Do Greek villages near Albania use Albanian words, just like those in Albania use Greek loanwords?

By: | Post date: 2016-06-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

In brief, yes.

First, we need to define “near Albania”. Let’s start with this map from Languages of Greece

I’m going to ignore Arvanitika in Central Greece, because that’s nowhere near Albania. I’m going to ignore the Albanian enclaves near Florina, because they were traditionally surrounded by Macedonian Slavonic, rather than Greek. I’m going to focus on the region around Ioannina.

The map has a patch of Aromanian to the west of Ioannina. That’s likely wrong: that region is Thesprotia, Albanian Çamëria, and it was inhabited by a substantially Albanian Muslim population until WWII.

[Edit: actually, if the map represents contemporary populations, it’s probably right; all that’s left of Çamëria is that small green dot. I think the Çam population is down to a dozen.]

Just north of the Greek–Albanian border, is the region Greeks call Northern Epirus, where there is still a Greek-speaking minority.

So you have, moving in a crooked northwest from Ioannina:

  • Ioannina: Greek
  • Thesprotia/Çamëria: Albanian
  • Northern Epirus (e.g. Agii Saranda/Sarandë, Himara/Himarë): Greek
  • Albania

And the map is patchwork, and there is presumably a continuum in Ioanninia prefecture up through Pogoniani, but yeah.

I’ll ignore Northern Epirus: they’ve a Greek enclave, so of course they’ll have a lot of Albanian. What’s more interesting is, how much Albanian got into Ioannina dialect, being at the northern edge of contiguous Greek-speaking territory. (And yes, that’s Aromanian immediately to its right: Metsovo is the Aromanian heartland.)

There are some dictionaries of Epirot dialect. The one I happened to have on my shelf was not at all promising:

  • Κοσμάς, Ν.Ι. 1997. Το Γλωσσικό Ιδίωμα των Ιωαννίνων. Αθήνα: Δωδώνη. (The Dialect of Ioannina)

It had oodles of Turkish words, some Venetian words, and only one or two Albanian words.

I was going to go further afield, and check out Bongas’ 1964 dictionary (which is rather large, but etymologically patchy), or Aravatinos’ 1909 dictionary. But I didn’t have to.

Nikos Sarantakos maintains the premier Greek language blog, Οι λέξεις έχουν τη δική τους ιστορία. The post Πενήντα ελληνικές λέξεις αλβανικής προέλευσης is his article on 50 words in Greek of Albanian origin. He’s eliminated obscure words from earlier lists (he’d redacted down a list of 89 words); but I’ve got to say, I’ve only heard of 23 of them, and I doubt I’d use more than 5 [Counted: ok, 10]. Note the Greek question marks (;) against several, btw: Balkan etymology is a difficult business.

The Greek nationalists unfortunately discovered the post, and the comments thread gets nasty quickly. But before it did, commenter Grigoris Kotortsinos (comment: Πενήντα ελληνικές λέξεις αλβανικής προέλευσης) mentions that the book

  • Κ. Οικονόμου, Η αλβανική γλωσσική επίδραση στα ηπειρωτικά ιδιώματα, Ιωάννινα 1997 (Albanian linguistic influence on Epirus dialects)

mentions 183 Albanian words in the local dialect, and then cites the 55 he has heard in use.

55 is a lot more than 23, let alone 5; and 183 is a lot more than 89. So yes, there is a larger than usual concentration of Albanian words, in the Greek dialects spoken south of Albania.

Obvious, but good to see it documented.

How’s your Greek, btw, Aziz?

Edit: the source 89-word list, which also tries to find modern Albanian equivalents, is Αρβανίτικες λέξεις στα Ρωμαίικα ή αλβανικά δάνεια στη δημοτική γλώσσα [2011]

Leave a Reply

  • Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Join 291 other subscribers

  • October 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Sep    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
%d bloggers like this: