From the World Briefing in today’s NY Times:

GEORGIA: DEVICE EXPLODES IN CAPITAL An explosive device went off in Tbilisi, the capital, news agencies reported, near a monument for soldiers who died in the 1990’s conflict with the separatist region of Abkhazia, over which tensions continue to run high. No one was injured. The Security Ministry said that a letter addressed to President Mikhail Saakashvili was found but that its contents were not yet known because it was composed in ancient Georgian.     Sophia Kishkovsky (NYT)


  1. Interesting. I met someone from Georgia a while ago who spoke ancient Arabic with her American husband because they met in that type of language course when they were studying in the Middle East.

  2. Supposedly, two of the professors at my college had met when one had small English and the other less Deutsch, and the courtship was conducted in Ancient Greek.

  3. Contemporary Bible: Harry Potter in ancient Greek

  4. I found this post via Random Link and decided to see if there had been any follow-up on the story (was the letter ever deciphered?); I found a Russian news piece about it… but there was no mention of any letter in ancient Georgian. Now I’m wondering if that was some misunderstanding or pranking on the part of someone involved in transmitting the story to the NYT.

    [It did mention the old Georgian — I somehow skipped right over it!]

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    The concept of Philological Bombing is interesting.

    Have peaceful methods failed to deter unprincipled long-rangers to the point where the armed struggle is our only remaining option?

    Again, is it the only language Chomskyites can be made to understand? I mean, people talk about the “Language Wars”, but what will mere talk achieve at the end of the day?

    Aux armes, Philologues!

    [Partly inspired by

  6. Stu Clayton says

    Supposedly, two of the professors at my college had met when one had small English and the other less Deutsch, and the courtship was conducted in Ancient Greek.

    The otherwise IMO-squishy film Three Thousand Years of Longing (with Tilda Swinton) starts out with her talking with a djinn in Homeric Greek, until he has quickly learned English. She’s a narratologist, so that explains that.

  7. Well, I’ll watch Tilda Swinton in almost anything (and the djinn is Idris Elba!), so I’ll have to keep an eye peeled for it. I’m just sorry there’s no ancient Georgian.

  8. From the Wikipedia article:

    The film premiered out of competition at the 75th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2022, where it received a six-minute standing ovation. An activist protesting sexual violence perpetrated by Russian soldiers in Ukraine appeared at the premiere and stripped nude while screaming before being removed by Cannes security.

  9. PlasticPaddy says

    I sent a message to Ms. Kishkovsky via LinkedIn. Since she no doubt is eager to go back 20 years and obtain more details about an obscure event, which (I hope) she covered from the comparative safety of Moscow, in order to satisfy the idle curiosity of a “random”, I expect a prompt and detailed response.
    Following received via LinkedIn:

    Hi [MY NAME] Thank you for recalling such a long ago story! Let me dig around just a little bit and see if I can post something of some substance early next week. I’m tied up with a couple of deadlines at the moment 🙂

  10. Wow! It never would have occurred to me to contact her; thanks very much, and do keep us posted!

  11. Hmm. Russian article that languagehat references states quite clearly that there was a note, but not in Old Georgian, but in Middle Georgian.

  12. Good lord, you’re right — I obviously read too quickly and skimmed right over that bit.

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