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Thread: Anthroponymy in Northern Albania and Montenegro during the medieval ages.

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    Question Anthroponymy in Northern Albania and Montenegro during the medieval ages.

    How does todays anthroponymy in areas near Shkoder, Southeast Montenegro in general compare to back then? This may have been talked about or posted previously, however just out of curiousity, I know that there were numerous Orthodox (Slavic) names in the regions of Albania where not too many Slavs lived, is there an explanation to why Albanians might have adopted Orthodox / Slavic names during this time period?

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    The presence of Slavic folk names or Orthodox Christian names (e.g., Todor, Jovan, Radoslav, Vukoslav, etc) in medieval Albanian communities can be explained through various different factors. The most obvious reasons for this include the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church across the region during the medieval, the political prominence and influence of various South Slavic polities in Albania and the adjacent regions, and socio-cultural or linguistic contacts between Albanian-speakers and Slavic-speakers which in some cases led to an Albanian-Slavic symbiosis.

    Inherently, the liturgical language of the Serbian Orthodox Church was the Serbian language, meaning that Albanians born in the areas under the jurisdiction or dominance of the Church were obliged to baptize their children with typical Orthodox Slavic or Serbian names, especially since there was no Albanian church administration. This process was then aided by the political domination that various South Slavic polities had over Albania and other regions that had an Albanian ethno-linguistic presence or population, such as that of the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty which for a time occupied Albania and the nearby territories. It is rather clear that under the rule of certain Nemanjić monarchs, such as Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1346 CE) with his eponymous code of 1349, members of other Christian denominations were marginalized and actively discriminated against to push conversion. This is true for the Albanians of Catholic faith living under their rulership. However, it is worth mentioning that the Serbian Orthodox Church was not the only South Slavic Orthodox Christian church administration to influence the Albanians.

    Another factor is the fact that in certain regions linguistic and socio-cultural contacts between Albanian-speakers and Slavic-speakers was fairly common, making it not uncommon for the adoption of foreign names. This was especially true for border regions, where a form of symbiosis took place. However, what must be noted is that, due to the reasons discussed above, it was far more common for Albanian-speakers to adopted Slavic or Orthodox Slavic names rather than the other way around, but I do think that the reverse may have happened in some cases.

    As for the difference with modern personal names, I can think of a couple. What came to me first is the fact that in present-day Albania, which is over 50% Muslim, Islamic names of Arabic (albeit entering from intermediaries such as Ottoman Turkish) and Turkish etymologies are fairly common (although declining with recent generations). Examples include: Bajram (from Turkish Bayram), Ramazan (from Arabic رَمَضَان or Ramaḍān, entering via Ottoman Turkish رمضان or Ramazān), Jusuf or Isuf (ultimately from Arabic يوسف‎ or Yūsuf), Mehmet (from Arabic مُحَمَّد‎ or muḥammad, entering via Ottoman Turkish محمد‎ or Mehmet/Mehmed), etc. However, since the period of the Albanian National Awakening till the era of Communist regime under the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, there was a trend or push to abandon religious personal names in favour of local Albanian or Illyrian ones. These include: Agron, Ilir, Taulant, Bledar, Arben, etc.
    Last edited by Kelmendasi; 03-09-2021 at 01:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelmendasi View Post
    The presence of Slavic folk names or Orthodox Christian names (e.g., Todor, Jovan, Radoslav, Vukoslav, etc) in medieval Albanian communities can be explained through various different factors. The most obvious reasons for this include the influence of the Serbian Orthodox Church across the region during the medieval, the political prominence and influence of various South Slavic polities in Albania and the adjacent regions, and socio-cultural or linguistic contacts between Albanian-speakers and Slavic-speakers which in some cases led to an Albanian-Slavic symbiosis.

    Inherently, the liturgical language of the Serbian Orthodox Church was the Serbian language, meaning that Albanians born in the areas under the jurisdiction or dominance of the Church were obliged to baptize their children with typical Orthodox Slavic or Serbian names, especially since there was no Albanian church administration. This process was then aided by the political domination that various South Slavic polities had over Albania and other regions that had an Albanian ethno-linguistic presence or population, such as that of the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty which for a time occupied Albania and the nearby territories. It is rather clear that under the rule of certain Nemanjić monarchs, such as Stefan Dušan (r. 1331-1346 CE) with his eponymous code of 1349, members of other Christian denominations were marginalized and actively discriminated against to push conversion. This is true for the Albanians of Catholic faith living under their rulership. However, it is worth mentioning that the Serbian Orthodox Church was not the only South Slavic Orthodox Christian church administration to influence the Albanians.

