Albania - Languages

Albanian (Shqip), an independent member of the Indo-European family of languages derived from both ancient Illyrian and ancient Thracian, has been greatly modified by Latin, Slavonic, Greek, and Turkish influences. It was not until 1908 that a common Latin alphabet was established for Albanian. In addition to letters of the English alphabet, Albanian uses the diacritics ç (representing the sound of ch in church ) and ë (the sound of i in dirt ). Other unusual letter values are c (the sound of ts in gets ), x (the sound of ds in woods ), xh (the sound of j in jaw ), j (the sound of y in yet ), q (the sound of ky in stockyard ), and y (the sound of the German ü ). There are two distinct dialects—Gheg, spoken in the north, and Tosk, spoken in the south. During the period between World Wars I and II, Gheg was officially favored as standard Albanian; after World War II, because the principal leaders of the regime were southerners, Tosk became the standard. Greek is spoken by a minority in the southeast border area.

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