R. Beyleri. Recent monographs and contributions in Albanian linguistics. In: Etudes Balkanique. Sofia, 2003, Nr. 2, p. 143-153


            The primary incentive to compose this article is the fact that, though in the age of enhanced communications, it has not become much easier for the foreign scholars to learn about, let alone to access the new publications especially the basic reference studies of the Albanian (also Kosovo and Macedonian) linguists and literary reviewers. In 1975 scholar Palok Daka compiled a comprehensive bibliography of linguistic studies on Albanian language [1] . From 1974 to 1982 he continued to catalogue the subsequent editions in the academic periodical “Studime filologjike” [2] . Unfortunately, there has not been an itemized account of the philological inventory of Albanology ever since.

This overview synthesizes about 30 recent contributions in various layers of the Albanian language, including some revised key publications. The chronological starting point for the editions (1995) has been chosen to limit this presentation and not in the least the perimeter of what is to be considered scholarly new and up-to-date in linguistics.


Leksikologjia e gjuhës shqipe.  J. Thomai. Tiranë: SHBLU, 2002. 316 p.

(Albanian lexicology)

Professor Jani Thomai is a linguist of highest attainments who started his career in the sixties and was entrusted to lecture the basic course of lexicology immediately after graduating from the university. He devoted himself entirely to that branch in the broadest sense of the concept and covered much new ground with major monographs subsequently in lexicology, phrazeology and semantics [3] . His first Handbook of Lexicology was an accomplished treatise, reproduced in 1960 as a collection of lecture notes. The fifth up-to-dated edition of this most indispensable oeuvre comes in 2002 with a modern and appealing frontispiece. The introduction focuses on the rise of lexicology as theoretical and applied science in Albania, accentuating on the separate studies of other colleagues and dictionaries in each of the basic divisions as antonyms (Miço Samara), stylistics (Xhevat Lloshi), synonymy (Shefqie Islamaj, Prishtina), etymology (Aleksandër Xhuvani, Eqrem Çabej, Idriz Ajeti-Prishtina) etc. The core of the book are the outlines of the discipline. The string of logic is easy to follow. The dividing lines between concepts, notions and terms are clear. Nothing has been overlooked or unbalanced. In this new edition there has been established more symmetrical correlation between branches of lexicology, so as to reflect the changes of priority in modern linguistics. Thus more discussion is concentrated on semasiology, stylistics and language standard, the last being a topical problem in Albanian after 1972 when the unified norm was adopted nation-wide, including  Kosovo, Macedonia and the Arbëresh settlements in Italy. The overview of lexicography is strictly problematic with optimistic inferences: the revised edition of the codifying Dictionary of Modern Albanian has been completed (it turned up at the book market in the summer of 2002 under Jani Thomai’s direction); the regional lexis has been recorded and put together in the respective dictionaries and periodicals; bilingual dictionaries, mainly in English and Italian, have spurted responding to the unprecedented for the country burst of contacts (unfortunately the Albanian-Bulgarian dictionary is still a fiction). Some of the dictionaries will be individually introduced further in my presentation. The index of authors and works at the end of the book bears useful facts about the topics which have been subject to deeper elaboration.

As head of the Department of Lexicology, Lexicography and Terminology at the Institute of Linguistics and Literature in Tirana, professor Jani Thomai is running the academic project of the Dictionary of Synonyms in the Albanian language.


Leksiku dialektor e krahinor në shqipen e sotme. Thomai J. Tiranë: Akademia e shkencave, 2001. 323 p.

(The dialectal and regional lexis in modern Albanian)

The Albanian language encompasses the Tosk and the Gheg dialects, from which the second tends to be more segmented than the first. The geographical border between them is Shkumbinj River. Dialectal studies were ranking first in quantity from the sixties to the eighties, because of the pressing need to fully register the language thesaurus and enable the emanation of the Standard Albanian. Praiseworthy contributions regarding the phonetic and grammatical system have been achieved by well known scholars, vast lexicon has been catalogued. The presented monograph offers a theoretical analysis of the dialectal and regional lexical material. The first chapter defines these two groups and delineates their distinctive features in general. The second chapter puts the stress on the stratification and the boundaries of the dialectal and regional lexis and deals with the typical dialectal patterns of word-formation. Chapter three tackles the broad scope of interaction between dialects and subdialects on one hand and dialects-standard language on the other hand. Chapter four and five together take two thirds of the space and include respectively the functioning of the territorial substandard words in folklore and literature and a survey of the lexicographical achievements in the field. The monograph ends up with a full index of the dialectal words used. The author’s approach has been clear-cut, devoid of bare statistics, noncontributing controversies and disputes. It puts in order the principles and patterns of analysis based on multiple examples and always in the light of further consolidation of the national language.

