Reconstruction ofAlbanian (Albanian dialects)
RegionBalkan Peninsula
Erac. 1000 BCE[1] – 600 CE[2]

The Proto-Albanian language is the unattested language from which Albanian later developed. Albanian evolved from an ancient Paleo-Balkan language, traditionally thought to be Illyrian,[3] or otherwise a totally unattested Balkan Indo-European language that was closely related to Illyrian and Messapic,[4] which is sometimes also referred to as Albanoid.[5]

Proto-Albanian is reconstructed by way of the comparative method between the Tosk and Gheg dialects, as well as the treatment of loanwords, the most important of which are those from Latin (dated by De Vaan to the period 167 BCE to 400 CE) and from Slavic (dated from 600 CE onward).[6] The evidence from loanwords allows linguists to construct in great detail the shape of native words at the points of major influxes of loans from well-attested languages.[7]

Proto-Albanian is broken up into different stages which are usually delimited by the onset of contact with different well-attested languages.[6] Its earliest stages are dated to the early Roman Empire, just before the period of intense Latin-Albanian contact, while in its late stages it experienced contact with Slavic languages.[8][9][10] The Tosk-Gheg split is known to predate Slavic contact circa 600 CE, as evidenced by the fact that Latin and ancient Greek loanwords are treated like native words with regard to taxonomical differences between Gheg and Tosk, but the same is not true of Slavic loans.[11][12][13]

Nomenclature of periodization of Proto-Albanian

Vladimir Orel distinguishes the following periods of Proto-Albanian:

However, another periodization paradigm does exist, and is used by some scholars in the field, such as Ranko Matasović:

Demiraj, like Matasović and unlike Orel, observes the 5th/6th centuries as a boundary between stages, but instead places the "emergence of Albanian" from its parent after this point, rather than the 14th.[10]

In an Albanian chapter penned by Michiel de Vaan within Klein, Joseph and Fritz' 2018 Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics,[6] Demiraj's periods are adhered to. Orel's "Later Proto-Albanian", which is for them also definitively placed before Slavic contact, is referred to as simply "Proto-Albanian" (PAlb) or, in German, Uralbanisch, reflecting the terminology of earlier writing in German.[15][16][17] What is for Orel "Early Proto-Albanian" (EPA), dated definitively before the onset of Latin contact, is for De Vaan, "Pre-Proto-Albanian" (PPAlb); in German, this stage is called Voruralbanisch or Frühuralbanisch.[6] De Vaan also discusses the possibility of breaking Pre-Proto-Albanian into two stages: one before the first Greek loanwords, and one that is after the first Greek loanwords, but before contact with Latin.[6]

This page at present is using the paradigm of Orel.

History of study

Vladimir Orel is one of the main modern international linguists to have dealt with the passage from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Albanian to Modern Albanian. According to Orel, the study of Proto-Albanian syntax remains in its infancy so there are some limitations to the work. However, there have been developments in the understanding of the historical development of phonetics and vocabulary.[18] Other major work has been done by Eqrem Çabej and Shaban Demiraj as well as by major scholars in the field of Romanian historical linguistics as it relates to Albanian (see Albanian–Romanian linguistic relationship) as well as other Balkan linguists. A large amount of work done on Proto-Albanian is published in German, rather than English.


Albanian in the Paleo-Balkanic branch based on the chapter on Albanian by Adam Hyllested and Brian D. Joseph in Thomas Olander (ed.) "The Indo-European Language Family" (2022).

Extensive recent studies on Proto-Albanian phonology have been published by Huld (1984), Beekes (1995), Shaban Demiraj (1996), Bardhyl Demiraj (1997), Orel (2000), Hock (2005), Matzinger (2006), Vermeer (2008), Schumacher (2013), and De Vaan (2018).[6]

At present, this page follows Orel's paradigm for periods of Proto-Albanian, and presents the relationship between the synchronic phonologies of both "EPA" and "LPA" with diachronic relationships to each other and to ancestral Indo-European forms as well as descendant Albanian forms.


In Early Proto-Albanian, stress was paradigmatic, and behaved according to morphological class,[19] with a base on the first syllable.[9] In different paradigms, the stress pattern was varyingly barytonic, oxytonic, and mobile.[19] Unstressed vowels lost one mora—long vowels were shortened, already short vowels were often deleted. In Later Proto-Albanian, however, a new system of unstressed vowel reduction emerged where *a reduced to *ë while all others were simply deleted (except for post-tonic inlaut vowels, which became *ë).[19] Orel gives the following examples:


Simple vowels in EPA[20]
Front Central Back
High *i • *iː *u • *uː
Mid *e • *eː • *oː
Low *a • *aː
Diphthongs in EPA[20]
Nucleus -i -u
*e *ei *eu
*a *ai *au

Early Proto-Albanian possessed four distinctive short vowels: *a, *e, *i and *u. Proto-Indo-European *o and *ə had merged into *a by the Early Proto-Albanian stage. A five-way distinction was maintained for long vowels: *aː, *eː, *iː, *oː and *uː. Early Proto-Albanian also had four diphthongs: *ei, *ai, *eu and *au.

