Since it has an interesting strategic position on the Adriatic sea, Albania was host to many empires, nationalities, and cultures throughout its existence. In this blog post, we're going to dive into the range of various languages that people speak in Albania.
Albania is an ethnically homogeneous country, so the majority of the people speak the Albanian language. However, there are minorities in Albania that speak their own native languages like Greek, Macedonian, Romani, and others. As for foreign languages, English and Italian are the most popular ones spoken by the Albanian population.
According to the Albanian Constitution, Albanian is the official language of Albania. The language represents the mother tongue of 98.76% of the people in this exciting country.
The Albanian vocabulary has hosted many words from the Greek, Italian, Latin, Turkish, and Slavic languages.
If we compare Albanian to neighboring European languages, we could see that it is rich in Arabic words. I presume it's because of
Albania's historical conditions during the last six centuries to the East and Ottoman rule. When we are talking about the origins of this eastern vocabulary, they are dispersed like this:
1732 Turkish words, 1460 Arabic words, 505 Persian words, 433 Arabic-Turkish words, and 72 Arabic-Persian words.
Albanian belongs to the group of Indo-European languages and is spoken by the Albanians in the Balkans and the Albanian diaspora in America, Europe, and Oceania. With about 7.5 million speakers, it forms an independent branch within the Indo-European languages that are not closely related to any other language.
According to the first attested in the 15th century, Albanian is the last Indo-European branch to appear in written records. That is unquestionably one reason why its still-unknown origin has long been a matter of dispute among linguists and historians. Many of them consider Albanian as the descendant of one of the Paleo-Balkan languages of antiquity. However, there are many other opinions on the subject. We have many historical and geographical reasons other than specific linguistics that think differently. Various modern historians and linguists believe that the Albanian language may have descended from a southern Illyrian dialect spoken in much the same region in classical times.
Alternative viewpoints say that Albanian may have descended from Thracian or Daco-Moesian. Other ancient languages are spoken farther east than Illyrian. However, we don't have enough knowledge of these languages to prove or disprove the different hypotheses ultimately.
Even though the Albanian language has several different dialects, two of them are most common - Gheg and Tosk. Toskë or Toskërisht (Tosk) represents the southern group of dialects of the Albanian language that is spoken by the ethnographic group known as Tosks. The line of separation between Tosk and Gheg (the northern variety) is the Shkumbin River, which winds its way through central Albania. Tosk is considered to be the basis of the standard Albanian language.
Major Task-speaking groups include the Arbëreshë of Italy, Arvanites of Greece, Chams of Çamëria, Labs of Labëria and of Myzeqe. Also, there are the original inhabitants of Mandritsa in Bulgaria. When we talk about North Macedonia, there were approximately 3000 speakers in the Tosk dialect in the early 1980s.
As we already said, Gegë or gegërisht (Gheg in Standard Albanian) is one of the two major dialects of Albanian. Gheg is spoken in northern and central Albania, northwestern North Macedonia, southeastern Montenegro, and southern Serbia by the Albanian dialectal subgroup known as Ghegs.
Gheg does not have any official status as a written language in any country. So, publications in Kosovo and North Macedonia are in Standard Albanian, which is based on Tosk. But, some authors continue to write in Gheg.
The most spoken minority language in Albania is Greek. The language is spoken by the Greeks living in the country as well as by Albanians who had immigrated to Greece in the past. Because the number of Greeks in Albania is disputed, the exact number of native speakers of Greek is unknown.
Aromanian is a minority language of Albania spoken by the Aromanians living in the southern and central regions of the country. These people are also known under the name "Vlachs" and, numbering about 100,000 to 200,000, are classified as a cultural minority by Albanian law.
About 10,000 members of the Romani cultural group live in Albania. They speak the Romani language and have managed to preserve their mother tongue despite the absence of a formal education system teaching the language in Albania.
The Macedonian language is spoken by the Macedonian population that live in Albania. According to the 1989 census, there were only 5.000 speakers of this beautiful language in the country.
The Serbian language is spoken by people residing in the northern part of the country, near Albania’s borders with Serbia and Montenegro.
The Italian language is the most popular foreign language spoken by older Albanians. The popularity of the language draws its roots from a time when the country was under the protectorate of Italy. During that period, Italian was an official language in Albania. Interestingly, most of the Albanians who speak Italian in the country have learned the language by watching Italian television on an extensive level. The 19,000 ethnic Italians who live in the country also speak this language.
Unlike Italian, English is widely taught in schools across Albania. Logically, English is the most popularly spoken foreign language among the youth of Albania. About 65% of the children of the country can understand and speak English.
French, Russian, and Chinese are some other foreign languages spoken by small Albanian people. People began to learn Russian in schools and universities in the 1950s when it was the lingua franca of the Eastern Bloc countries. It continued until the Soviet–Albanian split in 1961. Many people who learned it at the time have forgotten most of it since they didn't use the language.
So, after the ideological differences with the USSR, Albania and China became closer. Many young Albanians also traveled to China for education and learned the language.
Other European languages are also present in Albania and spoken by the people there. This is primarily because of the large Albanian diaspora that exists in Europe as well as a strong emphasis on foreign languages in education.
For many facts about the languages that people speak in Albania. It's best to come to this beautiful country and do more research. But before you rush to one of the most popular cities, or some other towns or villages, you should learn some Albanian words and phrases. Knowing how to wish someone a Happy Birthday or useful question words in Albanian can be of great use when visiting Albania.
One way to do that is to use language learning apps such as the Ling App app.