A language with a strong presence in the Balkans, Albanian is spoken by around 7 million people in Albania and Kosovo, as well as in Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro, all countries with large Albanian populations. There is also a large diaspora in southern Italy and the United States, and, since the post-war period, in several European capitals.

Discover the language

Albanian is an isolated branch of the Indo-European language family. Its lexicon bears witness to an active exchange with neighboring languages. In addition to its own ancient stock, most likely inherited from an already dead language, Illyrian, foreign contributions have naturally been integrated into Albanian over time: borrowings from Greek and Latin, Romance and Slavic languages, Turkish and, more recently, French and English. The rich phonetic system of Albanian allows for a fine integration of all these elements.

Albanian was unified in its current "standard" form at the Spelling Congress in 1972. However, the two major dialects of Albanian, Guegian in the north and Tosk in the south, are still very active in everyday language. Albanian is written in Latin characters (36 letters). Its oldest written work, recorded to date, dates back to 1555.

Learning Albanian

Within the European university framework, Albanian is taught by the University of Calabria, the University of Naples "L'Orientale", the Institute of Albanian Studies within the University of Rome "La Sapienza", the Institute of Indo-European Comparative Linguistics and Albanology in Munich, etc.

In France, Inalco is the only institution of higher learning to offer a complete course in Albanian language and culture included in an LMD course. We teach literary Albanian (the standard), based on the Tuscan dialect. An introduction to the Guègue dialect (spoken in northern Albania and Kosovo) is offered from the third year of the degree.

The teaching offered today at Inalco prepares students for interesting career opportunities, such as teaching and research, translation and interpreting, jobs in the media, culture, tourism, certain civil service competitions, etc.

History of language at Inalco

Albania has long remained mysterious, Gabriel Louis Jaray even describing this still little-explored land as the wildest in Europe. Its language, constituting an independent branch among the Indo-European languages, intrigued. In 1912, Émile Legrand brought out an Albanian bibliography of works published from the XVth century to 1900. But it was Mario Roques, a teacher of Romanian at Inalco ( then called the Ecole des langues orientales), who pioneered French linguistic research in Albanology. He published two works on ancient Albanian texts in 1932, and was the first to teach Albanian unofficially.