Monday, March 24, 2014

Language Profile: Albanian

Today's language profile is a brief look at Albanian, the sole official language of Albania. It is also an official language in Kosovo alongside Serbian, and is an official regional language in Macedonia and Montenegro. The language also has many speakers in Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy.

The Albanian Riviera along the Ionian Sea coast.
Just like Armenian, which we looked at in last week's language profile, Albanian constitutes its very own branch of the Indo-European language family. The same can also be said of the Greek language.

Historical records show that Albanian was considered a distinct language as far back as the 14th century. However, the oldest known printed book in Albanian is Meshari, from 1555. It was a missal created by a Roman Catholic cleric for use by Christians in daily religious services.

Albanian has been written using various alphabets since the 15th century. In the earliest years of its writing, alphabet choice was closely linked with the religious beliefs of the writer. Catholics often used the Latin alphabet, while Greek Orthodox used the Greek alphabet and Muslims used an Arabic-based alphabet. Eventually, it was decided to make the use of a Latin-based script official, which is still used to this day.