The South Caucasian or Kartvelian language family comprises four languages: Georgian, Laz, Mingrelian and Svan. The so called Judeo-Georgian is best regarded as a dialect of Georgian with Hebrew loan words. Laz and Mingrelian form a subgroup within South Caucasian. Some scholars even regard them as dialects of one language, called Zan, even though they are not mutually intelligible.
The South Caucasian languages are spoken by about 4.500.000 people. The majority of the speakers live in Georgia and Turkey.
Only Georgian is a written language. It is attested since the 5th century and has a rich literary tradition.
There have been several attempts to link the Kartvelian languages to other language families, for example with Basque or with Hurrian and Urartian of the ancient Near East and the ancient Caucasus, respectively.
The South Caucasian languages have on an average about 30 consonant phonemes, but only 5-7 vowel phonemes.
Laz and Mingrelian are clear-cut agglutinative languages, whereas Georgian and Svan have both agglutinative and fusional features.
According to shared morphosyntactic and semantic features verbs are generally divided into four classes: 'transitive', 'intransitive', 'medial', and 'inversion' verbs. 'Medial verbs' take the same case marking as transitive verbs. Since they denote intransitive actions they commonly do not take a direct object (at least there is no obligatory direct object) 'Inversion verbs', which are generally affective verbs, have a logical subject in the dative case and the direct object is marked by the nominative. There are three tense-aspect series/stems: present, aorist and perfect.