    Another factor is the fact that in certain regions linguistic and socio-cultural contacts between Albanian-speakers and Slavic-speakers was fairly common, making it not uncommon for the adoption of foreign names. This was especially true for border regions, where a form of symbiosis took place. However, what must be noted is that, due to the reasons discussed above, it was far more common for Albanian-speakers to adopted Slavic or Orthodox Slavic names rather than the other way around, but I do think that the reverse may have happened in some cases.

    As for the difference with modern personal names, I can think of a couple. What came to me first is the fact that in present-day Albania, which is over 50% Muslim, Islamic names of Arabic (albeit entering from intermediaries such as Ottoman Turkish) and Turkish etymologies are fairly common (although declining with recent generations). Examples include: Bajram (from Turkish Bayram), Ramazan (from Arabic رَمَضَان or Ramaḍān, entering via Ottoman Turkish رمضان or Ramazān), Jusuf or Isuf (ultimately from Arabic يوسف‎ or Yūsuf), Mehmet (from Arabic مُحَمَّد‎ or muḥammad, entering via Ottoman Turkish محمد‎ or Mehmet/Mehmed), etc. However, since the period of the Albanian National Awakening till the era of Communist regime under the People's Socialist Republic of Albania, there was a trend or push to abandon religious personal names in favour of local Albanian or Illyrian ones. These include: Agron, Ilir, Taulant, Bledar, Arben, etc.
    Very well summarized, does this correlate and explain generally the same reason on the 1485 cadaster? Also was Vuk considered as a "Slavic" Orthodox name or an Albanian one? I believe that is one anthroponym that Albanians and Slavs do share in common quite oftenly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by excine View Post
    Very well summarized, does this correlate and explain generally the same reason on the 1485 cadaster? Also was Vuk considered as a "Slavic" Orthodox name or an Albanian one? I believe that is one anthroponym that Albanians and Slavs do share in common quite oftenly.
    Yes, I believe it should. What is interesting to note is that after Ottoman administration consolidated its political authority and hegemony in the region, there is an increase in Albanian anthroponyms in regions that were under the jurisdiction or domination of the Serbian Orthodox Church. For example, in his work The North-Eastern Regions of the Sandjak of Dukagjin - Hass and its Population during the Second Half of the 16th Century , Selami Pulaha shows through Ottoman registers or defters of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that there was a fairly large increase in the prevalence of Albanian personal names in the north-eastern corners of the Sanjak of Dukagjin (also referred to later as the Sanjak of İpek with its border modified) which corresponded to western and south-western Kosovo, to the point where they became the majority.

    He uses the examples of the areas of Rudina, Domeshtiē, and Pashtrik which continuously showed Albanian anthroponymy that then increases greatly during the sixteenth century. It is then argued that this cannot be explained through population movements or migrations since there is no hard evidence of any substantial Albanian migration into western or south-western Kosovo during this time period, and so attributes it to the fact that the establishment of the Ottoman administration in the region diminished and replaced the political and religious domination of the previous Serb polities and Orthodox church. Meaning that there was no longer a push to assimilate.

    In regards to the word and name Vuk and its various derivatives (e.g., Vuksan and Vukoslav), it is from the Proto-Slavic *vьlkъ meaning "wolf". And as a result, it entered Albanian through Slavic contact or influence, and does not indicate ethnic origin or background and became popular for some especially in the northern highlands. Surnames such as Vuka and Vukaj are not unheard of.
    Last edited by Kelmendasi; 03-09-2021 at 02:31 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelmendasi View Post
    Yes, I believe it should. What is interesting to note is that after Ottoman administration consolidated its political authority and hegemony in the region, there is an increase in Albanian anthroponyms in regions that were under the jurisdiction or domination of the Serbian Orthodox Church. For example, in his work The North-Eastern Regions of the Sandjak of Dukagjin - Hass and its Population during the Second Half of the 16th Century , Selami Pulaha shows through Ottoman registers or defters of the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries that there was a fairly large increase in the prevalence of Albanian personal names in the north-eastern corners of the Sanjak of Dukagjin (also referred to later as the Sanjak of İpek with its border modified) which corresponded to western and south-western Kosovo, to the point where they became the majority.

    He uses the examples of the areas of Rudina, Domeshtiē, and Pashtrik which continuously showed Albanian anthroponymy that then increases greatly during the sixteenth century. It is then argued that this cannot be explained through population movements or migrations since there is no hard evidence of any substantial Albanian migration into western or south-western Kosovo during this time period, and so attributes it to the fact that the establishment of the Ottoman administration in the region diminished and replaced the political and religious domination of the previous Serb polities and Orthodox church. Meaning that there was no longer a push to assimilate.