The monograph turns up at the right moment to offset the alternative pessimistic vision, that the turbulent course of modern history and the spread-out of English and Italian in this country have severed the perspective for the dialectal lexis to remain a valid source for enrichment of the standard Albanian language.



Fjalor frazeologjik i gjuhës shqipe. J. Thomai. Tiranë: Shkenca, 1999. 1166 p.

(A dictionary of Albanian idioms)

National and bilingual dictionaries of all kinds include a substantial amount of idioms, because their figurativeness and emotiveness makes them as frequently used as ordinary words. A profiled dictionary of idioms targets the more educated audience and advanced learners, which are aware of and consciously exploit the power of verbal expression.

The profound studies of Albanian phraseology as a separate level of the language system, carried out chiefly by professor Jani Thomai, logically resulted in this full-scale specialized dictionary, containing about 11 000 entries. Theoretically, the English word idiom, generally accepted for denominating such dictionaries, has a more confined meaning than the concept of the phraseological unit. The most typical aspect of an idiom proper is its semantic indivisibility, the absolute impossibility to derive its meaning from its components. In that sense not all phraseological unities, expressing a single notion, ready for use just like words, are idioms, because their meaning may be still somewhat related to the meanings of the component words. On the other edge, professor Thomai makes a strict difference between phraseological units as language units and phraseological combinations, fossilized phrases and proverbs, called literary phraseology. The factual corpus of the dictionary comes after 65 pages of theoretical thesis on frazeography, where the issues of identification, positioning and arrangement of the idioms have been discussed. The major problem for the idioms remains their appropriate and user-oriented formal order. According to the author’s concepts each idiom is to be found only once in the dictionary, following the alphabetical order of the first full-meaning word in it. Each head-idiom is printed in bold type. Information on syntax and stylistic use is supplied and immediately after that the definitions and the synonym expressions follow. The example sentences, with their source marked, are also a very important part of the text, because they can often describe vocabulary items more easily and more economically than the explanations.

The core inventory of this dictionary serves as a starting point for the Fjalor frazeologjik ballkanik, Tiranë: Dituria, 1999. 352 p. (Dictionary of Balkan idioms), a unique time and effort consuming project developed and lead by prof. Jani Thomai with an international team of linguists. Each of the other four authors Xh. Lloshi, R.Hristova-Beyleri, K.Qiriazati and A. Melonashi worked separately on finding the closest concordances for the Albanian expressions respectively in Serbian, Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian. After the first phase material was submitted, the units with no correspondents in at least three languages were omitted and what remained were about 5000 basic entries.  This volume offers abundant raw material for comparative studies. Unlike dictionaries in general it will not be easily outdated, because the process of diversification and establishment of the phraseological units does not happen in a uniform way with the lexical units and new items rarely leap to immediate currency.   


Për pastërtinë e gjuhës shqipe. Fjalor. A. Kostallari, E. Lafe, J. Thomai, E. Angoni. Tiranë, 1998. 188 p.

(On the purity of Albanian language. Dictionary)

