Why the world calls us Albania and the origin of the name Shqipëri

in #history7 years ago

Albanians call themselves shqiptar, their country Shqipëri, Shqipni  (Gheg), but the nation is historically known worldwide, as already  apparent, as Albanais, Albanese etc., and their country as Albanie,  Albania. This double naming has it's own reasons. It is related with  ethnographic circumstances in character, which are specific to Albania  and its historic past.

Firstly it is a fact that in Albania the national name of the people shqiptar rules everywhere, and the name of the country is Shqipëri, but on the other side of the Albanian colonies that are situated in Italy and Greece this name is unknown.  The Albanians of southern Italy of Sicily, descendants of migratory  movements from Albania mainly during the first Ottoman wars under the  flag of Gjergj Kastriot (Scanderbeg) during the XV-th and XVI-th  centuries, call themselves, and usually the people of their motherland, arbëresh and the country Arbër, Arbëri.  The descendants of those Albanians who migrated earlier in the XIV-th  and XV-th centuries towards Greece, do not use the name that dominates  in Albania also; they also use regularly arbëresh (arvanitas) for "shqiptar", arvanitika for "albanian language, shqip".

These data clearly show that today’s name shqiptar, Shqipëri at the time of Scanderbeg was not yet in use,  or at least was not generalised, nevertheless this name is younger than  the first one. This means that the old national name of our people used  to be arbën, arbër, arbresh, arbëresh. And since this name seen  on a first look is identical to Albania, Albanese etc. as  aforementioned, from all this results that Albanians in medieval times called themselves as they are called today by other nations.

This  ethnographic view proves itself right with other data on one side, old  and new, from Albania. On the other side testified by neighbouring  nations. A third source are the names of Albania and Albanians in  European middle ages.

As seen  in the last half of the last century, the old name of the country was  kept in Albania, not only in the Albanian colonies, as mentioned above. A  field region of the western part of middle Albania, starting from  Kurbin and down further on the plateau of Tirana and Durrës, so the  field between Mat and Erzen river, it is called even today Arbën, and "mal e arbën" is used for "mal e fusha",  meaning "mountain and field". A village in the west of the Shkodra Lake  is called Arbnesh and Arbënesh is called a linguistic island near the  Zar city in Dalmatia, founded in the first half of the XVIII-th century  from people who migrated from this village. Arbanë is the name of a  village near Tirana. In another region, in the southern part of the  country, Arbër e Arbërí is the name of different regions of the  mountainous area of Labëria between the cities of Vlora, Gjirokastra and  Delvina. In other places of Albania, the same name in different forms (arbën arbër, arbënesh arbëresh, arbnuer arbëror)  is used as an ethnic unit, to differentiate an Albanian from an  Arumunian or a member of any other Balkan population. It is clear that  the [ancient] name, in time got replaced with the new name shqiptar, Shqipëri and is still in use in some places in Albania.

That this  name was in use in a national scale, in all Albanian linguistic  territory, is backed up by folk verses about the arbënesh women of  Kosovo. Albanian historic records complete this view for the past. In  literary monuments of old Albanian, from the XVI-th and XVII-th  centuries, the country is regularly referred as Arbënë, the people  arbënesh, arbëruer and the language arbënisht.

The  internal data in relation to the national name of Albania and its people  agree with external sources also, testified in the languages of the  nations of the Balkan Peninsula. In folk Serbian-Croatian Albanians are called Arbanas. Arbanau  is the name of Albanians in folk Bulgarian, Arbanas in old Romanian and  in Arumanians of Albania and Macedonia arbines, arbinesi; all  reflexes of the Albanian arbënesh and it's variants. Going in historical  sources of the middle ages, in the latin written documents of the west  before the time of the Anjou dynasty Albanians were called arbanenses and later albanses and their country Albania, like today.

Looking  at these data, internal and external, recapping, we can say the early  national name of the Albanian people and their territory is arbën arbër  with its variatons and this name has prevaled in Albanian until the  first centuries of the Ottoman rule.

This name  stems from antiquity. Astronomer and geographer Claude Ptolemy of  Alexandria of Egypt, in the second century A.D., in his world map he  marked the name of Albanói and the city of Albanópolis in a region of  middle Albania, approximately between Durrësit and today’s Dibra, east  of Lezha [Lissus]. This name stems from Arbën Arbër in Albanian, e  testimony, that Albanians are autochtonous in their current living  grounds and that there is a continuity, a linguistic continuity at least  since antiquity.

From  Arbën, as said, has resulted in the name of Albania and Albanians in the  nations of the Balkan Peninsula and other parts of Europe. Historically  this name, with the testimony of Ptolemy, medieval resources of  different places and the popular usage in modern Albania, in the  beginning has pertained to a region of middle Albania; it became  widespread as a national name since before Scanderbeg.

About the name shqiptar and Shqipëri,  as a people’s and country name, as seen from the analysis above, rooted  during the Ottoman rule, after Albanian migratory movements to Italy  and Greece. The takeover as a national name relates possibly with ethnic  and social movements of the people in the middle ages and in the  beginning of the Ottoman times, internal migrations, new bloodlines in  this time period. Concrete reasons for such a change cannot be followed.

Only one thing can be said for sure, that in Albanian, the historic lead has been the name of the language.  This maybe has been even older, or in parallel with the name arbën(r)  as an ethnic name and after it was used more, including the people and  country. The oldest Albanian writer known is Gjon Buzuku (1555), he  tells that beside Arban in Shqipëri there is shqip, Albanian language; also Pjetër Budi (1621) refers to shqip and Pjetër Bogdani (1683) in a mixed grammar between latin and shqip.  The ethnic use of this name was already in use around 1700 because in  the Decisions of the Provincial Council of 1706 beside Arbëni “Shqipëria” and Arbëneshi “shqiptari” we see also the language of “Shqipëtarëvet”. There is a hypothesis that the name shqiptar stems from northern Albania in the XIV-th century and it is identical with the family name Schivipudar, Schepuder, Schapudar, Scapuder of a citizen of Drishti near Shkodra. It is mentioned between 1368–1402 in the Raguza Archives.

Finally in relation to the names arbën and shqip,  one should not forget that for many national names, old and new, that  are known in history, remain with an unknown meaning and origin. A  prerequisite in this field of study is the verification of the oldest  form of the name. For the old national name we can use for certain one  of the two forms arb- or alb- , the first one is the  original form, as testified by the regional naming and Balkan languages.  This gives doubt to the “Alb” stem meaning mountain in the Italian  compared topical names and other regions with the name of Alps. But  starting from “Arb” meaning “field, flat”, as used in today’s speech as  mentioned, we can associate this name with the latin word for arvum today in Albanian arë, tokë e punuar, fushë, old greek arouraarë, tokë buke”, with the Celtic word arbor, plural arbanna “drithë; wheat”. With the name of Arbën there might be an ancient relation to the name of the Arbe island of Dalmatia.

Regarding with the name shqip, shqiptar, Shqipëri out of which stems the verb shqipëroj, shqipëlloj in daily talk as shpjegoj and sqaroj the roots stand on shaky ground.

There are thoughts it comes from the name of “shqipe”  eagle, so making Albanians named after this avian, since the times of  Scanderbeg, also relating this with Plutarc’s word that Pyrrhus of  Epirus was named an eagle after his victory against the Macedonians,  makes it somewhat valid that needs further criticism.

In reality, relying in the old Albanian authors, shqip, written in this form can be differentiated easily from the avian name, shqype,  as used by them. It is clear that we are dealing with two different  words. Another not so convincing thought is the similarity with qipi meaning haystack, with the presumption of an earlier meaning of stack, people.

Doubtful  is also when compared with other interpretations of this name as “banor  shkrepash” crag inhabitant; and also as “pushkatar” the person that  fires, from modern Greek skippetto(n) “pushkë” (latin schiopetto), this  was seen in modern Greek first in the XVI-th and XVII-th centuries.  Roughly believable remains the explanation of the word shqip from latin excipio; the latin word doesn’t mean “understand” kuptoj but “take, put aside, exclude, accept”. So the source of the word shqip is still an open issue.

Published in 1972, “Shqipëria e Re”. Author: Eqerem Çabej. Albanian text: Eqrem Çabej: Pse bota na quan Albania dhe origjina e emrit Shqipëri - Telegrafi


Nice post! Have a question though. How is that you left Quora for Steemit ?

qenke shqiptar ore, po pse i shan shqipetaret, nejse, mos u ndiej inferior ndaj askujt, askujt,

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