Early Proto-Albanian's vowel inventory began to change as a result of Latin contact. Initially Albanian was resistant to the restoration of short *o as a separate phoneme, with Latin unstressed *o being replaced by *a, and stressed Latin *o being replaced by *u. However, in later loans, Latin *o is maintained in Albanian as *o. Additionally, some Latin loans with short *u saw Latin *u replaced by *o, as well as *ə specifically in unstressed positions before sonorants. In two cases, Orel argues that Latin short /u/ was lengthened in Albanian to /u:/, ultimately to render /y/. On the other hand, whatever effect Ancient Greek loanwords had at their time of absorption is unclear, but diachronically the vowels always agree with regular internal Albanian developments.

LPA simple vowels
Front Back
High *i *u •
Mid (*e)[Note 1] (*o)[Note 2]
Low *a • *å[21]
(Earlier) LPA diphthongs
-u -i -e
u- *ui *ue
i- *ie
e- *eu *ei
a- *au *ai

Late Proto-Albanian

Late Proto-Albanian exhibited *a, *i and *u throughout its development as distinctive short vowels. *o was restored to the phonemic inventory as a result of loanwords where it was increasingly maintained instead of replaced. Although *e was eliminated by breaking to *ie (which would render je and ja), it was restored by the leveling of /ai/ to /e/ and other phenomena that replaced /a/, /ie/, and /ue/ with /e/. The only long vowel preserved in its original form was *iː. *o: was replaced by *ue, *eː was merged into *aː and both were rounded and eventually raised to *o, while *uː merged with the diphthong *ui, ultimately rendering *y. By Late Proto-Albanian, all the original Indo-European diphthongs had now leveled, but new diphthongs were absorbed in loans, and were also innovated by breaking phenomena: *ie, *ue and *ui. *ai in Latin words with AE shared the fate of inherited Early Proto-Albanian *ai, becoming *e, while Latin AU similarly shared the fate of inherited *au and became *a.

Phonemically nasal vowels emerged in Late Proto-Albanian.[22] First, all vowels standing before nasal consonants were nasalized. The following nasal consonant was then lost in certain morphological contexts, while the vowel remained nasalized, resulting in the emergence of LPA phonemes denoted , , , and .[22] Except in certain Gheg varieties, merged into .[22] The traditional view presented by Orel[22] and Desnickaja[23] is that distinctive nasalization was lost by Tosk but retained by Gheg and that this is a taxonomical difference between the two.[22] However this has now been challenged,[23] after Sheper and Gjinari discovered Lab dialects (Lab is a subdialect of Tosk) in the Kurvelesh region that still had distinctive nasal vowels,[23] and Totoni likewise found that the Lab speech of Borsh also still has nasal vowel phonemes.[24] This means that, instead of the traditional view, it is possible that denasalization happened in most Tosk dialects only after the split from Gheg.[23]

Slavic *uː appears to still have been back and round when it was loaned into Albanian, but it is after the diphthongization and resulting fronting of the original Early Proto-Albanian *uː to *y was no longer absorbing new *uː segments, as they are, with only three exceptions, reflected as *u. Slavic *o had already become *a in the Slavic languages that contacted Albanian by the time of contact, and was loaned as *a for the most part; as is reflected also in other non-Slavic languages absorbing these words. After /v/, this *a became *o again in two attested cases: kos ("yogurt", from Proto-Slavic *kvasъ) and vorbë ("clay pot").

It was at the end of the LPA period that length became no longer distinctive in Albanian,[25] although many Gheg and some Lab dialects preserved it and/or re-innovated it. Furthermore, by Old Albanian, all diphthongs had been lost: those ending in -i were all leveled, the -u was lost in those ending in -u, and those ending in -e were converted to glide + vowel sequences; further changes including the frequent effacement of the former first element or otherwise its hardening into an occlusive (typically /v/ for former u-, and gj /ɟ/ for former i-) rendering the former presence of a diphthong rather opaque in many reflexes.

Vowels of late LPA transitioning to Old Albanian
Front Central Back
High *i • *y *u
MId *e *o
Low *a

Diachronic development

Note that this table differentiates short vowels form long vowels with the IPA symbol <ː> being applied to the long vowels.

Specifically contextualized reflex results are placed in parentheses.

