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Albanian (shqip / gjuha shqipe)

Albanian is an Indo-European language which forms its own branch in the Indo-European family and has no close relatives. It is spoken by about 7.6 million people mainly in Albania and Kosovo, and also in parts of Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.


Albanian is thought by some scholars to be a descendent of Illyrian, a group of Indo-European languages spoken in the Western Balkans until perhaps the 6th century AD. Others believe that Albanian descended from Thracian or Dacian, Indo-European languages spoken in parts of the Balkans until about the 5th century AD.

Albanian at a glance

  • Native name: shqip [ʃcip]; gjuha shqipe [ˈɟuha ˈʃcipɛ]
  • Linguistic affliation: Indo-European; Albanian
  • Number of speakers: c. 7.6 million
  • Spoken in: Albania, Kosovo, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia
  • First written: 15th century AD
  • Writing system: Latin alphabet (in the past: the Greek, Arabic, Elbasan, Beitha Kukju and Todhri alphabets)
  • Status: Official language in Albania and Kosovo. Recognised minority language in Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia

Linguistic influences

Albanian absorbed some words from Greek and many words from Latin between about the 2nd century BC and the 5th century AD. After that the language was influenced by the languages of Slavic and Germanic tribes who settled in the Balkans. There were also borrowings from the Proto-Romanians or Vlachs from the 9th century AD.


There are two main dialects of Albanian: Tosk (Toskësisht) Gheg/Geg (Gegnisht) and the dividing line between them is the Shkumbin river. Tosk, the official language of Albania, and one of the official languages of Kosovo and Macedonia, is spoken in southern Albania, Turkey, Greece and Italy, while Gheg is spoken in Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, northern Albania and Bulgaria. The dialects are more or less mutually intelligible, and transitional varieties of Albanian are spoken in central Albania.

Written Albanian

Albanian has been written with various alphabet since the 15th century. Originally the Tosk dialect was written with the Greek alphabet, while the Gheg dialect was written with the Latin alphabet. They have both also been written with the Turkish version of the Arabic alphabet. The Latin alphabet for Albanian was standardised in 1909, and a unified literary version of Albanian, based on the Tosk dialect, was established in 1972.

Albanian has also been written with a number of other alphabets, including Elbasan, Beitha Kukju and Todhri, local inventions which appeared during the 18th and 19th centuries but were not widely used.

Albanian alphabet and pronunciation

Tosk dialect (Toskësisht)

Albanian alphabet and pronunciation

Hear a recording of the Albanian alphabet by Plator Gashi

Gheg dialect (Gegnisht)

The main phonological difference between Gheg and Tosk is in the pronunciation of vowels and that Gheg uses nasalization. Here are the Gheg vowels:

Vowels of the Gheg dialect of Albanian

See also:

Sample text (Tosk)

Të gjithë njerëzit lindin të lirë dhe të barabartë në dinjitet dhe në të drejta. Ata kanë arsye dhe ndërgjegje dhe duhet të sillen ndaj njëri tjetrit me frymë vëllazërimi.

Hear a recording of this text by Plator Gashi

Sample text (Gheg)

Zhdo njeri kan le t'lir mê njãjit dinjitêt edhê dreta. Ata jan të pajisun mê mênjê edhê vet-dijê edhê duhën të veprôjn ka njãni-tjetrin mê nji shpirt vllâznimit.

Translation by Gazmen Arifi from Skopje/Shkupi


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Information about Albanian | Phrases in Gheg Albanian | Phrases in Tosk Albanian | Albanian numbers | Tower of Babel in Albanian | Albanian learning materials

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Information about the Albanian language

Online Albanian lessons

Albanian phrases

Online Albanian dictionaries

Albanian-English Electronic talking dictionaries

Online Albanian radio

Online Albanian news

Albanian languages

Albanian, Arvanitic

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet


Armenian, Avestan, Bassa (Vah), Beitha Kukju, Borama / Gadabuursi, Carian, Carpathian Basin Rovas, Chinuk pipa, Coorgi-Cox, Coptic, Cyrillic, Dalecarlian runes, Elbasan, Etruscan, Galik, Georgian (Asomtavruli), Georgian (Nuskhuri), Georgian (Mkhedruli), Glagolitic, Gothic, Greek, Irish (Uncial), Kaddare, Khazarian Rovas, Korean, Latin, Lepontic, Lycian, Lydian, Manchu, Meroïtic, Mongolian, N'Ko, Ogham, Old Church Slavonic, Oirat Clear Script, Old Italic, Old Permic, Orkhon, Phrygian, Pollard script, Runic, Santali, Székely-Hungarian Rovás (Hungarian Runes), Somali (Osmanya), Sutton SignWriting, Tai Lue, Thaana, Todhri, Uyghur