After being granted independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, Albania was under constant pressure from Italy to the west, Greece to the south, and what would become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (later the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) to the east. The country began to stabilize under the rule of President (and then King) Zog, who attempted to ally the country with Italy. However, Italy began to colonize and dominate Albania and finally invaded in 1939, bringing the reign of Zog to a close.
Annexing Albania, along with much of the western Balkan peninsula, was part of Mussolini's plan to bring several territories that were once part of the Roman Empire under Italian rule. From their new Albanian territory, the Italian army attacked northern Greece, Montenegro and Kosovo, and brought them too under Italian control. However, after the fall of the fascist government and the surrender of Italy in 1943, the area soon fell under German control. Resistance to fascist rule in Albania was led by communist groups, the most powerful of which was headed by Enver Hoxha. The communists were successful in retaking the country, and thus began the forty year reign of Hoxha.
While the earliest Albanian literature only dates back several hundred years, Albania, Kosovo, and other Albanian-speaking territories have produced a number of notable authors. The Albanian author who has received the greatest worldwide recognition is Ismail Kadare. Kadare has published over twenty novels and has been the recipient of numerous awards.
Among Kadare's earliest novels is Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur (The General of the Dead Army). This novel tells the story of an Italian general who is sent to Albania to recover the remains of Italian soldiers who died there during the Second World War. The following text is the first paragraph of this novel.
Mbi tokën e huaj binte shi dhe dëborë përzier bashkë.
Sqota kishte qullur betonin e pistës së aeroportit, ndërtesat, rojat.
Ajo lagte fushën dhe brigjet dhe shkëlqente mbi asfaltin e zi të xhadesë.
Sikur të mos ishte fillimi i vjeshtës, çdo njeriu tjetër, përveç gjeneralit të porsaardhur, do t'i dukej ky shi monoton një koicidencë e trishtuar.
Ai po vinte në Shqipëri nga një shtet i huaj për tërheqjen e eshtrave të ushtarëve të vrarë këtu në luftën e fundit botërore.
Bisedimet midis dy qeverive kishin filluar që në pranverë, por kontratat përfundimtare u nënshkruan vetëm në fund të gushtit, taman në kohën kur filluan vranësirat e para.
Pra ishte vjeshtë dhe shiu kishte kohën e tij. Gjenerali e dinte këtë.
Para se të nisej, kishte mësuar midis të tjerave edhe diçka për klimën e Shqipërisë.
Gjenerali e dinte që në Shqipëri vjeshta është e lagët dhe me shi.
Por, edhe sikur në librin që kishte lexuar të shkruhej se në Shqipëri vjeshta është me diell dhe e thatë, atij nuk do t'i dukej ky shi i papritur.
Përkundrazi. Dhe shkaku ishte se atij i ishte dukur gjithmonë se misioni i tij mund të kryhej vetëm në shi.
Mbi tokën e huaj binte shi dhe dëborë përzier bashkë. Sqota kishte qullur betonin e pistës së aeroportit, ndërtesat, rojat. Ajo lagte fushën dhe brigjet dhe shkëlqente mbi asfaltin e zi të xhadesë. Sikur të mos ishte fillimi i vjeshtës, çdo njeriu tjetër, përveç gjeneralit të porsaardhur, do t'i dukej ky shi monoton një koicidencë e trishtuar. Ai po vinte në Shqipëri nga një shtet i huaj për tërheqjen e eshtrave të ushtarëve të vrarë këtu në luftën e fundit botërore. Bisedimet midis dy qeverive kishin filluar që në pranverë, por kontratat përfundimtare u nënshkruan vetëm në fund të gushtit, taman në kohën kur filluan vranësirat e para. Pra ishte vjeshtë dhe shiu kishte kohën e tij. Gjenerali e dinte këtë. Para se të nisej, kishte mësuar midis të tjerave edhe diçka për klimën e Shqipërisë. Gjenerali e dinte që në Shqipëri vjeshta është e lagët dhe me shi. Por, edhe sikur në librin që kishte lexuar të shkruhej se në Shqipëri vjeshta është me diell dhe e thatë, atij nuk do t'i dukej ky shi i papritur. Përkundrazi. Dhe shkaku ishte se atij i ishte dukur gjithmonë se misioni i tij mund të kryhej vetëm në shi.
Rain and snow mixed together was falling on the foreign soil. The sleet had drenched the concrete of the runway of the airport, the buildings, and the guards. It made the field and the hills wet and it was was shining from the black asphalt of the highway. As though it was not the beginning of autumn, to every other person except the newly-arrived general this monotonous rain would seem a sad coincidence. He was coming to Albania from a foreign state for the withdrawal of the bones of the soldiers killed in the last world war. The talks between the two governments had started in the spring, but the final contracts were only signed at the end of August, precisely at the time when the first cloudy skies began. Therefore it was autumn and the time of rain had come. The General knew this. Before he set out he had learned, among other things, something about the climate of Albania. The general knew that in Albania autumn is humid and rainy. However even though, in the book that he had read, it was written that in Albania autumn is sunny and dry, this rain would not have seemed unexpected. Quite the opposite. And the reason was that, to him, it had always seemed that his mission could only be accomplished in rain.
Most of the common Albanian prepositions take an object in the accusative case, e.g.,
|në||'in, on, at'||me||'with, by'|
There are a few prepositions that take an object in the nominative case:
The remaining prepositions have an object in the ablative case, including but not limited to the following:
|prej||'from, of, by'||brenda||'inside'|
The Albanian verb has two main tense systems from which a considerable number of verbal forms can be generated. As in many Indo-European languages, most important are the present and aorist systems. The present system is the basis for the present and imperfect tense, as well as analytic structures using as a base the present (e.g., present subjunctive, future tense) or the imperfect (e.g., imperfect subjunctive, conditional mood). The aorist system is the basis for the past definite tense (the simple perfective past tense, see Lesson 4) and, in most instances, the optative mood (see Lesson 5). The formation of Albanian (past) participles overlaps greatly, but not completely, with the aorist stem (as in Latin and other Indo-European languages). Thus a third system could be proposed, which we call the "participial system," as the basis of the participle (see below) and the various tenses of the admirative mood (see Lesson 5).
The present tense is used to describe actions that occur at the time of speaking. It can also be used to describe events that will occur in the future, if there is an accompanying adverb with future time reference. The present subjunctive is used in subordinate clauses after a predicate, as well as without another verb to express doubt, possibility, or obligation.
While there are actually numerous patterns of conjugation, most traditional accounts consider the Albanian verbal system to be broken up into two conjugational classes: one made up of verbs with a vowel-final stem (class 1), and another made up of verbs with a consonant-final stem (class 2). Each of the classes is then traditionally broken down into smaller classes depending on a variety of other factors (aorist formation, participle formation, small differences within the present conjugation, etc). Other accounts propose three (or many more) conjugational classes for Albanian.
Note the the present indicative and subjunctive differ only in the 2nd and 3rd persons singular. The rest of the paradigms are identical (except, of course, for the subjunctive requiring the subordinator të). The exceptions to this tendency, the verbs jam 'to be' and kam 'to have', are described in Lesson 1.
Basic present indicative and subjunctive endings for vowel-stem (class 1) verbs:
Present indicative and subjunctive paradigms of laj 'wash':
|1st person||laj||lajmë||të laj||të lajmë|
|2nd person||lan||lani||të lash||të lani|
|3rd person||lan||lajnë||të lajë||të lajnë|
Basic present indicative and subjunctive endings for consonant-stem (class 2) verbs:
Present indicative and subjunctive paradigms of hap 'open':
|1st person||hap||hapim||të hap||të hapim|
|2nd person||hap||hapni||të hapësh||të hapni|
|3rd person||hap||hapin||të hapë||të hapin|
Many verbs show patterns of stem allomorphy within the present tense. Some of the more common patterns are as follows:
There are additional verbs that show a higher degree of irregularity. The two most common irregular verbs, jam 'to be' and kam 'to have', are discussed in Lesson 1.
Albanian has an "active/non-active" voice distinction, also referred to as "active/middle" or "active/passive" or "active/mediopassive." While non-active voice is expressed differently in compound verbal forms and in the aorist system, it is expressed using with a synthetic verbal form in the present system. There is a distinct derivational process by which active verbs become non-active verbs; this is discussed in Lesson 4. Note that there is no difference between the indicative and subjunctive in the non-active present tense conjugation, other than the presence of të in the subjunctive.
Basic present indicative and subjunctive endings for non-active verbs:
Present indicative and subjunctive paradigms of quhem 'to be called':
|1st person||quhem||quhemi||të quhem||të quhemi|
|2nd person||quhesh||quheni||të quhesh||të quheni|
|3rd person||quhet||quhen||të quhet||të quhen|
The imperfect is the past tense of the present system, and is used to describe continuous or habitual events that occurred in the past. Note that the imperfect subjunctive is usual after a past tense main verb, and the present subjunctive after a present tense verb, e.g. dua të shkosh 'I want (PRES.) that you go (PRES.SUBJ.)', but desha të shkoje 'I wanted (IMPF.) that you-went (IMPF.SUBJ.)'.
Except for a few verbs that have a suppletive imperfect stem, Albanian verbs have the same stem in the imperfect as they do in the present. The imperfect indicative and subjunctive are identical, except for the fact that the subjunctive must be subordinated by të.
Note that the 3rd person singular ending is -nte when the stem is vowel-final, and -te when consonant-final.
