The Albanians - A pure indigenous people, or a people containing a superstrate from Scythian foreigners (Kutrigers, Avars)? - A study by Ivan Tanev Ivanov, providing evidence that Albanians are not descended from Illyrians (as they so often claim), but from Eastern Iranian Scytho-Sarmatian peoples


Sun of Chaos
True & Honest Fan
Feeling inspired by the "are Italians white" thread.

This was Google translated from the Bulgarian language. I tried to clean it up as best as I can, and several parts had to be cut for brevity (or at least fitting the character limit) but some things are inevitably still going to get lost in translation. You can, of course, read the full text for yourself, but unless you can speak fluent Bulgarian, I suggest you use a translator app (which you may have to turn off periodically so that you can translate certain words and phrases individually). I'm sure @Fougaro and @Basil II will like this, for it will prove useful in trolling Albanians in internet discussions and the like.

Modern Albanians number about 7 million and occupy a compact territory in several countries - Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece. and Italy (Fig. 1). They speak two dialects, northern "Gheg" and southern "Tosk", which is now the official norm. There are many nasal vowels in the Gheg dialect. In the dialect of Tosk, rhotacism has occurred - the consonant "н" (En) in some positions has passed into "p" (Er). Albanians call their tongue gjuha shqipe, and themselves the Shqip or Shiptaret. This name was first recorded in the 14th century. Some associate this name with the Albanian word shqiponje (eagle) and argue that the double-headed eagle (Byzantine sign) is the coat of arms of modern Albania. Most likely, however, is the hypothesis of Demiraj [Shaban Demiraj. Preyardhia e shqiptarëve nën dritën e dëshmive të giuhës shqipe (The origin of the Albanians in terms of Albanian linguistic evidence). Shkenca, 1999, p. 194], who notes that in Albanian sqip means "clear, intelligible", hence shqiptar - "a person whose language is intelligible".

Italian Albanians are called Arberishtja or Arberichte, the Greek Albanians, Arvantis (Arvanite), hence in Turkish - Arnavut. In the Old Bulgarian language the name "land of Arbanassi" is used, sometimes "Verbanassi". From the common basis of these words is formed the internationally known name of today's Albanians. This name probably comes from the ancient name of the Arbanon Valley, located along today's Shkumbin River in the middle of the country. In antiquity, the Illyrian tribe "Albanians" lived in the same area, whose name is probably given to the valley. The earliest mention of this tribe is from the second century BC. in History of the World, written by Polybius, where there is talk of a city called Arbon, located in present-day central Albania. Its Illyrian population is called Arbanios and Arbanitai. In the first century AD. Pliny mentions the Illyrian tribe Olbonense. In the II century AD. Ptolemy, a geographer and astronomer from Alexandria, drew a map of Illyria, which marked the town of Albanopolis northeast of Durres and mentioned that the Illyrian tribe Albanoi lived around that town.

There is a time difference of about 10 centuries between the last mention of ancient (non-Hellenized and non-Latinized) Illyrians and the first mention of today's Albanians. The Illyrians, already a fully Hellenized tribe, were last mentioned in the 7th century in the Miracula Sancti Demetri (7th century) [Malcolm, Noel. "Kosovo, a short history"], Macmilan, London, 1998, p. 22-40]. According to Byzantine chronicles, modern Albanians, as a people other than the earlier Latinized Illyrian population, were "discovered" for the first time in 1043, although for centuries Illyria was part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires. The Byzantine princess Anna Comnina wrote in detail about modern Albanians in her chronicles about the wars of her father Alexius Comnenus (1081-1118) with the Normans.

The interval VII - X century is critical for the origin of the modern Albanians. Before this interval, the ancient Illyrians were already melted down to the point of indistinguishability from the Greeks. During this interval, invasions and settlements of Proto-Slavs, Avars, Kutrigurs and Proto-Bulgarians began, which completely changed the ethnic composition of most of the Balkan Peninsula, including the region of Illyria, Paeonia, and Macedonia. After this interval, Anna Komnina spoke of a new population in the area of present-day Northern Albania, ethnically different from that of the then Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs. To denote it, she resurrects the above-mentioned ancient term Arbanitai or Arbanon, which has been forgotten for nearly 10 centuries. This is probably an example of the well-known Byzantine tradition of naming new tribes and peoples after their old ancestors, although there is no ethnic connection between them. In the same way, the first Bulgarians on the other side of the Danube were called Huns, Moesi, and Scythians according to the chronicler's preferences.

