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 Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Greece and Italy.
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 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.
The main phonological difference between Gheg and Tosk is in the pronunciation of vowels. Here are the Gheg vowels:
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.
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)
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.
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
Information about the Albanian language
Online Albanian lessons
Albanian-English Electronic talking dictionaries
Albanian learning software
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