Imperfect paradigms of laj 'wash' and hap 'to open':
The imperfect of jam 'be' and kam 'have' have suppletive imperfect stems. They also do not show the initial -j- of the 1st and 2nd person singular endings:
The Geg imperfect endings, while similar to those seen in Standard Albanian, show an additional segment -sh-. If the stem is vowel-final, -j- is inserted after the stem and before the endings.
Basic Geg imperfect tense endings (Hughes 2006):
Imperfect paradigm of Geg mêndoj 'to think':
Albanian participles have a number of uses. In addition to being used as adjectives (always articulated, see Lesson 1), participles are used in the formation of several perfect tenses, which are composed of a conjugated auxiliary (in Standard Albanian, kam when active and jam when passive) plus the past participle. They are also used in the formation of infinitives (composed of për te + past participle in Tosk, me + participle in Geg), gerunds (composed of Tosk duke/Geg tue + past participle) and privative constructions (composed of pa + past participle). These functions are discussed in more detail in Lesson 4. Participles are also used as the basis for conjugation of the various tenses of the admirative mood (see Lesson 5).
As discussed briefly above, the stem used in the formation of the past participle is usually the aorist stem (that used for the past definite, see Lesson 4). However, there are some cases where the participial stem is the same as the present stem, and there are other cases where it does not correspond to the present or aorist stem. In most cases the participle must simply be memorized.
In cases where the participial stem is identical to the present or aorist stem, the participle is formed by adding -r to vowel-final stems (e.g., the participle of shkruaj 'write' is shkrua-r) and -ur to consonant-final stems (e.g., the participle of flas 'speak' is fol-ur). Where the participial stem is not identical to the present or aorist stem, the following generalizations hold. In general, if the verb stem ends in a consonant, the participle is formed by adding the suffix -ur to the stem. If the verb stem ends in an unstressed vowel, the participle is formed by simply adding -r to the stem. If the verb stem ends in a stressed vowel, the suffix -rë is added to form the participle. There are additional participial formations in -ë or -në.
In the majority of cases, the participle is immediately recognizable from the present stem. However, particularly with verbs that have a suppletive aorist stem, this is not always the case. These include many of the "irregular" verbs already discussed (e.g., jam 'be' has a participle qenë, kam 'have' has a participle pasur) as well as other verbs (e.g., shoh 'see' has a participle parë, ha 'eat' has a participle ngrënë, etc).
Unlike Tosk/Standard Albanian, Geg has two forms of participles depending on whether they are used as adjectives or not. If they are used as adjectives, Geg participles have an ending -un (cognate with the common Tosk participial ending -ur), or -uem. If they are used in a verbal construction, they lack these suffixes. Normally, to find the Geg equivalent of a Tosk participle in -ur, remove this ending and replace it with -ë, e.g., Tosk pyetur, Geg pyetë 'ask'; Tosk djegur, Geg djegë 'burn'. Tosk participles in -ë not preceded by r usually have the same ending in Geg. Some Tosk participles in -rë correspond to a Geg participle with no ending (e.g., Tosk vrarë, Geg vra 'kill'), and some correspond to a Geg participle ending in a nasal vowel (e.g., Tosk bërë, Geg bâ 'make'; Tosk hyre, Geg hŷ 'enter').
The Albanian present perfect tense is used to describe events that took place and were completed in the past. This is similar to the use of the past definite (see Lesson 4), but the present perfect is prescriptively used to describe past events that have some connection with the present. As the uses of the present perfect and past definite are so similar, there is a general trend toward using the present perfect in situations where the past definite would be prescribed -- akin to the situation in French and Italian, where the compound past tense has taken over the domain of use of the simple past tense in the spoken language.
The present perfect tense is formed with a present indicative form of kam plus the past participle.
Present perfect paradigm of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||kam shkruar||kemi shkruar|
|2nd person||ke shkruar||keni shkruar|
|3rd person||ka shkruar||kanë shkruar|
The present perfect subjunctive is formed in the same manner, except that a present subjunctive form of kam is used.
Present perfect subjunctive of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||të kem shkruar||të kemi shkruar|
|2nd person||të kesh shkruar||të keni shkruar|
|3rd person||të ketë shkruar||të kenë shkruar|
In Standard Albanian, the auxiliary kam is always used in the present perfect if the verb is active. To form the non-active, the auxiliary jam is used (see Lesson 4). In Geg the pattern is slightly different, as kam is used for transitive verbs and jam is used for intransitive verbs (which can be linked to passives and reflexives as well). This again is akin to the compound past tense in French and Italian, where the auxiliary 'have' is used for transitive verbs and the auxiliary 'be' is used for intransitives, passives, reflexives, etc.
For example, the 1st person singular present perfect of shkoj 'to go' in Standard Albanian is kam shkuar, as kam is generalized as the auxiliary for all active verbs in Standard Albanian. The corresponding form in Geg is jam shkuë, where shkuë is the Geg participle of shkoj. The verb jam is used here as an auxiliary, because shkoj is an intransitive verb.