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Thread: On the autochthony of Albanian

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    On the autochthony of Albanian

    I wanted to post this in another thread (where I already made one post) regarding Albanian linguistics but I wasn't sure if these posts fit into that thread so I decided to create a new one.

    The evidence is in fact very mixed; some of the Albanian forms (of both urban and rural names) suggest transmission via Slav, but others -including the towns of Shkodra, Drisht, Lezha, Shkup (Skopje) and perhaps Shtip (Stip, south-east of Skopje) - follow the pattern of continuous Albanian development from the Latin. (One common objection to this argument, claiming that 'sc-' in Latin should have turned into 'h-', not 'shk-' in Albanian, rests on a chronological error, and can be disregarded.) There are also some fairly convincing derivations of Slav names for rivers in northern Albania - particularly the Bojana (Alb.: Buena) and the Drim (Alb.: Drin) - which suggest that the Slavs must have acquired their names from the Albanian forms.
    This claim is put forward as a prime argument against the 'Illyrian' origins of the Albanians by Schramm: Eroberer, pp. 33-4; Anfange, p. 23. It had already been answered by Cabej, who pointed out that the shift to 'h' belonged to a much earlier (pre-Roman) period of Albanian: 'Problem of Autochthony', p. 44. Schramm's case can be disproved by a series of Albanian borrowings from Latin, such as shkorse (rug) from scortea, shkendije (spark) from scantilla, shkemb (rock-formation) from scamnum, and shkop (staff) from scopae: see Capidan, 'Raporturile'. pp. 546-8; Philippide, Originea Rominilor, vol. 2, pp. 653-4; Cabej, 'Zur Charakteristik', p. 177; and the entries in Meyer, Etymologisches Worterbuch.
    - Noel Malcolm


    The earliest identifiable loanwords are from Greek, e.g., moker ‘millstone’ (< West Grk [Doric] paxocvd) or draper'sickle’ (< West Grk Spanavov). As in these two cases, the evidence suggests that Greek influence came from western Greece, more particularly from Greek colonies on the Adriatic coast. Much more extensive was the later influence of Latin. Even very common words such as mik ‘friend’ (< Lat amicus) or kendoj ‘I sing; read’ (< Lat cantare) come from Latin and attest to a widespread intermingling of pre-Albanian and Balkan Latin speakers during the Roman period, roughly from the second century BC to the fifth century AD. The Greek and Latin loans have undergone most of the far-reaching phonological changes which have so altered the shape of inherited IE words while Slavic and Turkish words do not show these changes. Thus Albanian must have acquired much of its present form by the time the Slavs entered into the Balkans in the fifth and sixth centuries AD.

    Although there are some lexical items that appear to be shared between Romanian (and by extension Dacian) and Albanian, by far the strongest connections can be argued between Albanian and Illyrian. The latter was at least attested in what is historically regarded as Albanian territory and there is no evidence of any major migration into Albanian territory since our records of Illyrian occupation. The loan words from Greek and Latin date back to before the Christian era and suggest that the ancestors of the Albanians must have occupied Albania by then to have absorbed such loans from their historical neighbors. As the Illyrians occupied Albanian territory at this time, they are the most likely recipients of such loans. Finally, as Shaban Demiraj argues, the ancient Illyrian place- names of the region have achieved their current form through the natural application of the phonetic rules governing Albanian, e.g., Durrachion > Alb Durres (with Albanian initial accent) or Illyrian Aulona > Alb Vlone ~ Vlore (with rhotacism in Tosk). Demiraj suggests that the transition from Illyrian to Albanian began during the fifth and sixth centuries AD and was clearly completed before the immigration of Albanian speakers to Greece and Italy in the fourteenth-sixteenth centuries.

