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I know little about language, so I would like to preface that this question may appear disjointed. I have been listening to some wonderful Georgian folk music and have been trying to relate it to any other language that I have heard, but it sounds so unique. I almost thought it sounded a little like Turkish. I found that it belongs to the Kartvelian language group which evolved from proto-kartvelian.

Can someone tell me where Proto-Kartvelian evolved from? I have looked up multiple images of the language tree and have not found it on any of them (I've looked at probably a dozen).

Where does this language fit in? It's not a subfamily or Indo-Iranian or Anatolian.

It's clearly not germanic, Italic, or Slavic (though I do hear some similarities to Slavic).

Any answers?

2 Answers 2

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Kartvelian is not part of Indo-European, and in fact is not known to be related to any other language family. Some linguists have connected it with IE as part of a proposed larger family called Nostratic, but this is not widely accepted.

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  • Thank you. It seems odd considering how close it is to the Ponitc-steppes. I appreciate your answer. Dec 24, 2021 at 0:14
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    @tab_philomath Unrelated languages can live side by side with no problems. Just think of Basque (an isolate) surrounded by Romance languages, Hungarian (Uralic) surrounded by Slavic/Germanic/Romance languages, and indeed the area around Georgia where you’ve got Slavic and Armenian (Indo-European), Kartvelian (isolate) and Turkish and Azeri (Turkic, perhaps Altaic) all rubbing up against each other. Dec 24, 2021 at 10:24
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    "Caucasian" languages occur in mountainous terrain. As in biological evolution, geography causes separations, which cause variations. Taken to extremes, you get Highland New Guinea, settled 40,000 years ago, with dozens of unrelated modern language families.
    – jlawler
    Dec 24, 2021 at 14:53
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    A bit more recent than Nostratic is Starostins Dene-Caucasian proposal connecting Kartvelian with Yennesseian, Na-Dene, Burushaski and other languages. Again, this is not widely accepted. Dec 24, 2021 at 19:17
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    @jlawler A big part of the variety in PNG is due to swamps, rather than mountains. Sago swamps are very difficult and dangerous to traverse (and pretty terrible places to live) and the areas with the greatest linguistic diversity (eg Sandaun province) have many swamps, whereas the mountainous areas (by and large) are occupied by members of the Trans-New Guinea family. Dec 25, 2021 at 8:43
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Kartvelian is not only not demonstrably related (note: this is absence of evidence, not evidence of absence) to Indogermanic, but also on the same level unrelated to other Kaukasian language families such as North-East Kaukasian languages (including Chechen, Awarian, and Lezgian) or the North-West Kaukasian languages (including Abkhasian and Cherkessian). There are also no established links to dead languages known from antiquity such as Hurrian and Urartian, Hattic, Sumerian or Elamic. More far-stretched relationships (such as a relationship to Basque) are also ruled out.

So for all practical purposes, the Kartvelian languages (including a few smaller languages like Swan, Mingrelian, and Laz besides Georgian) form a small language family isolated from all other languages of the world.

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