4.16. Albanian

4.16.1. Albanian evolution

Pre-Proto-Albanian (or Early Proto-Albanian) and Proto-Albanian are the oldest reconstructible stages of Albanian, informed by different layers of external loans as well as internal reconstruction.

Features of Pre-Proto-Albanian include (Fortson 2010; de Vaan 2018):

·       Voiced aspirates lost their aspiration and fell together with the plain voiced stops: *bh → *b, *dh → *d, *gh → *g.

·       Merger of *kw → *k; also *gw, *gh, *gwh → *g.

·       *sp, *p / t_V → *f.

·       Palatalisation trend that must have begun before the merge of velars (i.e. during the initial satemising trend), because there seems to be up to three different outputs in some cases:

o   *k, *s → *ts;

o   *g, *-gh-, *dgh- → *dz;

o   *t→ *; the same evolution is seen in **Tst(< *Tt), and in some cases of *kw before front vowels.

o   *d, *dh, g(w)(h)(before front vowels), gh → *;

o   *sk → *x.

·       Sibilant *s shows different outcomes (some not fully explained): *ʃ, *z, *, *h, and loss.

·       Syllabic liquids developed into liquid plus *i (*e under some conditions); nasals become *a.

·       Clusters *Tm, *sm, *Pn → *m.

·       Glides become Ø between vowels; *, *s→ *β, word-initial *s→ *d(cf. diell ‘sun’, dirsë ‘sweat’).

·       Changes in the vowel system: *o → *a; *ou → *au; *oi → *ai.

·       More unusual changes appear in the long vowels: *eu, *ēu → *ē or *au; *ē, *-as- / l,n,r *ā.

Morphological features of Old Albanian include (Matzinger 2018):

·       Reduced nominal inflection with five cases; personal pronouns do not have genitive. Most recognisable case-endings disappeared.

·       The verbal system, on the contrary, preserves a remarkable amount of inherited material: present and aorist remained (the latter including reduplicated perfects), as well as the subjunctive and optative, and the voice distinction. Innovations include imperfect with endings from imperfect and optative, and other tenses are formed periphrastically, with a complex system of mood.

·       Articulated adjectives, bearing an inflected proclitic element going back to *so-/to-.

4.16.2. Schleicher’s fable in Early Proto-Albanian

dailā kabalai-dže

dailā tšō laiša no eset

kabala pakset;

tan raunta karra berana,

tan madza barra,

tan maʃkula ʃpeto enbarnana.

dailā kabalō spolet:

zemerā mei lendoet,

nera sākskanei kabala rinana.”

kabalai spolanti: “degeo dailā!

zemerā nosōm lendoet sākskanei,

nera, itšpata, dailāu̯ō laišei

βetei zarma patika banet,

dailāu̯ō-dže laiša nuka ensti.”

tei ndiéneta dailā arā eikanet.

Note: Early Proto-Albanian vocabulary relies heavily on Latin loans, and there might be even borrowings from Slavic among the lexicon used. Therefore, the language reflected in the fable cannot predate the Roman Empire, and probably dates to its latest period.