Albania Languages Part I

By | December 15, 2021

Albanian is spoken in a large area that only partially corresponds to the Kingdom of Albania today. This zone can be defined as follows: on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, between the 39th and 42nd degrees of latitude, that is, between Epirus and Montenegro; from Santi Quaranta an ideal line can be drawn that goes north-east to Kastoria, and from here north-north-west to the southern shores of the Presba and Ochrida lakes; then following the two said lakes up to Dibra (Debar) and Priština on the Còssovo plains; from Priština the ideal line continues west to the southern border of Montenegro. Of course, this delimitation is far from mathematical accuracy, since, outside this line, there are several Albanians in Macedonia (in Skoplje, Kumanovo, Monastir, Tetovo, etc.), in the southern part of Montenegro, etc. On the other hand, Greeks, Serbs and Aromuni are found in some points within the indicated line. The Albanian language thus borders with the Neo-Hellenic between Santi Quaranta and Kastoria, with Aromuno in the Gramos mountains, elsewhere with Slavic languages ​​(Bulgarian in Macedonia, Serbian further north). The number of Albanian speakers is not easy to calculate because the statistics of minorities in the Balkan states can only be accepted with great caution (100,000 Albanians in Greece, 442,000 in Yugoslavia, but in reality much more!); in total there will be about one and a half million, without calculating the Albanians of the colonies. In fact, it should be noted immediately that outside this area, Albanian is also spoken in several isolated regions, from immigrant colonies; in Greece (in Attica and in the islands Poros and Hydra, in Megara, Elicona, in Boeotia, in Salamis, Spezzia and Andros), in Sicily and in southern Italy, as well as in some isolated villages, namely: in European Turkey in Arnaut Köi, in Bessarabia in Vulcăneşti and in Italian Dalmatia in Borgo Erizzo near Zadar. The Albanians of Sicily are all found in the province of Palermo (in Piana dei Greci, Mezzoiuso, Contessa Entellina, and Palazzo Adriano) and are commonly called “Greeks”. The Albanians of Calabria are scattered in several countries in the districts of Borgia, Cerzeto, Corigliano Calabro, Cròpani, Fiumefreddo Bruzio, Màida, Montalto Uffiugo, Nicastro, San Demetrio Corone, Savelli and Stròngoli. These colonies of Sicily and Calabria date back to the mid-century. XV. More recent by about two centuries are the Albanian colonies of Basilicata and Puglia (in Basilicata, in the districts of Forenza, Melfi, Noèpoli, Rionero in Vulture; in Puglia, in the districts of Castelnuovo della Daunia, San Giorgio sotto Taranto, Serracapriola, Orsara di Puglia) and Molise (districts of Guglionesi, Larino and Tèrmoli). A few more recent decades is the immigration of the Albanians in the Abruzzo village of Badessa (district of Pianella, municipality of Rosciano, province of Teramo). In Italian Dalmatia, in Borgo Erizzo near Zara, the Ghega colony arrived in the mid-eighteenth century. It is the only Ghega colony outside the Albanian-speaking territory; all the other colonies (Greece, Italy) came from southern Albania and speak Tuscan dialects. For Albania 2001, please check naturegnosis.com.

Regarding this division, it should be noted immediately that, although there are several minor dialectal varieties in Albanian, there is a clear separation between two types of dialects: the northern or ghego and the southern or tosco. Among the most notable differences between the two dialects it can be noted that Tosco has diphthongs accented on the second element ( ; üé ; , later evolution of ), while ghego accentuates them on the first element and subsequently reduces the second (ie > i ; üe > ü ; ue > u). Furthermore, the Tosco possesses the rotaxism of n intervocalic (n > r): p. ex. in canape corresponds the ghego kanep, but the poison has kerp. Although the difference between Tosco and Ghego is considerable, it is relatively recent and cannot be traced back to the language difference between the Illyrians and the Epirotes, as Hahn believed.

The Albanians of Greece and Italy call themselves with the name of arb ε r, arberes, a name that is difficult to explain and certainly very ancient. The Albanians of Albania on the other hand, they use the name of š k’ip, š k’ip ε tar which, according to G. Meyer, would mean “he who has” from the verb š kjipon “understanding” of Latin origin (lat. Excipere). The first Albanian document dates back to 1462 and is found in a codex of the Laurentian Library (see N. Iorga, Notes et extraits pour servir à l’histoire des croisades au XV et XVI siècle, Bucharest 1915, p. 194 ff., And M. Roques, Romania, L, 1926). Then we have a liturgy of 1555 by Fr Gjon Buzuku, of which a reprint is still awaited, announced by Msgr. B. Schirò in 1910; a catechism by Luca Matragna from 1592 contained in the Barber codex. lat. 3454 (M. La Piana, The L Albanian catechism. Matragna, Grottaferrata 1912), the Speculum confessionis P. Budi (Rome 1621), and several other religious writings in the following centuries. See the paragraph dedicated to literature below.

Albania Languages Part I