Proto-Indo-European developments before Proto-Albanian Early Proto-Albanian Late Proto-Albanian Tosk Albanian Gheg Albanian Example
Latin short /a/ merges with EPA /a/ /a/[18] /a/ /a/[18] /a/[18] PIE *kap- "to seize" > EPA *kapa > kap "to grasp";

Latin APTUM > Alb aftë "capable";

PIE *n̩bʰ(u)lo- > EPA *abula > Alb avull "steam, vapor";[26]

PIE *septm̩ > EPA *septati > Alb shtatë "seven"[26]

*a Proto-Indo-European * and * merge with result of *a[26]
*a > /e/ under umlaut and subsequent analogy[27] /e/ /e/ EPA *albr̩ > elb "barley";

Latin GALBINUS "yellow" > Alb gjelbër "green";

PIE *u̯īḱm̩tī > EPA *wīdžatī > Alb zet "twenty";[26]

PIE *n̩- > EPA *a- > Alb e- (privative prefix)[26]

>/ɑ̃/ before nasals /ə/ <ë> /ɑ̃/ <â, an> EPA *ksanda > Alb hënë ("moon", Gheg: hanë);

Latin CANTICUM > Alb këngë "song"

/ə/ deleted after a stressed syllable[28] IE *bʰolətom > EPA *baltaː > Alb baltë "swamp"
> /e/ after absorption of following laryngeal H_e /e/ /ie/
(> /e/ before *ts, *dz, *nd, *nt, *mb)
IE *dheHi "to suck"> dheːi > EPA dela > Alb djalë "boy"
> /o/ elsewhere /a/[29] /a/ /a/

IE *apo "away", "off" > EPA *apa > Alb pa "without"
>/ɑ̃/ before nasals /ə/ <ë> /ɑ̃/ <â, an> IE *sont-s "being" > EPA *san(s) > Alb gjë "thing" (Gheg: gjâ sen/send "thing" or sene/sende "things")
/o/ /o/
(/e/ under umlaut and subsequent analogy[27]) /e/ /e/ IE *ǵʰorios > EPA *darja > Alb derr "pig";

IE *kʷəp- "smoke"(?) > EPA *kapna > Alb kem "incense"(Gheg: kall "burn")

> /ɑ̃/ before nasal /ə/ /ɑ̃/ IE *sont-s "being" > EPA *san(s) > Alb gjë
/e/ /e/ /e/[30] IE *lent- > EPA *lenta: > Alb lëndë "timber" (Gheg: landë)
/ie/ /ie/ IE *bʰer- "to bring, carry" > EPA *berja > Alb bie "to bring"
/je/ /je/ IE *smeḱu > EPA smekraː > Alb mjekër "beard"
je > e after affricates, palatals, and liquids je > e after affricates, palatals, and liquids Alb fle "to sleep"
/ja/ /ja/ IE *esmi > EPA *esmi > Alb jam;