To emphasize the great temporal (and possibly ethnic) difference between the ancient Albanians (pure Illyrians from the 2nd century BC to the 2nd century AD), the medieval Greco-Latinized Illyrians (V-VII c. AD) and modern Albanians (XI - XXI century) in the text below will use the name Shiptars as equivalent to "modern Albanians".

In 1774, the German historian Thumann hypothesized that Albanians and the Albanian language originated from the Illyrians and the Illyrian language [Johannes E. Thunmann "Untersuchungen uber die Geschichte der Oslichen Europaischen Volger" Teil, Leipzig, 1774]. This hypothesis has not been proven, and it will hardly ever be possible to prove it, because the Illyrian language itself is completely unknown to modern scholars and one cannot compare a modern language with a long-dead and completely unknown language. This opinion is expressed in a very contradictory and unconvincing way in the Macedonian textbook for the Albanian language. [Mustafa Ibrahimi. Te mësojmë shqip: kurs për fillestarë dhe studentë (botimi i dytë) = Learning Albanian: a course for beginners and students (second edition). Shkup=Скопje: Interlinqua, 2005, с. 7].

On the one hand, it is claimed that Albanians and the Albanian language have Illyrian origins. In this regard, it is stated that some ancient names from this area can be explained in words from modern Albanian: Dardania from dardhe (pear), Dalmatia = dele < delme (sheep), Dimalum = di mal < dy male (two mountains), Bardhyl < bardhë (white), Daz < dash (ram) and others. On the other hand, it is stated that the Illyrian language is dead and very few words of it have been preserved. Only a few well-known Illyrian words are mentioned, which can be explained in words from today's Albanian: peli = pleq (old), aspetos = shpejtë (fast). In my opinion, the Albanian Diel - Sun can be borrowed from the Paeonians, in which the main god - the Sun was called Dyalos (Dryalos).

The language of the Messapians, an ancient Western Balkan tribe, is relatively well known because more than 600 inscriptions in their language, written in Greek letters, have been found in southern Italy. There are claims of kinship between Illyrians and Messapians, but so far this has not been proven. Only a few Messapian words resemble words from modern Albanian: bije-bilie - girl; dardhë - pear; dele (delme) - sheep; dallendysche - swallow. More or less in modern Bulgarian there are so many words from the Latinized language of the Thracians (комин, гуша и дисаги, бисаги - Latin remains), but no serious scholar claims that modern Bulgarian is a descendant of the Thracian language. In fact, such a play on words is simply meaningless and proves nothing. You can choose from two Indo-European languages, modern or extinct, and find dozens of words that have the same sound and the same meaning in both languages. For example, about 15 such words have been found in dead Avestan and modern English, but this does not mean that the English are descendants of the Avestans.

Despite the extreme scarcity of evidence, official Albanian historiography accepts this hypothesis and argues that "Albanian is the only living indigenous language in the Balkans, where Illyrian was once spoken, while other local languages (Messapian, Thracian-Dacian, Ancient Macedonian, Phrygian, Ancient Greek, even Illyrian?!) are extinct." [Mustafa Ibrahimi. Te mësojmë shqip: kurs për fillestarë dhe studentë (botimi i dytë) = Learning Albanian: a course for beginners and students (second edition). Shkup=Skopje: Interlinqua, 2005, с. 7]. In principle, there is no modern nation of pure ethnic origin. A significant part of modern Albanians, especially those from southern Albania, carry the blood of the Albanianized local Bulgarian population from the times of the First and Second Bulgarian Kingdoms. Nevertheless, in the minds of modern Albanians is built the idea that they are descendants of the ancient Illyrians - a cultured people, more ancient than the Greeks. This idea strongly stimulates the Albanian sense of national cohesion and exclusivity. Modern Albanians have a negative attitude towards the surrounding Slavs and call them shkei = slaves (from the Greek-Latin sclavi - slaves).

Apart from the local "Illyrian" hypothesis, other hypotheses have been made about a more distant, but still Balkan origin of the Scythians. The Bulgarian scientist Ivan Duridanov [Duridanov, Ivan. "The Language of the Thracians", [The Language of the Thracians, Science and Art, Sofia, 1976] notes that the names for sea and fishing terms in modern Albanian are of foreign origin, from which he concludes that the Proto-Albanians lived far from the sea (sic!). According to him, the Proto-Albanians are not Illyrians - because the Illyrians have lived on the shores of the Adriatic Sea for thousands of years and are known as excellent seafarers - but Dardanians. In fact, the Dardanians are also an Illyrian tribe and they should "understand" the Illyrian language, including its maritime terms.

