Lithuania Gets a New Name in Georgian

The Georgian-language name for the country of Lithuania has officially been changed from Litva to Lietuva. The first name comes from the Russian version of Lithuania, and the second better reflects the pronunciation of the country’s name in its own language. The change comes after the Lithuanian State Language Commission adopted the name Sakartvelo for Georgia, alongside the Russian-origin name Gruzija, on April 5.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia says that the recommendation to establish a more natural name for Lithuania was issued by the State Language Department in accordance with a decision made by the Commission of Experts on May 11. The Ministry released a statement saying that "Both decisions are extremely symbolic, since this year Lithuania celebrates the 100th anniversary of restoration of its statehood, while Georgia marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the first democratic republic.”

In April, the Embassy of Georgia in Lithuania said that they “welcome this step of the Republic of Lithuania, which is especially symbolic on the background of the close and friendly cooperation between Georgia and Lithuania... It will be a unique gesture from the Republic of Lithuania, dedicated to the restoration of independence of Georgia and the first anniversary of the founding of the first democratic republic, celebrated on May 26, 2018.” Lithuania is the first country in the world to refer to Georgia by the native name Sakartvelo. Most countries in the world refer to Georgia with a variation of the Russian name Gruzija.

While there are several theories on how Georgia’s various names originated, the Western and Russian names are both likely derived from the Persian designation of the Georgians, gurğān, from Old Persian varkâna "land of the wolves.” The Old Persian name likely inspired the Armenian Vrastan. In other Kartvelian languages, such as Mingrelian, Georgia is referred as საქორთუო (Sakortuo), in Laz it's ოქორთურა (Okortura), while the Svan language uses the same name as Georgian – Sakartvelo. This same root is also adopted in Abkhaz and Georgia is referred as Қырҭтәыла (Kyrţtwyla). According to the 1995 constitution, the country’s official name is საქართველო (Sakartvelo), with "Georgia" as its English equivalent.

Georgia’s decision comes just two days before Georgia’s Independence Day celebrations on May 26.


By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Interpress

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25 May 2018 08:32