The dictionary had been composed and ready for publishing since 1992. It consists of 1440  words distributed in 630 entries, previously circulated in the academic periodicals “Gjuha jone” (Tirana) and “Gjuha shqipe” (Prishtina) in a special column called “Fjala shqipe në vend të fjalës së huaj” (Albanian word in place of the foreign word). The material had been constantly refined and amended over the following decade by its editors Emil Lafe, Jani Thomai and Engjëll Angoni renowned for their permanent contribution in this realm. The definitive edition came out in 1998 when the onslaught of foreign borrowings was coming to a climax. The actual discrepancy originates from the fact that the foreign words currently pressurizing the language are definitely not the same that were alleged to be some ten or fifteen years ago. A bulk of English and Italian vocables have been quickly transliterated and nested in Albanian alongside with functional terms denominating new phenomena. The fall from grace of many inherent words, apart from the typical explanation of the changing realities, has a plain linguistic reason. The prevailing pattern of semantic development in Albanian is the expansion of meaning and not the flourishing of synonyms [4] . Consequently, there has long been a cutting need for lexical variety. It is thus with understandable vulnerability that borrowings have been and, I dare predict, will be accepted in the language system and subsystems. The topic is debatable, but the realistic stance should be, by all means, flexible as the one expressed by the leading linguist and master of pen Xhevat Lloshi at the conference “Standard Albanian and the Albanian society today”, held in Tirana on 11-12 November, 2003. He voiced the opinion that there is nothing distressing in the parallel or even preferable use of recent loanwords, given that the user is aware of the existence of the respective Albanian words with the same meaning. Backing-up that standpoint we should strongly recommend the dictionary as an essential lexical reference for all foreigners studying Albanian and for the young generation of the large national diaspora abroad. A foreigner myself, I must highlight in particular the detailed handling of the partial semantic substitutes e.g. agrar-bujqesor; esencë-thelb, tarracë-brezare or aktivitet-veprimtari, but only aktiv, aktivizoj, aktivizim; also ekstrem-skaj, but only ekstremist, ekstremizëm etc.




Fjalor i antonimeve në gjuhën shqipe. M. Samara. Shkup: Shkupi, 1998. 418 p.

(Dictionary of antonyms in the Albanian language)

The dictionary of antonyms came as a result of professor Miço Samara’s long-term focusing in the realm of antonyms and had been preceded by an extensive theoretical study [5] . The dictionary itself contains about 2000 pairs of antonyms. The meaning of the antonyms is explained and then illustrated by text extracts from literature. The entries include antonyms originating from the same root or from different roots. Here is the proper place to note that the first category is more difficult to acquire, because of the variety of prefixes with similar connotation that may be expected in Albanian language, i.g. i mbuluar – i zbuluar, i pambuluar; normal – anormal, jonormal; sulm-kundërsul, por mit-antimit etc. And again from the foreigner’s point of view I would like to highlight a very important merit of the work: Though speech frequency research of the lexis has not been conducted for Albanian, professor M. Samara has picked up what seems to be the most customary inventory of the language. Doubtless we could only wish more quantity, but what matters is that the dictionary can be utilized in full amount and without hesitation in the language practice. 


 Fjalor sinonimik i gjuhës shqipe. A. Dhrimo, E.Tupja, E.Ymeri, Tiranë: Toena. 2002. 612 p.

(Dictionary of synonyms in the Albanian language)

This absence of such a dictionary had always been a topic of lamentation in the Albanian-speaking world. Here it comes! The dictionary encompasses about 30 000 title words, which is quite impressive, given that the newest edition of the Dictionary of Modern Albanian reaches about 35 000 in total. The team consists of experienced linguists under the direction of professor Ali Dhrimo, well-known for his contributions in grammar [6] . The entries are exhaustive, completely tracing the shades of the meaning and different connotations. The string of synonyms includes not only lexical units, but also expressions and idioms. Proper style marks have been provided. Anyhow, a foreign user should be patient to double-check his/her choices with the explanatory dictionary and to refrain from “variety by all means” for reasons stretching beyond the scope of the presented work: Firstly, because of the sintagmatic links in a context. Secondly, because the synonymic dominant (the word standing for the basic general concept) in Albanian operates in a broader radius than e.g., in Bulgarian, as a result of the less active use of prefixation in word formation. Thirdly, due to the unexplored abyss of speech frequency in-between two synonyms in Albanian, coming to the extreme always-never, e.g. fletore (notebook) – radhua, radhor.  It is only logical and necessary to long for such a research now when the Dictionary of synonyms has seen light.


Some other recently published profiled dictionaries are:

Fjalori i termave themelorë të mekanikës. Tiranë, 2002. 1224 p. Kryeradaktor A. Duro

(Dictionary of the Basic Terms of  Mechanics – Albanian-English-French-Italian-Russian)


Fjalori i emrave gjeografikë të Republikës së Shqipërisë. Tiranë, 2002.

(Dictionary of the Geographic Names in the Republic of Albania)

Fjalor i pseudonimeve. P. Daka. Tiranë, 1998

(Dictionary of Pseudonyms)

Fjalor i personazheve në veprat e Ismail Kadaresë. A. Uçi. Tiranë, 1995.

(Dictionary of characters in the Ismail Kadare’s works)


Fjalor i shqipes truallsore të Maqedonisë. Q. Murati. Tetovë: Album, 1998. 221 p.

