Hitherto we shall be the Kingdom of Sakartvelo!

This would be something I most likely would have wanted to hear as it would be more than logical. But, alas, it’s not to happen! One of Russia’s southern neighbors wants to “rename” itself so that the name of the country sounds the same in all languages: Georgia…

Georgia in English is obviously Georgia; however, in other languages the name of the country sounds a bit different. For example in Germany, it would sound like Georgien, in Chinese it would be Geluziya, and in Russian it would be Gruziya.

Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said yesterday at a briefing that the country is pushing for the English-pronounced name of her homeland regardless of the language it’s said in. That would be like telling us that we should no longer call Germany – Germany, but Deutschland, or Japan as Nippon regardless of the fact that we call it differently in our own language. So far only South Korea has met the request of the Georgians.

In their own “Georgian language,” the name of the country is called Sakartvelo, the people are called Kartvelebi, and their language – Kartuli. I see absolutely nothing “Georgian” in any of those!

Historically, it was Sir John Mandeville (born and raised in England!) who talked about “Georgia” in his chronicles written in Anglo-Norman French in the mid-1300s. He called them Georgians because they revered in St. George (the country adopted Christianity in the 4th century). Also of note is the national flag of the country, St. George’s Cross. Ok, so that’s the “English” (or Anglo-Norman French) point of view of where the name of the country came into being for us English-French speakers. But they’ve never called themselves Georgians! 

So why do the Georgians want to use an Anglo-Norman French bastardized version of their homeland when it’s called something totally different in their own language of Kartuli? Will changing their name to the English-sounding Georgia solve all their problems?

One would assume that the Georgians’ next request will be to rename the country’s capital from Tbilisi to Atlanta. No, stop there, that’s just too scary!

If they want to push for this Anglicized version of their name, why don’t they start by changing their alphabet into Latin letters? The name of the country in Kartuli is საქართველო. No, I couldn’t pronounce it either, let alone spell it (I confess, I copied and pasted it.).

Perhaps we should rename the Peach State to Sakartvelo (we’d have to change the song as well: “Sakartvelo on My Mind”). That name still seems to be up for grabs and would eliminate confusion when talking about Georgia.

Leave a comment