How difficult is the Albanian language compared to other Indo-European languages?

in #language7 years ago

Let’s make a 1 to 10 scale of difficulty, where 1 is a “breeze” and 10 is “why me”.

If  you are interested to learn Albanian the rate of your progress will be  highly influenced by your native language grammar. Since Albanian is a  branch on it’s own assume an additional factor of difficulty when coming  from another branch rather than learning a new language within the same  branch. As an example it is harder to learn  Albanian if your language is in the Germanic branch, than learning Dutch  if you are a native German speaker. This difficulty factor is added by default since no other language is in the same branch with Albanian.

We are at scale 2.
Another  factor that might affect your learning rate is the alphabet. Albanian  uses the Latin script. If your native language doesn’t use the Latin  script and you are not familiar with it, it will take some time to get  used to it. I know how hard it is for people from Indo-Iranian so I am  going to give it a factor of 1, for Cyrillic and Greek I believe it is a .5  factor.

We are at a scale of 2 and 3.
Now, starting with the most basic notion of any language. The Alphabet.  Albanian has 36 phonemes or graphemes. This is because in Albanian  spelling, the language is written exactly how it is spoken. This will  deduct a factor of .5 from our difficulty scale in the long run. At the  same time if you come from a language that has less than 36 phonemes  (sounds) than it might add a factor of .25 to your difficulty scale  until you get used to the new sounds. The concept of a digraph is easily  understood and I don’t see it playing any role in your learning curve.

We are at a scale of 2 and 3,25.
Note: When a factor is deducted it amounts to 0.
Articles.  When it comes to articles this is influenced by your native language.  Do you have them? If yes, are they inflected or not? (inflected = at the  end of the word). Albanian has indefinite articles positioned before the noun and detached from it. They are very easy to learn even if your  language doesn’t have them. Definite articles on the other hand .... While, yes, considered somewhat easy to use; they require a lot of  memorization. Which name is which gender? On top of that each gender has two  possible articles depending on the last letter. I would add this a  difficulty rate of 2 for languages that are geographically distant to Albanian and a difficulty of .75 to languages in regional proximity, including Italic languages in the latter group.

We are at a scale of 2,75 and 5,25.
This  is what will make your sentences be aware of Time and Location. We live in a 4 dimensional world after all. As far as I know all languages in the IE branch have them, so this is a matter of comparison and  memorization. I would add this in worst case scenario a .25 difficulty scale.

We are at a scale of 2,75 and 5,5.
Note: I said worst case scenario, best case it amounts to 0.
Gender. I don’t see this having any linguistic difficulty. Albanian has three genders. Masculine, feminine and neuter. Neuter nevertheless is so rare, that you can even say Albanian has two genders and no one will bat an eye. Usually the gender is expressed as an article. A single letter per gender, there is no letter for neuter. This is very easy to learn.

We are at a scale of 2,75 and 5,5.

  • Cardinal numbers. This should not be that hard. Like every language that uses a base ten it is a matter of learning numbers from zero to 9 and then how you compose larger numbers. Exceptions are 20 and 40. The only two numbers in base 20.
  • Ordinal numbers. This  can have some difficulty. Genders affect order. The order of anything  has to agree with its gender. If it is the fifth brick, it has to be the fifth feminine brick and not the fifth masculine brick, because brick is feminine in Albanian and a masculine brick is ridiculous, who even thinks of such things. This may add a factor of .5 depending on you  progress with articles and gender.

We are at a scale of 3,25 and 6.
In  Albanian an adjective should agree with the noun in number and gender.  For many languages this is not hard, Germanic, Greek and Italic come to mind directly and is seen as easy. If your adjectives don’t have to agree with nouns this may represent some challenge for you. I would add a  factor of 1,5 in the worst case scenario.

We are at a scale of 3,25 and 7,5.
In  Albanian nouns have to be put in a case. Even names (think: John) take cases unlike  Germanic languages for example. There are 5 cases, a sixth case that is used in daily conversation on names but has no grammar rules written down and another case that exists in specific regional dialects, but you don't have to care about the last one. If your language doesn’t have at least the 4 core cases, Nominative, Genitive, Accusative and Dative, you  are going to have a bad time. Seeing how my class mates handle German, I  think this would be a factor of 2,5 in the difficulty scale.

We are at a scale of 5,75 and 10.

We hit 10 for some languages, so I am going to stop. What is left to have a strong foundation on Albanian are listed below.

  • Pronouns - They work like nouns, special cases, can be omitted completely
  • Questions - Easy
  • Vocabulary - Meh, like every language, you have to learn it.
  • Adverbs - Not inflected. Formed from adjectives and can be standalone. Need to memorize.
  • Verbs - 6 moods. Each mood has the least 2 tenses and the most 8 tenses.
  • Plural - Like nouns they are cased, adjectives have a plural form, everything has to agree with the gender.
  • Negation - It can be as simple as Germanic negation and at the same time needs to be a double negation. Context oriented. Not very hard.

So,  I don’t think it will feel extremely easy from any other IE language,  but you can be favoured from your grammar to a be in a comfortable place  of “wow this is just like [my language]” and you learn new vocabulary  and how to work with it. It is confusing when you are learning something  completely new of course and it can go up to: “I had 4 classes, I have absolutely no idea whatsoever it is that I am doing”.


For an Italian like me it's really difficult. Why? Because Albania is maybe the only country where people speak more Italian than English, due to all the TV you've watched over the years. Combine that with the friendliness of the people and it's really hard to say something past the few greetings and basic words =)

I am still thinking on the direction I want to take in Steemit. Would you think it would be a good idea to make articles with basic Albanian lectures?

Also, Albanian vocabulary has a lot of Latin in it. I would suggest you insist on the closest people to teach you some :)

Look, I've been here since yesterday. But as there are more and more people which are coming, if there is a niche which nobody is occupying I suggest you do so. I would learn Albanian a bit but I am going to learn fluent Spanish soon =)

Albanian is hard cause it is a separate branch from any other language. In fact is one of the oldes languages.

With some strong will, and living there, you may learn it

I'm an Albanian native and I have studied linguistics, I can help. As a linguist I've been "taught" that every language is as hard or as easy to learn as any other, it really depends on who is teaching and who is learning.

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