(Dictionary of the Albanian dialects in Macedonia)


The Albanian speakers in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) geographically belong to the southeastern Gheg (Tetovo, Gostivar, Debar, Kërçova, Prilep, Veles, Kumanovo, Skopje) and to the northeast Tosk (Struga, Ohrid, Prespa, Bitola) dialects [7] . As elsewhere, the standard literary Albanian has been accepted as the public language of the Albanian community. But what Shefkie Islamaj points out for Kosovo and namely that the norm needs to be steadily taught and learned [8] is perfectly the case in Macedonia. Qemal Murati, senior researcher at the Albanological Institute in Prishtina and former head of the Albanian language cathedra at the Tetovo University has been completely dedicated to that mission. His doctoral dissertation “Sllavizmat në të folmet shqipe të Maqedonisë” (Slavic borrowings in the Albanian dialects in Macedonia) as other publications, are prevailingly concentrated in the field of language contacts. The dictionary contains substantial lexical material, properly noted as to the geographical region it comes from. Local idioms have been autonomously arranged in a separate chapter. A list of specific family names has been provided at the end. The dictionary has been criticized for having sheltered too much words of Slavonic origin that, though interfering with, are not incorporated in the Albanian dialects. But like it or not from strictly theoretical point of view, if something has actually been used by the Albanian people, it is more than natural to highly appreciate the facts registered and the practical guidance offered. 


Gramatika e gjuhës shqipe, chief editor Mahir Domi

I, Morfologjia. red. Shaban Demiraj. (F. Agalliu, E. Angoni, Sh. Demiraj, A. Dhrimo, E. Hysa, E. Lafe, E. Likaj). Tiranë: Akademia e shkencave, 2002. 452 p. (1976, 1995)

II, Sinataksa, red. Mahir Domi. (M. Çeliku, M. Domi, S. Floqi, S. Mansaku, R. Përnaska, S. Prifti, M. Totoni). Tiranë: Akademia e shkencave, 2002.  683 p. (1976, 1983, 1997)

(Albanian grammar: I. Morphology, II. Syntax)

The academic grammar is a high status work, because it is normative and also due to the fact that its authors are the number one specialists in the respective branches. The first volume is devoted to morphology in the broad sense. It explains and illustrates the grammatical categories in standard Albanian with their meaning and means of expression and also clarifies the functions and usage of the parts of speech. The word formation system has also been encompassed. The second volume unfolds in-depth the syntactic level. Both tables of contents are drawn with the utmost detail and guide into a serviceable, time-saving and reader-oriented structure. This is the primary source of relevant and credible scholarly information one should resort to.


Rregullat e pikësimit në gjuhën shqipe, ed. M.Ymeri, L. Buxheli. Tiranë: Shkenca, 2002. 128 p.

(Rules of punctuation in the Albanian language)

This slender volume is an essential tool for all interested in learning Albanian language abroad, apart from being requisite for everybody in Albania proper. The importance of the presented work should not be sought in its theoretical novelty, because every high school graduate is supposed to be familiar with orthography, but in the revelation that it is the first available compilation of such standards for Albanian. The delay was particularly upsetting due to the fact that orthography serves, among others, as criterion of language culture. And how could a clear judgment take place if the code was missing?  The draft project of the Rules was initially published in 1981, following the Congress of Language Standardization (1972), by a working group under the direction of akad. Mahir Domi and prof. Menella Totoni of the Institute of Linguistics and Literature in Tirana. As it turned out impossible for the commission to finalize the project, Mariana Ymeri, PhD, and Ludmila Buxheli, PhD, of the Department of Grammar, revived the left off initiative, guided by professor Emil Lafe. Though the book constitutes no radical change of the course set, it simplifies the explanations of the rules and aims, as it is, to be instructive and useful. Coming strictly to the technical point, Albanian orthography is based on the general wide-spread meanings of the signs in most European languages and follows primarily the syntactic and secondarily the semantic principle. Regarding to the second, for example, Bulgarian students will be disappointed to discover that unlike our ÷å (that), comma is not a precursor of the respective Albanian që and se conjunctions, especially in determinative clause.

The work is a vital supplement to the normative academic grammar of the Albanian language.


Gramatika praktike e gjuhës shqipe. M. Çeliku, M. Karapinjalli, R. Stringa. Tiranë: TOENA, 2000. 496 p.

