Albanian – a lyrical but difficult language

Learning Albanian in addition to other languages got Betsy Lewis hired as a foreign officer to Albania by the US Department of State. Her interest in other cultures, qualifications in linguistics and experience as an English teacher helped to boost her prospects. Despite being proficient in other languages, Betsy stated that Albanian was the most difficult language she had to learn. Given the fact that nodding the head in Albania means disagreement while shaking the head means ‘yes’, it is understandable why it may have taken her time to master the language. Approximately 7.3 million people speak this Indo European language, with the main speakers being based in Albania and Kosovo. It is not clearly known where the language originated from. However, it is suspected that it may have originated from a mountainous region rather than from a seacoast or plains. This is due to the fact that there are original names for plants and animals which are found in mountainous regions but the names for agricultural activities and fish are mainly borrowed from other languages.

Albanian was heavily influenced by other languages such as Greek and Latin. It also has words borrowed from German and Slavic tribes, Romans and Vlachs. There are two dialects in the tribe: Tosk and Gheg. Tosk is the official language of Albania and also one of the official languages in Macedonia and Kosovo. It is also spoken in Turkey and Greece. Gheg is spoken in Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro. The original Tosk dialect was written in Greek, while Gheg was written using Latin alphabet. Other alphabets that have been used to write the language includes Turkish Arabic, and Cyrillic.

Albania is the only country in the world that has ever been officially declared to be atheist. This was in 1967 when all religions in the country were banned by the government. This policy was reversed in 1991 after the fall of state communism and religious activities were resumed. However, the 2011 census results showed that up to 70 percent of the citizens did not ascribe to any particular religion. Islam and Christianity are some of the religions that have infiltrated into the country.

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