In 1444, Skanderbeg formed an alliance between several northern Albanian noble families to ward off the Ottoman invasion of the area. Among these was the Dukagjini family, of whom Lekë Dukagjini became one of the most important figures in Albanian history. Skanderbeg's exploits and devotion to his people in the face of invasion earned him fame throughout Europe. While Lekë Dukagjini fought at Skanderbeg's side and led the resistance (with less success than his predecessor) upon Skanderbeg's death, his fame is due to something else entirely.
The Kanun is a set of laws that cover all aspects of life. The most famous and widespread was the Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit. While it is usually attributed to Lekë Dukagjini himself, it is more likely that this was the set of rules held in his family's territory (around the modern Albania-Kosovo border). There were other Kanuns (e.g., Kanuni i Skënderbeut, etc.), but the territory in which the laws of the Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit were followed expanded. Generally, the different sets of laws followed in northern Albania were rather similar. The age of the laws of the Kanun is yet to be determined. Many aspects that the Kanun shares with law codes followed by other Indo-European peoples point to this as potentially inherited from Proto-Indo-European.
The Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit covers a wide range of topics in great detail, including rules regarding property (e.g., if your bees escape and go on someone else's property, you have the right to enter their property to retrieve them; however, if no one is pursuing the bees, whoever finds them can keep them), rules regarding marriage and the family (e.g., in addition to the required "wedding ox," a wedding feast is obliged to have certain amounts of coffee, cheese, raki, etc.), rules regarding damages (e.g., if your goat ruins someone else's vineyard, you are required to give them the amount of wine and raki that the destroyed vines would have produced), and various rules of hospitality (e.g., while the master of the house washes his hands before the guest and drinks the first glass of raki, the guest must take the first bite of food, violation of this rule being punishable by fine), as well as controversial rules regarding blood feuds.
The rules of the Kanun were transmitted orally, and were not written down until the 19th century (and then, only in fragments). In the late 19th century, Shtjefën Gjeçovi, a priest-folklorist from Kosovo, collected and organized the rules, and the collection was published in 1933 (several years after Gjeçovi's death). A bilingual edition was published in 1989, containing Gjeçovi's original version along with an English translation by Leonard Fox.
The following excerpt from the Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit contains thirteen laws that describe the process of welcoming guests into the home. This excerpt makes up part of the eighth book of Gjeçovi's edition, which discusses personal honor, social honor (including hospitality, violation of hospitality, and the consequences of a violation of hospitality), and rules for brotherhood and godparenthood.
Given that the Kanun i Lekë Dukagjinit originates from northern Albania, it is written in Geg. As the rules were collected by Gjeçovi long before the establishment of any type of standardized Geg (or any standard variety of Albanian), the text contains dialectal characteristics of the area from which the data were collected: the Mirditë district in modern north-central Albania.
"Shpija e Shqyptarit âsht e Zotit e e mikut."
Miku nuk mund të hîjë në shpí, pá bâ zâ n'oborr.
Si të bâjë zâ miku, i zoti i shpís a kush i shpís i pergjegjet e i del perpara.
Falet me mik, armen i a mêrr, e i prîn në shpí.
Armen i a varë në krrabë, edhè e çon në krye të vendit ke votra
Perpushet zjarmi, lypen edhè drû. "Miku don drû."
Mikut do t'i bâhet nderë: "Bukë e krypë e zêmer."
Buka e krypa e zêmra, zjarmi e trungu e do firi per shtrojë do të gjindet gadi per mik në çdo kohë të natës e të ditës
Mikut të lodhun do t'i vîhet rreth me të pritun me nderë. Mikut i lahen kambët.
Per çdo mik duhet buka si han vetë.
Per mik të mirë duhet kafija, rakija e buka e shtrueme me ndo'i send mâ teper.
Per mik zêmret duhet duhâni, kafija e ambel, rakija e bukë e mish.
"Mikut të zêmres i lshohet shpija."
"Shpija e Shqyptarit âsht e Zotit e e mikut." Miku nuk mund të hîjë në shpí, pá bâ zâ n'oborr. Si të bâjë zâ miku, i zoti i shpís a kush i shpís i pergjegjet e i del perpara. Falet me mik, armen i a mêrr, e i prîn në shpí. Armen i a varë në krrabë, edhè e çon në krye të vendit ke votra Perpushet zjarmi, lypen edhè drû. "Miku don drû." Mikut do t'i bâhet nderë: "Bukë e krypë e zêmer." Buka e krypa e zêmra, zjarmi e trungu e do firi per shtrojë do të gjindet gadi per mik në çdo kohë të natës e të ditës Mikut të lodhun do t'i vîhet rreth me të pritun me nderë. Mikut i lahen kambët. Per çdo mik duhet buka si han vetë. Per mik të mirë duhet kafija, rakija e buka e shtrueme me ndo'i send mâ teper. Per mik zêmret duhet duhâni, kafija e ambel, rakija e bukë e mish. "Mikut të zêmres i lshohet shpija."