(Practical grammar of the Albanian language)

The presented work has resulted out of the common efforts of a team working at the Elbassan University, descendant from the venerable first high school in the country, Normalja e Elbasanit, later transformed to the Pedagogical Institute. The head of the triad and chief editor of the grammar, professor Mehmet Çeliku, is provost of the University, where he had lectured for many years. His doctoral dissertation “Format e pashtjelluara të foljes në gjuhën e sotme shqipe” (The unchangeable verbal forms in modern Albanian) has recently seen light as a separate edition under the same title (Tiranë: Shblu, 2000).

Contrary to the normative academic grammar, the leading principle of this work is the simplification of the definitions and the expanded demonstration of the grammatical phenomena using text extracts from renowned Albanian writers. The theoretical concepts are elucidated through the arrangement and the systematization of the linguistic facts. An English version of the grammar is soon to be provided for the foreign learners.


Stilistika e gjuhës shqipe dhe pragmatika. Xh. Lloshi. Tiranë:Shblu. 2001. 362 p.

(Stylistics and pragmatics of the Albanian language)  First edition 1999.

Xhevat Lloshi is a productive author, who made a reputation for himself as one of the leading linguists and master of the martial art of words in the journalist arena. His arguments enjoy praise and acclamation even when the ideas they contain get mixed reception. This is so because if strictly linguistic problems tend to be hermetic and distant for the common reader, his manner of presenting them in a scholarly, erudite and no perplexed manner, sounds as sovereign personalized dialogue with the individual reader. This monograph is comprehensive in the field.  It is split into two major parts as the title prompts – stylistics and pragmatics. The first section (15 chapters) deals with three main groups of issues: theoretical problems; the expressive potential of the Albanian language at all language system levels and functional styles in modern Albanian. What is specific for the Albanian language is that the stylistic elaboration of the language system has been connected with the stage of its codification in a standard language, because the literary norm is the basic objective criteria for stylistic stratification. The section on pragmatics views speech as act of personal expression and mechanism of communication. The common notions are well-supplied with Albanian source material, what makes the monograph a useful reference for in-depth studies.




Kultura gjuhësore dhe përdorimi estetik i gjuhës. Sh. Islamaj. Tiranë: TOENA. 2002, 420 p.

(The language culture and the esthetic functions of the language)

Without tracking down the gender situation, we must mention that first-rate female scholars are infrequent in Kosovo. Professor Shefkie Islamaj from the Albanological Institute in Prishtina sets an admirable example of how mother of four children may succeed in a remarkable professional career. She is the author of the single study on synonyms in Albanian language [9] and co-author of the dictionary of foreign words and expressions [10] , a valuable tool available only in Kosovo due to the ideological restraints in Albania at the time.

The presented monograph comes to complete the concepts of Albanian stylistics from the indispensable angle of the language perspective in Kosovo. The period of standstill and wanton destruction of Albanian culture in Kosovo has gone, the dramatic war events are behind and great hopes are awakened by the resumed activities of the academic institutions. The new but yet unspecified status of the former province and the vast international presence at all levels of public life evokes the necessity to bring the language issues in the limelight.

The first chapter is entitled “Standard language as a great national treasure” and fosters the idea that language problems should rank among the essential national issues. She points out the necessity of conscious efforts to enhance the standard language in Kosovo, where the northern Gheg dialects are spoken, regardless of some local short-sighted “pros and cons”. Though there are technical imperfections of the standard language, considered by many a straightforward offspring of the southern Tosk dialect, the unequivocal message of its existence and thriving “one nation - one language” has lost none of its vitality. Further some problems of the stylistic norm are outlined and a picture of contemporary literature from the language perspective is drawn. The second chapter is dedicated to the classics of Albanian literature. It surveys some of the masterpieces from the point of view of stylistics with emphasis on semantic enrichment of the language, plus a cursory overview of the hues of style coming in direct reflection of the reality. Chapter three has collected short reviews of recently published monographs in the field under the motto “The wisdom and the beauty of Albanian”. Chapters four concentrates on some notable anniversaries, valuing the country’s cultural traditions.  “Intellectual anxieties” is a well chosen title for the short fifth chapter, concerning topical issues in the Albanian studies from the position of intransigence towards scholarly naivety, lingering and drawbacks. Some of the chapters in the book are reprints of Sh. Islamaj’s selected articles, which in view of the moment constitute a powerful accumulation of avant-garde ideas.


