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A few facts about Albanian

‘’Language is the clearest statement of a nation and its culture’’. Beginning with this quotation from Eqerem Çabej, an Albanian historical linguist, this article will trace the origin and look at the characteristics of the Albanian language.

The Albanian language is spoken by Albanians, who are descended from the ancient Illyrian tribes that occupied the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. It is often thought to be derived from the Illyrian language. Unfortunately, there are no written documents to prove this theory so the connection between the two languages is only indirectly supported through the names of people, places and historical studies.

In 1854, the philologist Franz Bopp demonstrated that the Albanian language belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, but it does not have any direct similarities with other languages in the same family.

After the death of the great Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg, and the occupation of Albania by the Ottoman Empire, thousands of Albanians migrated to southern Italy and Sicily. Today, some 200,000 Albanians called Arbëresh remain there and speak a very old Albanian dialect.

Albanian is the official language in Albania and Kosovo and is recognized as a minority language in Italy, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia. Moreover, it is spoken by immigrant communities in many other countries such as Turkey, Greece, the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. In total, there are approximately 7.6 million Albanian speakers.

In the past, two main dialects were used: the northern dialect, Gege, and the southern dialect, Tosk. Both dialects were incorporated into one in 1972, during a language congress held in Tirana. Most of the Gege dialect was incorporated into the Tosk dialect, and this language was declared the official Albanian language, and was accepted by all Albanians.

The first document in written Albanian dates from the 16th century when the Meshari (Prayer Book) by Gjon Buzuku, a catholic cleric, was published in 1555. The modern Albanian alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet, and consists of 36 letters.

Albanian is the native language of many internationally renowned personalities such as Gjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg), the Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa, the Opera soprano Inva Mula, the Nobel Prize in Literature candidate Ismail Kadare, and Pope Clement XI.

Some Key Phrases:

Po = Yes
Jo = No
Mire se vjen = Welcome
Gezohem qe po takohemi = Pleased to meet you
Tungjatjeta = Hello
Mirupafshim = Goodbye
Faleminderit = Thank you
Une quhem… = My name is…
A flisni Anglisht? = Do you speak English?

”El idioma es el reflejo de una nación y su cultura”. Con esta cita del lingüista histórico albanés Eqerem Çabej, comenzamos este artículo en el que descubriremos el origen y las características de la lengua albanesa.

El albanés es hablado por los albaneses, que son descendientes de las antiguas tribus de Illyrian que ocupaban la parte occidental de la península de los Balcanes. Muchos piensan que procede de las lenguas ilirias. Por desgracia, no existen documentos escritos que prueben esta teoría, por lo que la conexión entre estas dos lenguas es respaldada única e indirectamente por nombres de personas, lugares y estudios históricos.

En 1854, el filólogo Franz Bopp demostró que la lengua albanesa pertenece a la familia de las lenguas indoeuropeas; Sin embargo, no posee semejanzas directas con otras lenguas de la misma familia.

Tras la muerte del gran héroe nacional albanés, Skanderbeg, y la ocupación de Albania por el Imperio Otomano, miles de albaneses emigraron al sur de Italia y Sicilia. Hoy en día, alrededor de 200.000 albaneses llamados Arbëresh permanecen allí y hablan un dialecto albanés muy antiguo.

Albania es el idioma oficial en Albania y Kosovo, y está reconocido como lengua minoritaria en Italia, la Antigua República Yugoslava de Macedonia, Montenegro, Rumanía y Serbia. Por otra parte, es hablado por comunidades de inmigrantes en muchos otros países como Turquía, Grecia, Reino Unido, EE.UU, Alemania, los Países Bajos y Suiza. En total, el número aproximado de hablantes albaneses alcanza los 7,6 millones.

En el pasado, el albanés se dividia en dos grupos dialectales: el dialecto del norte, llamado guego (geg) y el dialecto del sur, el tosco (tosk). En 1972, ambos dialectos se unieron durante un congreso de la lengua celebrado en Tirana. La mayor parte del dialecto guego se incorporó al tosco, fornando una lengua que fue declarada oficialmente como lengua albanesa, y aceptada por todos los ciudadanos.

El primer documento escrito en albanés data del siglo XVI, cuando el Meshari (“Libro de Oración”), fue escrito por el clérigo católico Gjon Buzuku y publicado en 1555. El alfabeto albanés moderno se basa en el alfabeto latino, y consta de 36 letras.

El albanés es el idioma materno de muchas personalidades de renombre internacional tales como Gjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg), Madre Teresa de Calcuta, la soprano de ópera Inva Mula, el candidato al Premio Nobel de Literatura Ismail Kadaré, y el Papa Clemente XI.

Para acabar, unas nociones básicas:

Po = Sí
Jo = n
Mire sí vjen = Bienvenido
Gezohem qe po takohemi = Mucho gusto
Tungjatjeta = Hola
Mirupafshim = Adiós
Faleminderit = Gracias
Une quhem… = Me llamo…
A flisni Anglisht? = ¿Hablas inglés?

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About Sharon Stephens

Sharon Stephens is Operations Director of Lingua Translation. With a First Class Honours Degree in Translation and a University Lecturer in Translation (Masters), she is a self confessed language geek! Bringing the academic principles of translation and business together Sharon offers a quality-driven and needs centric translation and interpreting service - like no other.

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