georgian words, it is possible to get by in most areas with Russian. People most likely to understand Russian include: older generations, non-Georgian citizens (Russians, Armenians, Ossetes, Azeris, etc.), members of the elite (who likely also speak English), and taxi drivers. In rural areas, however, it is often more difficult to find Russian speakers (look for the oldest person around!).

The younger generation, largely due to hostility towards Russia, now prefers to study English, but because access to good quality English instruction in province is so low, it is difficult to travel using only English even in the capital. When in Tbilisi and in need for help, look for younger people; they are more likely to know some English.

(source: Wikitravel)




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