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
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 (Gegërisht) 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.
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.
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)
Sample text (Lord's Prayer in Tosk)
Ati ynë që je në qiell, u shënjtëroftë emri yt.
arthtë mbretëria jote; u bëftë dëshira jote,
si në qiell, edhe mbi dhe.
bukën tonë të përditëshme jepna neve sot;
edhe falna fajet tona,
sikundër edhe ne ua falim fajtorëvet tanë;
edhe mos na shtjerë në ngasje, po shpëtona nga i ligu;
sepse jotja është mbretëria e fuqia e lavdia në jetët të jetëvet.
Sample text (Lord's Prayer in Gheg)
Ati ynë që je në qiell, shejtnue kjoftë emni yt.
ardhtë mbretnia jote; u baftë vullnesa jote,
si në qiell ashtu në dhe.
Bukën tonë të përditshme epna ne sot;
e ndiejna ne fajet e mëkatet tona,
si i ndiejmë na fajtorët tanë;
e mos na len me ra në keq, por largona prej gjith së keq;
sepse joteja âsht rregjinija e fuqia e lafti në jetët të jetëvet