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Soldier of Macedon 10-21-2011 03:30 AM

George, I think modern Albanians have ancestors from several places. To be honest, I am still in the process of forming a more definitive opinion on this topic. Looking at their language, they could have began as a remnant Latin-speaking people akin to Romanians and/or Vlachs (or perhaps Gallo-Romance or even Iberian-Romance), but went through different linguistic changes and influences over the course of history. This may explain why they have incorporated some ancient Greek and Paleo-Balkan words in their vocabulary during the Roman period.

Soldier of Macedon 10-21-2011 04:11 AM

Here is something about the Albanian language from wikipedia:
[QUOTE]Latin element of the Albanian languageJernej Kopitar (1829) was the first to note Latin's influence on Albanian and claimed "the Latin loanwords in the Albanian language had the pronunciation of the time of Emperor Augustus".[8] Kopitar gave examples such as Albanian "qiqer" from Latin cicer, "qytet" from civitas, "peshk" from piscis, and "shėngjetė" from sagitta. The hard pronunciations of Latin ‹c› and ‹g› are retained as palatal and velar stops in the Albanian loanwords. Gustav Meyer (1888)[9] and Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke (1914)[10] later corroborated this.

Eqrem Ēabej also noticed, among other things, the archaic Latin elements in Albanian:[11]

1.Latin /au/ becomes Albanian /a/ in the earliest borrowings: aurum → "ar", gaudium → "gas", laurus → "lar". But Latin /au/ is retained in later borrowings: causa → "kafshė", laud → "lavd".
2.Latin /ō/ becomes Albanian /e/ in the oldest Latin borrowings: pōmum → "pemė", hōra → "herė". An analogous mutation occurred from Proto-Indo-European to Albanian; PIE *nōs became Albanian "ne", PIE *ōkt- became Albanian "tetė" etc.
3.Latin unstressed internal syllable becomes lost in Albanian: cubitus → "kut", medicus → "mjek", padul → "pyll". An analogous mutation occurred from Proto-Indo-European to Albanian. In contrast, in later Latin borrowings, the internal syllable is retained: paganus → "i pėganė"/"i pėgėrė", plaga → "plagė" etc.
4.Latin /tj/, /dj/, /kj/ palatalized to Albanian /s/, /z/, /c/: vitius → "ves", ratio → "(a)rėsye", radius → "rreze", facies → "faqe", socius → "shoq" etc.
Haralambie Mihăescu demonstrated that

some 85 Latin words have survived in Albanian but not in any Romance language. A few examples include bubulcus → bujk, hibernalia → mėrrajė, sarcinarius → shelqėror , trifurcus → tėrfurk, accipiter → qift, *musconea → mushkonjė, chersydrus → kulshedėr, spleneticum → shpnetkė/shpretkė, solanum → shullг/shullė.[12]
151 Albanian words of Latin origin cannot be found in Romanian. A few examples include Albanian mik from Latin amicus, anmik or armik from inimicus, bekoj from benedicere, qelq from calix (calicis), kėshtjellė from castellum, qind from centum, gjel from gallus, gjymtyrė from iunctЇra, mjek from medicus, rjetė or rrjetė from rete, shėrbej from servire, shpėrej or shpresoj from sperare, vullnet from voluntas (voluntatis).[13]
some Albanian church terminology have phonetic features which demonstrate their very early borrowing from Latin. A few examples include Albanian lterll from Latin altare, engjėll from angelus, bekoj from benedicere, i krishtenė or i krishterė from christianus, kryq from crux (crucis), klishė or kishė from ecclesia, ipeshkv from episcopus, ungjill from evangelium, mallkoj from maledicere, meshė from missa, munėg or murg from monacus, i pėganė or i pėgėrė from paganus.[14]
Other authors[15] have detected Latin loanwords in Albanian with an ancient sound pattern from the first century B.C., for example, Albanian qingėlė from Latin cingula and Albanian vjetėr from Latin vetus/veteris. The Romance languages inherited these words from Vulgar Latin: Vulgar *cingla became N. Romanian chinga meaning 'belly band, saddle girth' and Vulgar veteran became N. Romanian batrān meaning 'old'.

The center of Albanian settlement remained the Mat River. In 1079 AD they are recorded farther south in the valley of the Shkumbin river.[18] The Shkumbin, a seasonal stream that lay near the old Via Egnatia, is approximately the boundary of the primary dialect division for Albanian, Tosk-Gheg. [B]The characteristics of Tosk and Geg in the treatment of the native and loanwords from other languages are evidence that the dialectal split preceded the Slavic migration to the Balkans[19] [20] [6] which means that in that period (5th to 6th century AD) Albanians were occupying pretty much the same area around Shkumbin river, which straddled the Jirecek line.[/B][21] [16]

References to the existence of Albanian as a distinct language survive from the 14th century, but they failed to cite specific words. The oldest surviving documents written in Albanian are the "Formula e Pagėzimit" (Baptismal formula), "Un'te paghesont' pr'emenit t'Atit e t'Birit e t'Spertit Senit." (I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit) recorded by Pal Engjelli, Bishop of Durrės in 1462 in the Gheg dialect, and some New Testament verses from that period.

The oldest known Albanian printed book, Meshari or missal, was written in 1555 by Gjon Buzuku, a Roman Catholic cleric. In 1635, Frang Bardhi wrote the first Latin-Albanian dictionary. The first Albanian school is believed to have been opened by Franciscans in 1638 in Pdhanė.[/QUOTE]
Given that the language is first recorded in the 15th century, I would like to know how they came to the conclusion that the Tosk and Gheg dialects were already defined as seperate by the 6th century. There are some links to certain historians, but nothing goes into detail.

Carlin 01-06-2012 02:51 PM

Are Albanians of Mardaite origin?
I would like all to consider the following arguments for Albanians being of Mardaite origin.

This theory would more or less pose serious problems for the Illyrian-Albanian continuity theory; and it would also explain several "inconsistencies" simultaneously, such as:
1) The presence of Slavs and Slavic toponyms in traditional Albanian lands (which predate Albanian presence by several centuries);
2) Late appearance and mention of Albanians in historical documents (i.e. in various Byzantine/Roman texts); many state that their first mention in the Balkans is roughly in the 11th century;
3) The fact that Albanians, just like the Mardaites, were initially non-Orthodox Christians.


If there are any Albanians on this forum their insight is welcome. Please note that the object of this topic is not to spread anti-Albanian propaganda, but merely LISTING of facts which I was able to find in various books.

Who are the Mardaites?

Mardaite origins are as elusive as that of Illyrians. They inhabited the highland regions of southern Anatolia, Syria, Lebanon, Isauria. Some authors have argued that they were of Armenian, Persian, or Kurdish origin, however, these arguments rest on conjectures and speculations. We actually know nothing of them in terms of linguistic or ethnic affiliation.

What is an historical fact is that, according to medieval texts, Justinian II (in 690s) relocated a [U]large number[/U] of Mardaites to the southern coast of Asia Minor, particularly Pamphylia, Lycia and Cilicia. Later on, [B]in the 9th century[/B], Mardaites moved to the themes of the [B]Peloponnese[/B], [B]Epirus[/B] (including Acarnania, Aetolia) and [B]Cephalenia[/B]. This took place as part of Byzantine measures to restore population and manpower to areas depleted by earlier conflicts. What this means is that these regions, at the time Mardaites were settled there, were entirely depopulated or at best sparsely inhabited (by Slavs and Vlachs - this is confirmed by Byzantine sources).

Here's a quote from Ostrogorsky's "History of the Byzantine state", citing medieval sources:

"The Mardaite people, which lived in the area of Byzantine-Arab borders, were settled in the Peloponnese, the island Cephalenia, in the region of Nicopolis/Epirus, and in Antalya (coast of Asia Minor)."


Additional details can be found here:
Makrypoulias, Christos G. (2005), "Mardaites in Asia Minor".

Do Albanians have any sort of historical connection with the term/name "Mardaites"? A couple of examples:

- According to a document of the Latin sovereigns of Corfu dated 1365, which ratifies an earlier (1246) decree of Michael II, the ruler of Epirus, referring to a "DECARHIA [B]MARDATORUM[/B]".

Does this refer to Albanians (Tosks)? 95% likely, as Albanians lived in great numbers in Epirus by this time. There were also Vlachs, Slavs, and other communities (Jews, Catholics/Venetians). No other ethnicities are mentioned at this time in historical texts.

- The Mirdite tribe

[B]The Mirdite tribe, the only tribe where the Albanian language and religion is still the same as centuries before.[/B] The oldest families (which are brothers in the same time) are: Oroshi (leading family of the Mirdite), Kushneni and Spaqi. Fandi and Dibri family were hosted by the Mirdite (they came from southern Kosovo) later when those two tribe didn't want to obey the rules of the Ottoman Empire,thus, the perfect place for this was Mirdite.

- Republic of Mirdita


Again, I will let the reader judge and conclude for himself, based on the facts provided.


1) Did Albanians absorb and assimilate the Mardaites? That is, are Mardaites a separate ethnic groups from Albanians, which Albanians assimilated over the centuries?

2) Or are they simply Mardaites themselves, appearing under various names in historical texts, eventually spreading northwards from Epirus, along the Adriatic coast towards Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia? The "change" of names or use of different appellations for the same ethnicity is quite common throughout history. Albanians call themselves Shqiptarėt; the term Albanians and Albania was used and popularized by the Catholics and Venetians.

PS: My next post will deal with and address "inconsistency" #3: "Albanians, when they first appear in the Balkans, were non-Orthodox Christians (like the Mardaites)."

Soldier of Macedon 01-06-2012 06:04 PM

Carlin, I moved your post to this thread.

Carlin 01-06-2012 06:51 PM

Thanks SOM.

Carlin 01-06-2012 07:58 PM

3) [I]Albanians, just like the Mardaites, were initially non-Orthodox Christians.

I've read some of the posts above regarding the Albanian language and I think it's ultimately futile to argue one way or the other in terms of origins, because not much can be inferred in such a way. Most languages, through contact with other cultures, undergo various changes over the centuries so they end up with borrowings, etc... Albanian is and remains a separate language.

To return to point 3 and my initial post:

I always found it odd that Albanians appear in the Balkans as non-Orthodox Christians; I will attempt to explain why this poses a problem for those who adhere to the Illyrian hypothesis.

The regions of Albania and Epirus have traditionally been under the jurisdiction of the Constantinople church, and the Roman/Byzantine authorities regarded the inhabitants of these provinces as Orthodox Christians (regardless of what their ethnic background might be). I'm not aware that Western Christians/Catholics exerted any meaningful influence on these territories prior to the (roughly) 1000s but I might be mistaken. Anyway, it seems that no such influence can be found and it would appear plausible to conclude that Illyrians were Christianized (at some point) by Constantinople/Eastern church.

This is where the problem arises. If Illyrians became Orthodox Christians, how come the Albanians were not? If anything, a neutral observer would expect them to remain pagans but this is not the case. The Byzantines regarded them as "heretic" Christians and "half-believers", just like the Mardaites!

If we now trace the history of the settlement of Mardaites in these territories, starting with Epirus, the attitude of the Byzantine authorities starts to make more sense as Mardaites were either Monothelite or Monophysite Christians. These branches of Christianity originated in the Levant.

At best, the influence of the Roman Catholic church started only after 1082, when the Normans captured Durres. After the Normans, Venetians appear on the scene. It was the Roman Catholics who further popularized the term Albania, establishing Regnum Albanae.


It was only during these centuries that Latin Christianity was introduced in Albania, and many eventually converted.

- Settlement of Mardaites in Epirus, Peloponnese, and other Roman/Byzantine territories by the 9th century. The official authorities regard them as "heretics". Note: no mention of "Albanians" in the Balkans as of yet.
- Expansion of Mardaites into adjacent territories. First appearance of Albanians in the 11th century. They appear as "heretics" or "half-believers" in various documents.
- Use of terms Mardaites/Albanians/Arber etc. for the same ethnic community. "Albanians" ultimately popularized by the Venetians. Conversion of Albanians and/or Mardaites to Latin Christianity.

PS: Demographic expansion and ethnic changes were quite common and frequent in the Balkans, even after the Slavic invasions. Re-settlements of entire peoples and tribes was conducted at will by despots and kings. The Byzantines were no different. If Albanians moving to the north and occupying present day Albania and other territories in such a short time period seems implausible, may I use Vojvodina as an example. After the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 the entire territory of Vojvodina was turned into a "desert". It was uninhabited and modern day historians estimate that 10000 people (tops) of various ethnicities lived in Vojvodina after 1526. Serbs, Hungarians, Germans and others started settling: the current population of Vojvodina is roughly 2 mil.

Soldier of Macedon 02-16-2012 01:55 AM

[QUOTE][QUOTE]There is also a source (Michael Attaliates?) that apparently wrote of a people called 'Arbanitai' who were transplanted as mercenaries from Sicily to Albania by a rebel military commander called George Maniakos in 1042.[/QUOTE]
I posted the above earlier as I have seen reference made to it several times. Here is a wiki link about the author:


[QUOTE]Michael Attaleiates or Attaliates was a Byzantine statesman and historian, probably a native of Attalia in Pamphylia, whence he seems to have come to Constantinople between 1030 and 1040. He acquired in the royal city both wealth and position and was rapidly advanced, under successive emperors, to the highest offices (patrikios, anthypatos, judge of the Hippodrome and the vēlon), among others to that of judge of the supreme court of the empire. He compiled (1072) for the Emperor Michael Parapinakes a compendium of Byzantine law which supplements in a useful way the Libri Basilici. In addition to this he also drew up an Ordinance for the Poor House and Monastery which he founded at Constantinople in 1077. This work is of value for the history of Byzantine life and manners in the eleventh century. It contains a catalogue of the library of his monastery. About 1079 or 1080 he published an account of Byzantine history from 1034 to 1079, a vivid and reliable presentation of the palace revolutions and female domination that characterize this period of transition from the great Macedonian dynasty to the Comneni.

