As the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. That is why we're looking at basic words and phrases in Albanian to give you a solid foundation in the language and catapult you into future mastery. The most obvious place to start with basic Albanian phrases is how to ask for someone's name:
What is your name?
My name is Michael
( Unë quhem Michael...)
The above would be a more formal introduction. If you were speaking with friends, you'd be more likely to say:
Si te quajnë?
Mua më quajnë Michael
However, my advice would be not to worry too much about formal versus informal when you're first learning to speak Albanian.
Where are you from? - Nga jeni?
I'm from... - Unë jam nga...
Goodbye - Mirupafashim
Good luck - Paç fat!
Yes - Po
No - Jo
If like me, you didn't know anything about Albania until you started studying it, Shqipëri is a strange word to look at, and it's probably the most important Albanian word to know because it's what the Albanians actually call their homeland. (Shqipëri comes from the word shqiptoj, meaning to speak clearly).
If you've browsed the extensive list of available languages at Ling, you will notice that Albania is not alone in this regard. Many countries are known by different names locally and internationally. The most famous is probably Germany (Deutschland). Germani was the name given to the land by the Romans when they were trying to conquer it.
There's a name for this phenomenon. An endonym is what local people call their country; an exonym is what people outside that country call it.
Have a nice day! - Ditën e mirë!
Do you understand? - A e kupton?
Maybe - Ndoshta
Sorry - Më fal
Please - Ju lutem
Like other European languages, it is standard to say Ju lutem when asking for something in Albania. It means 'I request', but it has similar connotations to the English word 'please'.
Although we use the word etiquette freely in English, it is a French word. The Albanians have something in common with the French, which is 'la bise' or kiss on the cheek. When you first meet someone in Albania, you might shake hands, but it is common to kiss them on each cheek when you become friends.
Tipping in restaurants is common, usually 10%, and is much appreciated by the staff. The average Albanian worker makes only around $450 a month.
It must have been confusing for Albanian music fans when Justin Bieber sang: What do you mean? When you nod your head yes. But you wanna say no. Contrary to most of the world, Albanians nod their head for no and shake their head for yes.
Albania, like Thailand, is a country where people remove their shoes before entering a house. Unlike Thailand, however, the temperature in Tirana can drop to zero, and those marble floors can feel particularly harsh on your bare feet. But don't worry. Albanian households have a wide variety of cheap plastic slippers that protect your soles from the refrigerated floor.
Excuse me! - Më fal!
Can you speak a little slower, please? - Mundeni të flisni pak më ngadalë, ju lutem?
How much is this? - Sa kushton kjo?
Where's the toilet? - Ku është banjoja?
I love you. - Të dua.
Leave me alone! - Lëmë rehat!
It's amazing how fussy we are about our bathrooms. When I tell my friends I'm traveling around Southeast Asia, the first thing they ask is not about the towers of Angkor Wat or the coves of Halong bay. Instead, invariably it's 'what were the toilets like?'
You'll be glad to know that Albania conforms to many of the standards of Western Europe, albeit with some caveats. Given its proximity to Turkey, you do encounter some of the dreaded Turkish toilets, or what is known as squats. Fortunately, in what was an otherwise unfortunate time, the communist government of the last century was sensitive about seeming modern, so Western plumbing was top of the agenda. There's even the addition of a bidet, although you must put toilet paper in a bin.
The showers are slightly different. First, Albanian homes don't have much storage space, so water heaters are usually in the bathrooms, and they're loud! Secondly, the showers sometimes don't have doors, so you have to be very careful in what direction you're pointing at the shower nozzle.
Get well soon - Shërim të shpejtë!
Help! - Ndihmë!
Congratulations - Urime
Would you like to dance with me? - A doni të kërceni?
What time is it? - Sa është ora?
I’m lost - Unë jam i humbur
Cheers - Gëzuar!
Gëzuar! When we make a toast in the West, it is often with a glass of beer or wine. The issue is slightly more complicated in Albania because it's a majority Muslim country. That being said, there are many Albanians who follow some aspects of Islam and disregard others.
If you're interested in more ways to say cheers have a look at an article by another of our writers: 3 best ways to say cheers in Albanian
From my time spent traveling I've come to realize that a few words go a long way.
The world is opening back up, and you can open up with it. Ling's team of teachers and engineers have mastered the Albanian language and designed a platform that will deliver it to you in bite-sized chunks. From basic Albanian; to instruction on the modern Albanian alphabet; to vocabulary for socializing with your Albanian friends, Ling has it all.