Georgian and its kindred languages are a great delight for language enthusiasts. They may be a nightmare for everyone else. Georgian is a Caucasian language that is unrelated to any other languages spoken outside of Georgia, and it is known for its consonants. Not only are there a lot, but many, if not most, words begin with at least two letters, and it’s conceivable to tie together as many as eight, as in gvprtskvni (), metaphorical meaning “you’re ripping us off.” Georgian is a difficult language to learn due to its strong consonant clusters and unique alphabet.
Everyone who comes should try to learn a few Georgian or Russian words. Older generations, non-Georgian citizens such as Azeris, Armenians, Abkhazians, Ossetians, and others who are not fluent in Georgian (because Russian was compulsory during the Soviet period, whereas the local languages of each Soviet state were not) and thus use Russian as a lingua franca, and members of the elite (who are likely to speak more English than Russian). Speaking Russian is helpful and encouraged in places with ethnic minorities, particularly in Kvemo Kartli, where ethnic Azeris constitute 50% of the population, and Samtskhe-Javakheti, where ethnic Armenians constitute 50% of the population.
Because of Russia’s antagonism, the younger generation increasingly chooses to learn English. Access to high-quality English teaching was limited in the province, but many schools recently recruited native English-speaking instructors, and English is quickly becoming a second language throughout the country. When you need assistance, seek for younger individuals who are more likely to speak English.
Finally, with the exception of the Tbilisi metro and a few shops, signage in Georgia are seldom bilingual; nevertheless, most road signs are written in both the Georgian and Latin alphabets. Understanding road signs, store/restaurant names, and bus stops requires a basic understanding of the Georgian alphabet. Those who do not speak Georgian should bring a phrasebook or go with a guide.