The second hypothesis about the origin of the Proto-Albanians is stated by the Bulgarian specialist in comparative linguistics V. Georgiev. It subdivides the Paleo-Balkan languages into several closely related language communities: Illyro-Macedonian, Hellenic, Phrygian-Armenian, Thracian-Pelasgian and Daco-Moesian [Georgiev V. I. Research in comparative historical linguistics. M., 1958. S. 143]. V. Georgiev classifies the Proto-Albanians in the group of Daco-Moesians, i.e. according to him the Proto-Albanians come from the region of the Lower Danube.

All these hypotheses do not agree with the existence of the so-called language line of Konstantin Jireček (Konstantin Jireček: Die Romanen in den Städten Dalmatiens während des Mittelalters, I, 42-44). This mental line of history begins in the middle of present-day Albania, runs along the northern border of present-day Macedonia, and heads east along the ridge of the Balkan Mountains. The ancient indigenous population of the Balkans living south of this line was practically completely Hellenized as early as the first centuries AD, while that of the north was Latinized. The Illyrians in the area of today's Albania welcomed the Roman conquerors not as a primitive tribe, but as subjects of an ancient Illyrian kingdom with a hereditary monarchy. The Romans waged more than 100 years of war with this kingdom before finally defeating it in 168 BC and including it in the province of Iliricum until 395, or a total of 563. The fate of the Thracians and Macedonians is similar. In a much shorter time (about 350 years) the Macedonians and Thracians north of the Balkans became Latinized and began to speak Latin, and those south of the Balkans were Hellenized.

How the Proto-Albanians under these conditions protected themselves from complete Hellenization and especially Latinization to the point of complete isolation is a complete mystery.

For example, the Byzantine emperor Justin I (518-527) was an Illyrian by birth. Earlier in the Roman Empire, there were times when both the emperor and the pope were Illyrians by birth. Such are Diocletian and his Illyrian nephew, Pope Gaius (283-296), born near the modern city of Shkodra! It is certain that their families and their more distant relatives were Greekized or Romanized long before they became basileis, emperors or popes. If modern Albanians came from such Illyrians, they would have to speak corrupted Greek or Latin. Instead, they speak a language completely different from that of Greeks and Latins.

In modern Albanian there are practically no borrowings from the ancient Greek language!

There are two extreme opinions on the question of the presence of Latin borrowings in the language of the Scythians.

One group of researchers claims that there are many but strongly altered Latin borrowings in the language of the Scythians. In this regard, research on the lexicon of the Albanian language from the 1970s is cited, claiming that out of 5,110 Albanian words, 1,420 have Latin-Romance origins, 1180 are of Ottoman-Turkish origin, 540 - of Bulgarian (for example, jug юг, rob роб), 840 modern Greek. The remaining 1130 words are considered to be Albanian proper, of which 400 are Indo-European and 730 are of unknown origin (Trautman Reinhold, 1948). Other authors (H. Pedersen, N. Jokl, E. Chabei) give a higher share of the original Albanian words in the lexicon of this language. According to these authors, the Latin vocabulary entered the speech of the local population in the era of Roman rule in the Balkans, but subsequently underwent radical changes. Apart from dropping the last syllables, there has been a complete change in the phonetic appearance of the bases of the words, which makes them almost unrecognizable.

For instance, in the Gheg dialect ranё, in the Tosk dialect rёrё, (sand) < Latin. arēna (sand); Gheg. vner, Tosk. vrer (bile) < Latin. venēnum; kal (horse) < Latin. caballus, gjel (rooster) < Latin. gallus; ar (gold) < Latin. aurum; kofshё (thigh) < Latin soha; pus (well) < Latin. puteus; kushёrí (cousin) < Latin. consobrīnus; mik (friend) < Latin. amīcus; fqi (neighbor) < Latin. vicēnus; gaz (joy) < Latin. gaudium; fe (faith) < Latin. fidēs; lter «altar» < Latin. altare; ferr "hell" < Latin infernum, etc. However, it is quite possible that these words, or most of them, were adopted in the late Middle Ages, when the majority of Albanians were Catholics. Today, about 20% of Albanians in Albania are Catholic.

The above circumstances give grounds for the second group of researchers to claim that in modern Albanian there are practically no (or very few) borrowings from the early Greek and early Latin (Cabej, Eqrem "Die aelteren Wohnsitze der Albaner auf der Balkanhalbinsel im Lichte der Sprache und Ortsnamen", Florence, 1961; Eric P. Hamp, University of Chigaco The Position of Albanian (Ancient IE dialects, Proceedings of the Conference on IE linguistics held at the University of California, Los Angeles, April 25-27, 1963, ed. By Henrik Birnbaum and Jaan Puhvel). If modern Albanians are descended solely or mainly from an ancient local population, they should have many early Greek and Latin words in their language. It is even more normal to expect them to have adopted, if not entirely, early medieval Greek, then at least to have a significant share of early Greek vocabulary. The people neighboring the "Proto-Albanians" - the Macedonians - were completely Hellenized in the first centuries BC. A little later, the Thracians south of the Balkans were Hellenized.

