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Albanian language

Facts about Albanian Language

Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by nearly 7.6 million people, mainly in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, Montenegro, southern Serbia and north-western Greece. Albanian is also spoken by native enclaves in Greece, along the eastern coast of southern Italy, and in Sicily. Additionally, speakers of Albanian can be found elsewhere throughout the latter two countries resulting from a modern diaspora, originating from the Balkans, that also includes Germany, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Prononciation guide
In Albanian there is a one-to-one relationship between sounds and letters, and reading and writing Albanian is relatively easy if you know some simple rules. The Albanian alphabet has 36 letters:

a, b, c, ç, d, dh, e, ë, f, g, gj, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, nj, o, p, q, r, rr, s, sh, t, th, u, v, x, xh, y, z, zh.

The alphabet contains entries like ‘dh’, ‘th’, ‘ll’, etc. these are ‘compound letters’. As all the other letters, these entries are always pronounced the same and are represented by unique sounds.

The following letters are pronounced similarly in English and in Albanian.
b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, z
‘g’ is always pronounced like ‘g’ in ‘great’ (never like ‘g’ in ‘digit’!).

Compound letters
The following are the compound letters: dh, gj, ll, nj, rr, sh, th, xh, zh.
Each of them represents a single sound. Each has a separate section in Albanian dictionaries, i.e., words that start with ‘th’ are not to be found in the ‘t’ section of a dictionary.

‘dh’ sounds like ‘th’ in the English word ‘this’.
‘gj’ does not have a counterpart in English. It is produced by the merger of Albanian sounds ‘d’ and ‘j’ (see below). It is pronounced with the tongue touching the palate. Alternatively, you can pronounce this sound like the rest of foreigners who learn Albanian, i.e., like ‘j’ in ‘joy’.
‘ll’ is like the English ‘ll’ in ‘allows’
‘nj’ sounds like ‘n’ in ‘new’
‘rr’ is a rough sound. It is a rolled, long and strong ‘r’
‘sh’ is just like the English ‘sh’ in ‘she’
‘th’ is like the English ‘th’ in ‘thick’.
‘xh’ is like the English ‘j’ in ‘joystick’
‘zh’ is pronounced like French ‘j’ or like the English ‘s’ in ‘measure’.

Letters that are not used in English: ‘ç’ and ‘ë’
‘ç’ is also seen in French, however Albanians pronounce it very differently. Albanian ‘ç’ sounds like ‘ch’ in ‘child’ (or like German ‘tsch’).
‘ë’ sounds like ‘u’ in ‘purse’. When in the end of a word, Albanians usually do not pronounce it.

In everyday writing, Albanians often tend to replace ‘ë’ with ‘e’ and ‘ç’ with ‘c’. However, they pronounce them correctly.

Letters with a different pronunciationc compared to English
‘c’ sounds the same as ‘ts’. For those who know German, Albanian ‘c’ sounds like German ‘Zeiss’.
‘j’ is pronounced like ‘y’ in ‘yellow’
‘q’ is similar to ‘gj’ in that it is a palatal sound (it is pronounced with the tongue touching the palate). It sounds like a merger of Albanian sounds ‘t’ and ‘j’ (see above). Alternatively, you can pronounce it like ‘ç’ (see above).
‘x’ sounds the same as ‘dz’ (merged in one). This sound is not found in English. In Italian this sound is similar to the ‘z’ in ‘azzurri’.
‘y’ is a vowel in Albanian. It is like French ‘u’ or German ‘ü’.

The vowels
Albanian has seven vowels. Two of them are described above (‘ë’ and ‘y’). The other five are described below.

‘a’ is a vowel and is pronounced like ‘a’ in ‘charm’.
‘e’ is a vowel and is pronounced like ‘e’ in ‘tell’.
‘i’ ia a vowel and is pronounced like ‘ee’ in ‘geek’, or like ‘i’ in ‘hit’.
‘o’ is a vowel and is pronounced like ‘o’ in ‘shop’.
‘u’ is a vowel and is pronounced like ‘oo’ in ‘foot’, or like ‘u’ in ‘put’.

That`s it :). If you resisted till here, lets go on with some common Albanian expressions. They may be useful when going around.

Common phrases in Albanian

YES = PO – po

NO = JO – jo

PLEASE = TË LUTEM – te lootehm

THANK YOU = FALEMINDERIT – fahlehmeendehreet



GOOD NIGHT = NATËN E MIRË – nahtern eh meer

GOOD-BYE = MIRUPAFSHIM – meeroopahfsheem

WHAT IS YOUR NAME? = SI JU QUAJNË? – see yoo chooayn

MY NAME IS… = UNË QUHEM… – oon ch’oohehm

HOW ARE YOU? = SI JENI? – see yehnee

meer fahlehmeendehreet, poh yoo

I UNDERSTAND. = E KUPTOJ – eh kooptoy


DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? = FLISNI ANGLISHT? – fleesnee ahngleesht

I DON’T SPEAK (MUCH) ALBANIAN = NUK FLAS (SHUMË) SHQIP – nook flahs (shoom) shch’eep

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