Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


1. the official language of Albania: of uncertain relationship within the Indo-European family, but thought to be related to ancient Illyrian
a. a native, citizen, or inhabitant of Albania
b. a native speaker of Albanian
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the language of the Albanians. The largest centers of Albanian-speaking people outside Albania are in Yugoslavia in the autonomous province of Kosovo and Metohija and in Macedonia and Montenegro. There are large Albanian-speaking groups in Italy and Greece. The total number of Albanian-speaking people is about 3,000,000.

Albanian belongs to the Indo-European language family. It is reasonable to assume that Albanian is a direct extension of one of the extinct ancient Balkan languages such as Illyrian or Thracian. The Illyrian hypothesis is supported mostly by historical and linguistic arguments. As in most modern Indo-European languages, elements of ancient inflections in Albanian have undergone great changes, primarily through the reduction of vowels in unstressed syllables. In the course of time a secondary inflected system has developed in which vestiges of ancient Indo-European inflection have combined with new morphological series. Analytic constructions have also been important in expressing grammatical meaning. The typological links of Albanian with the languages of other peoples of the Balkan Peninsula is of particular interest. There are some similarities in the grammatical forms of Albanian, Rumanian, Bulgarian, and modern Greek. The study of these relations is a main concern of Balkan linguistics.

The Albanian language has borrowed heavily from other languages: Latin, the Romance languages, ancient and modern Greek, south Slavic languages, and Turkish. Ancient word roots of Indo-European origin are predominant in the Albanian vocabulary; these roots include the most common stems that express elementary concepts and form numerous word-building families. The modern Albanian vocabulary has also enriched itself with loanwords, formed mainly from Greek and Latin stems, to express scientific and political concepts.

The Albanian language group is divided into two major dialects: the Gheg (northern) and the Tosk (southern). The differences between these dialects are small. The oldest fragments of texts in the Albanian language are from the end of the 15th century. The first Albanian book, Meshari (Official Manual), written in 1555, was translated by Y. Buzuku. Modern Albanian literature emerged in the late 19th century from Gheg and Tosk. These two dialects had a parallel development and are gradually moving closer together. In the People’s Republic of Albania the Tosk form of the literary language is commonly used in the schools, press, and radio broadcasting. The Gheg form is used with Tosk in belles lettres and scientific literature.


Desnitskaia, A. V. Albanskii yazyk i ego dialekty. Leningrad, 1968.
Kochi, R. D., A. Kostallari, and D. I. Skendi. Kratkii albansk-russkii slovar’, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1951.
Pekmezi, G. Grammatik der albanesischen Sprache. Vienna, 1908.
Meyer, G. Etymologisches Worterbuch der albanesischen Sprache. Strasbourg, 1891.
Jokl, N. Linguistisch-kulturhistorische Untersuchungen aus dem Bereiche des Albanischen. Berlin-Leipzig, 1923.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"There is no greater interest to Albanians than Macedonia's NATO and EU membership," Osmani said.
Branislav Sinadinovski, special advisor to BDI leader Ali Ahmeti, said before the entire leadership of BDI at the Friday promotion of his book "Orthodox Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia", with which the Day of the Albanian Flag was celebrated, that holding services in the Albanian language was not enough.
Speaking at the meeting attended by Albanian artists, writers and diplomatic representatives,Speaker of Albanian Parliament Jozefina Topalli said that she was pleased to welcome Orhan Pamuk to Tirana.
Following Mother Teresa's 1989 visit, all Albanian politicians - those in power, and those who were trying to come to power - were eager to make public as often as possible their huge admiration for the country's newly discovered "patriot", and took every opportunity to honour her.
Power rests in the hands of the Muslim Kosovar Albanians."
The KLA, as previously documented in these pages (see "Diving into the Kosovo Quagmire" in our March 15, 1999 issue), was a heroin-peddling terrorist group organized by Maoist Albanian radicals and supported by Osama bin Laden.
Second, Western officials discounted predictions of an Albanian insurgency because, aside from Schindler, those making the predictions were the "bad guys": Macedonian Slav nationalists who were openly hateful towards Albanians and, in some cases, linked to Milosevic's regime in Belgrade.
One might say the artist, whose torso was painted red, became the living embodiment of the Albanian Pavilion--absent from Venice--represented by the little flag stuck on his backpack.
Kosovo, whose population is 90 percent ethnic Albanian and only 10 percent Serb, once had a great degree of self-rule, with its own government, schools and culture.
"When the right time comes, the Besa Movement, on this very important date, calls upon all Albanian parties being part of the government, to support the Besa Movement's proposals that Albanians and the Albanian language should be part of the constitutional changes," Besa says.