    Encyclopedia Of Indo-European Culture
    by J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams

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    The answer to this is that in judging whether a sound change is originally Albanian or not, chronological differences must be taken into consideration. The change of initial sk- to h- is very old in Albanian, perhaps even pre-Balkanic, and it is no wonder if some ancient Balkanic toponyms do not conf orm to it. Some toponyms came to Albanian through Romance or Slavic mediation or even through both. But on the main Albanian names such as Lesh, Drisht, Kunavja, Drin, Buene , Mat ', and Ishm can be derived from their ancient forms Ussus, Drivastum, Candavia, Drinus, Barbanna, Mathis, and Isamnus only by Albanian sound changes, and by no others. One has only to suppose an initial accentuation in Illyrian : Dyrrachium, Isamnus , Drivastum (cf. Messapian Brun- disium > Brindisi ).
    - Ancient Balkan Languages, Radoslav Katicic .
    Last edited by xz1333; 09-29-2022 at 06:41 PM.

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    The maritime and piscatorial terminology is not so completey foreign as the linguists were prone to think under the impact of the first impression . It must be taken into consideration that the cities on the coast were probably romanized first, and that the Modern Albanian language is probably the descendant of dialects originally spoken in the hills.

    It has been said furthermore that, linguistically, Albanian corresponds more to Thracian than to Illyrian. Such a contention cannot be well founded because we know too little about both Thracian and Illyrian. And for the few preserved Illyrian glosses it is remarkably easy to find Albanian correspondences.
    The existence of many correspondences between Rumanian an Albanian has also been thought of as an argument for the Thracian origin of the latter. But this again cannot decide the question since neither the original area of Rumanian nor the nature of the contacts that were the cause of the correspondences between these languages are known. The question thus remains open.

    These correspondences seem to confirm the belief that Albanian is a descendant of Daco-Mysian. This hypothesis is based on the identical comparative phonologies of the two languages. But the comparative phonology of Daco-Mysian is so conjectural that no far-reaching conclusions should be drawn from it.
    It is quite possible that there was a transfer of language from the mountains of the interior to the Albanian coast, which probably had been romanized to a great extent. But there is no reason to assume any large-scale migration, and even for Dardania and Paeonia, if the cradle of Albanian is to be sought there, we cannot be sure that they were Thracian in late antiquity.

    Nothing in the nature of a proof has been presented so far for the Thracian origin of Albanian, only a cumulation of indications which, without deciding the question, prevent us from rejecting the Thracian hypothesis outright. The only thing one can do is to keep an open mind while remembering that in this controversy the burden of proof is with those who deny the Illyrian descent of Albanian
    - Ancient Balkan Languages, Radoslav Katicic

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     Straboo (09-30-2022)

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    A good example of how Albanian could of never come from Thracian or Dacian

    Many of the village names in ancient Thracia were composite, with the words -para (-phara, -pera, -parn, etc.) ‘a village’, -bria ‘a town’ and -diza (-disza, -dizos) ‘a fortress’ as a second element
    Such names are not to be found in Dacia proper (on the northern side of the Danube), in Dobrudzha and most of Northern Bulgaria except its southern eras, where there were seven such names: Mitzipara, Longinopara, Agatapara, Beripara, Kistidizos, Maskiobria, *Alaaibria. The Dacian linguistic area is characterized with composite names ending in -dava (-deva, -daua, -daba, etc.) ‘a town’.
    https://groznijat.tripod.com/thrac/thrac_8.html
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Dacian_names
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...race_and_Dacia

    From Malcolm:

    Otherwise, the only evidence available consists of proper names: place-names, personal names and tribal names, preserved in Latin or Greek inscriptions and the works of ancient historians. There are several thousand such names altogether; but the difficulties of interpretation are immense. Trying to extract a language from such evidence is rather like some linguists of the distant future trying to work out the true nature of the English language on the basis of 'Edinburgh', 'Lancaster', 'Whitby', 'Grosvenor', 'Gladstone', 'Victoria' and 'Disraeli'. Place-names are often the remnants of an earlier language; personal names may reflect cultural influences (it has been observed that if future linguists knew only the names 'Carlo' and 'Lodovico', they would assume that the Italian language was a type of German); and in any case we have no reason to suppose that the ancient Balkans were any less of a linguistic hotchpotch than they have been for most of the rest of their history. [40] On balance, there are more examples of plausible links between Illyrian names and Albanian words than there are in the case of Thracian (though there are some of both, and some names were common to the two ancient languages). Most of these relate to place-names in the area of central and northern Albania, such as the river Mat (Alb.: mat, river-bank) or the town of Ulqin or Ulcinium (Alb.: ujk or ulk, wolf), or indeed the early name for the Kosovo area, 'Dardania' (Alb.: dardhe, pear). [41]