Archaeological evidence is particularly important, denying the direct connection of modern Albanians with the ancient local population. The most discussed are the group of necropolises in the central Albanian region between the towns of Komani and Kruja, which modern Albanian historians are very biased towards as a link between the ancient Illyrians and the modern Shiptars. However, the objective analysis of the burial practice in these necropolises shows the opposite, namely that they are related to the settlement of large groups of population, heterogeneous in origin, coming from the Middle Danube region.


TL;DR: the fundamental structure of the Albanian language doesn't coincide in any way with the Hellenic or Romance languages, as it logically would be if the Albanians were the descendants of the increasingly Latinized and Hellenized Illyrians, but rather with Eastern Iranian languages, particularly the ancient Scytho-Sarmatian languages (of which proto-Bulgarian itself is actually related to).


Sun of Chaos
True & Honest Fan
These facts indicate the existence of a very weak ethnic connection of the Albanians with the ancient Illyrians. Many Western scholars (C. Pauli, H. Hirt, G. Mayer, and F. Cordignano) and virtually all Serbian historians, ethnologists, and archaeologists reject the hypothesis that the Albanian language is related to the Illyrian language and that Albanians in general have a pure origin as descendants of the Illyrians. In his book, The Illyrians, author John Wilkes (1995) writes that Albanians are likely to have a different origin from the Illyrians. Most likely, the Albanians contain a substrate of local, old population and a massive superstratum of newcomers of Indo-European origin. The origin of this superstratum must be sought in an area outside the borders of the Greek and Roman states and influence, i.e. outside the borders of the Balkan Peninsula. Interestingly, such hypotheses about the distant, non-Balkan (Celtic, Asian) origin of the Albanians have already been proposed. The following data and historical facts support these hypotheses and indicate the possible origin of the superstratum population of modern Albania.

1. The above-mentioned region of the Shkumbin Valley (Arbanon) was part of the First Bulgarian State for 150 years, when it was called Kotokia at the beginning, later Kutmichevitsa (Fig. 2). Until the late Middle Ages (17th century) one of the Bulgarian monasteries on Mount Athos was called Kutlumusia, which is an obvious echo of Kutmichevitsa. [Kharlampy G. Oroshakov, Russian artist, lives in Berlin, grandson of the Koprivshtynets Kharlampy G. Oroshakov, former mayor of Sofia,]. In the town of Devol (now the village of Zvezda, Korchansko), the administrative center of the district, the first Bulgarian university operated - the Literary School of St. Kliment Ohridski (886-893), where about 3500 students were trained in written Old Bulgarian. Nowhere in the great literary heritage of this school are we talking about Illyrians, who have long been forgotten, or Albanians (Shiptars), who have not yet appeared!

2. The modern Albanian language, together with Bulgarian and Romanian, have some common features, which unites them in the so-called "Balkan Language Union" (Proto-Bulgarians and the Balkan Language Union). The most important of these features are the presence of a definite article, the presence of the vowel sound "ъ" (the ancient Indo-European sound shwa - shwa), lack of infinitive, striving for analytics to complete loss of maturities, etc. For example, in Albanian „бук” ("beech") = хляб ("bread"); „бука” ("beeches") = хлябът, хляба (all meaning "bread"). This somewhat confuses Albanian and Romanian and pours water into the mill of those who consider Albanian to be the descendant of a local Thracian-Illyrian dialect. This would be true, but if we forget about the existence of the Bulgarian (and its Macedonian dialect).

And as has been shown (Proto-Bulgarians and the Balkan language union), Bulgarian (and its Macedonian dialect) is in fact the leading and most typical language of the Balkan language union, the bearer (and probably the generator) of all its features without exception. According to the latest substantiated idea of the scholars, the Balkan language union began to function no earlier than the VIII century (when the proto-Bulgarians came!!). And this is explained by the powerful influence of the spoken (apart from that of the later written) language of the First Bulgarian Kingdom on 2/3 of the territory of the then Balkan Peninsula. It is no coincidence that the linguistic territory of today's Albanian and Romanian languages enters the borders of the then Bulgarian state and, more importantly, enters fully and partially into the land on which the medieval Bulgarian nation was created [Dimitar Angelov. Education of the Bulgarian nation. Science and Art, Centuries, Sofia, 1971]. It follows that a significant component of modern Albanians and Romanians are descendants of assimilated medieval Bulgarians, which is proved by the presence of a powerful layer of Bulgarian toponyms, hydronyms and oronyms, as well as a large number of Bulgarianisms in their languages.