ja > a after affricates, palatals and liquids ja > a after affricates, palatals and liquids IE *seḱs + ti > EPA *seksti > Alb gjashtë "six"
/ie/ > /e/ before *ts, *dz, *nd, *nt, *mb /e/ /e/ IE *en per en tod > EPA *(en) per en ta > Alb brenda
/ie/ + /i/ /i/ /i/ IP *gʷedijos > EPA d͡ʒedija > Alb zi "black"
/e/ before *m followed by sibilant or affricate /i/ /i/ /i/ IE *sem-ǵʰo > EPA *semdza > Alb gjithë "all"
Classical Latin /e/ > EPA /ie/ in "usual" layer > /ie/ in EPA for "usual layer" (not identical to development of inherited /e/ which also went through /ie/) /je/ /je/ Lat VERSUM > Alb vjershë "verse"
>/e/ in various contexts after sh, before ng/nd, etc. /e/ Lat CONVENTUS > Alb kuvend
/ja/ /ja/ Lat HEBDOMAS > Alb javë "week"
/ja/ > /a/ after palatals /a/ Lat SELLA > Alb shalë "saddle"
Unstressed /ei/ in Latin loans /e/ /e/ Lat DEBITU꞉RA > Alb detyrë "duty"
Latin /e/ via an unknown different intermediary /e/ /e/ Lat INFERNUM > Alb ferr "hell"; Lat COMMERCIUM > Alb kumerq "toll, duty"
Latin /e/ loaned into Late Proto-Albanian while it lacked any short /e/ phoneme /i/ /i/ IE *ambʰi > EPA *ambi > Alb mbi "on, upon"; Lat PARENTEM > Alb prind "parent"; PIE t(e)r-m- > Alb trim "brave"
Between *r̥ and C /i/ /i/ /i/
> /ĩ/ before nasals /i/ /ĩ/ <î> EPA *rinja > Alb rij "to make humid" (Gheg: )
/u/ /u/ /u/ /u/ /u/ /u/ IE *bʰugʰ > EPA *bugta > Alb butë "smooth"
> /ũ/ before nasals /u/ /ũ/ <û> IE *ǵenu "knee" > EPA *ganuna > LPA glûna > Alb gju "knee" (Gheg: gjû)
Latin /o/ raises before nasals[31] Lat MONACHVS > murg "monk", CONTRĀ > kundër "against"[31]
Latin stressed[32] /o/ ultimately merges with PIE *ā elsewhere /o/ /o/ Lat COXA > kofshë "hip",[31] ROTA > rrotë "wheel" [32]
/aː/ /aː/ /aː/ /ɒː/ /o/ /o/ IE maːter "mother > EPA maːter > Alb motër "sister"
/eː/ /e:/ /e:/ everywhere except gliding to /j/ in clusters: /ɒː/ /o/ /o/ IE *meː-kwe > LPA mɒːts > Alb mos "don't"
/o:/ /o:/ /o:/ /we/ /e/ /e/ IE *bʰloːros > EPA bloːra > Alb blertë "green"
/i:/ /i:/ /i:/ /i:/ /i/ /i/ IE *piː- "to drink" > EPA *pi꞉ja > Alb pi "to drink"
/u:/ /u:/ /u:/ /ui/ /y/ /y/, /i/ in certain conditions EPA *suːsa > Alb gjysh "grandfather"
/wi/ > /i:/ at word coda after loss of nominative final s /i/ /i/ IE *suːs "pig" > EPA *tsu꞉s > LPA tθui > Alb thi "pig"
/wi/ > /i:/ after labial /i/ /i/ IE *bʰuː- "to grow" > EPA enbuːnja > Alb mbij "to thrive"
/wi/ > /i/ before labial /i/ /i/ IE *kreup > EPA kruːpaː > LPA krwipa > Alb kripë "salt"
/wi/ > /i/ before j, i, other palatal elements /i/ /i/ IE *dreu "tree" > EPA druːnjaː > drinjë "brushwood"
/ai/ /ai/ /ai/ > /ẽ/ > /ɑ̃/ before nasal /ə/ <ë> /ɑ̃/ <â, an> EPA *laidna > Alb ("to let"; Gheg: )
/e/ /e/ /e/ IE *aidʰos > EPA *aida > Alb ethe "fever"
/oi/ /oi/ IE *ḱloitos > EPA *klaita: > Alb qetë "jagged rock"
/ei/ /ei/ /ei/ /i/ /i/ /i/ IE *ǵʰeimen- "winter" > EPA *deimena > Alb dimër "winter"(Gheg: dimën)
Diphthongs of long vowel + j j elided, long vowel develops regularly
/au/ /au/ /au/ >/ɑ̃/ before nasals /ə/ <ë> /ɑ̃/ <â, an> IE *dreu- "tree" > EPA *draunja: > Alb drënjë
/a/ /a/ /a/ *IE aug- > EPA *auga > Alb ag "dusk"
/a/ > /e/ /e/ /e/ EPA *ausra > Alb err "darkness"
/ou/ /ou/ /a/ /a/ /a/ IE *poujo- > EPA *pauja > Alb pah "scab, dust"
/a/ > /e/ /e/ /e/ EPA *gaura > Alb ger
/eu/ /eu/ /eu/ > /ẽ/ > /ɑ̃/ before nasal /ə/ <ë> /ɑ̃/ <â, an> IE *newn̩ "nine" > EPA *neunti > Alb nëntë ("nine", Gheg: nand)
/e/ /e/ /e/ IE *skeud- "to throw" > EPA *skeuda > Alb hedh

Development of Indo-European sonorants

The nasal sonorants *n̩ and *m̩ both rendered Early Proto-Albanian *a, which remains *a in modern Albanian (PIE *g'hn̩taː "goose" > EPA *gataː > modern Albanian gatë "heron"). Like EPA *a elsewhere, in some cases it was raised to *e, as seen in PIE *ln̩gwh- > EPA *laga > Albanian lehtë (suffixed with -të).[33]

Diachronic development of sonorants[34][35]
Proto-Indo-European Intermediate developments Early Proto-Albanian Later Proto-Albanian Old Albanian Tosk Albanian Gheg Albanian Example
*m̩ *a continue regular developments of *a from EPA in vowel chart. shtatë ‘seven’ < PIE *septm ̥-
*n̩ *a (i) gjatë ‘long’ < PIE *dln ̥gʰ-t-
*l̩ *il before consonant clusters, *i or *j il, li
*ul elsewhere ul, lu
*r̩ *ir before consonant clusters, *i or *j ir, ri
*ur elsewhere ur, ru
*l *l *l *l l l SA lagje ‘quarter’ < PIE *logʰ-
*l *λ (ly/-li)? j

l (Cham/Arbresh/


j SA gjuhë vs A/A gljuhë, SA mijë vs Cham milë
*ɫ (V_V) ll

/γ/ (some Arbresh)