    The strongest evidence, however, comes not from the meaning of the proper names (which is always open to doubt) but from their structure. Most Illyrian names are composed of a single unit; many Thracian ones are made of two units joined together. Several Thracian place-names end in -para, for example, which is thought to mean 'ford', or -diza, which is thought to mean 'fortress'. Thus in the territory of the Bessi, a well-known Thracian tribe, we have the town of Bessapara, 'ford of the Bessi'. The structure here is the same as in many European languages: thus the 'town of Peter' can be called Peterborough, Petrograd, Petersburg, Pierreville, and so on. But the crucial fact is that this structure is impossible in Albanian, which can only say 'Qytet i Pjetrit', not 'Pjeterqytet'. If para were the Albanian for 'ford', then the place-name would have to be 'Para e Besseve'; this might be reduced in time to something like 'Parabessa', but it could never become 'Bessapara'. And what is at stake here is not some superficial feature of the language, which might easily change over time, but a profound structural principle. This is one of the strongest available arguments to show that Albanian cannot have developed out of Thracian. [42]

    Other linguistic arguments which have been deployed in this Illyrian versus Thracian debate are more technical. Much ink has been spilt, for example, on the question of whether Illyrian was a satem language or a centum language. This is a traditional classification of all Indo-European languages according to their underlying patterns of consonant development. (The labels are taken from the Old Iranian and Latin for 'a hundred'.) Albanian is a satem language, and Thracian is thought to have been one too. Most scholars believed that Illyrian was a satem language, until linguists analysed the surviving inscriptions in Venetic, a language of north-eastern Italy which was assumed (on the authority of ancient authors) to be related to Illyrian. This turned out to be definitely centum, and persuaded some experts that the whole Illyrian group must therefore have been centum too - in which case Albanian could not have come from Illyrian. [43] However, more recent research has shown that Venetic had nothing to do with Illyrian. [44] (Similar problems caused by another language thought to be related to Illyrian, the Messapian language of southern Italy, have also been resolved in the same way.) [45] Illyrian was probably satem after all.

    And in any case, it is increasingly apparent that the whole satem/centum classification system does not correspond to the fundamental distinguishing features of the Indo-European languages: it may be the linguists' equivalent of one of those classifications of mammals by eighteenth-century biologists, which modern scientists have had to discard. [46] Another technical (and much more speculative) argument for identifying early Albanian with Thracian was put forward by the Bulgarian linguist Georgiev, who divided Thracian into two languages, one north-western, the other south-eastern, and argued on the basis of consonantal changes that Albanian must have come from the north-western one. But his arguments (at least in relation to the supposed Albanian connection) have been thoroughly dismantled by other scholars. [47]

    Schramm's theory fails, therefore; and in so doing it performs a signal service. Thanks to Schramm, the Thracians can now be eliminated from these enquiries. His research into Nicetas's activities does indeed show that the Bessi received their Christianity, so to speak, in translation; this must force us to conclude that the Albanians, who received theirs in the original Latin, cannot be identified with the Bessi. The language of the Bessi must eventually have perished. Since the Bessi were the only Thracian tribe known to have kept their language as late as the sixth century (and Byzantine sources are naturally more detailed on the Thracian areas, which for them were closer to home, than on the Illyrian ones), it is impossible to find any other Thracian candidates. The origins of the Albanians must be sought, therefore, on the Illyrian side of the divide - particularly in the mountains round Kosovo, in the Malesi, and in the tangle of mountains stretching north from there through Montenegro.


    Para, Dava, Bria, Diza etc means nothing in Albanian, at least not in that sort nor do such placenames occur.