    In regards to the word and name Vuk and its various derivatives (e.g., Vuksan and Vukoslav), it is from the Proto-Slavic *vьlkъ meaning "wolf". And as a result, it entered Albanian through Slavic contact or influence, and does not indicate ethnic origin or background and became popular for some especially in the northern highlands. Surnames such as Vuka and Vukaj are not unheard of.
    What about the Plav nahiya and areas surrounding it, I've seen that it was dominated by Orthodox names, Surely Albanians must've resided their under a different alias if I'm not mistaken, pretty sure even the name Vuceta was recorded there as well, any clue on that region?

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    Quote Originally Posted by excine View Post
    What about the Plav nahiya and areas surrounding it, I've seen that it was dominated by Orthodox names, Surely Albanians must've resided their under a different alias if I'm not mistaken, pretty sure even the name Vuceta was recorded there as well, any clue on that region?
    In the Ottoman register or defter of the Sanjak of Shkodra of 1485, the areas of Plav-Gusinje (Albanian: Plavė e Guci) were included in the Plav Vilayet which had the settlement of Ribar as its chief settlement with 284 households. Across the settlements recorded, typical Slavic folk or Orthodox Christian anthroponyms dominate however there are a few which are Albanian in etymology or form. For example, in Ribar itself the following are recorded (I may have missed some): Plaku, son of Rajko; Ugjlesha, son of Stepa (with his brothers; Vuku and Rajan); Ugjlesha Domezeti (with his brothers; Novak and Dimitrash); Prenku, son of Vukēa; Noka, son of Vukashin; Lekaē, son of Kosan; Preku, son of Radivoj (brother of Vukiq); Llazėr, son of Prenku; Gjon, son of Radiē; Radoslav Gropēa; Vukota, son of Pljaku; Nokaē, son of Vukēa; and Miraku, son of Mirosali. Albanian onomastics also show up to varying degrees in other settlements, including Gusinje.

    A number of the names recorded have the suffix -ēa/ča or -aē/ač (Lekaē, Nokaē, Gropēa, etc) which indicates Slavic influence on the Albanian formation of these names, which suggests that they were Albanians. The given name Ugjlesha or Uglesha which is recorded, seems to be the result of Slavic influence on the composite Albanian name Uklesha, so from Uk and Lesha. The presence of Albanians is then further supported by the attestation of typical Albanian anthroponyms such as Prenku/Preku, Plaku, Gjon, Llazėr/Lazėr, Noka, and Miraku. However, I personally believe that Albanian-speakers may have been the minority in late-fifteenth century Plav-Gusinje when compared to Slavic-speakers, though this would have to be verified through other registers.

    Regarding the Serbo-Croatian personal name Vučeta and the Albanian form Vuēeta, as far as I am aware they are ultimately derivatives of Vuk (so from Proto-Slavic *vьlkъ, "wolf").
    Last edited by Kelmendasi; 03-09-2021 at 05:13 PM.
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    Hmmm, yeah but as always questions can arise, like the Hoti in Plav mentioned in 1330 and what not, maybe earlier registers may confirm something but ASIK I can't find anything, I definitely think there was some prior Arbo/Illyrian influence before the Slavs conquered that region.

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    Quote Originally Posted by excine View Post
    Hmmm, yeah but as always questions can arise, like the Hoti in Plav mentioned in 1330 and what not, maybe earlier registers may confirm something but ASIK I can't find anything, I definitely think there was some prior Arbo/Illyrian influence before the Slavs conquered that region.
    Yes, the fact that the Hoti initially occupied a territory around Plav-Gusinje prior to migrating to Malėsia clearly suggests that there was a local Albanian population in the region since at least the fourteenth century. However, it is hard to say what the situation was like a century later without further evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelmendasi View Post
    Yes, the fact that the Hoti initially occupied a territory around Plav-Gusinje prior to migrating to Malėsia clearly suggests that there was a local Albanian population in the region since at least the fourteenth century. However, it is hard to say what the situation was like a century later without further evidence.
    Would you like me to send you a PDF file about this? You may have it but I think you'd like it, it goes in depth more about the region of Plav and Gusinje, PM me your email

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    From Selami Pulaha's translation of the Ottoman defter of the Sanjak of Shkodra of 1485:

