The treatment of the origin of a nation is undoubtedly interesting and quite difficult, and especially the origin of the Albanian people and Albanian language is of a great importance for us.
With regards to the ethnogenesis of the Albanian people and their language, various scholars of the last centuries were divided into two large neighborhoods. This way, the Illyrian and Thracian theories were born; one supporting the Illyrian origin of the Albanian people and their language, and the other that of Trachea.
The origin of Albanian language
Henrik Baric, was a supporter of the Thracian framework, and within this theory he launched the theory, Thraco-Dacian-Frigas. In regard to the origin of the Albanian people and the Albanian language, Baric came to the conclusion that the Albanian people are the descendants of Thracian people, while the Albanian language is the direct bearer of Thracian. This author even brought this language, the Albanian language closer to Armenian and Frige. He came to such a conclusion by relying in the principle of great division of languages, into centum and satem. Pursuant to this division, it was said that Albanian language belongs to satem group, whereas Illyrian language to that of centum, and since these two languages belong to two opposite groups, then there cannot be any genetic correlation between them, this because Thracian and Albanian belong to the same group, that is satem, which makes it inevitable for them to have obvious relations.
By dealing with the study of relationships of the Albanian language with other languages of Indo-European tree, Baric came to the conclusion that the Albanian language is more closely linked to Thrachian, as well as Fringe and Armenian, than to the other group of languages – centum. In relation to this matter he said that two other languages should be listed near Albanian and Armenian: that is Thrachian language and Frige language[2, P.34].
Baric states that “I believe that through new arguments I have proven that the intermediary position between Albanian language and Armenian language belongs to Thrachian, since the Albanian language coincides with Thrachian language in all the features which separate it from Fringo-Armenian language” [2, P.45].
According to Baric, the replacement of Indo-European sonant liquids, coincides with in between Albanian and Thrachian; a replacement which casts a bridge between Albanian language and Armenian language.
Regarding the division of the three Indo-European guttural rows, he notes that this is a conservative characteristic, common of languages: Albanian, Thrachian and Armenian, and this demonstrates, according to him, the former central position of this group, whereas the palatalization of labiovelars is one of the common Albanian-Thachian innovations.
H. Baric was of thought that even in the morphology field there are meeting points or common points between Albanian-Thracian-Armenian.
Just as Baric, author Petar Skok was a supporter of the Thrachian theory with regards to the origin of the Albanian language. In his work: “Dollazak Slovena na Mediteran”, on Albanians in Middle Age, Petar Skok argues that they are continental and pastoral population, which does not know anything about navy and does not show any interest in it and that they have no naval terminology whatsoever of their own. “Their naval terminology, as far as I have noticed in Ulcinj, is mostly Slavic” [1, P.31].
Radoslav Katiqiç is a supporter of Illyrian theory. Among others, he says that Albanian language is spoken in the genuine Illyrian territory and nowhere else outside of it. This is because this language has preserved a lot of Greek and Latin borrowings, as well as old names, which can be explained through the phonetic laws of the Albanian language. Given these facts, he came to the conclusion that the Albanian language is the modern form of the Illyrian language [8, P.89-90].
Regarding the origin of the Albanian language, on an occasion Eqrem Çabej has said: “all the arguments presented against the filial relationship of Albanian language, through which it was attempted to be proven the impossibility of these linguistic correlations, do not prevail over the deep critical review of the development, in the light of the known facts. There are no compelling linguistic arguments that would make us exclude the Illyrian origin of the Albanian language” [8, P.89-92].
The question that the scholars who were studying the origin of the Albanian language and the Albanian nation were dealing with continuously was whether Albanians were autochthonous in the land they are living today, or migrants.
The prominent Balkanist, P. Skok, in his studies on Balkan toponomastic and, in this regard, on Albania as well, especially Shkodra and its surroundings, states his opinion that there were no traces of Albanians in this region in the ancient period. So, he believed that the Slavs did not encounter any trace of Albanians when they came to Balkan.
H. Baric thinks that the Albanian nation is not autochthonic in the regions it lodges today, however it came to these lands somewhat before the Slavs, and he also undertakes to argument this opinion through linguistic facts, for example, he states that the name of river Buna, has Illyrian-Albanian progression. Through this fact and several other ones, he opposes Skok’s position about the Slavs arriving there before the Albanians [3, P.28].
Baric thought that the fact that Albanian people live in the territory once inhabited by the ancient Illyrians does not present any importance, since, according to him, this identification does not have any arguing power because Albanians could have assimilated the natives. In other words, they are expanded in the Illyrian territory and the history does not write anything about it [3, P.7].
For the scholar, the connection of the Illyrian name Albanoi with the current name of Arbers also was not an argument of interest, because he could not distinguish any connection whatsoever. He further stated that Albanians as settlers could have inherit this name from the ancient inhabitants, that is, Illyrians [3, P.7].