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    Are there even any current/modern linguists who advocate for Thracian or Dacian linguistic origin of Albanian? Those are outdated theories. We have Thracian inscriptions. They are clearly not related to Albanian.

    The Albanian language is clearly related to Messapic. Even Matzinger & co, are trying to break the Illyrian -> Albanian link by saying Messapic =/= Illyrian, which makes 0 sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by takerunder View Post
    Are there even any current/modern linguists who advocate for Thracian or Dacian linguistic origin of Albanian? Those are outdated theories. We have Thracian inscriptions. They are clearly not related to Albanian.

    The Albanian language is clearly related to Messapic. Even Matzinger & co, are trying to break the Illyrian -> Albanian link by saying Messapic =/= Illyrian, which makes 0 sense.
    I'm waiting for that dude with 100 socks from Eupedia to come here and talk about mythical Dardanian E-V13 and Beskidis mountains

    Albanian language does not need to be related to Messapic to prove an Illyrian origin anyway, as noted by Malcolm when back in the 90's or pre 90's it was debated weather it was related I believe.
    Last edited by xz1333; 10-04-2022 at 04:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xz1333 View Post
    I'm waiting for that dude with 100 socks from Eupedia to come here and talk about mythical Dardanian E-V13 and Beskidis mountains

    Albanian language does not need to be related to Messapic to prove an Illyrian origin anyway, as noted by Malcolm when back in the 90's or pre 90's it was debated weather it was related I believe.
    But it is related.

    Many here believe that ev13 "homeland" is in central south balkans, maybe pre Dardanians were originally not Illyric speakers, but became assimilated? (For the record I do think Dardanians stem from Glasinac mati, so maybe they assimilated some pre existing non illyrian clades in the region?
    Last edited by Straboo; 10-04-2022 at 05:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Straboo View Post
    But it is related.

    Many here believe that ev13 "homeland" is in central south balkans, maybe pre Dardanians were originally not Illyric speakers, but became assimilated? (For the record I do think Dardanians stem from Glasinac mati, so maybe they assimilated some pre existing non illyrian clades in the region?
    This is from Malcolm's book:

    45. Polome, 'Position'; Hamp, 'Position', p. 111. Based on the assumed Messapian link was another argument, about the accentuation of the first syllable in place-names (Brindisi, for example, preserves the Messapian accent): some Albanian names do this and others do not. Dropping the Messapian-Illyrian connection removes this problem from the agenda.
    It is related but why does one need Messapic to prove an Illyrian origin ? Does it have to conform to Albanian 100% in order for Albanian to be Illyrian ? It's a language that left the Balkans early.

    Just as an amateur observer I noticed so plenty of similarities between Albanian and Dalmatian Latin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatian_language

    Even maritime words like 'Pask' , 'peshk', 'fish' which is from Latin .

    or words like 'Njana' , 'Nana / Nena' , 'Mother' which is possibly not even from Latin ?

    I believe both Dalmatian Latin and Aromanian developed in the Western Balkans with Aromanian simply developing a bit more inland. Albanian is somewhere between these two. Aromanian also has the 'sh' like Albanian and toponyms like Nish, Shtip, Shkup etc are the same in Aromanian I believe .
    Last edited by xz1333; 10-05-2022 at 12:26 AM.

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    G. Reichenkron (Romanistisches Jahrbuch 1960:11.19-22) rehearses succinctly a number of hypotheses, which I summarize here:

    a) Not all Albanian-Rumanian correspondences are loans from Albanian into Rumanian; they may be from Illyrian and Daco-Thracian as sources.
    b) "Autochthonous" elements of Rumanian show only in part Illyrian-Thracian-Albanian regularities; in part proto-Romance developments appear.

    c) Most Albanian-Rumanian correspondences come from borrowings by Vulgar Latin (as precursor of Rumanian) in Dardania from an Illyrian substrate. Then, we suppose, pre-Rumanian moved north of the Danube and merged with a Daco-Romance dialect, which contained Thracian elements showing correspondences with Armenian (allegedly a sound shift, and certain affixes dealt with in Rom. Jb. 9; for details, see below).

