Does anybody know any minimal pairs for /p'/ and /p/, /t'/ and /t/ or /k'/ and /k/ in Georgian (or any other indigenous caucasian language)?

I'm writing a seminar paper about ejectives in caucasian languages and would like to prove their phoneme-status with one or two nice (simple) minimal pairs.

  • Annoyingly, the symbol ' is used two different ways in different Georgian transcriptions. It can either mark aspirated stops or ejective stops. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 4:23
  • @hippietrail I don't think that's true. I have never seen an aspirated stop transcribed with ' . Where have you found this?
    – Max
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 18:49
  • 1
    Look no further than the English Wiktionary for starters. They use such a symbol for ejectives in IPA but for aspiration in transliterations: კარი (kari) vs ქარი (k’ari). And it's apparently based on an ISO standard, 9984. Wikipedia suggests that the apostrophe-for-aspiration system is also in use in the BGN/PCGN and ALA-LC transliteration schemes. Apostrophe-for-ejective is used in IPA and the 2002 national system. Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


Here you go. Note also, that all these six words differ only in the first consonant, so they can be used to form a minimal pair for any two of the six consonants you are interested in. The language is Georgian.

ფარი - /pari/ - shield

პარი - /p'ari/ - parry (a fencing term)

თარი - /tari/ - tar (a long-necked, waisted lute)

ტარი - /t'ari/ - handle

ქარი - /kari/ - wind

კარი - /k'ari/ - door

  • 1
    The third pair is the best because both are extremely common words. Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 4:24
  • Can you add pairs for the rest of the ejective/aspired pairs? , c' ch' x/q' (almost)
    – oyd11
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 18:07

Since you are asking about languages of the Caucasus in general you might also want to know that Ossetic has five ejective stops (written пъ, тъ, къ, цъ, чъ), but they are marginal, occur only in loan words or words of unknown etymology, and do not constitute minimal pairs with п, т, к, ц, ч.

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