The Names of Georgia, Part 2

That’s right, I’ve written another post on the TLG blog called “The Names of Georgia.” But it’s not the same thing. This time it’s about Georgian first names. Get it? The names “of Georgia”? Here’s an except:

Doesn’t Vakhtang sound like a funny name for a little boy? It seems me – and several Georgians have agreed with me here – that native Georgian names, like Vakhtang, Gvantsa, Nugzar, and Emzar, tend to sound like names for old people. The situation is exactly the same in English: Greek and Hebrew names like Katherine and John sound young, but native English names like Alfred, Edith, Edmund, and Mildred sound very, very old.

Fascinating stuff, right? I bet that really makes you want to read the whole thing.

For readers who don’t know, my full first name is Nicholas, and I mostly go by the shortened form Nick. That English name, with its short i sound, is extremely difficult to say for many people around the world. This includes Georgians, who are unable to say or even hear the short i. They always say it with a long e, so that it rhymes with “peek.” I find this intolerable, and so here I go by Niko. This name, I have discovered, is almost always identified with the painter Niko Pirosmani.

niko pirosmani

He is also known as Pirosmanashvili. I have no idea why.

Sometimes I am called Nika, the more common Georgian version of Nick, or Nikala, a diminutive form. Both of these sound to me like girl names, but whatever.


Some people, instead of calling by my preferred Niko, call me a name that sounds like Neekee, which comes from mispronouncing my English name in the Georgian manner and then adding to the result the Georgian nominative case ending. This Georgianization process is stupid because there is already a Georgian form of my name.


3 thoughts on “The Names of Georgia, Part 2

  1. Hi. Good read. To reply to your comment about the alternative spelling of the last name of the painter Niko Pirosmani – his actual last name at birth was Pirosmanashvili (but not Pirosmanishvili); the name Pirosmani was adopted from Pirnosmanashvili later on and that is still how he is known to most people.

    There’s a high likelihood that you’ve already come across this information though, I realize.

  2. Pingback: Sergei Parajanov | georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever

  3. Pingback: Dannon: “In Soviet Georgia…” | georgiasomethingyouknowwhatever

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s