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Albanian

Albanian Language
Dialects

Albania has hundreds of dialects. However, the dialects can be divided into two main dialects, Gheg and Tosk. The Shkubim is roughly the dividing line, north of the Shkubim is where Gheg is spoken and south of the Shkubim is where Tosk is spoken. The Gheg literary language has been documented since 1555, but sources say that it existed as a written language since, at least 1332. Until the communists took power in Albania, the standard was based on Gheg. Although the literary versions of Tosk and Gheg are mutually intelligible, many of the regional dialects are not.

Tosk is divided into many dialects. In Greece, the Çam and the Arvanites speak different Tosk dialects with the dialect of the Arvanites only partially intelligible with other Tosk dialects. The Tosk dialects are spoken by most members of the large Albanian immigrant communities of Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, and the United States. Tosk dialects are spoken by the Arbëreshë, descendants of 15th and 16th century immigrants in southeastern Italy, in small communities in the provinces of Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Campania, Molise, Abruzzi, and Puglia.

Gheg (or Geg) is spoken in Northern Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and in parts of Montenegro. Each area of northern Albania has its own dialect and can be divided into dialect groups: Tirana, Durrës, Elbasan and Kavaja; Kruja and Latsi; Mati, Dibra and Mirdita; Lezha, Shkodra, Ulqinj; etc. Maltsia e Madhe, Rugova, and villages scattered alongside the Adriatic Cost form the northmost dialect of Albania today although, Albanian was formerly spoken in Dalmatia until recently. There are many other dialects in the region of Kosovo and in parts of southern Montenegro, and in Macedonia. The dialects of Maltsia e Madhe and Dujadjini near Shkodra are being lost because the younger generations prefer to speak the dialect of Shkodra.

Vocabulary

There are Albanian words which have cognates (of non-Latin origin) in Romanian and there is a theory that the language spoken by the Dacians before the Romanization was a language related to proto-Albanian.

Although there's no documentation on the Albanian language prior to the 15th century AD, it is widely assumed that Greek and Balkan Latin (which was the ancestor of Romanian and other Balkan Romance languages), 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. The rise of the Ottoman Empire meant an influx of Turkish words; this also entailed the borrowing of Persian and Arabic words through Turkish. Some loanwords from Modern Greek also exist especially in the south of Albania. Also due to the large population of Roma Gypsies in Albania words such as "jaan" or "xhan" in Albanian and Hindi mean the same thing which literally translates as "my life" or "my soul" but is also used to refer to a beloved one as "darling"