    "Po t'i hedhim njė vėshtrim antroponimisė sė banorėve tė regjistruar nė defterin e sanxhakut tė Shkodrės tė vitit 1485, do tė dallojmė tri zona: 1. Nė zonėn e parė bėjnė pjesė krahinat e pėrfshira nė nahijet e Shkodrės, tė Drishtit, tė Bregut tė Kėndejmė, tė Bregut tė Pėrtejmė, tė Shestanit (krahina e Anamalit), tė Krajnės, tė Merkodit, tė Zhabjakut, tė Petrishpanit, tė Kelmendit, tė Hotit dhe tė Kuēit. Banorėt e kėtyre krahinave, nėnkuptojmė kryefamiljarėt, beqarėt dhe gratė e veja, tė gjithė ose nė shumicėn dėrmuese tė tyre mbanin antroponimi thjesht shqiptare. Tė tillė ne kemi konsideruar emrat tipikė pėr popullsinė shqiptare si Gjin, Gjon, Leka, Kola, Gega, Progon, Tole, Lesh (Llesh), Bardo, Kolsh, Gjec, Tanush, Bushat, Lulo, Mazarak, Pal, Duka, Kal, Ulk, etj. Nė 55 fshatra banorėt mbanin onomastikė thjest shqiptare pa asnjė influencė tė onomastikės sllave, e madje pa emra tė sferės sė onomastikės fetare orthodhokse. Krahas tyre, gjenden afro 133 vendbanime ku kryefamiljarėt mbanin nė shumicėn dėrmuese tė tyre emra tipikė shqiptarė, kurse njė pakicė mbante kryesisht antroponimi tė pėrzier shqiptaro-sllave... Ndikimi i onomastikės sllave rritet mė shumė duke kaluar nga krahinat qendrore, tė brendshme, nė krahinat kufitare veri-lindore dhe veri-perendimore tė sanxhakut. Kjo konstatohet mė tepėr nė emrat e brezit paraardhės. Numri i banorėve me antroponimi joshqiptare ėshtė mė i pakėt ne fshatrat e nahijeve tė Petrishpanit, tė Shkodrės, tė Drishtit, tė Bregut tė Kėndejmė, tė Bregut tė Pėrtejmė, dhe vjen duke u rritur nė krahinat kufitare si ato tė Krajnės, tė Merkodit, tė Shestanit, tė Zhabjakut, tė Kuēit, tė Kelmendit dhe tė Hotit. Vetėm nė njė numėr tė vogėl fshatrash (gjithsej 13) banorėt mbanin nė shumicėn e tyre antroponimi sllave. Kėto gjenden mė tepėr nė nahijen e Zhabjakut (gjithsej 9). Nuk ka dyshim se banorėt e kėsaj treve, me pėrjashtim tė atyre pak fshatrave ku mbizotėrnon antroponimi sllave, kanė qenė krejtėsisht shqiptarė... Lidhjet farefisnore qė mund tė hetohen midis banorėve me antroponimi shqiptare dhe atyre me antroponimi sllave tregojnė se edhe ajo pakicė banorėsh me antroponimi sllave qė gjendet nė kėtė zonė, ishte nė fakt shqiptare."

    "2. Nė zonėn e dytė bėjnė pjesė krahinat e pėrfshira nė nahijet e Pipėrit, tė Shestanit (pa krahinėn e Anamalit) dhe tė Altun-ilisė ku thuajse gjysma e sasisė sė banorėve mbanin antroponimi shqiptare. Banorėt me emra shqiptarė pėrbėnin pjesėn mė tė madhe tė popullsisė nė shumicėn e fshatrave, kurse banorėt me antroponimi sllave popullonin pakicėn e fshatrave. Megjithkėtė fakti qė kjo pakicė fshatrash kishte popullsi mė tė dendur, ka sjellė si rrjedhim qė numri i banorėve me emra sllave dhe me emra tė sferės fetare ortodokse, tė pėrdorura nga tė dy popullsitė, tė jetė nė kėtė zonė mė i madh. Mbajtja e antroponimisė shqiptare nga afro gjysma e numrit tė banorėve tė kėsaj zone si dhe popullimi prej tyre i pjesės mė tė madhe tė fshatrave dėshmojnė se kėto krahina ishin nė shumicėn e popullsisė. Pra nė tė dy zonat e para kemi njė bėrthamė me antroponimi tė pastėr shqiptare, tė depėrtuar nga njė shtresė e pėrbėrė prej vendbanimesh ku mbizotėronte antroponimia shqiptare, me ndikime tė antroponimisė sllave, si dhe prej disa pikave tė huaja nė periferi, tė formuara nga vendbanimet e pakta me banorė qė mbanin kryesisht emra sllavė."
    Last edited by Kelmendasi; 03-10-2021 at 12:43 AM.
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