Attaliates writes as an eyewitness and contemporary. Because of this, his history is burdened with the usual Byzantine affectations. In one passage, when he talks about the emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, he makes it seem as though Botaniates– a potential candidate for the empress Eudokia Makrembolitissa's hand in marriage after the death of Constantine X Doukas, who was emperor while he was writing– should have succeeded to the throne. His judgment is also affected towards the emperor Romanos, who he regarded as a wronged soul. His writing style is in imitation of earlier Roman historians rather than Greek historians. An example of this is his reference to the senators, though like Nikephoros Gregoras he simply means the imperial officials.[/QUOTE]

If anybody is able to get their hands on this author's 'Historia', post the relevant citations if they are present.[/QUOTE]
Here the citation I found in wikipedia, sources listed at the bottom. This suggests that Albanians originated from some Italian region.
[QUOTE]Laonikos Chalkokondyles (c. 1423–1490), the Byzantine historian, thought that the Albanians hailed from Italy.[97] The theory has its origin in the first mention of Albanians, made by Attaliates (11th century): "...For when subsequent commanders made base and shameful plans and decisions, not only was the island lost to Byzantium, but also the greater part of the army. Unfortunately, the people who had once been our allies and who possessed the same rights as citizens and the same religion, i.e. the Albanians and the Latins, who live in the Italian regions of our Empire beyond Western Rome, quite suddenly became enemies when Michael Dokenianos insanely directed his command against their leaders..."[98]

97.^ The Albanians, Henry Skene, Journal of the Ethnological Society of London (1848-1856)
98.^ Michaelis Attaliotae: Historia, Bonn 1853, p. 8, 18, 297. Translated by Robert Elsie. First published in R. Elsie: Early Albania, a Reader of Historical Texts, 11th - 17th Centuries, Wiesbaden 2003, p. 4-5. [url],+Bonn,+1853,+Translated+by+Robert+Elsie&source=bl&ots=C3Q5pbDCXy&sig=KCMgnraUGPBpiN-jJqdW5htHs6Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Vao8T4HeOOWViQfNgtHyBA&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Michaelis%20Attaliotae%3A%20Historia%2C%20Bonn%2C%201853%2C%20Translated%20by%20Robert%20Elsie&f=false[/url][/QUOTE]

Soldier of Macedon 04-18-2012 02:26 AM

Here is some interesting information regarding the use of the 'plis' (the Greco-Latin name for the hat later used by Albanians and known by them as a 'qeleshe') from wikipedia:
[QUOTE]The pileus (from Greek πῖλος - pilos, also pilleus or pilleum in Latin) was a brimless, felt cap worn by sailors in Ancient Greece[1] and later copied by Ancient Rome. The Greek πιλίδιον (pilidion) and Latin pilleolus were smaller versions, similar to a skullcap.

The pileus was especially associated with the manumission of slaves who wore it upon their liberation.[citation needed] It became emblematic of liberty and freedom from bondage.[citation needed] During the classic revival of the 18th and 19th centuries it was widely confused with the Phrygian cap which, in turn, appeared frequently on statuary and heraldic devices as a "liberty cap."[citation needed].

GreeceThe pilos (Greek: πῖλος, felt[2]) was a common conical travelling hat in Ancient Greece. The pilos is the brimless version of the petasos. It could be made of felt or leather. Their pilos cap identifies the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, in sculptures, bas-reliefs and vase-paintings; their caps were already explained in Antiquity as the remnants of the egg from which they hatched.[3] The pilos appears on votive figurines of boys at the sanctuary of the kabeiri at Thebes, the Kabeirion.[4]

In warfare, the pilos type helmet was often worn by the peltast light infantry, in conjunction with the exomis, but it was also worn by the heavy infantry .[5] The pilos cap was sometimes worn under the helmet by hoplites, but usually they preferred to not use a helmet along with the cap before the 5th century for reasons of mobility.

The pilos helmet was made in the same shape as the original cap. It probably originated from Lakonia and was made from bronze. The pilos helmet was extensively adopted by the Spartan army in the fifth century BC and worn by them until the end of the Classical era.

