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Arvanitika

Arvanitika

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Arvanitika also known Arvanitic (Arvanitika: αρbε̰ρίσ̈τ arbërisht, Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

: αρβανίτικα arvanitika) is the variety of Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 traditionally spoken by the Arvanites
Arvanites
Arvanites are a population group in Greece who traditionally speak Arvanitika, a dialect of the Albanian language. They settled in Greece during the late Middle Ages and were the dominant population element of some regions of the Peloponnese and Attica until the 19th century...

, a population group in Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. Arvanitika is today an endangered language, as its speakers have been shifting to the use of Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and most younger members of the community no longer speak it.

Name



The name Arvanítika and its native equivalent Arbërisht are derived from the ethnonym Arvanites, which in turn comes from the toponym Arbëna (Greek: Άρβανα), which in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 referred to a region in what is today Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 (Babiniotis 1998). Its native equivalents (Arbërorë, Arbëreshë and others) formerly were the self-designation of Albanians in general. In the past Arvanitika had sometimes been described as "Graeco-Albanian" and the like (e.g. Furikis, 1934), although today many Arvanites consider such names offensive, as they identify nationally and ethnically as Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 and not Albanians
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

.

Classification



Arvanitika was brought to southern Greece during the late Middle Ages by settlers from what is today Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

. Arvanitika is also closely related to Arbëresh
Arbëresh language
Arbëreshë, also known as Arbërisht, is an ethnolect spoken by the Arbëreshë, the group of Albanian-speaking minorities in Italy.-Classification:...

, the dialect of Albanian in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, which largely goes back to Arvanite settlers from Greece. Italian Arbëresh has retained some words borrowed from Greek (for instance haristis 'thank you', from ευχαριστώ; dhrom 'road', from δρόμος; Ne 'yes', from ναι, in certain villages). Italo-Arbëresh and Graeco-Arvanitika have a mutually intelligible vocabulary base, the unintelligible elements of the two dialects stem from the usage of Italian or Greek modernisms in the absence of native ones.

While linguistic scholarship unanimously describes Arvanitika as a dialect
Dialect
The term dialect is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language's speakers. The term is applied most often to regional speech patterns, but a dialect may also be defined by other factors,...

 of Albanian many Arvanites are reported to dislike the use of the name "Albanian" to designate it, as it carries the connotation of Albanian nationality and is thus felt to call their Greek identity into question.

Owing to its special social circumstances and ethnolinguistic identity, Arvanitika is currently listed as a separate entry ("Arvanitika Albanian", code "aat") in the draft international ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-3:2007, Codes for the representation of names of languages — Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages, is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 639 series. The standard describes three‐letter codes for identifying languages. It extends the ISO 639-2...

 catalogue of language names, where it is categorised as part of an Albanian "macrolanguage". Similarly, the Ethnologue
Ethnologue
Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web and print publication of SIL International , a Christian linguistic service organization, which studies lesser-known languages, to provide the speakers with Bibles in their native language and support their efforts in language development.The Ethnologue...

 lists a separate sub-entry for "Albanian, Arvanitika", along with parallel entries for Gheg Albanian
Gheg Albanian
Gheg is one of the two major varieties of Albanian. The other one is Tosk, on which standard Albanian is based. The dividing line between these two varieties is the Shkumbin River, which winds its way through central Albania....

, Tosk Albanian
Tosk Albanian
Tosk is the southern dialect of the Albanian language. The line of demarcation between Tosk and Gheg is the Shkumbin River. Tosk is the basis of the standard Albanian language.- Tosks :...

 and Arbëresh. There is no entry for Arvanitika in parts 1 and 2 of the international ISO 639
ISO 639
ISO 639 is a set of standards by the International Organization for Standardization that is concerned with representation of names for language and language groups....

 standard of language codes, which only has a single entry for Albanian (codes "alb", "sqi", or "sq").

Sociolinguistic work has described Arvanitika within the conceptual framework of "ausbausprachen" and "abstandssprachen"
Ausbausprache - Abstandsprache - Dachsprache
The Ausbausprache – Abstandsprache – Dachsprache framework is a tool developed by sociolinguists for analysing and categorising the status of language varieties along the cline between autonomous languages on the one hand and dialects on the other. The terms were coined by Heinz Kloss...

. In terms of "abstand" (objective difference of the linguistic systems), linguists' assessment of the degree of mutual intelligibility between Arvanitika and Standard Tosk range from fairly high to only partial (Ethnologue). The Ethnologue also mentions that mutual intelligibility may even be problematic between different subdialects within Arvanitika. Mutual intelligibility between Standard Tosk and Arvanitika is higher than that between the two main dialect groups within Albanian, Tosk and Gheg. See below for a sample text in the three language forms. Trudgill (2004: 5) sums up that "[l]inguistically, there is no doubt that [Arvanitika] is a variety of Albanian".