"The house of the Albanian is of God and of the guest." The guest cannot enter the house without making noise in the courtyard. When the guest makes noise, the master of the house or someone else of the house answers him and goes out to him. He is greeted by the guest, he takes his weapon, and leads him into the house. He hangs his weapon on a hook, and leads him to the head place near the hearth. The fire is stirred; he requests more wood. "The guest sees to the fire." For the guest, honor must be made: "Bread and salt and the heart." The bread, the salt and the heart, the fire and the log and some material for a bed must be present, ready for a guest at any time of the day or of the night. The tired guest should be surrounded by hospitality, with honor. The feet of the guest are washed. For every guest, the food that they eat themselve is needed. For a good friend, coffee, raki and food laid out are necessary, with something more as well. For a cherished friend, tobacco, sweet coffee, raki and bread and meat are necessary. "To the guest of the heart, the house is given freely."
The Albanian past definite tense is the simple, perfective, past tense. It is used to describe completed events that occurred in the past. In modern Albanian, the past definite is losing ground to the present perfect, to which it is nearly identical semantically.
As discussed briefly in Lesson 2, the past definite is formed from the aorist stem. As in several other Indo-European languages, the difficulty in conjugating the simple perfect past tense in Albanian is knowing the correlation between the present stem and the aorist stem. The endings are consistent, and where there are different endings, the choice is phonologically predictable. As with all of the other verb formations besides the present, the past definite indicative and subjunctive are always identical. The following are the basic endings for the Albanian past definite tense.
In most verbs, the aorist stem (from which the past definite is formed) is identical to the present stem. The following are the past definite paradigms of the vowel-stem verb punoj 'work' and the consonant-stem verb hap 'open'
Past definite paradigms of punoj 'work' (aor.stem puno-) and hap 'open' (aor.stem hap-)
There are also many verbs that have some sort of stem change in the past definite. Similar to Latin, some of these stem changes are also seen in the participle (see Lesson 2). Some verbs have a stem extension in the aorist not seen in the present (e.g., bër- 'make-PERF' vs. bë- 'make-PRES'; dit- 'know-PERF' vs. di- 'know-PRES'). There are other verbs that have some sort of vowel change in the past (e.g., hoq- 'pull-PAST' vs. heq- 'pull-PRES'; dol- 'emerge-PAST', dal- 'emerge-PRES'). There are also some verbs that have a suppletive past tense, including the auxiliary verb kam (cf. PAST pat-), among others (e.g., hëngr- 'eat-PAST' vs. ha- 'eat-PRES). In all of these cases, the suffixes are the same as seen above.
Additionally, there is a small class of verbs that take an ending -shë in the 1SG past definite (often along with a suppletive stem). This class includes the irregular/auxiliary verb jam 'be' (1SG past qeshë), as well as bie 'fall' (1SG past ra-shë), shoh 'see' (1SG past pa-shë), lë 'let' (1SG past la-shë), and them 'say' (1SG past tha-shë).
Past definite paradigms of jam 'be' (aor. stem qe-) and kam 'have' (aor.stem pat-)
According to Newmark et al. (1982), these two tenses are essentially identical, semantically. They both refer to an action that occurred in the past before a certain point in time. They also comment that the past perfect is used to a much greater extent than the pluperfect.
The pluperfect and past perfect tenses are formed in the same manner as the present perfect tense, discussed in Lesson 2. As in the present perfect, these tenses are formed using a conjugated form of the auxiliary kam plus the past participle. The only differences are that in the pluperfect, a past definite form of kam is used, and in the past perfect, an imperfect form of kam is used.
Pluperfect paradigm of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||pata shkruar||patëm shkruar|
|2nd person||pate shkruar||patët shkruar|
|3rd person||pati shkruar||patën shkruar|
Past perfect paradigm of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||kisha shkruar||kishin shkruar|
|2nd person||kishe shkruar||kishit shkruar|
|3rd person||kishte shkruar||kishin shkruar|
As discussed in lesson 2, Albanian has a distinction between active and non-active voice. The formation of a non-active verb form depends on the verb stem in question. If the form is based on the present stem (e.g., present, imperfect, etc.), the non-active is formed via a suffix and a distinct set of inflectional endings. If the form is any other synthetic formation (e.g., past definite, admirative, optative, etc.), the non-active is formed with a clitic. If it is a compound tense (e.g., present perfect, past perfect), this is done with a change of the auxiliary verb from kam to jam.
