The Tushetian Language and Dialect

2 May 2018

The Tushetian Language and Dialect

Throughout its existence the literary language was improving and developing through dialects in which the Georgian language is rich. Dialects have a paramount importance for the growth of any language. Tushetian is one of the most remarkable among those dialects which are complete with both old and new lexical forms and linguistic occurancies. It is the dialect of the eastern language and it is spoken by the inhabitants of Tusheti.

There is almost no difference between the Tsova and the Chaghma Tushetians in terms of ethnography, cultural and everyday traditions. The difference between them is that of linguistic.  The Chaghma Tushetians speak the Tushetian dialect of Georgian, while the Tsova Tushetians are bilingual. The language which they use with one another is Tsova-Tushetian or Bats which belongs to the Nakh languages (also called the Nakho-Dagestanian) of the Caucasian languages. Outside their living area the Tsova-Tushetians speak Georgian. 

The Tushetian language (the Bats) must have been spread outside the Tsova Tushi population as well including the whole Tusheti area. The local toponymy and certain linguistic units of the Tushetian dialect prove this supposition.

Furthermore,  there are documental sources confirming the bilingualism of the Tsova-Tushetians well until almost the 20th century.

Evidently, under the influence of the Pkhovi population migration from Pshav-Khevsureti the Tushetian language gradually lost its original significance and it waslittle by little substituted by Pkhovi dialect’s Tushetian version. It must have occurred earliest in Gometsari and then must have steadily spread in Sachaghmo-Chanchaxovani and then in the Pirikiti.

It appears that the Tushetian language was more preserved in Tsova community as it was comparatively more isolated.

It is deplorable that a considerable percentage of even Tvova-Tushetians do not know The Tushetian language. Besides, the Tushetian dialect is losing its originality and it becomes more more and more adulterated with the literary Georgian language. You can see the information at…

The Tushetian dialect is the most ancient and it preserves several quasi-vowels (no longer occurring in Georgian) best of all. Also, it is stressed dialect, the vowels are stressed. The word-stock characteristic of the old Georgian language is discernible in the Tushetian dialect. Although, it is being influenced by the Kakhetian dialect. Through general language units Tushetian lexis makes connections with both Georgian and neighbouring Caucasian peoples’ languages. Thus, it throws certain light upon the spread of the Kartvelian, namely the Georgian language distribution in the mountainous Caucasus.

It is noteworthy to mention that the Tvova-Tush language was the first of the Caucasian languages  on which we have scientific studies as early as 1854. It is Short Description of the Tush Language focusing mainly on its grammar. Another study came out in 1856 titled  Essay on the Tush Language or about the Kisti language in Tusheti.  Anton Shifner is the author of both studies. Although the language has always been the object of different explorations there are still many issues to be studied and classified like in any language which has not alphabet of its own. For instance, terminology is one of such issues; terms like Tushi, Tsova, Batsbi still need to be further defined both in terms of their original etymology and their present meaning.