    d) Daco-Thracian yields Rumanian < IE *q before eu; < IE *s + front V, and IE *k; -f- < IE *p ( > p').

    e) Of the residue of unexplained words, loans from Slavic and Magyar account for many.

    f) Some ancient Greek loans are to be reckoned with, even though one would not expect Rumanian to borrow wholesale in areas where other Romance did not.

    g) There are also some Germanic loans. Therefore, we must reckon with five IE components: Germanic, Latin, Greek, Dacian, Slavic.

    h) We must be prepared for the situation where two unrelated etyma fall phonologically together but continue two meanings, such as OFr. mont 'world, mountain' < mundum, montem; this possibility has too often been overlooked.

    Reichenkron's reasoning (Rom. Jb. 1958:9.59-105, esp. 59-62) on the Albanian-Rumanian sound correspondences runs as follows: Such correspondences might reflect either (1) Daco-Thracian to Rumanian, and to Illyrian, which later becomes Albanian; or (2) Illyrian, which later becomes Albanian, to Getian Thracian to Rumanian. On the basis of the assumption of a Thracian sound shift from IE, similar to that in Armenian, Reichenkron follows Gamillscheg's theory that the West Rumanian dialects (i.e., Dardanian and South Danubian) go with Albanian in their loan reflexes, while East Rumanian dialects go with Thracian and show sound-shifted reflexes. Thus

    This is from Hamp, https://groznijat.tripod.com/balkan/ehamp.html . (He also wrote about Messapic and Albanian). He makes some mistakes here though such as 'Luptar' , Albanian 'Luftu' also occurs in Dalmatian Latin, his claim about 'Det' 'Sea' coming from 'Depth' is also not really convincing.

    It is possible Romanian is from Thracian/Dacian while Albanian Illyrian. Both groups met in the central Balkans.
    Last edited by xz1333; 10-05-2022 at 01:47 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xz1333 View Post
    This is from Malcolm's book:



    It is related but why does one need Messapic to prove an Illyrian origin ? Does it have to conform to Albanian 100% in order for Albanian to be Illyrian ? It's a language that left the Balkans early.

    Just as an amateur observer I noticed so plenty of similarities between Albanian and Dalmatian Latin https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatian_language

    Even maritime words like 'Pask' , 'peshk', 'fish' which is from Latin .

    or words like 'Njana' , 'Nana / Nena' , 'Mother' which is possibly not even from Latin ?

    I believe both Dalmatian Latin and Aromanian developed in the Western Balkans with Aromanian simply developing a bit more inland. Albanian is somewhere between these two. Aromanian also has the 'sh' like Albanian and toponyms like Nish, Shtip, Shkup etc are the same in Aromanian I believe .
    Thats no suprise at all. According to onomastics, the wider Illryian area (roman definition) is generally split into 2 regions north (dalmatia) and south (illyria propia dicti). Both exist over a proto illyrian subtrat. The entire region is full of genetically related dialects/languages. Albanian emerged out of this family or web. Where exactly nobody knows yet, wether north or south. Perhaps it was part of the Dalmatia group and moved south, or perhaps it was part of an inland part of the southern group or even a mix of both. Maybe Messapic is differentiated from Albanian because it may preceed it and was not exppsed to the same external influences as Albanian and vice versa. I suppose the key is the dating/chronology of the emergence of proto albanian. I thought that the inclusion of old greek words would date its emergence to at least the 1 millenium bc. I'd say this dialect/language went on to replace other similar dialects in the region. Not necessarily by conquest eitheir. For example, it may have been made a sort of offical language after latin. I doubt the romans learnt every illyrian dialect!

    I think we do need Messapic to prove an illryian origin of albanian, in tandem with genetics. If we did not have genetics, it would be our only main help of linking albanian with another IE language, and therefore geographic region of albania etc
    Last edited by Straboo; 10-05-2022 at 01:08 PM.

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