/ð/ (some Lab)


/ð/ (some dialects)

SA hell ‘spear, spit’ < PIE *skōl-
*r *r *r (V_V) *r r r SA (i) mirë ‘good’ < PIE *miHr-
*r (V_V) *λ (-ri)? j j SA bij 'sons' < PA *bir-i
*r: (#_) *r: rr rr SA rrjedh ‘to flow’ < PIE *h₃reǵ-
*m *m *m m m SA motër ‘sister’ < PIE *meh₂-tr-
*n *n *n n

r (-n-)


ng /ŋ/ (from /ng/)

SA natë ‘night’ <PIE *nokʷt-
*n: (*-sn-, *-Cn-, *-nC-) n

n (-n-)


ng /ŋ/ (from /ng/)

Dialectal anë < PIE *h₂ewk(ʷ)- ~ *h₂uk(ʷ)-.
*ɲ (*gn-, before front vowels) nj nj

ni~n (northern)

SA njeri ‘man’ <PIE *h₂nḗr


EPA Consonants[36]
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal *m *n
Plosive *p • *b *t • *d *ts • *dz *t͡ʃ • *d͡ʒ *k • *g
Fricative *s • *z *x
Glide *w *j
Lateral *l
Trill *r
LPA Consonants
Labial Dental Alveolar Palatal Velar
Nasal *m *n
Plosive *p • *b *t • *d *ts *c *k • *g
Affricate *t͡ʃ
Fricative *f *θ • *ð *s • *z *x
Glide *w *j
Lateral *l
Trill *r
Diachronic development[35]
Proto-Indo-European Pre-Proto-Albanian Early Proto-Albanian Later Proto-Albanian Modern Alb (Tosk/Gheg) Examples
*s *s *z > *j ɟ ~ d͡ʒ <gj> IE *serp- "to crawl" > EPA *serpena > Alb gjarpër "snake"
*s > *ʃ after *iː, *uː or -i, -u diphthongs ʃ <sh> IE *dʰouso- > EPA *dausa > Alb dash ("ram")
*ʃ word-initially (sometimes) ʃ <sh> SA shi ‘rain’ < PIE *suH-
> t͡s (if next consonant was *s) > *θ θ <th> IE *suːs ("pig") > EPA *t͡suːs > Alb thi ("pig")
>*x intervocalically or between EPA sonorant and vowel h IE *golso- ("sound") > EPA *gulxa > SA gjuhë
Ø IE *nosom > EPA *naxa > Alb na ("us")
*sK *sK *sK *x h SA hedh ‘to throw’ < PIE *skewd-
*sp- *sp- *sp- f- f- SA farë < PIE *spor-
*st *st *st ʃt ʃt SA shteg ‘path, road’ < PIE *stoygʰ-
*sd *[zd] *zd *zd ð dh SA pidh ‘female pudenda’ < PIE *peysd(ʰ)-
*s from Greek, Latin loanwords ʃ <sh> Lat summus > Alb shumë "more", "much"
*p *p *p *p p IE *eːp ("to take") > EPA *eːpa > Alb jap ("to give")(Gheg: jep ep)
*b, *bʰ *b *b *b b IE *serbʰ- ("to suck in") > EPA *serba > Alb gjerb ("to gulp")
*w between a vowel and *u v EPA *abula > Alb avull ("vapor")
*t *t *t *t t IE *trejes ("three") > EPA *treje > Alb tre ("three")
*d, *dʰ *d *d *d d IE *dʰegʷʰ- ("to burn") > EPA *dega > Alb djeg ("to burn")
> *ð intervocalically or between r and vowel,

in 5th or 6th centuries[37]

ð <dh> IE *skeudV- ("to throw, shoot") > Alb hedh ("to throw, shoot")
*ḱ (*c?) *ḱ (*c?) >*t͡s > *θ θ <th> IE *ḱi-ḱer- ("pea"? cf Latin: cicer) > EPA *tsera > Alb thjerrë ("lentil")
> *t͡ʃ > *s before i, j, u, or w s IE *ḱupo- ("shoulder") > Alb sup ("shoulder");

IE *ḱiā dīti > EPA tsja(i) diti > Alb sot ("today")

*t͡s retained, conditions unclear t͡s <c> IE *h₂eḱ- ("sharp") > EPA *atsara > Alb acar "cold/ice cold"

(but doublet: > athët ("sour")

