Tbiliso / Chemi Tbilisi

“Tbiliso” is my favorite Georgian song. It’s also known as “Chemi Tbilisi” or “Igvidzebs Chemi Tbilisi”, which means “My Tbilisi Wakes Up”. The music was written by Liliko Nemsadze and the words were written by Irina Sanikidze. Here’s Mariam Pavliashvili performing it on Geostar (ჯეოსტარი), the Georgian version of American Idol (sadly, she was kicked off in the second week of the show’s sixth season):

Continue reading


Azeri (Turkish)

Azeri is a language spoken in Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey, and Georgia. It is closely related to Turkish, and Turks and Azeris can generally understand each other without special accommodation. Indeed, there are dialects of Turkish spoken in eastern Anatolia that are closer to Azeri than they are to standard Istanbul Turkish. So it would not be amiss to say that Azeri is a dialect of Turkish. We might even go so far as to simply identify Azeri with Turkish. This is done in Iran, the northern part of which is home to more than half of the world’s Azeri speakers.

azeri iran

Iranian Azeris protesting for language rights (I think)

Continue reading

Georgia’s North Caucasian Territories, 1944-1957

Georgia used to possess two regions in the North Caucasus. The “used to” part is no surprise. There are quite a few territories that were once controlled by Georgia but no longer are. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are the obvious ones, but there is also Sochi (Russia), Lori (Armenia), Saingilo (Azerbaijan), and Tao and Klarjeti (Turkey). What’s remarkable about these North Caucasian territories is just how Georgia came into possession of them. The story, which involves considerable human misery, goes back to World War Two.

georgian ssr 1944-1957 north caucasus

Note the two large protrusions along Georgia’s top edge.

Continue reading

The Northeast Caucasian Language Family

The Northeast Caucasian language family is a family of languages spoken by four to five million people in ChechnyaIngushetiaDagestan, and northern Azerbaijan, as well as in a few villages in Georgia. It is also known as the Nakh-Dagestanian family after its two main branches (originally thought to be distinct families unto themselves).

northeast caucasian languages

Continue reading


Armenian (Armenian: hayerenհայերեն) is a language historically spoken throughout the South Caucasus and in the eastern part of what is now Turkey. Today, as a result of a century of war and genocide, the native range of Armenian has been restricted to the modern country of Armenia, the semi-country of Nagorno Karabakh, northern Iran, and the Javakheti region of Georgia (or Javakhk; see Notes on Terminology). Many (perhaps most) Armenian speakers are scattered abroad, mostly in Russia, the United States, and various Middle Eastern countries.

armenian distribution

Continue reading