Gjuha e Jakov Xoxës. Sh. Islamaj. Prishtinë: KOHA. 2000. 420 p.

(Jakov-Xoxa’s language – lexical-semantic and stylistic features)


The starting point for Shefkie Islamaj’s monograph is the fact that the works of the leading writers in general give many opportunities for linguistic analysis and are considered to be a source of enrichment of the modern language. That is valid especially for Albanian, which compared to the other national languages of Europe, does not enjoy a long literary tradition (first recorded in 1555).  The standard language was shaped during the dictatorial period of Enver Hoxha and the creative sustenance it could search for in literature was filtered through the doctrinal fidelity surveillance. In a preface to his anthology “An Elusive eagle soars” the outstanding connoisseur and translator of Albanian literature Robert Elsie remarks that “subjects devoid of any redeeming educational value in Marxist terms were considered alien and taboo”. That banned the stylistic horizon and only few were the authors who could stand the trial of individuality. Jakov Xoxa is one of them. Though his works abide by the social and political messages required, the diversity of expression and the creative endeavors made him representative of prose production. The language was precisely the one that enabled Jakov Xoxa to perform his poetical world and to distinguish among his generation. Prof. Sh. Islamaj has chosen the language as goal of the study, convinced that it presents a task of key scientific interest. The monograph delivers observations and interpretations of essential for the Albanian language facts. Xoxa’s ltierary work was written in the standard literary language. He firmly relied both on the standard language and on the spoken folk language. According to professor Xhevat Lloshi the average number of words used in most distinguished novels of the Albanian literature is approximately 5000-7000, while only Xoxa’s novel “Lumi i vdekur” (The dead river) is asserted to have included about 12 000 lexical units, most of which are registered in the normative FGJSSH (Dictionary of Modern Albanian Language,1980). Xoxa generated not only quantity to the lexical stock, but semantic enrichment, abundant phraseology and idioms, compounds, synonyms, unique system of figures. It is professor Islamaj’s merit to summarize and bring to light the broad scope of lexical and stylistic contributions of Jakov Xoxa in a time when the standard language, urged by global communications to change, needs to recuperate its innate power and self-confidence. The book is recommendable to everybody interested both in Albanian language and literature, as well as in sociolinguistics.


Procese të ndikimit italian mbi shqipen. Rasti i emigracionit të fundit shqiptar në Itali. L. Shamku-Shkreli. Tiranë: Njeriu. 1999. 120 p.

(Processes of Italian influence on the Albanian language. The case of the current Albanian emigration to Italy)


One result of the opening of Albania has been that, for the first time, talented young Albanians are being given a chance to study abroad and to acquire specialized training and the sound education which their people were so long denied. One now finds Albanian students doing masters and doctoral degrees in New York, Boston, Moscow, Rome, Istanbul and many other surprisingly exotic venues. A laudable achievement of this generation of post-graduate students is Ledi Shamku’s monograph, maybe the only scholarly research devoted to sociolinguistics entirely reflecting the present state of Albanian affairs. It is a pleasant surprise, however, that this talented young scholar now lives in Tirana. The reason which led her to go into that topic is the obvious reality that thousands of Albanian emigrants have settled temporarily or on long term basis in Italy. But whereas relevant conclusions have been drawn concerning their life in general, the linguistic part of it remains a missing entry. During her 7 year stay in Italy Ledi Shamku developed a sequence of questionnaires which aimed a systematic investigation of the bilingual Albanian environment of more or less the same sojourn. She has approached and linked new and old themes with unprecedented easiness. The first important point concerns the logical first glance analogy between the current exodus and the Albanian colonization in southern Italy dating back to the waves of refugees in 15-17 centuries after the collapse of Albanian resistance and the death in 1468 of Scanderbeg. But if the ancestors of the present Albanian emigrants fled away to save and replant their ethnic identity, whilst their dialects always tended to be more conservative and archaic than the language in the mother country itself, we do not witness the same development now. The on-going emigration process attempts to remedy the agony of the post-dictatorial state through dissociation with the past. The first element who is subjected to alternation is the language. Further Ledi Shamku aptly asks the following questions: Who speaks Albanian in Italy now? Who speaks only Albanian? Who speaks Albanian and who speaks Italian? The answers are evoked based on the educational, intellectual and demographical indicators of the Albanian speakers and on the factual state of their finances and family perspective in the foreign country. Different types of language code collisions are described and explained. The aftermath is that what has been established now in Italy is not a replica of the medieval national diaspora, but an unfixed and stirring network in constant migration to and from Albania. The lexical shift towards Italian, combined with syntactical transformations, according to the author, cannot be looked at as a temporary fluctuation, but as a “source of infection”. The study gives an ample proof that though a recent phenomenon, this new type of language contact by no means should stay neglected by the scholars. Ledi Shamku made a promising start as a sociolinguist manifesting obvious talent within the patterns of modern thinking.


