The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Albanian language

Albanian or Gjuha shqipe is a language spoken by more than six million inhabitants of the western Balkan peninsula (Albania, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece) in south-eastern Europe (Albanians) and by a small number of people in Calabria, southern Italy.



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.

Albanian is divided into four dialects, grouped into two dialect groups as follows:

  • Gheg Albanian
  • Tosk group
    • Arbresh Albanian
    • Arvanatika Albanian
    • Tosk Albanian


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.

Tosk is spoken in southern and central Albania, by the Arbresh of Italy, among the Albanian minority of Greece: the am and the Arvanites, and in small communities of Albanian immigrants 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.


letter IPA - example letter IPA - example
a - Spanish la n n - gun
b b - burn nj ɲ - Spanish nia
c ts - hats o ɔ - four
- church p p - opera
d d - dance q c - Close to hit you
dh - this r ɾ - Spanish pero
e ɛ - let rr r - Spanish perro
ə - allowed ( is a schwa) s s - save
f f - fight sh ʃ - shun
g g - gun t t - tell
gj J - Close to did you th θ - thought
h h - hope u u - doom
i i - eat v v - victory
j j - year x dz - adze
k k - king xh - jungle
l l - lee y y - French du jour
ll - tell z z - zone
m m - mother zh ʒ - vision

Note: all sounds in words used for comparison are those of the English language unless otherwise noted.

Albanian alphabet.ogg (146KB Ogg file)

Albanians transliterate foreign words in their own way, even from the Latin alphabet; thus Josh McDowell is transliterated Xhosh Mekdaull. Each sound is approximated by one or more of the 36 letters of the alphabet, therefore words are spelled as they sound.


The Albanian alphabet has seven vowels: A, E, , I, O, U, Y.


There are also 29 consonants: B, C, , D, Dh, F, G, Gj, H, J, K, L, Ll, M, N, Nj, P, Q, R, Rr, S, Sh, T, Th, V, X, Xh, Z, Zh.


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. Like for all 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.


Albanian shqip /ʃkʲip/ (shkEEp) Albanian shqip.ogg
hello tungjatjeta /tun gʲat jɛ ta/ (tUhn-ngIAt-IEta) Albanian tungjatjeta.ogg
good-bye mirupafshim /mi ru paf ʃim/ (mEEr-Uh-pA-fshEEm) Albanian mirupafshim.ogg
please ju lutem /ju lu tɛm/ (iU LU-tehm) Albanian ju lutem.ogg
thank you faleminderit /fa ɫɛ min dɛ rit/ (fAh-leh-mEE-nde-rEEt) Albanian faleminderit.ogg
that one at /a tə/ (ATEH) Albanian at.ogg
how much? sa sht? /sa əʃ tə/ (sAh ush-te) Albanian sa sht.ogg
English anglisht /an gliʃt/ (ahn-GLEE-sht) Albanian anglisht.ogg
yes po /po/ (POE) Albanian po.ogg
no jo /jo/ (IOH) Albanian jo.ogg
sorry m fal /mə fal/ (mUh FAL) Albanian m fal.ogg
I don't understand nuk kuptoj /nuk kup toj/ (nUhk KUP-toi) Albanian nuk kuptoj.ogg
where's the bathroom? ku sht banjoja? /ku əʃ tə ba ɲo ja/ (kuh ush-tEh bA-nio-jA) Albanian ku sht banjoja.ogg
generic toast gzuar /gə zu ar/ (gUh-zuh-ar) Albanian gzuar.ogg
Do you speak English? flisni Anglisht? /flis ni an gliʃt/ (flee-snEE ahn-GLEE-sht) Albanian flisni anglisht.ogg

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

See also

External links

Sample of 3 different type of Albanian Language:

Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:35:10
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