Arbëresh language

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Flag of the Italian Arberesh.svg
Native toItaly
RegionApulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Sicily
Native speakers
100,000 (2007)[1]
  • Calabria Arbëresh
  • Molise Arbëresh
  • Puglia Arbëresh
  • Basilicata Arbëresh
  • Sicilia Arbëresh
Latin, formerly also Greek[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3aae
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
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History of Albania

Arbëresh (also known as Arbërisht, Arbërishtja or T'arbrisht) is the Albanian speech spoken by the Arbëreshë people in Italy, as well as the endonym of the Arvanitic language spoken by Arvanites in Greece.


Between the 11th and 14th centuries, Albanian-speaking mercenaries, from the areas that are now Albania and Greece, were often recruited by the Franks, Catalans, Italians and Byzantines.

The invasion of the Balkans by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century caused large waves of emigration from the Balkans to southern Italy. In 1448, the King of Naples, Alfonso V of Aragon, asked the Albanian noble Skanderbeg to transfer to his service ethnic Albanian mercenaries. Led by Demetrio Reres and his two sons, these men and their families were settled in twelve villages in the Catanzaro area of Calabria. The following year, some of their relatives and other Albanians were settled in four villages in Sicily.[3] In 1459 Ferdinand I of Naples also requested assistance from Skanderbeg. After victories in two battles, a second contingent of Albanians was rewarded with land east of Taranto, in Apulia, where they founded 15 villages.[4] After the death of Skanderbeg (1468), resistance to the Ottomans in Albania came to an end. Subsequently, many Albanians fled to neighbouring countries and some settled in villages in Calabria.

There was a constant flow of ethnic Albanians into Italy into the 16th century, and other Albanian villages were formed on Italian soil.[5] The new immigrants often took up work as mercenaries with Italian armies. For instance, between 1500 and 1534, Albanians from central Greece were employed as mercenaries by Venice, to evacuate its colonies in the Peloponnese, as the Turks invaded. Afterwards these troops reinforce defences in southern Italy against the threat of Turkish invasion. They established self-contained communities, which enabled their distinct language and culture to flourish. Arbëreshë, as they became known, were often soldiers for the Kingdom of Naples and the Republic of Venice, between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Despite an Arbëreshë cultural and artistic revival in the 19th century, emigration from southern Italy significantly reduced the population. In particular, migration to the Americas between 1900 and 1940 caused the total depopulation of approximately half of the Arbëreshë villages.


Arbëresh derives from a medieval variety of Tosk, which was spoken in southern Albania and from which the modern Tosk is also derived. It follows a similar evolutionary pattern to Arvanitika, a similar language spoken in Greece. Arbëresh is spoken in Southern Italy in the regions of Abruzzi, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Apulia and Sicily. All the varieties of Arberesh are closely related to each other but are not always entirely mutually intelligible.

Arbëresh retains many features of medieval Albanian from the time before the Ottoman invasion of Albania in the 15th century. It also retains some Greek elements, including vocabulary and pronunciation, most of which it shares with its relative Arvanitika. Many of the conservative features of Arberesh were lost in mainstream Albanian Tosk. For example, it has preserved certain syllable-initial consonant clusters which have been simplified in Standard Albanian (cf. Arbëresh gluhë /ˈɡluxə/ ('language/tongue'), vs. Standard Albanian gjuhë /ˈɟuhə/). Arbëresh most resembles the dialect of Albanian spoken in the south-central region of Albania, and also that of Çam Albanians.

Arbëresh was commonly called 'Albanese' ("Albanian" in the Italian language) in Italy until the 1990s. Arbëresh speakers used to have only very vague notions about how related or unrelated their language was to Albanian. Until the 1980s Arbëresh was exclusively a spoken language, except for its written form used in the Italo-Albanian Byzantine Church, and Arbëreshë people had no practical connection with the Standard Albanian language used in Albania, as they did not use this form in writing or in media. When a large number of immigrants from Albania began to enter Italy in the 1990s and came into contact with local Arbëreshë communities, the differences and similarities were for the first time made apparent. The Arbëreshë have mixed feelings towards the "new Albanians".[6]

Since the 1980s, some efforts have been organized to preserve the cultural and linguistic heritage of the language.

