Albanian language

From Academic Kids

Albanian or Gjuha shqipe is a language spoken by more than six million inhabitants of the western Balkan peninsula (Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Greece) in south-eastern Europe (Albanians) and in numerous villages in Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, southern Italy and on the island of Sicily.

Albanian (Gjuha shqipe)
Spoken in: Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and other countries
Region: Eastern Europe
Total speakers: 6,169,000 (Ethnologue, 2000)
Ranking: Not in top 100
Genetic classification: Indo-European


Official status
Official language of: Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia
Regulated by: -
Language codes
ISO 639-1sq
ISO 639-2sqi
See also: LanguageList of languages


The oldest known Albanian printed book, Meshari [1] ( or missal, was written by Gjon Buzuku, a Catholic cleric, in 1555. The first Albanian school is believed to have been opened by Franciscans in 1638 in Pdhan.


Albanian was proved to be an Indo-European language in the 1850s. The Albanian language is on its own branch of the Indo-European language family. Some suggest that Albanian may be the survival of an Illyrian language once spoken in the southwestern Balkans. Others suggest Albanian may be related more to the ancient Dacian language once spoken in Moesia and Dacia. It is unclear whether Dacian and Illyrian were on different branches of the Indo-European family, but most scholars consider that they were.

Four distinct languages spoken today share a common Thraco-Illyrian origin. They are divided into two groups according to the Ethnologue classification, Gheg and Tosk:


Some eminent scholars in the field of Albanian language have been Johann Georg von Hahn, Franz Bopp, Gustav Meyer, Norbert Jokl, Eqrem abej, Stuart Edward Mann, Carlo Tagliavini, Wacław Cimochowski, Eric Pratt Hamp, Agnija Desnickaja and Gjovalin Shkurtaj who is probably the most distinguished socio-linguist in Albania today. He is the head of the Department of Linguistics at Tirana University.

Geographic distribution


There are two principal dialects of limited mutual intelligibility: Tosk and Gheg. The geographical border of the two dialects has traditionally been the Shkumbini River in Albania, with Gheg being spoken north of the river, and Tosk south of the river. The two dialects have phonological as well as lexicological differences.

Languages sharing a common origin with Tosk are spoken by the Arbresh of Italy and among the Arvanites of Greece. Tosk is the dialect spoken by most members of the large Albanian immigrant communities that have recently arrived in these two countries, and in smaller Albanian communities in Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, and United States.

Gheg (or Geg) is spoken in northern Albania and by the Albanians of Serbia and Montenegro (Southern Montenegro and Southern Serbia), the UN protectorate of Kosovo, as well as those of the Republic of Macedonia.

Since after World War II there have been efforts to standardize on one dialect called Standard or Literary Albanian that borrows most heavily from the Tosk dialect (at the behest of the Dictator Enver Hoxha, himself a Tosk speaker). Two books that were published in the 1970s, Drejtshkrimi i gjuhs shqipe and Fjalori drejtshkrimor i gjuhs shqipe, contained prescribed orthographical rules and dictionary definitions respectively.

Official status

Albanian, in the Tosk dialect, is the official language of Albania. Albanian is also one of the official languages of Kosovo, and of the Republic of Macedonia.


Albanian has seven vowels: and 29 phonemic consonants.


Albanian vowels
Phoneme Written as... Pronunciation as in...
i English bead
e English let
a Spanish la
English alone (schwa)
o English four
y French du
u English doom


The following is a table of the Albanian phonemic consonants. Orthography and pronunciation are shown later.

Albanian consonants
DentalLabialAlveolarPostalv. Palatal Velar Glottal

Albanian consonants (writing and pronunciation)
Phoneme Written as... Pronunciation as in...
p English pen
b English bat
t English tan
d English debt
q similar to English hot year
gj similar to English did you
k English car
g English go
c similar to English hats, Japanese tsuki
x similar to English goods
(1) English chat
xh English jet
th English thin
dh English this
f English far
v English van
s English son
z English zip
sh English show
zh English vision, French jour
h English hat
m English man
n English none
nj similar to English canyon, Spanish
l English law
j English yes, German j
ll English mill ("dark L")
rr Spanish rosa, hierro (trilled)
r Spanish aro, Japanese hara (flapped)


  • The affricates are pronounced as one sound (a stop and a fricative at the same point).
  • The palatal stops q and gj are completely unknown to English, so the pronunciation guide is approximate. Among major languages, palatal stops can be found, for example, in Hungarian (where these sounds are spelt ty and gy respectively) or in Czech (respectively t' and d').
  • The palatal nasal nj corresponds to the sound of the Spanish or the French or Italian digraph gn (as in gnocchi). It is pronounced as one sound, not a nasal plus a glide.
  • The ll sound is a velarized lateral, close to English "dark L".
  • The contrast between flapped r and trilled rr is the same as in Spanish. English does not have any of the two sounds phonemically (but tt in butter is pronounced as a flap r in most American dialects).
  • (1) The letter can be spelt ch on American English keyboards, both due to its English sound, but more importantly, due to analogy with Albanian xh, sh, zh. (Usually, however, it's spelt simply c, which may cause confusion; however, meanings are usually understood).


Albanian split from the Proto-Indo-European language about 4000 years ago and most of the basic words are derived directly from it. Some of these words have cognates in Romanian and there is a theory that the language spoken by the Dacians before the Romanization was a language related to proto-Albanian.

It is not certain whether ancient Greek influenced the early Albanian language. With the expansion of the Roman Empire, Latin, more specifically, the Balkan Latin (which was the ancestor of Romanian), would exert a great influence on Albanian. Examples of words borrowed from Latin: qytet < civitas (city), qiell < caelum (sky), mik < amicus (friend).

After the Slavs arrived in the Balkans, another source of Albanian vocabulary were the Slavic languages, especially Bulgarian. As in all other Balkan languages, the rise of the Ottoman Empire meant an influx of Turkish words.

Writing system

The Albanian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, with the addition of the letters , , and nine digraphs to account for certain sounds in pronunciations. Until 1908, when the Latin alphabet was introduced in Albanian, the Greek alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, and the Ottoman Turkish version of the Arabic alphabet had been used to write Albanian.


pleaseju lutem(iU LU-tehm)listen
thank youfaleminderit(fAh-leh-mEE-nde-rEEt)listen
that oneat(ATEH)listen
how much?sa sht?(sAh ush-te)listen
sorrym fal(mUh FAL)listen
I don't understandnuk kuptoj(nUhk KUP-toi)listen
where's the bathroom?ku sht banjoja?(kuh ush-tEh bA-nio-jA)listen
generic toastgzuar (gUh-zuh-ar)listen
Do you speak English?flisni Anglisht?(flee-snEE ahn-GLEE-sht)listen

Note: All the sounds above are in the Ogg Vorbis format.

See also

External links


Sample of 3 different type of Albanian Language:

bg:Албански език da:Albansk de:Albanische Sprache el:Αλβανική γλώσσα et:Albaania keel es:Idioma albans eo:Albana lingvo fr:Albanais hu:Albn nyelv id:Bahasa Albania li:Albanees nds:Albaansche Spraak nl:Albanees ja:アルバニア語 pl:Język albański pt:Lngua albanesa ro:Limba albaneză sq:Gjuha Shqipe sl:Albanščina sv:Albanska zh:阿尔巴尼亚语


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