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Shqip(ë)tar (plural: Shqip(ë)tarët, feminine: Shqip(ë)tare) is an Albanian language ethnonym (autonym), by which Albanians call themselves.[1] During the Middle Ages, the Albanians called their country Arbëri or Arbëni and referred to themselves as Arbëresh or Arbnesh.[2][3] As early as the 17th century the placename Shqipëria and the ethnic demonym Shqiptarë gradually replaced Arbëria and Arbëresh.[4]

Origin theories[edit]

The origin of the ethnic name Shqiptar:

  • Gustav Meyer derived Shqiptar from the Albanian verbs shqipoj (to speak clearly) and shqiptoj (to speak out, pronounce), which are in turn derived from the Latin verb excipere, denoting brethren who speak the Albanian language, similar to the ethno-linguistic dichotomies Sloven-Nemac and Deutsch-Wälsch.[1] This is the theory also sustained by Robert Elsie.[5]
  • A Slovenian theory states, that shqiptar (pronounced ship-tahr, "šiptar" in Slovenian) originates from the English word "shipping" (transporting, inporting), likely because of people and merchandise migration in and out of Albania.
  • Sorin Paliga says that the ethnonym shqipe ‘Albanian’, shqip (adj.), proves that there is a link between the Sclaveni of the 5th century and modern Albanians. See a more detailed discussion in Paliga and Teodor 2009: p. 80-84.

Alb. Shqipe, Shqiptar etc. also reflects a late, post-classical form sclavus, a variant *skljab being reconstructable for Albanian. Orel (1998: 434) assumes that shqipe would be a

calque after the Slavic parallel slověne ‘Slavs’ as derived from slovo ‘word’, in Albanian

shqipoj ‘to speak clearly = to speak in our language’ – Shqipe, Shqiptar.[7]
  • The most accredited theory, at least among Albanians,[8] is that of Maximilian Lambertz, who derived the word from the Albanian noun shqipe,or shqiponjë (eagle), which, according to Albanian folk etymology, denoted a bird totem dating from the times of Skanderbeg, as displayed on the Albanian flag.[6]

Use in South Slavic languages[edit]

The term Šiptar using across South Slavic languages (Cyrillic: Шиптар) is considered derogatory by Albanians in Serbian,[9][10][11] Macedonian,[12] and other South Slavic languages.


  1. ^ a b Mirdita, Zef (1969). "Iliri i etnogeneza Albanaca". Iz istorije Albanaca. Zbornik predavanja. Priručnik za nastavnike. Beograd: Zavod za izdavanje udžbenika Socijalističke Republike Srbije. pp. 13–14. 
  2. ^ (Albanian) (Italian)
  3. ^ (Italian)
  4. ^ Kristo Frasheri. History of Albania (A Brief Overview). Tirana, 1964.
  5. ^ Robert Elsie, A dictionary of Albanian religion, mythology and folk culture, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2001, ISBN 978-1-85065-570-1, p. 79.
  6. ^ a b "ALBANCI". Enciklopedija Jugoslavije 2nd ed. Supplement. Zagreb: JLZ. 1984. p. 1. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Vladimir Arsenijević, Naše crnje
  10. ^ Jovan Ćirilov, Albanac ili Šiptar
  11. ^ Prestati sa govorom mržnje i prikrivanjem činjenica o Kosovu
  12. ^ Албанците во енциклопедијата - „шиптари“

See also[edit]