In terms of "ausbau" (sociolinguistic "upgrading" towards an autonomous standard language), the strongest indicator of autonomy is the existence of a separate writing system, the Greek-based Arvanitic alphabet. A very similar system was formerly in use also by other Tosk Albanian speakers between the 16th and 18th century. However, this script is very rarely used in practice today, as Arvanitika is almost exclusively a spoken language confined to the private sphere. There is also some disagreement amongst Arvanites (as with the Aromanians
Aromanians
Aromanians are a Latin people native throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Serbia and Romania . An older term is Macedo-Romanians...

) as to whether the Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 should be used to write their language. Spoken Arvanitika is internally richly diversified into sub-dialects, and no further standardization towards a common (spoken or written) Standard Arvanitika has taken place. At the same time, Arvanites do not use Standard Albanian as their standard language either, as they are generally not literate in the Latin-based standard Albanian orthography, and are not reported to use spoken-language media in Standard Albanian. In this sense, then, Arvanitika is not functionally subordinated to Standard Albanian as a dachsprache ("roof language"), in the way dialects of a national language within the same country usually are.

Geographic distribution




There are three main groups of Arvanitic settlements in Greece. Most Arvanites live in the south of Greece, across Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, Boeotia, the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 and some neighbouring areas and islands. A second, smaller group live in the northwest of Greece, in a zone contiguous with the Albanian-speaking lands proper. A third, outlying group is found in the northeast of Greece, in a few villages in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

.

According to some authors, the term "Arvanitika" in its proper sense applies only to the southern group or to the southern and the Thracian groups together i.e. to those dialects that have been separated from the core of Albanian for several centuries. The dialects in the northwest are reported to be more similar to neighbouring Tosk dialects within Albania and to the speech of the former Muslim Cham Albanians
Cham Albanians
Cham Albanians, or Chams , are a sub-group of Albanians who originally resided in the coastal region of Epirus in northwestern Greece, an area known among Albanians as Chameria. The Chams have their own peculiar cultural identity, which is a mixture of Albanian and Greek influences as well as many...

 (Çamërishte), who used to live in the same region. These dialects are classified by Ethnologue as part of core Tosk Albanian, as opposed to "Arvanitika Albanian" in the narrow sense, although Ethnologue notes that the term "Arvanitika" is also often applied indiscriminately to both forms in Greece. In their own language, some groups in the north-west are reported to use the term Shqip (Albanian language
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

) to refer to their own language as well as to that of Albanian nationals, and this has sometimes been interpreted as implying that they are ethnically Albanians.

The Arvanitika of southern Greece is richly sub-divided into local dialects. Sasse (1991) distinguishes as many as eleven dialect groups within that area: West Attic, Southeast Attic, Northeast-Attic-Boeotian, West Boeotian, Central Boeotian, Northeast Peloponnesian, Northwest Peloponnesian, South Peloponnesian, West Peloponnesian, Euboean, and Andriote.

Estimated numbers of speakers of Arvanitika vary widely, between 30,000 and 150,000. These figures include "terminal speakers" (Tsitsipis 1998) of the younger generation, who have only acquired an imperfect command of the language and are unlikely to pass it on to future generations. The number of villages with traditional Arvanite populations is estimated to more than 500. There are no monolingual Arvanitika-speakers, as all are today bilingual in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

. Arvanitika is considered an endangered language
Endangered language
An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use. If it loses all its native speakers, it becomes a dead language. If eventually no one speaks the language at all it becomes an "extinct language"....

 due to the large-scale language shift towards Greek among the descendants of Arvanitika-speakers in recent decades.

Characteristics


Arvanitika shares many features with the Tosk
Tosk Albanian
Tosk is the southern dialect of the Albanian language. The line of demarcation between Tosk and Gheg is the Shkumbin River. Tosk is the basis of the standard Albanian language.- Tosks :...

 dialect spoken in Southern Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

. However, it has received a great deal of influence from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, mostly related to the vocabulary and the phonological system. At the same time, it is reported to have preserved some conservative features that were lost in mainstream Albanian Tosk. For example, it has preserved certain syllable-initial consonant clusters which have been simplified in Standard Albanian (cf. Arvanitika gljuhë ˈɡljuhə ('language/tongue'), vs. Standard Albanian gjuhë [ˈɟuhə]). In recent times, linguists have observed signs of accelerated structural convergence towards Greek and structural simplification of the language, which have been interpreted as signs of "language attrition", i.e. effects of impoverishment leading towards language death
Language death
In linguistics, language death is a process that affects speech communities where the level of linguistic competence that speakers possess of a given language variety is decreased, eventually resulting in no native and/or fluent speakers of the variety...

.