Arbëresh has been replaced by local Romance languages and by Italian in several villages, and in others is experiencing contact induced language shift. Many scholars have produced language learning materials for communities, including those by Zef Skirò Di Maxho who has written two books 'Udha e Mbarë' and 'Udhëtimi', both used in schools in the village of Piana degli Albanesi, Sicily, Gaetano Gerbino wrote Fjalori Arbëresh (Arberesh dictionary), others include Giuseppe Schirò Di Modica, Matteo Mandalà, Zef Chiaramonte, and the only book written in English for the U.S. and U.K. Arberesh diaspora is ‘Everyday Arberesh’ by Martin H. Di Maggio (2013).

Varieties of Albanian

False friends[edit]

While the relation between Arbëresh and standard Albanian is close, the two are not 100% mutually intelligible and there are many false friends, for example:

Arbëresh Meaning Albanian Meaning
shërbenj to work shërbej to serve
pënonj to work in the fields punoj to work
shesh plateau shesh square
kopíl young man kopil bastard
brekë trousers brekë underpants
brumë pasta brumë dough
zienj to cook ziej to boil


The varieties of Arberisht largely correspond with the regions where they are spoken, while some settlements have distinctive features that result in greater or lesser degrees of mutual intelligibility.

The Siculo-Arbëresh variety is spoken exclusively in the Province of Palermo and in three villages; Piana degli Albanesi, Santa Cristina Gela and Contessa Entellina, while the varieties of Piana and Santa Cristina Gela are similar enough to be entirely mutually intelligible, the variety of Contessa Entellina is not entirely intelligible. Therefore a further dialect within Siculo-Arberesh known as the Palermitan-Arberisht variety can be identified,[7] as well as a Cosenza variety, a Basilicata variety, a Campania variety represented by the speech of one single settlement of Greci. There is also a Molisan-Arbëresh and an Apulio-Arbëresh.

Within the Cosenza Calabrian varieties of Arbëresh, the dialect of Vaccarizzo Albanese is particularly distinct. Spoken in the villages of Vaccarizzo Albanese and San Giorgio Albanese in Calabria by approximately 3,000 people. Vaccarizzo Albanian has retained many archaic features of both Gheg and Tosk dialects.


Some features of Arbërish distinguish it considerably from standard Albanian. In some cases these are retentions of older pronunciations.



The letter ⟨Ë⟩ is pronounced as either a mid central vowel [ə] or as a close back unrounded vowel [ɯ]. So the word Arbëresh is pronounced either [ɑɾbəˈɾɛʃ] or [ɑɾbɯˈɾɛʃ] depending on the dialect.

Y to I

Arbërisht lacks the close front rounded vowel [y] of Albanian, which is replaced by the close front unrounded vowel [i]. For example ty ('you') becomes ti, and hyni ('enter') becomes hini.



The letters ⟨GJ⟩ and ⟨Q⟩ are pronounced as a palatalized voiced velar plosive [ɡʲ] and a palatalized voiceless velar plosive [kʲ], rather than a voiced palatal plosive [ɟ] and a voiceless palatal plosive [c] as in standard Albanian. E.g. the word gjith ('all') is pronounced [ɡʲiθ] rather than [ɟiθ], qiell ('heaven') is pronounced [kʲiɛx] rather than [ciɛɫ], and shqip ('albanian') is pronounced [ʃkʲɪp].


In some words, Arbëresh has preserved the consonant clusters /ɡl/ and /kl/. In Standard Albanian these have mostly become the palatal stops gj and q. E.g. glet not gjet ('s/he looks like ... '), klumësht not qumësht ('milk'), and klisha instead of kisha ('church').


The letter ⟨H⟩ is pronounced as a voiceless velar fricative [x] (a sound also found in Greek: χαρά [xaˈra], 'joy'). As such, the Albanian word ha ('eat') is pronounced [xɑ], not [hɑ]. Arbëresh additionally has the palatalized counterpart, [ç]. Therefore, the word hjedh ('throw') is pronounced [çɛθ]. The letter combination ⟨HJ⟩ is present in a few standard Albanian words (without a voiceless velar fricative), but is not treated as a separate letter of the alphabet as it is in Arbëresh.


