The Wiktionary list of Albanian words explains many words as derivatives from the Slavic languages. Here are some of those words, together with the Wiktionary links. Most of these etymologies are official – they are not a result of my own interpretation.
The Wiktionary list of Albanian etymologies:
|kopaç||tree trunk||kopati (“to dig, hollow out”)|
|bumbar||tripe / bumblebee||bumbar|
This is just a very small sample of all the Albanian words of Slavic origin available on the Wiktionary. Literally hundreds of other examples exist in the Albanian etymological dictionary, also available online.
On language borrowing
Why languages have loanwords? According to the article from Rice University:
“Borrowing is a consequence of cultural contact between two language communities and can go in both directions. But often there is an asymmetry where more words go from one side to the other. In this case, the source language community has some advantage of power, prestige and/or wealth that makes the objects and ideas it brings desirable and useful to the borrowing language community.
The text further illustrates how Germanic tribes borrowed many Latin words via trade with Romans, but only a handful of Germanic words entered Latin.
And according to Encyclopedia Britannica:
“The borrowing usually happens when some new object or institution is developed, for which the borrowing language has no word of its own. “
This kind of explanation makes perfect sense. For the same reason, the whole world says “television”, “telephone” or “internet”. At the same time, it is highly unlikely that the whole nation will just start using a word from a foreign language in place of the word they already have. The number of Albanian loanwords in the Slavic languages of Balkans is virtually zero. The majority of the words on this list are archaisms that relate to agriculture, animal domestication, habitation, and superstition. Therefore, the contact between Slavs and Albanians was an early one. It is otherwise impossible to imagine that Albanians did not have these words in their dictionary, before the supposed arrival of Slavs in the 6th century.
As we see, better than any history book or political propaganda, this list shows that there are only two options:
- Slavs arrived in Balkans in the 5th or 6th century, but Albanians came even later, and somehow they still did not know about these prehistorical inventions, or
- Both Slavs and Albanians were present on Balkans much earlier, in prehistory, and so this cultural exchange could have happened.
Of course, I incline towards the second theory. The Albanian language has also many borrowings from Greek and Latin, which would have been impossible if they had arrived in Balkans after the 6th century. But strangely enough, all of the words listed above come from Slavic, and not from these two other languages. To simply change a part of a most basic dictionary in the 6th century, with the arrival of Slavs, would be a precedent in human history.
It is also worth pointing out that this supposed arrival of Slavs on Balkans in the 6th century is based on one single document. It is the “De administrando imperium” from the 10th century Byzantium. Indeed, this text does say that Serbs and Croats arrived on Balkan in the 6th century. But it does not say that this was the first time. Slavic medieval chroniclers, like Nestor and Dalimil, claim that Slavs had to migrate north of the Balkans because of atrocities committed by Roman armies.
This migration from Balkans would have happened some 600 years prior to one to the Balkans, and some 1,000 years before “De administrando imperium” was written. Therefore, it is quite possible that Eastern Roman Emperor Constantine VII was not aware of it, or he simply didn’t bother to go into details.
We can also have one positive conclusion from all this. Slavs and Albanians once coexisted, sharing a common culture, without being brainwashed by foreign politics, religion, and nationalism. I say this because of many good people my Serbian friends met during their travels in Albania, and afterward told me their experience first-hand. But I also dedicate this text to those who think that it will be so easy to rewrite history.