Georgian is a very diverse language. Full of descriptive words, as well as plenty of synonyms and antonyms, it is a great language to help you express yourself in an interesting way.
Today I’m going to introduce you to greetings and goodbyes in Georgian. As I mentioned earlier, Georgian has a lot of synonyms in its vocabulary, so there are quite a few different ways to greet people - even if they all have the same meaning. If you’re starting from scratch with the Georgian language, then this article will be very helpful for you to start with the basics.
“Hello” is always the first word we learn in a new language. Georgian has several ways to say this depending on who it is you are greeting.
Below are the main greetings which are most used in speaking:
- გამარჯობა(თ) [gamarjoba(t)]
- სალამი [salami]
- მოგესალმებით [mogesalmebit]
The first variation გამარჯობა(თ), is the most common and heard throughout the day. This comes from the word გამარჯვება, which means “victory”. If you meet your friends or someone of a similar age to you, გამარჯობა is the best option to use.
If you are greeting someone much older than you, you may use the same word but you’ll need to add თ to the ending (so the full greeting will be: გამარჯობათ). This creates a polite version of the greeting, making it the best option for someone you would like to address with a little bit more respect.
A less common way of saying hello is სალამი. The origin of the word comes from Arabic. Although it isn’t used as widely as გამარჯობა(თ), you can still hear it being said on the streets of Georgia.
The last way to say hello is მოგესალმებით, which is mostly used when you are addressing a large audience. So the next time you find yourself on a stage in Georgia, make sure you remember this phrase!
Other than “hello” we can also greet people by saying: good morning, good afternoon... and so on. Let’s take a look at a few of these:
- დილა მშვიდობის(ა) [dila mshvidobis(a)] - Good Morning
- საღამო მშვიდობის(ა) [saghamo mshvidobis(a)] - Good Evening
- ღამე მშვიდობის(ა) / ძილი ნებისა [ghame mshvidobis(a) / dzili nebisa] - Goodnight
- შუადღე მშვიდობის(ა) [shuadghe mshvidobis(a)] - Good Afternoon
By looking at even one of these greetings more closely, you can already see the Georgian history coming through. დილა მშვიდობისა translates to “good morning” in English, but the literal meaning in Georgian is different. It means “morning of peace”, where “morning” is დილა and მშვიდობის is “of peace”.
The ‘morning of peace’ spawned from Georgia’s long history of past wars. As Georgia is a small country, it can be especially hard to protect ourselves. After a lot of difficult times, it was very important for people to have a peaceful life. So they used to wish each other a peaceful morning, afternoon, evening or night, instead of wishing them a good morning.
- სასიამოვნო დღეს გისურვებ (თ) - Have a nice day
Literally this sentence means: wish you a nice day. In Georgian, it is very common to use the words such as “wish” or “congratulate”. See below in the following examples:
- დაბადების დღეს გილოცავ - Happy birthday
- ახალ წელს გილოცავ - Happy New Year
- სასიამოვნო მგზავრობას გისურვებ - Have a nice journey
- წარმატებებს გისურვებ / წარმატებები - Good luck
Maybe you are curious about the cultural norms to greet someone in Georgia. Do you kiss cheeks or shake hands?
In Georgia, when meeting someone for the first time, you should shake hands while saying “gamarjoba”. When greeting a woman, it is polite to wait for her to extend her hand. Once your friendship with Georgians deepens, it is very common to greet another person with a kiss on the cheek, a hug, or even both.
When addressing people, only friends and family use each other’s first names. First names may also be used with the word ბატონო [bat’ono] (sir) or ქალბატონო [kalbat’omo] (madam) immediately afterwards, which brings a sense of formality.
Georgia is a hierarchical society: age, position, and power usually warrants respect. If you meet elderly Georgians, try to use more formal and polite terms compared to speaking with your friends. The more respect you show to Georgian, the more respect you get from them. Elders are generally held in high esteem and are always introduced first when meeting a group of people.
Now you are prepared to greet Georgians in our native tongue. A lot of Georgians are very warm and hospitable to guests. Expect to be invited to family dinners! The Supra is a large dinner party that involves many toasts. The toastmaster of the dinner is called “Tamada”, who selects people to make long toasts, and for one special toast, a horn full of wine will be passed around the table.
I hope you enjoy meeting your new friends!
Hero image by Havilah Galaxy on Unsplash