The letters ⟨LL⟩ and ⟨G⟩ are realised as a voiced velar fricative [ɣ] (also found in Greek: γάλα [ˈɣala], 'milk'). The vast majority of these words originate in Sicilian, but the sound also occurs in words of Albanian origin. Often ⟨G⟩ is replaced by ⟨GH⟩ in the Arbëresh orthography. This feature is very strong that it is carried over into the Italian speech of inhabitants of Piana degli Albanesi and Santa Cristina Gela in words such as Grazie, Frigorifero, Gallera, Magro, Gamba etc. which are realised respectively as [ʁratsiɛ], [friɣoˈrifero], [ɣaˈlɛra], [ˈmaɣro], [ˈʁamba] etc.[8][9] In Piana degli Albanesi the tendency is to treat Italian loanwords differently from Sicilian, which results in the difference between llampjun, pronounced as [ʁampˈjun] (from lampione, 'lamp post'), and lampadhin, pronounced as [lampaˈðin] (from Italian lampadina). In the first example, the ⟨L⟩ becomes ⟨LL⟩ [ʁ] because it comes from Sicilian, whereas in the process of transference from the Italian ampadina to Arbëresh lampadhin, the ⟨l⟩ does not change but the ⟨d⟩ becomes [ð].

Words of Albanian Origin
Written Pronounced English
gëzim (gioia) [ʁzim] joy
gajdhur (asino) [ɣajˈður] donkey
grish (invitare) [ʁriʃ] invite
llah [ɣaχ] eat until stuffed
pagëzim (battesimo) [paʁˈzim] baptism
rruga (la strada) [ˈruɣa] street
Words of Sicilian Origin
Written Pronounced
fugurë [fuɣurə]
fugatjar [fuɣatˈjar]
garazh [ɣarˈaʒ]
gurg [ɣurɣ]
gust [ɣust]
guant [ɣwant]
magare [maɣaˈri]

Final devoicing of consonants[edit]

In contrast with standard Albanian Arbëresh has retained an archaic system[citation needed] of final devoicing of consonants. The consonants that change when in final position or before another consonant are the voiced stops b, d, g, gj; the voiced affricates x, xh; and the voiced fricatives dh, ll, v, z, zh.

Original voiced b [b] d [d] g [ɡ]/[ɣ] gj [ɡʲ] x [dz] xh [] dh [ð] ll [ɣ] v [v] z [z] zh [ʒ]
Devoiced p [p] t [t] k [k] q [kʲ] c [ts] ch [] th [θ] h [x] f [f] s [s] sh [ʃ]


  • b > p: thelb ('clove') - [θɛlp]
  • d > t: vend ('place') - [vɛnt]
  • dh > th: zgledh ('read') - [sklɛθ]
  • g > k: lig ('bad') - [lɪk]
  • gj > q: zogj ('chicks') - [zɔkʲ]
  • j > hj: vaj ('oil') - [vaç]
  • ll > h: uthull ('vinegar') - [ʊθʊχ]
  • x > c: ndanx ('near') - [ndant͡s]
  • z > s: loz ('dance') - [lɔs]
  • zh > sh: gozhda ('pin') - [ɣɔʃda]


Stress in Arbëresh is usually on the penultimate syllable, as in Italian.


In Arbëresh the first person present indicative (e.g. "I work") is marked by the word ending in NJ, whereas in Albanian this is normally marked by J. So, 'I live' is rrónj in Arbëresh and rroj in standard Albanian. The present continuous or gerund differs from Standard Albanian; Arbëresh uses the form "jam'e bënj" instead of "po bej" (I am doing).

Non-Albanian derived elements[edit]


Some Arbëresh words appear to be of Greek origin.


From Greek:

  • amáhj [aˈmaç] ('war') < μάχη [ˈmaçi] ('battle').
  • haristís [xaɾiˈstis] ('thank') < ευχαριστώ [e̞fˌxariˈsto̞] ('thank you'). Arvanitika uses fharistisem.
  • hora [xɔˈɾə] ('village') < χώρα [chóra] ('land, village')
  • parkalés [paɾkaˈlɛs] ('I plead', 'please') from Greek παρακαλώ [paˌrakaˈlo̞] ('please').
  • hiravol (sheaf, a bundle of harvested crop), < χειρόβολο (χειρ = hand).
  • dhomat (bundle, pack), < Gr. δεμάτιον.
  • argomē (fallow, plowing), < όργωμα. Today surviving in the toponym Argomazit of Piana dei Albanesi.
  • kalogreshza (little woman monk), < καλόγρια = woman monk.
  • gjitonia (neighbourhood), < γειτονία.
  • dhaskal (teacher), < δάσκαλος.
  • akoma (still [adverb]), < ακόμα.

On the Greek elements in the Italo-Albanian dialects see T. Jochalas (1975).[10]

Archaic Sicilianisms[edit]

Alongside the Greek component in Arbëresh, there is an extensive vocabulary derived from Sicilian and other southern Italian regional languages. Many of these words have retained their original meanings where Sicilian has given way to Italian in everyday speech amongst the non-Arbëresh Sicilian people.


