Albanian - interesting facts
Albanian, a captivating language from the Balkan language group, boasts a rich culture and intriguing history. Spoken by approximately 7.5 million people worldwide, Albanian has been shaped by various cultures and languages, including Latin, Greek, Turkish, Italian, and Slavic, resulting in a diverse lexical and grammatical structure. In this article, we'll delve into the most fascinating aspects and surprising curiosities of Albanian, which may pique the interest of Polish speakers.
Although Albanian is the mother tongue of only about 6 million people, less than 0.1% of the world's population, its actual number of native speakers is difficult to estimate due to the numerous Albanian diasporas scattered around the globe. Albania and Kosovo recognize Albanian as their official language, while Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, and Romania recognize it as the language of their national minorities.
Belonging to the Indo-European family, Albanian's origin is relatively unknown. As a linguistic entity, it was extracted in the 7th or 8th century AD from an indefinite Paleo-Balkan language, likely related to one of the Illyrian or Thracian languages used in the Balkans then.
The oldest monument of Albanian literature is the formula of baptism from 1462. The standard (literary) language version has existed since the 19th century. For more than 100 years, Albanian has been written in the Latin alphabet.
Albanian has two major regional varieties. The 41st parallel and the Shkumbin River mark the border between them. To the north of this line is a Georgian dialect (also used in Kosovo and Macedonia). In contrast, to the south, a Tuscan dialect is predominantly spoken (the Albanian-speaking population in Italy and Greece also uses it). These dialects exhibit significant phonological, lexical, and grammatical differences.
Regulated by the Section of Social and Albanological Sciences of the Albanian Academy of Sciences, Albanian language norms are well established.
With 7 vowels and 29 consonants, Albanian has a constant accent, usually falling on the last syllable. Albanian is one of the languages with a strong inflexion. Nouns occur in three grammatical types, varying by two numbers and six cases (in some dialects – seven). There are five declensions of the noun. Similar to the Romanian language, the definite article is attached at the end of the noun in Albanian. Latin has significantly influenced Albanian, and the modern language contains many borrowings from Modern Greek, including archaisms.
Origin of the Albanian language
Albanian is one of the oldest languages in Europe and its roots date back to pre-Roman times. The researchers believe Albanian originated from Indo-European languages, but its origin has been the subject of much debate and speculation. Albanian has its roots in the ancient Illyrian language, which was used by the Illyrians, a people inhabiting the territories of today's Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia. Although the Illyrian language is not directly documented, Albanian is considered its continuation, making it one of the few Indo-European languages that have survived to this day.
The two main dialects
Albanian is divided into two main dialects: Georgian (geg) and Tuscan (tosk). The Georgian dialect is spoken in the north of Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia, while the Tuscan dialect dominates in the south of Albania. Although both dialects have many common features, there are also significant phonetic, grammatical and lexical differences. In 1972, at the Albanian Language Congress in Tirana, it was decided that the Toscan dialect would be the official form of the Albanian language, replacing the Georgian language in education, administration, and media.
The Albanian alphabet consists of 36 letters and is based on the Latin system with additional diacritics. It was officially adopted in 1908 during a congress in Manastir (today's Bitola). This alphabet replaced earlier systems based on the Greek, Cyrillic and Arabic alphabets used by Albanian writers at various historical periods. Thanks to the introduction of a uniform writing system, the Albanian language became more accessible to the general public, contributing to its prestige and popularization.
Influence of other languages
Due to its geographical and historical location, the Albanian language was influenced by various languages. From Roman times, through the Middle Ages, to the present day, Albanian has enriched itself with many borrowings from Latin, Greek, Turkish, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, and other languages. As a result, Albanian is characterized by a large lexical diversity and an interesting mix of words from various sources. Some words may seem familiar to Polish people, making learning Albanian easier.
Albanian is an inflectional language that changes by coincidences, types and numbers. Albanian has six cases: denominator, complement, sight, passer-by, tool and placeholder. Another important feature of Albanian grammar is its three grammatical types: masculine, feminine and neuter. It is also worth mentioning that the Albanian language has a rich system of grammatical times and modes, which gives a wide range of possibilities for expressing various time nuances.
Word-making in Albanian offers diversity and creative richness. In Albanian, we can find many techniques for creating new words, such as affixation (adding prefixes, suffixes, or infixes), composition (combining two or more existing words), conversion (changing the grammatical class of a word), and derivation (creating new words by adding affixes). This vocabulary diversity makes Albanian a language with great potential for expression and creativity.
Albanian lexicon is rich and diverse, thanks to numerous borrowings from other languages and rich vocabulary. In Albanian, we can find words from Indo-European languages, such as Greek or Latin, and non-family languages, such as Turkish or Arabic. For Polish people, some Albanian words may seem familiar or resemble words from other languages, making it easier to learn Albanian.
Albanian idioms and proverbs
Albanian idioms and proverbs are colourful and full of life and wisdom, reflecting Albania's rich culture and history. Proverbs often refer to nature, family, love, friendship, work and social life, being a source of inspiration and a moral guide. Knowledge of idioms and proverbs can help you understand Albanian mentality and facilitate communication with native speakers.
Albanian Language in Education
Albanian education is available in Albania and other countries where Albanian minorities live, such as Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro or Greece. Many schools and language courses worldwide offer Albanian language learning at different proficiency levels. Learning Albanian can be challenging for people who speak English but also opens up new professional and cultural opportunities.
Albanian literature has a long and rich history that dates back to the Middle Ages. Among the most important Albanian writers are Naim Frashëri, Gjergja Fishta, Ismail Kadare and Dritëro Agolli. Albanian writers' work reflects the country's cultural and historical diversity, touching on topics such as national identity, the struggle for independence, social life and moral values. For people who speak English, understanding Albanian literature can be not only an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the language but also a way to discover the fascinating culture of Albania.
Albanian language in the media
Albanian media, such as television, radio, newspapers and the Internet, use the Albanian language for information, education and entertainment. The availability of media in Albanian allows for maintaining cultural and linguistic ties among Albanians living at home and abroad. For Albanian learners, using media in this language can be helpful in language practice and a better understanding of Albanian culture.
Albanian in a professional context
Proficiency in Albanian can be valuable in the professional domain when working with business partners from Albania, Kosovo or other regions where they speak this language. Albanian is gaining importance in international corporations and institutions maintaining relations with Albanian-speaking countries.
Basic Albanian Dictionary
|how are you?||Sijeni?|
|My name is...||Emriimështë…|
|I don't understand||Nukkuptoj|
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