Shaban Demiraj,Gramatikë historike e gjuhës shqipe, Tirana, Akademia e shkencave, 2002. 512 p.            

(Historical grammar of the Albanian language)

This new book is a shortened updated edition (18 chapters) of Shaban Demiraj’s work with the same title that appeared in 1986. A similar abbreviated edition entitled “Historische Grammatik der albanischen Sprache (kurze Fassung)” was published in 1993 by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Therefore in the present overview we shall not further dwell on it. Those who are interested in the details may refer to any of the just mentioned publications. Both Albanian versions are provided with rather long English summaries.



Shaban Demiraj, Prejardhja e shqiptarëve ne dritën e dëshmive të gjuhës shqipe, Tirana, Shtëpia botuese “Shkenca”, 1999. 284 p.

(The origin of Albanians in the light of the Albanian language evidences)

Fathoming the genesis of a people is particularly difficult in the Balkans due to the lack of sufficient linguistic records. Academic Sh.Demiraj seeks to sort out the facts not juxtaposing different languages, but investigating the valid clues steeping in the language history itself. Though the exact strength of the autochthon element in Albanian is difficult to ascertain, the author revives the past masterfully and, on the basis of the little material available, delineates the plausible arguments and offers seeming to be right and reasonable explanations from a decidedly Albanian perspective.

            The treatise consists of five chapters and a comprehensive summary in English (40 p.) Chapter I “The indoeuropeization of the Balkans (the ethnic linguistic situation of the Balkan Peninsula in antiquity)” briefly describes the significant historic events that brought about the actual ethnic linguistic situation in the Balkan Peninsula. Chapter II “The opinions expressed so far about the origin of the Albanian people” lists the different hypothesis on that issue. The author concludes that most of the arguments presented by the upholders of the Thracian or Daco-Mysian origin of the Albanians cannot resist criticism. That doesn’t mean, however, that the opposite thesis, namely that the Albanians are the offspring of South Illyrian tribes, has already been proved. Therefore this problem is dealt with in Chapter III “The homeland of the ancestors of the Albanians in Antiquity in the light of Albanian language evidences”. The intervocalic /-n-/ > /-r-/ change (rhotacism)  and the appearance of the stressed /ë/ which generally involved only inherited words and Ancient Greek and Latin loanwords and only in the southern dialect is considered a pre-Slavic phenomenon. The spreading of Christian terminology and of some ancient Christian names is displayed and the evolution of some ancient geographical and river names is analyzed. The author’s tenet is that the most ancient Christian names as Pal<Paullus, Gjon<Joannes, Pjetër<Petrus Gjergj<Georgius have been spread over all Albanian-speaking regions partly before the dialectal division of Albanian. The phonetic changes undergone by the ancient Christian names are characteristic of the Latin loanwords of Albanian and consequently, those names should have penetrated among the forefathers of Albanians in those regions, e.g. into the pre-Albanian language. The same results for the geographic names.

Chapter IV concerns the denomination of the Albanians in the course of centuries. Chapter V is called “The Balkan forefathers of the Albanians and the time of the formation of the Albanian ethnos.”

            The opulence of linguistic hypothesis, representing overriding national interests, shows that the ethnic autochthony has been and will remain a popular topic among Balkan scholars.



Tabu dhe eufemizma në gjuhën shqipe. T. Osmani, S. Pepa. Shkodër: ISUFI. 2000. 170 p. (Taboo and euphemisms in the Albanian language)

No doubt that the volume will attract the attention of the albanologists, especially the young generation. The Bulgarian students of Balkan studies are genuinely fascinated by the complex linguistic, folkloristic and ethno-psychological information it depicts and interprets in the light of the inveterate Albanian traditions and beliefs. The authors are well-known scholars from the Shkodra University. Simon Pepa’s recent demise at a relatively young age was a tragic loss for modern Albanian linguistics.