  • ghranët ('money') < Sic. granna, meaning 'grains'. It is still used in some contexts by modern Sicilian speakers, but in all situations in Arbëresh. Another Arbëresh word for 'money' is haromë, but is no longer used.
  • qaca ('square') < Sic. chiazza; used in all Arbëresh dialects as well as Sicilian. The Albanian word sheshi which means 'square' in standard Albanian means 'plateau' in Arbëresh.
  • rritrenjët ('toilets') < Norman French via Sic. retained in Arbëresh, but no longer in use in modern Sicilian.
  • rritëratë ('photograph') < Sic. 'picture' (ritrattu), more common in Arbëresh than in modern Sicilian.
  • zdar (to go to the countryside) < Sic. sdari; no longer commonly used in Sicilian.
  • zgarrar (to make a mistake; to err) < Sic. sgarrari (now carries a different meaning in Sicilian).


Alongside the Sicilian vocabulary element in Siculo-Arbëresh, the language also includes grammatical rules for the incorporation of Sicilian-derived verbs in Arbëresh, which differs from the rules concerning Albanian lexical material.


  • pincar ('think'), originally mendonj-mbanj mend but also mëndinj; derived from the Sicilian 'pinzari'. Which conjugates in the present tense as follows:
  • U pincar = I think
  • Ti pincar = You think
  • Ai/Ajo pincar = He/She thinks
  • Na pincarjëm = We think
  • Ata/Ato pincarjën = They think
  • Ju pincarni = You (pl) think

In the past tense this conjugates as follows:

  • U pincarta = I thought
  • Ti pincarte = You thought
  • Ai/Ajo pincarti = He/She thought
  • Na pircartëm = We thought
  • Ata/Ato pincartën = They thought
  • Ju pincartët = You (pl.) thought


M’e tha mua He told me (feminine object)
Ngë m’i tha më He did not tell me (masculine object)
T’e thom I tell you (feminine object)
T’i thom I tell you (masculine object)

Diminutives and augmentatives[edit]

The Arbëresh diminutive and augmentative system is calqued from Sicilian and takes the form of /-ats(-ɛ)/ = Sic. -azz(u/a); for example "kalac" (cavallone/big horse), and the diminutive takes the form of /-tʃ-ɛl(-ɛ) from Sic. /-c-edd(u/a); for example "vajziçele" (raggazzina/little girl).The Arbëresh word for "swear word" is "fjalac" and comes from a fusion of the Arbëresh word of Albanian etymology: "fjalë" plus the Sicilian augmentative /-azz[a]/ minus the feminine gendered ending /-a/; this calques the Sicilian word 'palurazza' which is cognate with Italian 'parolaccia'.[9]

Comparison with other forms of Albanian[edit]

There are many instances in which Arberisht differs greatly from Standard Albanian, for instance:

Arbërisht Shqip (Standard Albanian) Meaning
Vje' më rarë or vje' më thënë do të thotë or do me thënë It means
Bëjëm të shkonj (Piana degli Albanesi) or mënd e më shkosh (Santa Cristina) më le të kaloj Let me pass
Shkòmë musturën më jep piperin Pass me the pepper
Zotërote/Strote ë një "zot"? Zotëri, jeni prift? Sir, are you a priest?
E ghrish zotërisë satë për një pasijatë ju ftoj për një shëtitje I invite you for a stroll
Zglith mirë lexo mirë Read well
Qëroi isht burinë i lig moti është shumë keq The weather is very bad
U rri Sëndahstinë jetoj në Shën Kristinë I live in Santa Cristina
Ka bëjëm të ngrënit do ta gatuajmë ushqimin We will prepare the food
U ka' jecur njera qacës unë kam ecur deri sheshit I have walked to the square
Ghajdhuri isht ghrishur ndë horën gomari është ftuar në katund The donkey is invited into the village
Jam e vete/m'e vete ngulem/flë unë do të fle I'm going to sleep
Lyp (lip) ndjesë se zgarrarta shumë më fal se gabova shumë I'm sorry that I've made so many errors
Ajo isht time shoqe ajo është gruaja ime She is my wife
Flit t'arbrisht fol shqip Speak Albanian!
Jim shoq isht e ngulet shoku im është duke fjetur My husband is sleeping
Më përqen rritëratën tënë më pëlqen fotografia jonë I like our photograph
Mortatë or motrëmëmë hallë or tezë Aunt
Lalë or vovi xhaxha or Lalë (dialect) Uncle or Older brother
Lalëbukri Uncle by marriage
Vova motra e madhe Older sister
Tata babai or Tata (dialect) Father
Mëmë nëna or mamaja Mother
Midhe'/ Mëdhema edhe Also
Lluai vëllai brother
Drëngova / also Kapirta Kuptova I understood
Sprasmja Fundi end
Fundi/Bythi Bythi buttocks
Jotëm përherë të thëshjë të mos hash nga tajuri çë ngë ka' klënë pastruam! Jot ëmë përherë/gjithmonë të thoshte të mos hash nga pjata që nuk është pastruar Your mother always said don't eat from plates that haven't been cleaned!
Kemi besë se ai ngë i ftes besojmë se ai nuk ka faj We believe he is not at fault
The Lord's Prayer Arbëresh by Sicily (first row)

