Albanian Dialects in Italy

By | February 17, 2022

The Albanian dialects spoken in the kingdom (see Albanians of Italy) are found in three distinct areas: 1. in Southern Italy; 2. in Sicily; 3. in Italian Dalmatia. The colonies of southern Italy and Sicily speak Tuscan-type dialects (see Albania, Lingua); that of Borgo Erizzo (Zara), a ghego dialect.

According to ejinhua, the northernmost of the Albanian colonies in southern Italy is Villa Badessa, a fraction of the municipality of Rosciano (Pescara); it is also the most recent, having been founded in 1744. The Villa Badessa dialect has a special position in the whole of the Albanian dialects of Italy; the inhabitants are in fact Chimarioti, who came from Pikernion, a village not far from Santi Quaranta. Different is the origin and the language of the colonies of the province of Campobasso (Montecilfone, Campomarino, Portocannone, Ururi, Santa Croce di Magliano, all in the Larino district) and of the northern extremity of the province of Foggia (Chieuti, Casalvecchio di Puglia) . In the province of Foggia there were also Albanians (and today they are completely or almost linguistically Apulian) Casalnuovo Monterotaro, Castelluccio de ‘Sauri and Panni. After this group of Albanian colonies, proceeding southwards, follows a large hiatus in which we find just three or four Albanian colonies and precisely Greeks in the extreme north-east of the province of Avellino, Barile and Maschito in the northern part of the province of Potenza. The colonies of San Marzano and Roccaforzata (once also S. Giorgio Ionico, Faggiano and Monteparano) in the province of Taranto remain isolated. With the two colonies of San Paolo Albanese and Costantino Albanese, a dense group of Albanian colonies in Calabria begins in the southern extremity of the province of Potenza (Farneta, Castroregio, Platici, Frascineto, Porcile, Civita, Lungro, S. Basile, Acquaformosa, Firmo, S. Caterina Albanese, Cerzeto, S. Benedetto Ullano, Falconara Albanese, Spezzano Albanese, San Lorenzo del Vallo, Vaccarizzo Albanese, San Giorgio Albanese, San Cosmo Albanese, San Demetrio Corone, Macchia, Santa Sofia d’Epiro and others in the province of Cosenza; Pallagorio, S. Nicola dell’Alto, Andali, Marcedusa, Zangarana, Vena, Caraffa, etc. in the province of Catanzaro). The Albanian colonies in Sicily are all in the province of Palermo; originally there were seven, but today only Piana dei Greci, Contessa Entellina, and Palazzo Adriano remain linguistically Albanian; in a small part S. Cristina Gela; Mezzoiuso is already completely Sicilian. In Italian Dalmatia there is only the colony of Borgo Erizzo in the province of Zara.

The Albanian dialects of Italy (we will exclude from this examination the dialect of Borgo Erizzo which being ghego represents a special type) are distinguished by some phenomena, and precisely by conservation phenomena, precious for reconstructing the history of Albanian, and by phenomena of ‘innovation.

Among the conservation phenomena we will remember: the maintenance of the diphthong  uo  (from  õ  in exit) which in the Tuscan dialects of Albania is reduced to  ua : p. eg.,  škruoń  (Molise), to. škruaj  “I write”; muoji  “month”,  gruoja  “woman” (dialects of the provinces of Campobasso, Foggia and Piana dei Greci) cf. tosco  muaji ,  gruaja . The Albanian of Italy, next to the more ancient phase  uo , also knows the reduction of  uo  to   in the participî ( maravil ′ úr  “marveled”;  ǵ atšúr  “frozen”) and in the 3rd person pl. of the aorist ( uf ε rmún  “they stopped”); sporadically there is also the phase   and in  tue : for example,  tue p ε skúr  or  p ε skúer  “fishing”.

In Montecilfone instead of the diphthong  ie  we find  i , p. ex. δ it  “ten”,  lipur  “hare”. The reductions of  ie  to   and of  u ,   and u to   are ghegic peculiarities; their presence in the dialects of Italy shows that monophthongization was once again much more extended towards the south and that later, in Albania, it went backwards.

Even in the verbal inflection these dialects have archaic and conservative characters that recall the ghego; p. eg, the simplicity of the system of the imperfect in the dialects of Molise (where we find the same endings of the aorist). As a peculiarity of conservation, we can also remember the considerable number of sigmatic aorists ( ǵ  etš  “I found”, etc.) and the maintenance of the – v – intervocalic in – ava – – ova – – eva – – iva -, even in the third singular person of the aorist. A phonetic characteristic is the passage of  ł  to the spirant γ ( gh ): eg,  dieyi  “the sun” (alb.  Diełi); kie γ to  “the sky” (alb.  kieła ).

Among the phenomena of innovation the main ones are those derived from the contiguous Italian dialects and bilingualism; we will remember the turn of the final vowel ε to   in a part of Calabria (eg, in Vena), where the surrounding Calabrian dialects tend to turn the final  e  into a : p. eg,  nga  “not” for  ng ε,  fialezan  “the word [acc.]” for  fialez ε n ; the voicing of deaf after nasal; p. eg,  pr ε mdóń  “I promise” (common alb.  pr ε mtóń). In morphology, the adaptation of the copious Italian lexical material borrowed to the Albanian grammatical system is interesting. Verbs either adapt to Albanian verb categories (eg,  sparańóń  “savings”), or are introduced with the suffix of the Italian infinitive to which the various Albanian verbal exits are added, p. ex. kapiriń  “I understand”,  uffendirta  “I offended”, etc. There are numerous Italian influences in syntax and phraseology (eg,  ǵ i ϑ  sor d ε “every sort of …”,  by force  or “by force of …”,  fin as “as long as”). As for the lexical elements, they are very numerous; as is always the case in bilingual areas, the percentage of borrowed voices is higher the more educated the person speaking is.

Albanian Dialects