> *t͡ʃ, conditions unclear t͡ʃ <ç> IE *ḱentro- ("to stick") > Alb çandër ("prop")
> *k before sonorant *k k IE *smeḱr- ("chin") > Alb mjekër ("chin, beard")
*ǵ, *ǵʰ (*ɟ?) *ǵ (*ɟ?) *dz dh SA dhëmb, Gheg dhãmb ‘tooth’ < PIE *ǵombʰ-
*dz~d? *ð~d? d SA dorë < PIE *ǵʰesr-
*d͡ʒ before w *z z SA zë, Gheg. zã (< zãn) < PIE *ǵʰweno-
*k *k *k *k k SA kam ‘to have’ < PIE *keh₂p-
*c (palatalised) q SA qaj 'to weep, cry' < PIE *kluH-i̯o-
*g, *gʰ *g *g *g g SA gardh ‘fence’ < PIE *gʰordʰ-
*j (palatalised) gj SA gjej 'to find' < PIE *gʰédni̯e/o-
*kʷ *kʷ? *t͡ʃ before front vowels *s s SA sjell ‘to bring’ < PIE *kʷelh₁-
*k elsewhere *k k SA pjek ‘to bake’ < PIE *pekʷ-
*c (palatalised) q SA që 'that, which' < PIE *kʷṓd
*gʷ, *gʷʰ *gʷ? *d͡ʒ(w) before front vowels *z z SA zorrë ‘gut’ < PIE *gʷʰērn-
*g elsewhere *g g SA djeg ‘to burn’ < PIE *dʰegʷʰ-
*j (palatalised) gj SA gjeth 'leaf' < PIE *gʷos(d)- 'wood'
*y *j *z (#_V) *j gj SA gjem ‘bridle’ < PIE *yom-
Ø (V_V) Ø Ø SA tre ‘three’ < PIE *treyes
*w *w *w (#_V) *w v SA vesh ‘to put on (clothes)’ < PIE *wes-
Ø (V_V) Ø Ø SA ve ‘widow’ < PIE *widʰewh₂

Classification & isoglosses with other branches of Indo-European

The closest language to Albanian is Messapic, with which it forms a common branch titled Illyric in Hyllested & Joseph (2022).[38] Hyllested & Joseph (2022) in agreement with recent bibliography identify Greco-Phrygian as the IE branch closest to the Albanian-Messapic one. These two branches form an areal grouping - which is often called "Balkan IE" - with Armenian. Shortly after they had diverged from one another, Greek, Armenian, and partly Albanian undoubtedly also underwent a longer period of contact (as can be seen, for example, in the irregular correspondence: Greek σκόρ(ο)δον, Armenian sxtor, xstor, and Albanian hudhër, hurdhë "garlic"). Furthermore, intense Greek–Albanian contacts certainly occurred thereafter,[39] and ongoing connections between them have been in the Balkans from the ancient times, continuing up to the present-days.[40]

Hyllested & Joseph (2022) identify the highest shared number of innovations between (Proto-)Albanian and (Proto-)Greek.[41] A common Balkan Indo-European root *aiğ(i)- ("goat") can be reflected in Albanian edh ("goat, kid") < PAlb *aidza and dhi ("nanny goat) < PAlb *aidzijɑ̄ with Greek αἴξ ("goat", gen. αἰγός) and Armenian ayc ("(nanny) goat"). It has been noted that the Balkan IE root and all the alleged Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian roots with a meaning "goat" are likely to be not Proto-Indo-European, as they may all originate as independent and relatively early, post-PIE borrowings, from the substrate languages spoken by the sedentary farmers who were encountered by immigrating Indo-European pastoralists. The view of a substrate borrowing can be corroborated by areal words for "goat" in other IE languages, such as Gothic gaits ("goat") and Latin haedus ("kid"), reflecting *gʰaid̯(-o)-, considered as a substrate word usually linked with Semitic languages (cf. Akkadian gadû, Aramaic gaδiā ̄"kid"). However it was most likely not directly borrowed from Semitic, but from a European substrate language that in turn had loaned the word from a common third source. Hence it can be viewed as an old cultural word, which was slowly transmitted to different European languages, and then adopted by the newcoming Indo-European speakers. Within this scenario it should be remarked the exclusive sharing of a common proto-form between Albanian, Greek, and Armenian, which could have been borrowed at a pre-stage that was common to these languages.[42] Specifically Indo-Iranian/Greek/Albanian and Greek/Armenian/Albanian isoglosses are both relatively rare, examples including ndaj (to divide; Indo-Greek-Albanian) and ëndërr ("dream"; Greek/Armenian/Albanian). Whereas Armenian/Albanian isoglosses are "insignificant", there are a considerable number of Indo-Iranian/Albanian isoglosses, which are notably often connected with horses, horse tending, and milk products.[43]

