There are at least 18 dialects of the language. Standard Georgian is largely based on the prestigeKartlian dialect. It has over centuries wiped out significant regional linguistic differences within Georgia, particularly through the centralized educational system and the mass media. Dialects still retain their unique features in terms of phonology, morphology, syntax, and vocabulary, but they are virtually entirely intelligible with each other. The three other Kartvelian languages—Mingrelian, Svan and Laz—are sisters to Georgian, but are only partially intelligible to speakers of Standard Georgian or other Georgian dialects.
Some of the basic variations among the Georgian dialects include:
The presence of glides [j] (ჲ) and [w] (ჳ) before certain vowels;
The presence of q (ჴ) and q' (ყ) sounds;
Distinction between long and short vowels;
Extra vowel sounds not found in Standard Georgian;
The Georgian dialects are classified according to their geographic distribution, reflecting a traditional ethnographic subdivision of the Georgian people. Beyond the Western and Eastern categories, some scholars have also suggested a Southern group. These can be further subdivided into five main dialect groups as proposed by Gigineishvili, Topuria, and K'avtaradze (1961):
Two of these dialects, Ingiloan and Fereidanian, are spoken outside Georgia, the former by the indigenous Georgians in northwest Azerbaijan, and the latter by the descendants of the 17th-19th century Georgian deportees and migrants in Iran.
Ingiloan (Ingilouri, ინგილოური) in Saingilo (Azerbaijan)
Fereydanian (Pereidnuli, ფერეიდნული) in Fereydan (Iran)
The obsolescent Kizlar-Mozdokian dialect, was spoken in the north central Caucasian areas of Kizlyar and Mozdok by descendants of those Georgians who fled the Ottoman occupation of Georgia in the early 18th century. It was technically a mixture of various Georgian dialects laden with Russian loanwords. Subsequently, the group was largely Russified and the dialect became extinct.
Judæo-Georgian is a language spoken by the Georgian Jews. Largely Georgian phonetically, morphologically, and syntactically, and mixed Georgian-Hebrew lexically, it is considered by some not to be a distinct language but rather a dialect of Georgian.