The monograph starts with a chapter devoted to the terms taboo and euphemism and offers a review of the dispersed studies and facts on the topic in the Albanian periodicals. Five chapters follow, which reveal the fundamental images and superstitions, excerpted from the folklore: the wolf; the serpent; the weasel, the illnesses, death, the weather and the mythological figures. As elsewhere in the world they are presented as a reflection of social values and as participants in the constant struggle between good and evil. Chapters 7-9 concentrate on the linguistic structure of the euphemisms substituting the tabooed words, including overview of their type (modifications, substitutions), phonetic peculiarities and alternations compared to the standard and sub-standard words; structural classification and semantic penetration. The reader will benefit from a short dictionary and comprehensive bibliography on the subject.



Theksi në gjuhë shqipe. K. Topalli. Tiranë: Shtëpia botuese enciklopedike, 1995. 530p.

 (The accent in the Albanian language)

A number of distinguished linguists of the previous and present centuries have been engaged in many problems that the accent presents in the Albanian language, starting with Hahn and Miklosich, continuing with Meyer, Pedersen, Pekmezi, Meyer-Lübke, Jokl. Cimochowski, Barić, currently Camaj, Çabej, Demiraj, Bokshi etc. Despite the full involvement of these linguists and others, a great deal of research work remains to be done and many points must be clarified and completed. The goal of the presented monograph is to study the peculiarities of the dynamic accent of the Albanian language and the most important phonetic phenomena, that result from its action, such as the fixing of the stress on one of the syllables of the stem, the position of the accent in relation to the formative parts of the word, cases of its movement, the quantity of stressed vowels, the evolution of the unstressed vowels, the changing of the words in the sentence because of the syntactical accent etc. Formally the first part of the book deals with the accent of the word and the second one with the accent of the sentence and particularly with the phonetic phenomena in sandhi (changes of the words in the sentence as a result of the unification processes in the related speech).  The main field of study is the historical phonetics, but it is also related to historical morphology, syntax and etymology. Considered from another angle, the phenomena of the dynamic accent in Albanian, are correlated to common characteristics of languages of the Balkan Peninsula, especially of Romanian. Moreover, according to the author, the Illyrian filiations should be traced. The working method is based on the historical analysis of the linguistic material reconstruction its most ancient phases on the basis of Albanian data and those of other languages, which Albanian has been confronted to during its history.

From the same author in the field of historical phonetics:

K. Topalli. Zhvilimi historik i diftongjeve të shqipes. Tiranë, 1998.

(The historic development of the diphthongs in the Albanian language)

K. Topalli Sonantet e gjuhës shqipe, Tiranë, 2000. 

(The sonants in the Albanian language)

K. Topalli. Shndërrime historike në sistemin zanor të gjuhës shqipe. Tiranë 2000. (Historic changes in the vocal system of Albanian language)

K. Topalli. Mbylltoret e gjuhës shqipe, Tiranë, 2002.

(The occlusives in the Albanian language)



            The author would be very pleased, if this review would stimulate the interest of researchers in the field of Albanian and comparative studies.


[1] P. Daka, Bibliografi e studimeve dhe e artikujve për gjuhën shqipe (1945-1974). Tiranë, 1975.

[2]   Studime filologjike (SF), Tiranë, 1977-4, 1980 – 2,3, 1981 -1, 1982 -2.

[3] J. Thomai, Çështje të frazeolgjisë në gjuhën shqipe. Tiranë, 1981.

   J. Thomai, Prejardhja semantike në gjuhën shqipe. Tiranë, 1989.

   J. Thomai, Teksti dhe gjuha. Tiranë, 1992.

[4] See J. Thomai, Prejardhja semantike në gjuhën shqipe. Tiranë. 1988.

[5] M. Samara, Çështje të antonimisë në gjuhën shqipe. Tiranë, 1885.

[6] A. Dhrimo, Aspekti dhe mënyrat e veprimit foljor në gjuhën shqipe. Tiranë, 1996.

[7] J. Gjinari, Dialektologjia shqiptare. Tiranë, 1975.

[8] Sh. Islamaj, Kultura e gjuhës dhe përdorimi estetic i saj. Tiranë, 2000. p. 29.

[9] Sh. Islamaj. Çështje të sinonimeve në gjuhën shqipe. Prishtinë, 1985.

[10] Fjalori i fjalëve dhe i shprehjeve të huaja. Prishtinë, 1988.