[edit] RomeIn Ancient Rome, a slave was freed by a master in a ceremony that included placing the pileus on the former slave’s shaved head. This was a form of extra-legal manumission (the manumissio minus justa) considered less legally sound than manumission in a court of law.

One 19th century dictionary of classical antiquity states:

Among the Romans the cap of felt was the emblem of liberty. When a slave obtained his freedom he had his head shaved, and wore instead of his hair an undyed pileus (πίλεον λευκόν, Diodorus Siculus Exc. Leg. 22 p. 625, ed. Wess.; Plaut. Amphit. I.1.306; Persius, V.82). Hence the phrase servos ad pileum vocare is a summons to liberty, by which slaves were frequently called upon to take up arms with a promise of liberty (Liv. XXIV.32). The figure of Liberty on some of the coins of Antoninus Pius, struck A.D. 145, holds this cap in the right hand.[6][/QUOTE]

Po-drum 04-24-2012 12:14 PM

[QUOTE=Soldier of Macedon;112482]Here is something about the Albanian language from wikipedia:

Given that the language is first recorded in the 15th century, I would like to know how they came to the conclusion that the Tosk and Gheg dialects were already defined as seperate by the 6th century. There are some links to certain historians, but nothing goes into detail.[/QUOTE]
My assumption is that this conclusion is done because of the diversity in the slavic loanwords in Gheg and Tosk dialects of albanian. If they weren't separated than we would expect in the biggest part this loanwords to be the same. It would be interesting to see the situation from this point of view with latin loanwords..
But, however, we are speaking about a thousand years between 5-15 century for which period we don't know nothing about albanian.

[QUOTE=Soldier of Macedon;125651]Here is some interesting information regarding the use of the 'plis' (the Greco-Latin name for the hat later used by Albanians and known by them as a 'qeleshe') from wikipedia:[/QUOTE]
For me, it would be more interesting to find the possible etymology of "qeleshe".
I doubt albanian "plis" is derived by "pileus". It's more close by form to slavic "[U]plesh[/U]a" which means bald, place without trees, flat. So we have today "плоча", "сплескан", "плесне', "Плеша" - only as topographic term..

Soldier of Macedon 04-28-2012 11:41 PM

[QUOTE=Po-drum;126103]My assumption is that this conclusion is done because of the diversity in the slavic loanwords in Gheg and Tosk dialects of albanian. If they weren't separated than we would expect in the biggest part this loanwords to be the same.[/QUOTE]
It's only natural that the northern Gheg dialect underwent more Slavic influences than the southern Tosk dialect. In either case, it does nothing to demonstrate that the dialect split took place prior to the 6th century. When it comes to the differences between Albanian dialects, rhotacism is quite telling. Both Gheg and Tosk dialects share the sound change [B]l > r[/B] (similar to a western Indo-Iranian development, where [I][B]l[/B]aghu[/I] becomes [I][B]r[/B]aghu[/I], [I]za[B]l[/B]d[/I] become [I]za[B]r[/B][/I], etc), thus the Latin exonym 'A[B]l[/B]bania' which became prominent during the Norman invasion of the Balkans (via the eastern Adriatic coast) in the 11th century, became A[B]r[/B]bania. This rhotic sound change is also evident in the Neapolitan dialect of Italy, spoken in many of the Italian regions conquered by the Normans prior to their invasion of the Balkans. Another example of rhotacism characterises one of the main differences between Gheg and Tosk, and that is the sound change [B]n > r[/B] in the latter, so Arba[B]n[/B]ia becomes Arbe[B]r[/B]ia in Tosk, whereas Gheg retained the original /n/. This sound change appears to be foreign to Balkan languages (both ancient and modern), but it does have a parallel in some Semitic languages, for example *b[B]n[/B]u > be[B]n[/B] > ba[B]r[/B] (son).
[QUOTE]It would be interesting to see the situation from this point of view with latin loanwords..[/QUOTE]
I think both Gheg and Tosk share most of the same Latin loanwords, with the earliest and majority being of eastern Romance origin, supplemented by later western Romance vocabulary that isn't as numerous.
[QUOTE]I doubt albanian "plis" is derived by "pileus". It's more close by form to slavic "[U]plesh[/U]a" which means bald, place without trees, flat. So we have today "плоча", "сплескан", "плесне', "Плеша" - only as topographic term..[/QUOTE]
Are there other examples of Slavic loans into Albanian which show the vowel change [B]e > i[/B] (Plesh > Plis)?

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