3. In a modern study (Information source: Russell D. Gray & Quentin D. Atkinson. Language-tree divergence times support the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origin. Nature. Vol. 426. 27 November 2003. P 435-438) on the rate of change of words from the most conservative core of the languages of the Indo-European family, it is shown that the probability of Albanian belonging to the group of Indo-Iranian languages is 36%. This is not great, but it is still a significant probability that despite the territorial and temporal boundary between the Albanian and Indo-Iranian languages, there is a strong connection and similarity between them. Indeed, there are too many Iranian words in the language of modern Albanians, which, although of pre-Indo-European origin, are very specific to Iranian languages. Since these Iranianisms are missing in the languages of the peoples with whom the Albanians were in contact (Turks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks), it is not clear how they got into Albanian. Most probably they are native Albanian words, indicating ancient connections with the Scythian-Sarmatians, part of which are the Avars (Varhons).

Albanian Word
Iranian and Sanskrit correspondence
PiDrinkIn Iranian languages pi - piya. In the Slavic languages the verb пить - drink is borrowed. The Bulgarian verb "пия" is probably of Iranian origin. Compare the Albanian pibonti - "they drink water" with the Sanskrit píbanti - "drink water".
MadhLarge, GreatIn Sanskrit, madh - big, great, madhadeva - great god
ZogBirdIn the Pamir languages tsi - bird
NënëMotherIn Iranian languages nana - mother
GjuKneeIn Avestan gnu - knee
ShkurtShort, LittleIn Iranian languages kurt - short, little; kurtag - short outer garment, jacket
PatëGooseIn Iranian languages pat - goose, in Bulgarian - duck (патка) with a derivative "патица".
DerëDoorIn Persian dar - door
zverdYellowin Iranian zard - yellow
zemërHeartIn Persian dil - heart. The Albanian zemër is a nasal phonetic variant of dil.
QytetCityIn Sogdian kat, kant, kent - village, town. A similar word is the Albanian katund - a village that coincides with the Bulgarian "katun". Ts. Stepanov connects the old Bulgarian term "katun" with the indicated Sogdian word (CS-SB, p. 123).
si (zezё )BlackAncient Sarmatian word (Šaw - black), from which comes the Bulgarian word "сив". In the language of the Alans syāv, syuvāg, syāvak, syv, syuvg, syvak - black. According to Turchaninov, shyo is the older Alan form, from which comes the modern Ossetian (Iranic) word syo - black.
malMountainSome take it out of the Latvian mala - coast. There is a similar word in the Romanian language - mal, "rock, mountain". It is also found in Western Bulgaria - Malyovitsa (peak in Rila, 2729 m) and Maleshevska Mountain in Eastern Macedonia. Yordan Ivanov suggests that mal may be a Thracian-Illyrian word. First, the word for mountain among the Thracians is not "мал" but "пер". From here come Perelik, Persenk, Perperek, Pelister, Pirin-Perin. The base per - rock, mountain - is Indo-European: in ancient Indian parvata, in Hittite NA4peru [na]-rock, mountain; Pyrenees - Spanish mountain. The word mal - mountain is found in the Dravidian language in southern India -malai = "mountain". Hence the following names of Indian mountains noted in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata: Malyavat and Malaya in present-day South India and the Himalayas in present-day North India.
Hence some authors (Sorin Paliga: "Proto-Indo-European, Pre-Indo-European, Old European", Journal of Indo-European Studies, fall 1989, p.309-334) hypothesize that the Western Balkan word MAL - mountain - may be pre-Indo-European, of Nostratic origin. However, it is much simpler to assume that some eastern Iranian people (Avars, Kutrigurs, Proto-Bulgarians?) brought this word from the region of India to the Balkan Peninsula.
Furi (furime)Strong (Strength)Compare with the Avestan sura - power. In the Bulgarian language there are the expressions "бяга като фурия", "работи като фурия". It is believed that "фурия" comes from the Latin goddess of the wind. However, "Фурия" can mean "силно, силен" ("strongly, strong") and be proto-Bulgarian.