The deictic element *ḱjā- in PPAlb *ḱjā-dīti > Albanian sot ("today") has the same source as *kjā- in Proto-Greek *kjā-wētes (cf. Mycenean Greek za-we-te, Attic Greek τῆτες, and Ionic Greek σῆτες "this year"). These words are built combining the deictic element and a form of the word for "day" in Albanian (PPAlb *dīti-) and for "year" in Greek (PGk *wētes-). The deictic element resulted from a reanalysis of the word for "today" *kjāmer-, which contains the restricted word for "day" *āmer- (cf. Gk ἡμέρα, Doric Greek ἁμέρα, and Armenian awr). In PPalb only later the word āmer- was replaced by *dīti-, when the latter became the usual word for day in this language.[44] Another remarkable Greek/Albanian isogloss is a very ancient form for "hand": *mər-, cf. the Albanian verb marr ("hold") and the Greek márē ("hand"), and also Greek márptō ("grab").[45]

In older literature, Orel (2000) argues that Albanian has a large number of isoglosses that are common to Albanian, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic, as part of a "North Eastern" lexical grouping, with a large number of these referring to wood or objects made out of wood.[46] Orel (1998) noted 24 isoglosses between Balto-Slavic and Albanian, 48 common words between Baltic and Albanian and 24 between Albanian and Slavic. Hyllested & Joseph (2022) review Orel's common items and argue that a substantial number don't have convincing etymologies or do not constitute isoglosses between Balto-Slavic and Albanian. An example is Albanian murg (dark) and Lithuanian margas (colourful) which Orel considers to be isoglosses but both are equally related to Proto-Germanic *murkaz, ancient Greek ἀμορβός amorbos and Proto-Slavic *mergъ.[47]

Orel identifies only one Albanian/Italic/Celtic isogloss, blertë ("green"), cognate to Latin flōrus ("bright") and Irish blár ("gray").[48] Specifically Celtic/Albanian vocabulary was previously thought to be limited although including at least one core vocabulary item (hënë "moon", cognate to Welsh cann "white" and Breton cann "full moon"),[49] but recent work by Trumper in 2018 has proposed a larger though still not overwhelming set, with the notable addition of dritë ("light").[50]

Although knowledge of Tocharian is fragmentary, the one known Albanian/Tocharian isogloss is "very important" as noted by Orel: kush ("who", cognate to Tocharian A kus, with the same meaning).[51]

Some Proto-Albanian words

Examples of Modern Albanian terms inherited from Proto-Albanian
Proto-Albanian Modern Albanian English Source
*ghemen zemër heart [52]
*aruā arë field [53]
*buātā botë earth, world [54]
*lāpā lopë cow [55]
*dela djalë boy [56]
*driktā dritë (physics) light [57]
*nakti natë night [58]
*tsikā thikë knife [59]
*uδā udhë way (road) [60]
*(s)wetā vetë self [61]
*baśkā bashkë together [62]
*a-jā ajo she [63]
*asī sy (anatomy) eye [64]
*dāsrā dorë (anatomy) hand [65]
*madza madh adult, big, large, great [66]



