Megrelian language

From Academic Kids

The Megrelian language (Megruli ena in Georgian, Margaluri nina in Megrelian), sometimes called Mingrelian, is a language spoken in northwest Georgia.

Megrelian is estimated to have about 300,000-500,000 native speakers, mostly in the Samegrelo (Mingrelia) region of Georgia. This region comprises the Odishi Hills and the Kolkheti lowlands, from the Black Sea coast to the Svan Mountains and the Tskhenistskali River. Smaller enclaves exist in the autonomous Georgian republic of Abkhazia. Megrelian speakers are a subgroup of the Georgian people. Their geographical distribution is relatively compact, which has helped to promote the transmission of the language between generations.

Megrelian has no written standard or official status and is used mainly for familiar and informal conversation. Megrelian speakers are bilingual and use Georgian for literary and other purposes.

Language history

Megrelian is one of the South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages. It is closely related to Laz, from which it has differentiated mostly in the last 500 years, after the two communities became separated by religious and political differences. It is somewhat less closely related to Georgian, from which it separated in the first millennium BC or earlier. Megrelian differs from Georgian to approximately the same degree that German does from English: there are many obvious cognates, but the languages are not mutually intelligible.

Megrelian has been written with the Georgian alphabet; the oldest surviving texts are mainly ethnographical literature.

Dialects

The main dialects and sub-dialects of Megrelian are:

  • Zugdidi-Samurzakano or Northwest dialect
    • Dzhvari
  • Senaki or Southeast dialect
    • Martvili-Bandza
    • Abasha
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