Mingrelian is a South Caucasian language that is spoken in north west Georgia and in Abkhazia. It is closely related to the Laz language even though the 2 languages are not mutually intelligible. Mingrelian is distantly related to Georgian and the Svan languages. Some linguists claim that Mingrelian is the same language as Laz. Mingrelian is mainly a community language used at home among family members and in informal situations. It is has no official status. Most Mingrelian speakers are bilingual. In formal situations the Georgian language is used. Most Mingrelians who come from Abkhazia have been educated in Russian schools so they use Russian as their literary language. The Mingrelian language has 2 main dialects. These are the Senaki dialect and the Zugdidi-Samurzakano dialect. Approximately 450,000 people speak the language. Alternate names for Mingrelian are Megrel, Margaluri and Megruli. It was also called Iverian in the 20th century.
UNESCO has classified the Mingrelian language as being definitely endangered. In some districts it has been classified as being vulnerable or severely endangered. The transmission of the language from the older generation to the younger generation is on the decline. This means that a lot of young people cannot speak the language fluently, most of them speak Georgian. The number of Mingrelian speakers has been decreasing in favor of Georgian, which is the official language. Mingrelian has been a regional language for thousands of years. Most of the Mingrelian speakers in Abkahazia were displaced due to the civil unrest that was going on in the country and they moved to Georgia.
The Georgian alphabet is used to write Mingrelian though there is no standard written form. Mingrelian language texts that date back to the 19th century have been found. A phonetic analysis of the Mingrelian language was written in 1880 by Aleksandre Tsagarelli. There were also grammar books published in 1914 by Ioseb Kipshidze and Shalva Beridze in 1920. A number of Mingrelian newspapers were published between 1930 and 1938. Since then, a number of Mingrelian literary works have been published, including Mingrelian dictionaries and poetic works.