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

Áti jinë çë je qiell, shejtëruarkloftë embri jít.
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
járthshit rregjëria jóte; ubëftë vullimi jít,
arthtë mbretëria jote; u bëftë dëshira jote,
ardhtë mbretnia jote; u baftë vullnesa jote,
thy kingdom come thy will be done
si në qiell, ashtú dhé;
si në qiell, edhe mbi dhe.
si në qiell ashtu dhe.
on earth as it is in heaven
bukën tënë të përditshme ena neve sòt;
bukën tonë të përditëshme jepna neve sot;
bukën tonë të përditshme epna ne sot;
give us this day our daily bread
ndjena dëtyrët tóna,
edhe falna fajet tona,
e ndiejna ne fajet e mëkatet tona,
and forgive us our trespasses
si na ja ndjejëm dëtyruamëvet tanë;
sikundër edhe ne ua falim fajtorëvet tanë;
si i ndiejmë na fajtorët tanë;
as we forgive those who trespass against us
e mos na le bien ngarje, lirona nga i ligu;
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
se jótja isht rregjëria, fuqia e lëvdia për jétë jetëvet.
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.

Grammar comparison[edit]

There are many elements of Arberesh grammar that differ considerably from Albanian, for example:

Arbërisht Shqip Meaning Notes
ka shkosh do të kalosh You will pass Arbërisht uses the common Balkan participle ka, whereas Shqip uses do which translates as 'want', which is also a feature of the Balkan sprachsbund
flini alluras/anangasij folni/flisni shpejt Speak soon (pl.)
flëni flini Sleep! (pl.)
bëjëm të shkonj më lër të kaloj Let me pass Shqip uses 'allow me to pass' whereas Arbërisht uses 'we do to pass' and 'able to pass'.
vajta shkova I went Arbërisht conjugates from the Tosk word të vete whereas shkova means 'I passed' in Arbërisht
ke gjegjur ke dëgjuar You have heard
i papas zën fill parkalesin prifti fillon lutjen The priest starts the prayer
stisi ishte ndërtuar It was built
Jo, ngë e ka' parë Jo, nuk e kam parë No, I haven't seen it
jam e flas, je flet, ai isht e flet, ajo isht e flet, jem'e flasjëm, jan'e flasjën, jan'e flini po flas, ti po flet, ai po flet, ajo po flet, po flasim, po flasin, po flisni I am talking, you are talking, he is talking, she is talking, we are talking, they are talking, you (pl) are talking The present continuous is marked with the structure 'I am, You are, He is, She is, We are, They are etc. Whereas Shqip uses po which literally means 'yes'
ki’ të zgjoneshjëm duhet të ishim zgjuar We should have got up
te ku ë Mërì? ku është Maria? Where is Maria? The locative marker te which literally means 'to' is added before ku 'where'. (A similar phenomena occurs in Welsh English and West Country English i.e. 'Where to you going?' or 'Where's he to?')
Mërìa rri alartë Maria jeton lartë Maria lives upstairs
Si ë Zotërote? Si jeni ju, Zotëri? How are you sir? The polite or formal is marked by use of Zotërote with ju being reserved for the plural only


The name Arbërishte is derived from the ethnonym "Albanoi", which in turn comes from the toponym "Arbëria" (Greek: Άρβανα), which in the Middle Ages referred to a region in what is today Albania (Babiniotis 1998). Its native equivalents (Arbërorë, Arbëreshë and others) used to be the self-designation of Albanians in general. Both "Arbëria" and "Albania/Albanian" go further back to name forms attested since antiquity.