The formation of the non-active present stem is accomplished by the suffixation of -he- to the verb stem (e.g., quaj 'call', stem qu-, non-active stem qu-he-). If the stem in question is consonant-final, this suffix has the form -e- (e.g., hap 'open', stem hap-, non-active stem hap-e-). The present tense of non-active verbs is formed with the stem described above plus the non-active present endings presented in Lesson 2.
Present non-active paradigms of quhem 'to be called' and hapem 'to be opened'
In the imperfect tense, the non-active stem is the same as above. The endings are the normal imperfect endings with -sh- preceding them. The 3SG form would then have an ending -shj- which is not permissible in Albanian, so either the -sh- (e.g., in Standard Albanian) or the -j- (in some non-standard varieties) is dropped.
Imperfect non-active paradigms of quhem 'to be called' and hapem 'to be opened'
There are no differences in conjugation between the present/imperfect indicative and the present/imperfect subjunctive in non-active verbs.
In any synthetic verb formation that is not formed from the present tense (e.g., past definite, admirative, optative), the non-active form is simply formed by adding the clitic u before the verb. The only other change is in the 3rd person singular past definite, where the suffix -i (or -u) is lost.
Past definite non-active paradigm of hap 'to open':
|1st person||u hapa||u hapëm|
|2nd person||u hape||u hapët|
|3rd person||u hap||u hapën|
In addition, some verbs that show allomorphy in the past definite, extend the plural stem allomorph into the 3SG in the non-active. For example, for the verb punoj work, the past definite stem is puno- in the singular and punua- in the plural. In the non active, the stem punua- is extended to the 3SG.
In any other verb forms built from the aorist stem (e.g., the admirative and optative, to be discussed in the following lesson), the non-active forms are formed the same way (though there is no issue in the 3SG).
In the preceding two sections we have seen several compound past tenses formed with the verb kam. To form the corresponding non-active forms, the auxiliary verb is simply changed to jam 'be'.
Present perfect non-active paradigms of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||jam shkruar||jemi shkruar|
|2nd person||je shkruar||jeni shkruar|
|3rd person||është shkruar||janë shkruar|
Past perfect non-active paradigm of shkruaj 'to write':
|1st person||qeshë shkruar||qemë shkruar|
|2nd person||qe shkruar||qetë shkruar|
|3rd person||qe shkruar||qenë shkruar|
While this formation in Tosk/Standard Albanian is commonly referred to as the "infinitive," it does not fulfill most typical infinitival properties (unlike the Geg infinitive, or the infinitive in most other Indo-European languages). The Tosk infinitive is mainly used for "in order to..." type statements (though they can also convey a sense of obligation).
The Tosk "infinitive" is built up of për + të + PARTICIPLE. See the following example (from the text in Lesson 3) meaning "in order to leave it marked for always" contains an Tosk infinitive.
|për ta lënë||të vulosur||për||gjithëmonë|
Note that in the above example, that ta is a contraction of the subordinator të with the weak accusative singular pronoun e. As in other participial constructions, the only elements that can immediately precede the main verb are weak pronouns and the negator mos.
The Geg infinitive is formed with me + PARTICIPLE. It has a much wider range of use than the Tosk "infinitive." It is commonly used after modal verbs such as mund 'can', dua 'want', etc. For example, the Geg translation of "We want to learn Albanian" would be:
In this sentence, me folë is the infinitive of flas 'speak'. Recall that in Tosk, such a construction is not possible, and the infinitive is replaced by a conjugated form of the present subjunctive.
The gerundive is used to express an action that is occurring simultaneously with the verb in the main clause. Though the gerundive has no tense marking (or any inflection of any sort), it can have present, future, or past-time reference, depending on the main verb. This is usually translated as "while VERBing" in English. The Tosk gerundive is formed with the particle duke plus the participle. The Geg gerundive is formed with the particle tue plus the participle. For example, the following phrase from Buzuku's Missal meaning "And our lord blessed them, (while he was) saying," where tue is the gerundive particle and thashunë is an old participle of them 'say' (the participle would be thënë in Std. Albanian).
As with the other participial constructions discussed above, the only elements that can come between the particle duke/tue is a weak pronoun and the negator mos (recall that mos, rather than nuk is used to negate participial constructions) as in the following example meaning "while not saying it to him"
The privative is essentially a negative gerundive, and these constructions are normally translated into English as "without VERBing." The privative is formed with the particle pa (the preposition meaning 'without') plus the participle. For example, the following phrase from the text above meaning "without making a sound in the courtyard."