The scholar, H. Baric, believed that the allegation that a lot of Illyrian words have been preserved in Albanian language does not stand, reasoning that such words are relics which are preserved in Albanian language, just as Celtic words in French language.
If indeed Albanians were not autochthonous in these lands, then when did they settle in this region? Baric believes that their settlement on the inside of the Balkan Peninsula must have occurred in waves, but no later than the 6th century. Baric believed that the Balkan homeland of the Albanian nation was Dardania-Peon, Illyrian regions [2, P.49-50].
If the Albanian people indeed came late to these lands, as Baric thought, then why did not the ancient authors, Greek and Latin, write anything regarding this matter?
In relation to this matter, Baric held that: “The reason why historical sources do not mention anything in this regard is easily explained by the political and military irrelevance of the arrival of pastoral crowds which for a long period of time do not come to intimate contact with the agricultural and urban population in the new homeland, living in the mountains during summer and in pasture during the winter, away from the traffic network, similar to what Romanian shepherds did in the historical period” [2, P.71].
When talking about Albanians, the scholar N. Jokli, among others, says that they are autochthonous in the areas they live today. While regarding their country and their formation, he takes this place to be the Eastern part of the Illyrian territory, namely where Illyrian and Thrachian languages meet, that is within the sphere of Romanization, and this territory must have been somewhere nearby Romanian cradle. This place, according to Jokli, was the ancient Dardania – Naissus city, since for such a thing, states Jokli, speaks the transformation of this ancient name into the today’s name – Nish, and which must have been done only through Albanian language laws [5, P.146].
Radoslav Katiqiç sees Albanians as descendants of the Illyrians formed in these regions, although however in a more limited territory, he claims that “the anthroponomical Illyrian land, however, brings us to a new specification, i.e. the Albanian language does not have broad and vague territory, but a clear formation, the successor of which is itself. In the light of these onomastic facts, the Albanian land is not presented as mechanical and truncated waste of something different, but as a creative and vital transformation of an entity constituting a permanent element in the historic life and the ethnic context of Balkan” [8, P.92].
With respect to the silence of Greco-Latin sources in relation to Albanians, the scholar R. Katiqiç very correctly said that the ancient authors “wrote about them (about Illyrians H.H.) when they had military conflicts, if they dealt with piracy at the sea, or if there was something interesting with regards to their strange social mores. Only “when the Illyrian population which constituted a separate ethnic community, by rebellions against the central government in XI century and onwards became a political factor, which makes it understandable why it would hence constantly appeal in Byzantine sources” [10, P.88].
In relation to the question whether Albanians are autochthonous in the lands they are lodging today, professor Eqrem Çabej supported the autochthony of Albanian nation in the territories where it still lodges, however, according to him, this is not the instance of an absolute autochthony, but it is useful – says this author – to question whether Albanians are autochthonous in the regions they are dwelling today since the Greco-Roman period. And, on the basis of the results that are available so far, he supported the autochthony of the Albanian people in the areas they live today, at least, as he put it, since the Greco-Roman times.
E. Çabej was against the opinion of the researchers who acknowledge the Albanian people migration from different areas to the territories of today. On this occasion he stated that: "It would be an exceptional occurrence, that a tweak (migration) and plantation of an entire people happening within the scope of the Roman world and in the full light of history to have occurred unnoticed by history" [6, P.74].
Concerning the silence of several centuries by the ancient authors on Illyrians, Çabej stated as follows: "Regarding the argumentum ex silentio, according to which Albanians are not mentioned in today’s settlements before the XI-th century, we say that… Actually not being mentioned proves harder on autochthony than against it; for chronicles usually refer more to the ruling people than the ruled, most often for new invaders and settlers than the native population of a country" [7, P.52].
Also:"In light of the complex historical and ethnographic data, archaeological and linguistic, and especially toponomastic data, it results that the populations who flocked found Illyrian-Albanian population in our land" [9, P.33], this is also confirmed by «Most civil settlements or large rural of fortified centers of major moments of later time continue its existence in the early Middle Ages topographically, directly or indirectly, as metastasis of residential displacement, alongside new creations of this period» [4, P.170-171].
According to E. Çabej, the arguments from sciences such as geography, history and linguistics, as well, talk in favor of the Albanians’ autochthony in the lands they are also living today. Pursuant to a study he conducts about the country names, he came to the conclusion that the main ancient names of rivers, mountains and cities located in the ancient Illyria, from Ragusa and up to the cities such as Nish, Skopje, Shtip, Sharri Mountain and up to Ohrid, on one side, and the other including Adriatic and Ionian sea, and going further up to Çameria, all these names preserve the characteristic forms of the phonetic evolution of the Albanian language. This evidence is quite strengthening in favor that these toponyms have been used continuously by Albanian speakers. On the other hand, these toponyms, Çabej believes, show us that the Albanian nation was formed in a quite wide territory, whereas the Albanian historic territory in the Middle Ages is to be considered as a result of a historical contraction and not as a result of a biological expansion [4, P.31].
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