Within the Arbëresh community the language is often referred to as "Tarbrisht" or "Gjegje." The origin of the term "gjegje" is uncertain, however this does mean "listen" in Arbërisht. Gheg is also the name of one of the two major dialects of Albanian as spoken in the Balkans. The name Gheg is derived from the term initially used by the Orthodox Christian population of pre-Ottoman Albania for confessional denotation when referring to their Catholic neighbors who converted to Catholicism to better resist the Orthodox Serbs.[11][circular reference]

Arbëresh names[edit]

Every Italo-Albanian person is given a legal Italian name and also a name in Albanian Arbërisht. Quite often the Arbëresh name is merely a translation of the Italian name. Arbëresh surnames are also used amongst villagers but do not carry any legal weight; the Arbëresh surname is called an "ofiqe" in Arbërisht. Some Arbëresh 'ofiqe' are 'Butijuni', 'Pafundi', 'Skarpari' (shoemaker from Italian word 'scarpa').

Examples of Italian names and their Arbëresh equivalents:

Italian Arbëresh
Giuseppe Zef, Josif
Marco Marku
Luca Lekë, Lekini/u
Francesco Frangjishk, Nxhiku, Çiku
Nicola Kola, Koll
Angelica Ëngjëlliqe
Gabriele Gavril, Bjelli
Alessandro Lishëndri
Elena, Elenuccia Lena, Lenuca
Giacomo Minu, Minikeli, Jakini
Mario, Mariuccio Marjucë
Emanuele, Manuele Manueli
Maria Mëria
Martino Martini, Tinuçë
Gaetano Tani
Eleuterio Lëfteri
Antonio Ndon, Nton, Gjon
Gaspare Ghaspani
Domenica, Mimma Mima
Lorenzo Lloreu
Giovanni Jani, Xhuan, Vanù
Demetrio Mitri
Spiridione Spiridhon, Dhoni, Spiro
Rosalia Sallja
Tommaso, Tommasino Masinë
Cosimo Gësmëni
Saverio Shaverë
Andrea Ndrica

Writing system[edit]

The language is not usually written outside of the church and a few highly educated families, but officials are now using the standard Albanian alphabet, which is used on street signs in villages as well as being taught in schools.

Language samples[edit]


  Personal pronouns Possessive pronouns
1Sg. u I jim mine
2Sg. ti you jytë yours
3Sg.m. aji he i/e tíj his
3Sg.f. ajo she i/e saj hers
1Pl. na we jynë ours
2Pl. ju you juaj yours
3Pl.m. ata they (m.) atyre theirs (m.)
3Pl.f. ato they (f.) atyre theirs (f.)


Arbëresh verbs often differ, somewhat drastically, from their Standard Albanian counterparts.

Personal moods
Mood Tense Number and person English
(only sg. 1st)
Singular Plural
1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Indicative Pluperfect kisha burë kishe burë kishë burë kishëm burë kishni burë kishin burë I had done
Imperfect ish'e buja (she buja) ish'e buje (she buje) ish'e bun (she bun) ishm'e bujëm ishn'e buni ishn'e bujën I was doing
Perfect bura bure burë burëm burën burën I did
Present perfect ka burë ka burë ka burë ka burë ka burë ka burë I have done
Present bunj bun bun bujëm buni bujën I do, I am doing
Future ka bunj ka bun ka bun ka bujëm ka buni ka bujën I will do
Imperative Present buje! buni! do! (2nd person only)
Type Form English
Infinitive të bunj to do
Gerund jam e bunj doing
  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. kini keshëtë të kini te keshëtë jini jeshëtë të jeshëtë të jeshëtë
3Pl. kanë kishnë të kenë të kishnë janë ishnë të jenë të ishnë

Some common phrases[edit]

Arberesh English
Falem Hello.
Çë bun? Si rri? What are you doing? How are you?
Jam shum mirë I am very well
Ghracji, je mirë? Thank you, and are you well?
O, jam midhema mirë. Yes, I'm fine too.
Flet arbërisht? Do you speak Arbërisht?
Ka vjen? Where are you from?
Jam gjimps arbëresh I'm half Arbëresh
Mëma jime ë lëtire My mother is Italian
Ju parkales Please
Gëzonem të të njoh Pleased to meet you
Mirmenat Good morning
Shihemi See you soon
Gjegjemi aghuras We'll speak soon
Si thrite? What's your name?
Mua më thonë Marieja My name is Maria
Ëj/ò Yes (Piana degli Albanesi)
Arà/ëj Yes (Santa Cristina Gela)
Ora/ëj Yes (Contessa Entellina)
Jo No


Arbëresh English
te to
nga/ka from
prapa behind
te ana e beside, next to
kundrë against
me with
'e (f), i (m), të (n & pl) of
brënda within, inside
jasht outside
siprë on, above
njera until
për/pë' for
nën under
mjes between, among

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

Demonstrative pronouns replace nouns once they are able to be understood from their context.