Writing system



Arvanitika has rarely been written. Reportedly (GHM 1995), it has been written in both the Greek alphabet
Greek alphabet
The Greek alphabet is the script that has been used to write the Greek language since at least 730 BC . The alphabet in its classical and modern form consists of 24 letters ordered in sequence from alpha to omega...

 (often with the addition of the letters b, d, e and j, or diacritics, e.g. http://www.arvasynel.gr/images/grammar_a.gif) and the Latin alphabet. Orthodox Tosk Albanians also used to write with a similar form of the Greek alphabet (e.g. http://www.christusrex.org/www1/pater/alphabet/alban-greek-alpha.jpg).

Grammar


Source: Arvanitikos Syndesmos Ellados

Pronouns

  Personal pronouns Possessive pronouns
1Sg. û I ími mine
2Sg. ti you íti yours
3Sg.m. ái he atía his
3Sg.f. ajó she asája hers
1Pl. ne we íni ours
2Pl. ju you júai yours
3Pl.m. atá they (m.) atíre theirs (m.)
3Pl.f. ató they (f.) atíre theirs (f.)

Verb paradigms

  The verb HAVE The verb BE
  Pres. Imperf. Subj.Impf. Subj.Perf. Pres. Imperf. Subj.Impf. Subj.Perf.
1Sg. kam keshë të kem të keshë jam jeshë të jem të jeshë
2Sg. ke keshe të kesh të keshe je jeshe të jesh të jëshe
3Sg. ka kish të ket të kish ishtë, është ish të jet të ish
1Pl. kemi keshëm të kemi te keshëm jemi jeshëm të jeshëm të jeshëm
2Pl. kine keshëtë të kini te keshëtë jini jeshëtë të jeshëtë të jeshëtë
3Pl, kanë kishnë të kenë të kishnë janë ishnë të jenë të ishnë

Comparison with other forms of Albanian

The Lord's Prayer
Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity. In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, it appears in two forms: in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the discourse on ostentation in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which records Jesus being approached by "one of his...

 in Arvanitika
Compared with Standard Tosk Albanian (second row),
and Gheg Albanian (third row).

Áti ýnë që jé ndë qiéjet, ushënjtëróft' émëri ýt.
Ati ynë që je qiell, u shënjtëroftë emri yt.
Ati ynë që je qiell, shejtnue kjoftë emni yt.
Our father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name
árthtë mbëretëría jóte; ubëftë dashurími ýt,
arthtë mbretëria jote; u bëftë dëshira jote,
ardhtë mbretnia jote; u baftë vullnesa jote,
thy kingdom come thy will be done
si ndë qiél, edhé mbë dhét;
si në qiell, edhe mbi dhe.
si në qiell ashtu dhe.
on earth as it is in heaven
búkënë tónë të përdítëshimen' ép-na néve sót;
bukën tonë të përditëshme jepna neve sot;
Bukën tonë të përditshme epna ne sot;
give us this day our daily bread
edhé fálj-na fájetë tóna,
edhe falna fajet tona,
e ndiejna ne fajet e mëkatet tona,
and forgive us our trespasses
sikúndrë edhé néve ua fáljmë fajtórëvet tánë;
sikundër edhe ne ua falim fajtorëvet tanë;
si i ndiejmë na fajtorët tanë;
as we forgive those who trespass against us
edhé mos na shtiér ndë ngásie, shpëtó-na nga i ljígu;
edhe mos na shtjerë ngasje, po shpëtona nga i ligu;
e mos na len me ra keq, por largona prej gjith së keq;
and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
sepsé jótia është mbëretëría e fuqía e ljavdía ndë jétët jétëvet.
sepse jotja është mbretëria e fuqia e lavdia jetët jetëvet.
sepse joteja âsht rregjinija e fuqia e lafti jetët jetëvet.
for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.


Source: Η Καινή Διαθήκη στα Αρβανίτικα; "Christus Rex">website

Some common phrases


Source: Arvanitikos Syndesmos Ellados
Flet fare arbërisht? Do you speak Arvanitika at all?
Flas shumë pak. I speak very little.
Je mirë? Are you well?
Jam shumë mirë. I am very well.
Çë bën, je mir? How do you do?.
Si jam? Shum mir. How am I doing? Very well, thanks.
Ti si je? What about you?
Edhé u jam shum mir. I'm fine, too.
Si ishtë it at? How is your father?
Edhé aj isht shum mir. He's doing fine.
Thuai të faljtura. Give him my best regards.
Gruaja jote si ishtë? How about your wife?
Nani edhe ajo, ishtë mir, i shkoi sëmunda çë kej. Now she too is ok, the sickness is over.
T'i thuash tët atë, po do, të vemi nestrë të presmë dru, të më thret. Tell your father, if he wants to go tomorrow to cut wood let him call me in the phone.


External links