4. Words are used in the Albanian language that have exact correspondences of ancient Scythian-Sarmatian and Proto-Bulgarian words, which are not found in the Old Bulgarian language and are completely unknown to the medieval and modern Bulgarians (author's finding):

Qumësht - milk. The ancient Scythian-Sarmatian tribes used mare's milk called "koumiss". Proto-Bulgarians also used koumiss.
Kok - head. Until the epoch of the Bulgarian Revival, most elderly Bulgarians left a braid called "chembas" and "kika". This custom is a legacy of the proto-Bulgarians. "Kok" is a Bulgarian, non-Slavic name for hair curled in a ball in the back upper part of the head in women.
Beirojnë – snake. Tomato is similar to the proto-Bulgarian calendar term ВЕРЕНИ – serpent, dragon. According to M. Moskov, the name "верени" is of Indo-Iranian origin. In Romanian there is a similar word - vărlan, vîrlan - snake, probably, which according to Benyu Tsonev is an old ancient Bulgarian loanword (BC - IBE - 2, p. 53).
Dos – pig. The word is similar to the proto-Bulgarian calendar term ДОКС - boar.
The Day of "Enite" – Thursday. According to a runic inscription on the rosette from Pliska [Names of the proto-Bulgarian gods-planets] the proto-Bulgarians called the planet Jupiter with the word ANISHAR (Anshar to the Assyrians and Babylonians). Anisher was transformed into Yankul among modern Bulgarians. It can be assumed that to Proto-Bulgarians Thursday is similarly called "Anisher's Day", which is close to the Albanian "Enite's Day". In Albanian god = pernitor (per is a prefix), which is similar to ANISHER.
Galige – lake, swamp. The Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan, who left the most complete description of Volga Bulgaria from 922, reports that among the Volga Bulgarians haliche - means "lake", which is very close to the Albanian galige. In Bulgaria, such a word was used in the earliest period and was quickly forgotten (CM-IS p. 188).
Kershor (June), Korrik (July), Korrj (harvest), korr (woman), korrës (harvester). The base korr of these five Albanian words coincides with the base of the Old Bulgarian and Proto-Bulgarian name "чърв" ("worm") = sickle (Meaning of the old Bulgarian words ЧРВЕН and ЧРЬВ), whence the names чръвен = June (sometimes July), сърпен = June (sometimes July). Hence the name of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic letter "Ч" - worm = sickle, in addition, this letter looks like a sickle. The name Corfu on the nearby island can also be explained by the semantic base kor = "worm" because this island has the shape of a sickle.

5. In modern Albanian, there are many words borrowed from modern Greek and Ottoman Turkish. There are also about 500 borrowings from the medieval Bulgarian language [3; Boyan Gyuzelev. Albanians in the Eastern Balkans. Edited by Vasilka Tankova International Center for the Study of Minorities and Cultural Interactions Sofia, 2004. P. 20], which for the most part have a Bulgarian-Slavic etymology. In this article we will not pay attention to these (although very numerous) Bulgarianisms in Albanian, as they do not shed light on the origin of the main part of the Albanian people. These borrowings show that Albanians are not as closed and unyielding as they think.

[the sixth item of "data and historical facts" lists a mass of proto-Bulgarisms the Albanians borrowed, too numerous to list here right now, so we're skipping over them; it's important to note that the author of this little tract considers the Proto-Bulgarians themselves to be an Iranian people]

All the authors, when listing the available proto-Bulgarianisms in the Albanian language, explain them as early borrowings in the direction from the powerful in the past Bulgarian state to the small number of joined locals in the Albanian mountains. According to the official (still uncorrected) historical version, the Proto-Bulgarians were a small tribe in the Balkans, living mainly on the Lower Danube. How, then, did they leave so many words in the Albanian language when Albanians live on the other side of the peninsula?

The large number of these proto-Bulgarianisms in Albanian and their meaning as keywords (dos - pig; Beirojnë - snake; enite - Thursday, god Anisher-Jankul-Jupiter; Qumësht - milk; Kok - head; Galige - lake; Kershor - June; Korrik - July; Korrj - harvest; zog - a bird; njerëzor - man; ngrëna - food; barishte - herb, etc.) shows that these Albanian proto-Bulgarians may not be borrowed from the early proto-Bulgarians (on top of that and in the absence of direct contact), but indigenous Albanian words. I.e. they can be Albanian-Proto-Bulgarian isoglosses - common words for two related languages. Compared to the mass of these words, the amount of Illyrian words preserved in the Albanian language is insignificant and fades. Why then should we consider Albanians as pure heirs of the Illyrians?

