What are some words shared between Albanian and other Balkan languages?

By: | Post date: 2017-05-06 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

I answered a related question, and so did Dimitra Triantafyllidou: Do Greek villages near Albania use Albanian words, just like those in Albania use Greek loanwords? The Greek blog article Πενήντα ελληνικές λέξεις αλβανικής προέλευσης lists 50 common Albanian words in Greek; Dimitra being in Northern Greece, she knew most of them, whereas I being from Crete knew half of them:

  • alita-buras ‘thug’ < αλήτης ‘vagabond’ + burrë ‘man’
  • vlamis ‘blood brother’ < vëllam
  • gionisScops owl’ < gjon
  • kalamboki ‘corn’ < kalambok
  • kokoretsigrilled entrails’ < kokoreç
  • kopela, kopeli ‘girl, kid’ < kopil ‘servant’
  • luluði ‘flower’ < lulë
  • mangas ‘tough guy’ < mangë < Turkish manga ‘small troop’
  • marmanga ‘bogeyman’ < merimangë ‘spider’
  • babesis ‘dishonourable’ < pabëse
  • besa ‘honour’ < besë
  • buluki ‘troop’ < buluk < Turkish bölük ‘troop of irregulars’
  • busulao ‘to crawl’ < bishulla ‘on all fours’ or Aromanian buşuledzŭ ‘crawl’
  • pipiza ‘recorder’ < pipëza
  • pliatsiko ‘loot’ < plaçkë ‘thing (of war)’
  • sverkos ‘back of neck’ < zverk
  • triliza ‘tic tac toe’ < Albanian (dialectal trilizë ?) < Italian triglia
  • tsiftis ‘debonair’ < qift ‘hawk’
  • tsupra ‘girl’ < çuprë
  • fara ‘clan’ < farë
  • floɣera ‘flute’ < flojerë

A category of words that has attracted particular attention in Balkan linguistics are the so-called lexical Balkanisms: words whose etymology is uncertain, and which turn up in multiple Balkan languages. They have attracted attention, because of the suspicion that they may represent a substrate language.

The main (if not the only) class of such words are words common to Romanian and Albanian; there has been controversy around them, but they do exist. From http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/availabl… p. 49:

Regardless of the position to which one subscribes, some of the shared words are: Romanian abure, Albanian avull ‘steam’; mînz, mës ‘colt’; scrum, shkrump ‘ash’; vatră, vatrë ‘hearth’; pîrâu, përrua ‘brook’; copil, kopil ‘child (Rom.), bastard (Alb.)’; ghiuj, gjysh ‘old timer (Rom.), grandfather (Alb.)’, etc.

Notice kopil, which also shows up in Greek: kopil is in fact the posterboy of Balkanisms, showing up in Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, and Ukrainian (copil – Wiktionary). Unless Wiktionary is right about it being a Slavonic word for ‘digger’.

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