Friday, August 13, 2010

The Albanian Alphabet

Because Albania was under Ottoman subjugation for almost 500 years, the teaching of the Albanian language or publishing any literature in that language in Albania was expressly forbidden by the Turks often under the penalty of long prison terms. Yet, the struggle for an Albanian alphabet spanned the entire 19th century and even the early part of the 20th.

The evolution of the Albanian alphabet underwent hundreds of changes and revisions and the efforts of many distinguished leaders and scholars of Albania.

Geographically, activities on behalf of a unified Albanian alphabet extended to the Albanian communities of Monastir in the north, Salonika in the east, and Saranda in the south with major alphabet contributions from Tirana, Elbasan, and Korçe.

The Albanian alphabet is definitely Latin-based, and similar to that of English except that it is comprised of the following 36 letters

a b c ç d dh e ë f g gj h i j k l ll m n nj o p q r rr s sh t th u v x xh y z zh
(including the letter - ç - and, again, following the same principle of one letter for one sound, making use of diacritical marks (¨) for sounds peculiar to Albanian - the letter - ë - along with nine digraphs dh, gj, ll, nj, rr, sh, th, xh, and zh which are regarded as a single character.

The Albanian alphabet does not have the letter w.

The adoption of a unified Albanian alphabet during the early part of the 20th century helped stimulate Albania's national movement towards complete independence from the Ottoman empire while bringing all Albanians closer together, northern Gheg and southern Tosk, Christian and Muslim.


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