  1. ^ Absent for early part of period
  2. ^ Absent for early part of period


  1. ^ Matzinger 2016, p. 6: "Folgende Lautwandel charakterisieren u.a. das Uralbanische (Protoalbanische) und grenzen es dadurch als eine eigenständige idg. Sprache von anderen idg. Sprachen ab. Diese Phase kann präzisiert als Frühuralbanisch bezeichnet werden. Da das Hethitische (im antiken Kleinasien) und das mykenische Griechische schon im 2. Jahrtausend v.Chr. als voll ausgebildete, d.h. individuelle Sprachen dokumentiert sind, kann auch die Vorstufe des Albanischen (das Frühuralbanische) mindestens ab dem ersten Jahrtausend v.Chr. als eine ebenso schon voll ausgebildete, d.h. individuelle Sprache angesetzt werden"
  2. ^ De Vaan 2018, p. 1732: "Internal comparison between the Tosk and Geg dialects allows us to reconstruct a Proto-Albanian stage (PAlb.; in German Uralbanisch; see Hock 2005; Klingenschmitt 1994: 221; Matzinger 2006: 23; B. Demiraj 1997: 41–67; Hamp 1992: 885–902). Additional external information on the development of the phonology is provided by different layers of loanwords, of which those from Slavic (from ca. 600 CE onward) and from Latin (ca. 167 BCE−400 CE) are the most important. Since the main phonological distinction between Tosk and Geg, viz. rhotacism of n, is found in only a few Slavic loanwords in Tosk (Ylli 1997: 317; Svane 1992: 292 f.), I assume that Proto-Albanian predated the influx of most of the Slavic loanwords.;
    Matzinger 2006, p. 41: "Diese Zeitspanne von der Antike bis ca. 600 n.Chr. wird in der Geschichtsschreibung die uralbanische Zeit genannt."
  3. ^ Matasović 2019, p. 5: "The most probable predecessor of Albanian was Illyrian, since much of the present-day Albania was inhabited by the Illyrians during the Antiquity, but the comparison of the two languages is impossible because almost nothing is known about Illyrian, despite the fact that two handbooks of that language have been published (by Hans Krahe and Anton Mayer)... examination of personal names and toponyms from Illyricum shows that several onomastic areas can be distinguished, and these onomastic areas just might correspond to different languages spoken in ancient Illyricum. If Illyrians actually spoke several different languages, the question arises -from which 'Illyrian' language did Albanian develop, and that question cannot be answered until new data are discovered.The single "Illyrian" gloss preserved in Greek (rhínon 'fog') may have the reflex in Alb. (Gheg) re͂ 'cloud' (Tosk re)< PAlb. *ren-."
  4. ^ Matzinger 2018, p. 1790; Friedman 2020, p. 388
  5. ^ Trumper 2018, p. 385.
  6. ^ a b c d e f De Vaan 2018
  7. ^ Matasović 2019, p. 6
  8. ^ a b Orel 2000, p. XII
  9. ^ a b Matasović 2019, p. 7
  10. ^ a b Demiraj 2006, p. 483
  11. ^ Fortson 2010, p. 392: "The dialectal split into Gheg and Tosk happened sometime after the region become Christianized in the fourth century AD; Christian Latin loanwords show Tosk rhotacism, such as Tosk murgu "monk" (Geg mungu) from Lat. monachus."
  12. ^ Mallory & Adams 1997, p. 9: "The Greek and Latin loans have undergone most of the far-reaching phonological changes which have so altered the shape of inherited words while Slavic and Turkish words do not show those changes. Thus Albanian must have acquired much of its present form by the time Slavs entered into Balkans in the fifth and sixth centuries AD"
  13. ^ Brown & Ogilvie 2008, p. 23: "In Tosk /a/ before a nasal has become a central vowel (shwa), and intervocalic /n/ has become /r/. These two sound changes have affected only the pre-Slav stratum of the Albanian lexicon, that is the native words and loanwords from Greek and Latin"
  14. ^ a b c d Matasović 2019, p. 39
  15. ^ Demiraj 1997, pp. 41–67
  16. ^ Matzinger 2006, p. 23
  17. ^ Klingenschmitt 1994, p. 221
  18. ^ a b c d Orel 2000, p. 1
  19. ^ a b c Orel 2000, pp. 20–21
  20. ^ a b Orel 2000, p. 270
  21. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 8–12
  22. ^ a b c d e Orel 2000, pp. 15–16
  23. ^ a b c d Paçarizi 2008, pp. 101–102
  24. ^ Totoni 1964, p. 136
  25. ^ Orel 2000, p. 15
  26. ^ a b c d e Orel 2000, pp. 42
  27. ^ a b Orel 2000, pp. 143–144
  28. ^ Orel 2000, p. 3
  29. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 2–3
  30. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 3–4
  31. ^ a b c de Vaan, Michiel (2018). "The phonology of Albanian". In Klein, Jared; Joseph, Brian; Fritz, Matthias (eds.). Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics. Vol. 3. Walter de Gruyter. p. 1735.
  32. ^ a b Orel 2000, p. 27
  33. ^ Orel 2000, p. 42
  34. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 271–272
  35. ^ a b Rusakov 2017, pp. 566–571
  36. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 273–274
  37. ^ Orel 2000, p. 65
  38. ^ Joseph & Hyllested 2022, p. 235.
  39. ^ Thorsø 2019, p. 258.
  40. ^ Joseph 2013, p. 7.
  41. ^ Joseph & Hyllested 2022, p. 226.
  42. ^ Thorsø 2019, p. 255.
  43. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 259–260
  44. ^ Joseph 2013, pp. 15–16.
  45. ^ Bubenik 1997, p. 104.
  46. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 250–251
  47. ^ Joseph & Hyllested 2022, p. 223.
  48. ^ Orel 2000, p. 257
  49. ^ Orel 2000, pp. 256–257
  50. ^ Trumper 2018, p. 379.
  51. ^ Orel 2000, p. 260
  52. ^ "Zemër word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  53. ^ "Arë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  54. ^ "Botë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  55. ^ "Lopë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  56. ^ "Djalë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  57. ^ "Dritë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  58. ^ "Natë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  59. ^ "Thikë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  60. ^ "Udhë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  61. ^ "Vetë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  62. ^ "Bashkë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  63. ^ "Ajo word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  64. ^ "Sy word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  65. ^ "Dorë word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  66. ^ "Madh word origin". Etymologeek. Retrieved 2022-02-02.