It is well known that the lexical composition of each language changes significantly over about 500 years. At the same time, its syntax is virtually unchanged. Therefore, the syntax of a language is a much stronger sign of ethnicity than its vocabulary. And what is characteristic of the syntax of modern Albanian? In addition to the many ancient Indo-Iranian words, it also contains many Indo-Iranian grammar rules!!

1. Modern Albanian has phonetic features that are incompatible with the languages of the local ancient peoples. It is reasonably assumed (G. Hirt) that the language of the Illyrians belongs to the Kentum group (this includes the languages of Western Indo-Europeans - Celts, Germans, Italians, as well as the languages of Greeks, Thracians, Macedonians, Balts, Anatolian peoples). However, the modern Albanian (Scythian) language belongs to the Satem group (this includes the languages of the Indo-Iranians, who later satemized the language of the Proto-Slavs and partly of the Balts, but not of the Tocharians). There is no way that the ancient Illyrian language kentum later became the language of Satem, unless the Illyrians themselves were replaced by a new people who spoke the Satem language, such as the Sarmatian language of the Avars and Kutrigurs.

2. In the Albanian language the ancient Sanskrit-Avestan suffix is used for the formation of active names "-tar, tor, tur", which is also characteristic for the language of the proto-Bulgarians. For example: Shqiptar, këpucitar ("shoemaker"), mishtor ("butcher"), udhatar ("passenger"), etc.

3. A very important argument in favor of the Iranian character of the Albanian language is the presence in early and modern Albanian of a grammatical construction coinciding with the so-called Iranian izafet!! Iranian languages have a characteristic syntactic construction known as the "Iranian izafet". It is two consecutive words related to the conjunction "и" (broadly "e"). The first is a noun, and the next word defines a characteristic of the first. For example, in Persian: Desht-i-Kipchak ("Kipchak steppe"), ræng-e-roshæn ("bright color"). Albanian expressions involving an izafet include: libër e badhë ("white paper"); Formula e Pagëzimit ("Baptist Formula" - title of the oldest book in Albanian from 1462); Drini i si ("Black Drin"), Mal i si ("Black Mountain"), Republika e Skipërisë ("Republic of Albania"), gotë e madhë ("big glass"), and pompa e benzinës ("gas station"). These are all typical examples of a syntactic construction identical to the Iranian izafet. Such an Iranian izafet also existed in the language of the proto-Bulgarians, as evidenced by the data from proto-Bulgarian tombstones [Two inscriptions from the village of Garvan, Silistra and Pliska].

4. The Albanian language uses the ancient Indo-European suffix "-ash" to form adjectives, which is typical of modern Indo-Aryan languages as well as Germanic languages. There are traces of this suffix in the Bulgarian language as well, but it is completely absent in the Greek language and in the Slavic languages.

burrë (man) - burrash (male)
fëmijë (child) - fëmijësh (childish)
kukull (puppet) - kukullash ("puppet-like")

5. The Albanian language uses the ancient Indo-European suffix "-or" to form adjectives, which is typical of modern Indo-Aryan languages as well as Latin languages. There are traces of this suffix in the Bulgarian language as well, but it is completely absent in the Greek language and in the Slavic languages.

6. The plural in many Albanian words is formed by adding the consonant "t", as in the ancient East Iranian languages, Scythian, Sarmatian, Saka, Sogdian!! [the machine translation worked out "Saxon" when I translated just the individual passage, but produced "Saka" when the entire page was translated at once; from the context, the word that was translated clearly means "Saka"]

7. The presence of the phonetic transformation T to L in the Albanian language, which is characteristic of the East Iranian languages.

The presence in modern Albanian of the above-mentioned specific Iranian languages and Sanskrit syntactic norms speaks of the infusion of a powerful East Iranian ethnic and linguistic substratum into the modern Albanian nation. This Iranian substrate cannot come from the Latinized or Greekized indigenous Balkan population. Such a substrate may have come from the land of the early Scythian-Sarmatians and their related Avars, Kutrigurs and Proto-Bulgarians.

Judging by the early Bulgarian name Kotokia, Kutmichevitsa (Kutlumichevitsa - Kuturmichevitsa) and the bishopric Kotragiya (Kotia) in the area around the river Shkumbi, these tribes may include the famous Kutriguri (Kotragi). This old, Scythian-Sarmatian tribe from the northern Black Sea coast, related to the proto-Bulgarians (but not a proto-Bulgarian tribe!), was associated with Kubrat's Old Greater Bulgaria. It is no coincidence that the area of the Shkumba River, the homeland of today's Albanians, is called Kotokia, Kutmichevitsa in the First Bulgarian Kingdom! This is a direct indication of the presence of Kuti (Kotragi, Kutriguri) in this historical region and the participation of this tribe in the subsequent ethno-educational processes!!! Apart from the Kutrigurs, Avars may also be involved in the ethnogenesis of modern Albanians as well.

