6.20.2006

Language

Before I went on this trip, I opened up my brown leather notebook and prepared myself. I was about to get on a plane for Istanbul Turkey with an amazing mechanism, devised to prevent us from encountering the darkest and most dangerous of lingual perils: simple conversational phrases in Turkish, Georgian, Russian, Bulgarian, and Romanian. These were simple phrases like "Hello" or "How are you" and most importantly "Where is the bathroom?"

Turkish didn't impress me so much. I got by by saying "I love you" in Turkish to random girls and cab drivers, so that wasn't so much of a marvel to me. Here in Ukraine, Russian isn't too difficult - I was a dork when I was 14 and memorized how to read the Cyrillic alphabet so my skills are mainly used at reading street signs and metro stops. My vocabulary of 27 words doesn't help much when people give blank stares when I constantly repeat the same phrase in russian: "Izvenitye, pajalusta, ya nye znayu gavarit' pa russki, gdye cafe?" (translation; excuse me, please, i dont know how to speak russian, but where is a cafe?)

But there is something so hilarious about encounters with the georgian langauge, of all languages, that I felt I should write a blog about it.

First let me say that I truly miss that country. I know I didn't write any blogs during my time there, probably because I was too busy having the time of my life with Budzgu (pardon Ryan Millikan's ignorant illiteracy... oh you know I'm just joshing my heterosexual life partner), NINI-POOH and company, but I wanted to give a little tutorial on the Georgian language.

As you know I fell in love with these Georgians in my experiences with Prague. I guess being a dork didn't escape me too much 8 years after attempting to learn Russian, so I went to the BC library and took out some books on the Georgian language. I got as far as memorizing how to read the alphabet, how to write it, and of course the quintessential component, how to say "I want to make love to a clown".

The language is arguably the most difficult in the world. It is a hybrid of Basque descendancy, with a twang of Arabic and what Millikan calls, "dude it sounds kinda Asian when the girls speak it". The alphabet and language is completely original, apparently arbitrarily devised by a king over a millenium ago. The symbols are meshed together in beautiful harmony - wavy and flowing in style. Okay that sounded really effeminate, but I guess I'm trying to say, in ebonics terminology, that "this shit lizzooks like da bizzomb!"

I can't really show you what it looks like, but I suggest going to www.wikipedia.org and looking at the entries for it. Trust me. Chase wrote the entry on it, so you'll have no problem.

The pronunciation itself is really difficult and daunting. It has pretty much every linquistic sound as english, so Georgians, with proper training, are able to pronounce everything we have, with the exception of "Th" as in "Seth".

Ok for no reason at all I will attempt to give a nonsensically, amateurish grammatical tutorial on this language:

G - for "G" they have two different sounds. One is a normal "G" as in "grape" and another like a "Gh" that kinda sounds like an "r" in French.
P - for "P" they have a normal "P" as in "Pinocchio" but another like "Ph" which is a bit softer and all Anglo words starting in "F" are automatically translated with the "Ph" symbol.
K - for K, there is three different types of sounds. One is "K" as in "Clandestine", another is a type of "K" sound you make with the back of your throat that is GLOTTALIZED, which is the equivalent to the second "c" in "carcus", where in english it is not pronounced, but instead in Georgian they make a crazy sound with their tongues on the sides of their mouths. And then the third, which is a "Q" sound with the back of their throat that sounds like a mix between a penguin swalling a Cue ball and the sound of chocking victims of Jean Claude Van Damme.
T- There is two letters for this... but I don't think you're paying attention anymore so I'm not going to bother explaining.

The most important aspect of the this language is the encounters of daily usage.
As mentioned before, "I want to make love to a clown" is "Minda Vizhimao Klontan". Note: Do not say this when inebriated on the Black Sea coast city of Batumi and you replace the word "Klontan" with "Police officer" when there is a Georgian cop ten feet in front of you. "Minda Vizhimao Klontan" is a perfect phrase, especially when it is the first and only thing you teach Ryan and Chase, and we say it so often it made Nini go out and make a custom-made T shirt that says the phrase in Georgian writing with a happy clown giving a peace sign. I was so tempted to wear it...

Another important line: "Ik ar Shemekho" Translation: Don't touch me there. We said this pretty much all the time, too, but actually made sense when a 8 year old begger attempted to pull my wallet and I yelled "IK AR SHEMEKHO" followed by the swift and decisive "Dakhvie" which means "F off". The kid got the message alright!

Another phrase is "Dagapsi" which is a dirty line meaning "He peed on me". This really had no relevance anywhere but I was amused seeing people's reactions when I would say it and hide behind someone else to make it look like they said it instead.

"Maimuni khar" means "you are a monkey". "Maimuni" can also be conveniently used in such previously mentioned phrases as "I want to make love to a monkey" or "Don't touch me there, monkey!"

Whenever you drink, in any toasting occasion, you say, "Sakartvelos Garmarjos". This means pretty much "Cheers to Georgia" which was great when I stood on a chair, holding an Ibex horn full of Georgian wine, with my arm wrapped through Budzgu's, and had a whole restaurant cheer along with me.

That pretty much wraps up the lesson.. there's a bunch of other things I learned but probably forgot. The language is one of the coolest, most challenging linguistic feats I've ever encountered. I took great honor in impressing Georgians with being able to write their names in Georgian... and of course that time I tried doing it to a table full of Georgian girls, that it made them so creeped out they asked for their check 5 minutes after ordering mint chocolate chip ice cream parfaits. Don't worry, they were delicious. The ice creams, I mean. We ate them because they were so afraid of us they left their frozen delectables untouched.

I'd like to thank you for listening to my rambles. Consider this Georgian tutorial a tribute to a culture of 4 million proud individuals that use that, it is safe to say, are the only 4 million people in the universe that are able to speak this language. On a serious note, my experiences in Georgia were some of the most poignant I'll ever have in my entire life, and all I have to thank are those special few (Budzgu, Nini, Tatia, Sophie) that truly fulfilled every meaning in the rumor I would hear time and time again that the famed and alleged "Georgian Hospitality" is the best in the entire world.

I already miss you guys.
SAKARTVELOS GARMARJOS

but most importantly

ik ar shemekho!

23 Comments:

Blogger FDSJ said...

mindha...wasn't that said on The-BC from the lips of Jim Unis? No need to respond, I know it did :-)Sounds like you are having a great time. Can't wait to see the movie.

4:27 PM  
Blogger mt.pearligan said...

Hey Guys - Interesting stuff. Hope all went well in Kiev with the apartment etc. You can follow Chris and I at www.montrealiscultural.blogspot.com. Best of luck! Steve

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Jarret said...

I saw this article online and it's more for Millikan than anybody else, probably. Though you'll all get a kick out of it: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/dolgin/21mummies.html

rock on. I want more pictures!

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys have probably all moved on with your clown-loving lives and forgotten all about Georgia, but please, spare a thought for little old me. I'm moving there in a week, for the third or possibly forth time in 3 years. No, I'm not a masachist, I am in fact married to a Georgian (surprisingly enough, his name is NOT Gio). I'm rambling. I really just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your blog, and also, you have achieved something popularly believed to be impossible- you have actually made me feel slightly less dead inside at the thought of existing in Georgia. Now, don't get me wrong, Geo is a great place to be a guest for a few weeks, but God almightly, it sucks to live there. I think I could sum up Georgia in two sentences: everything man-made is a pile of shit. Everything natural is beautiful, including the people. (I suppose people are man-made, or woman-made..)
Keep blogging, you're good at it.

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