Arbëresh English
ai/ajo that (m/f)
ata/ato those (m/f)
ki/kjo this (m/f)
rta/rto these
mosgjë/gjë none

Sample text[edit]

Shërbesa e Kurorës - The Arbëresh Marriage Ceremony

Zoti : Gjergji, do ti të marsh për gruja Linën çë ë ke këtú te ana, si urdhuron Klisha Shejte, e të qëndrosh lidhur me atë në të mirën si edhé në të ligën gjithë ditët e gjellës tënde?

Priest: Do you George want to take as your wife Lina who is present here according to the instructions of the Holy Church and to be faithful through the good and the bad all of your life?

Dhëndërri: O, e dua!

Groom: Yes, I want!

Zoti: Bekuar kloft Perëndia jínë nga herë, naní e për gjithëmonë e për jetë të jetëvet.

Priest: blessed be our God for all time, now and always in the centuries of centuries.

Populli: Amín.

People: Amen.

Zoti: Në paqe parkalesjëm t'ën Zonë.

Priest: In peace we pray to the Lord.

Populli: Lipisí, o i Madh'yn'Zot.

People: Our Great God, we beseech you.

Bekimi të unazavet

Zoti: Me këtë unazë shërbëtori i Perëndis, Gjergji, lidhet me shërbëtorën e Perëndis, Lina, në embër të Atit, të Birit e të Shpirtit Shejt.

Priest: The servant of God, George, is tied to the servant of God, Lina, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Zoti jep krinjët e këndon Msalmin 127: Të limë atá çë i trëmben t'ynë Zoti e çë jecjën te udhët e Tij.

the priest delivers the candles and intones Psalm 127 Make happy those who fear the Lord and may they walk in His ways.

Lëvdi tij, o i madh'yn'Zot, lëvdi tij. Dhóksa si, o Theós imón, dhóksa si Glory to you, our God, glory to you.

Se ti ka hashë bukën e shërbëtyrës s'duarvet tote. Lumë ti e fatbardhë ka jeshë. Jotë shoqe ka jet si dhri me pemë te muret e shpis tënde. Bijët tatë si degë ullinjësh rrethë triesës tënde. Shi kështú ka jet bekuar njeriu çë ka trëmbësirën e Perëndisë.

That you will eat the bread of the work of your hands. You will be happy and enjoy all that is good. See your wife as a fertile vine in the intimacy of your home. That your daughters will be like olive branches around your table. That those who fear the Lord will be blessed.

Swadesh list (comparative list)[edit]