[there's a lot more in the article, but I think the point has been sufficiently made in this context, and I'm not going to copy-paste this entire article that you can just read in full for yourself if you're so inclined]


Sun of Chaos
True & Honest Fan
Not as insulting. And I thought Bulgars were turkic.
There's quite a bit of disagreement in that area, especially from Bulgarians. Several independent Bulgarian scholars, such as Ivan Tanev Ivanov, Zhivko Voynikov, Rasho Rashev, Yanko Dimitrov, and several of the people in this page argue quite fiercely that the Bulgars (or, as they call them, the "Proto-Bulgarians") were an Iranic ethnic group.

Personally I adhere to the notion that the Bulgars were a mixed Turko-Iranian Onogur/Hunnic group.
There's quite a bit of disagreement in that area, especially from Bulgarians. Several independent Bulgarian scholars, such as Ivan Tanev Ivanov, Zhivko Voynikov, Rasho Rashev, Yanko Dimitrov, and several of the people in this page argue quite fiercely that the Bulgars (or, as they call them, the "Proto-Bulgarians") were an Iranic ethnic group.

Personally I adhere to the notion that the Bulgars were a mixed Turko-Iranian Onogur/Hunnic group.
I thought all Slavs were descended from Sythians, which were nomadic Proto-Iranians.


Sun of Chaos
True & Honest Fan
I thought all Slavs were descended from Sythians, which were nomadic Proto-Iranians.
No, rather, early Slavs were "Scytho-Sarmatianized" Balts who originally lived within the periphery of the Baltic language sphere and mixed with various Eastern Iranian tribes.

Bulgarians specifically are a mix of early Slavs, Bulgars, and the remaining Thracian groups that weren't completely Greco-Romanized.

Flavius Anthemius

Praetorian prefect of the East
Didn't the Scythians die out by like the mid 4th century AD because they were being pushed out of modern day Ukraine by the goths and eventually the huns? I doubt the Albanians originated from that period of migration, because there wasn't any record of them mentioned by sources of the Eastern or Western Roman Empire, plenty about the gernmanic tribes and eurassian step nomads but nothing about this "Albanian" ethnic group.

Considering the language is an Indo-Europe language and not an Indo-Iranain one and has a very small amount of shared vocabulary from Serbian and even Romanian, it probably just remaind a language isolate, a people group that lived relatively peacefully in the mountainous Balkans, until there was a lot of them, and eventually they were able to form a short lived Kingdom once they were able to consituate around a specific leader and other Kingdoms of Europe recognised their reign. (kinda like the Vlachs who lived north and south of the Danube).
Didn't the Scythians die out by like the mid 4th century AD because they were being pushed out of modern day Ukraine by the goths and eventually the huns? I doubt the Albanians originated from that period of migration, because there wasn't any record of them mentioned by sources of the Eastern or Western Roman Empire, plenty about the gernmanic tribes and eurassian step nomads but nothing about this "Albanian" ethnic group.

Considering the language is an Indo-Europe language and not an Indo-Iranain one and has a very small amount of shared vocabulary from Serbian and even Romanian, it probably just remaind a language isolate, a people group that lived relatively peacefully in the mountainous Balkans, until there was a lot of them, and eventually they were able to form a short lived Kingdom once they were able to consituate around a specific leader and other Kingdoms of Europe recognised their reign. (kinda like the Vlachs who lived north and south of the Danube).
The Pontic Steppe, specifically that of Ukraine, hosts Iranic art and craft until the 7th century. The Scythian language(s) wouldn't have died out entirely immediately after they were conquered. They probably still existed at least as pocket enclaves in the Steppe.

The "Goths" - you mean the Thervingi, pushed out, at least partially, the Sarmatians, who were a Scythian people. But the Scythians themselves held all of the Pontic Steppe and more, before they were conquered by Turko-Mongolic/Hunnic tribes.

They didn't form a kingdom, the Normans created the Kingdom of Albania after they took that land through conquest from Byzantium.

The "Vlachs" are not aromanians/armunians - they didn't held a significant presence in Moesia, hell, it's only since the end of the First Bulgarian Empire that Vlachs become prominent in what is now known as Wallachia.

I do agree with you that the language is probably an isolate.
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I googled it
If you don't personally live in or around Albania then there is no meaningful value in even knowing Albanians exist.

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