No. English Arberesh
Arbërisht, T'arbërisht
1 I u
2 you (singular) ti
3 he ai, ajo
4 we na, ne
5 you (plural) ju
6 they ata, ato
7 this ki, kjo
8 that ai, ajo
9 here rtu
10 there atì, atje
11 who kush
12 what çë
13 where ku
14 when kur
15 how si
16 not nëngë/ngë
17 all gjith
18 many shum, burin
19 some ca
20 few dica
21 other jetrë
22 one një
23 two di
24 three tri, tre
25 four kart
26 five pes
27 big i math, e madhe
28 long i, e glat
29 wide i, e trash
30 thick i, e trash
31 heavy i rënd, e rëndë
32 small i, e vogël
33 short i, e shkurtur
34 narrow i, e holl
35 thin i, e hollë
36 woman grua
37 man (adult male) burr
38 man (human being) njeri
39 child fëmijë
40 wife shoqja
41 husband shoqi
42 mother mëma
43 father tata
44 animal animall
45 fish pishk
46 bird zog
47 dog qen
48 louse
49 snake
50 worm Gjalprrë
51 tree lis
52 forest voshku
53 stick
54 fruit
55 seed
56 leaf
57 root
58 bark (of a tree)
59 flower lule
60 grass
61 rope
62 skin likur
63 meat mish
64 blood gjak
65 bone asht
66 fat (noun)
67 egg ves
68 horn
69 tail
70 feather
71 hair krip
72 head krie
73 ear vesh
74 eye si
75 nose hun
76 mouth
77 tooth
78 tongue (organ) gluhë
79 fingernail
80 foot këmb
81 leg këmb
82 knee gluri
83 hand dor
84 wing krah
85 belly bark
86 guts
87 neck
88 back kurrdhux
89 breast
90 heart zëmbrë
91 liver
92 to drink pi
93 to eat ha
94 to bite
95 to suck
96 to spit
97 to vomit
98 to blow
99 to breathe marr frim
100 to laugh qesh
101 to see shoh
102 to hear gjegjëm
103 to know di
104 to think pincar, mëndonj
105 to smell
106 to fear
107 to sleep flë
108 to live rronj
109 to die vdes
110 to kill vras
111 to fight
112 to hunt
113 to hit
114 to cut
115 to split
116 to stab
117 to scratch
118 to dig
119 to swim
120 to fly
121 to walk jec
122 to come vinj
123 to lie (as in a bed) ngulëm
124 to sit t'ujëm
125 to stand
126 to turn (intransitive)
127 to fall bie
128 to give jap
129 to hold
130 to squeeze
131 to rub
132 to wash lah
133 to wipe
134 to pull
135 to push
136 to throw
137 to tie
138 to sew
139 to count
140 to say them
141 to sing këndonj
142 to play loz
143 to float
144 to flow
145 to freeze
146 to swell dhëmbronj
147 sun diell
148 moon hënxë
149 star illzë
150 water ujë
151 rain shi
152 river lum
153 lake ghaghu, liqen
154 sea dejt
155 salt krip
156 stone gur
157 sand
158 dust
159 earth dhe
160 cloud
161 fog
162 sky qiell
163 wind erë
164 snow zborë
165 ice akull
166 smoke
167 fire zjarr
168 ash
169 to burn djeg
170 road dhrom, rrugë
171 mountain mal
172 red kuq
173 green virdhi
174 yellow
175 white i bardh, e bardhe
176 black i zi, e zezë
177 night natë
178 day ditë
179 year vit
180 warm vap
181 cold titim
182 full plot
183 new i ri, e re
184 old i, e vjetrë
185 good i,e mirë
186 bad i, e lig
187 rotten
188 dirty
189 straight dreqtë
190 round
191 sharp (as a knife)
192 dull (as a knife)
193 smooth
194 wet lagët
195 dry
196 correct dreqtë, gjushtu
197 near ndanxë
198 far llarghu
199 right drejtë
200 left shtrëmbra
201 at te
202 in
203 with me
204 and e
205 if
206 because përçë
207 name embër


  1. ^ a b Arbëresh at Ethnologue (21st ed., 2018)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Arbëreshë Albanian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ The Italo-Albanian villages of southern Italy Issue 25 of Foreign field research program, report, National Research Council (U.S.) Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of Publication (National Research Council (U.S.)) Foreign field research program, sponsored by Office of Naval research, report ; no.25 Issue 25 of Report, National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of (National Academy of Sciences. National Research Council. Publication) Author George Nicholas Nasse Publisher National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1964 page 24-25 link [1]
  4. ^ The Italo-Albanian villages of southern Italy Issue 25 of Foreign field research program, report, National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of Publication (National Research Council (U.S.))) Foreign field research program, sponsored by Office of Naval research, report ; no.25 Issue 25 of Report, National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of (National Academy of Sciences. National Research Council. Publication) Author George Nicholas Nasse Publisher National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1964 page 25 link [2]
  5. ^ The Italo-Albanian villages of southern Italy Issue 25 of Foreign field research program, report, National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of Publication (National Research Council (U.S.))) Foreign field research program, sponsored by Office of Naval research, report ; no.25 Issue 25 of Report, National Research Council (U.S.). Division of Earth Sciences Volume 1149 of (National Academy of Sciences. National Research Council. Publication) Author George Nicholas Nasse Publisher National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1964 page 26 link [3]
  6. ^ New Albanian Immigrants in the Old Albanian Diaspora: Piana Degli Albanesi. Eda Derhemi
  7. ^ Mandala', M., & Mandala' M (2005). Siculo-arbëresh e siciliano a contatto: alcune verifiche. In Der Einfluss des Italienischen auf die Grammatik der Minderheitensprachen. Morphologische und syntaktische Probleme (pagg. 13-21)
  8. ^ A. Guzzetta, La Parlata di Piana degli Albanesi, Parte I - Fonologia, Palermo 1978
  9. ^ a b Vito Matranga (January 1995). Ipotesi per il rilevamento dei dati variazionali nei punti albanofoni dell’Atlante linguistico della Sicilia (Report).
  10. ^ Jochalas Titos, "Sulla problematica dei prestiti Bizantini e Neo-Greci nei dialetti Italo-Albanesi", Balkan Studies 16, 1, 1975, p. 49.
  11. ^ Ghegs


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External links[edit]