Arvanitika (/ˌɑːrvəˈnɪtɪkə/;[4] Arvanitika: αρbε̰ρίσ̈τ, romanized: arbërisht; Greek: αρβανίτικα, romanized: arvanítika), also known as Arvanitic, is the variety of Albanian traditionally spoken by the Arvanites, a population group in Greece. Arvanitika is today endangered, as its speakers have been shifting to the use of Greek and most younger members of the community no longer speak it.[5]

Native toGreece
RegionAttica, Boeotia, South Euboea, Saronic Islands; Western Thrace; Peloponnese; some villages in NW of Greece; N of island of Andros; more than 500 villages in total[1]
Ethnicity150,000 Arvanites (2000)[2]
Native speakers
50,000 (2007)[3]
(may be republished older data)
  • Viotia Arvanitika
  • Attiki Arvanitika
  • Salamina Arvanitika
  • Evia Arvanitika
Greek (Arvanitic alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3aat
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.


The name Arvanítika and its native equivalent Arbërisht[6] are derived from the ethnonym Arvanites, which in turn comes from the toponym Arbëna (Greek: Άρβανα), which in the Middle Ages referred to a region in what is today Albania.[7] Its native equivalents (Arbërorë, Arbëreshë and others) used to be the self-designation of Albanians in general. In the past Arvanitika had sometimes been described as "Graeco-Albanian" and the like (e.g., Furikis, 1934); although today many Arvanites consider such names offensive, they generally identify nationally and ethnically as Greeks and not Albanians.[8]


The place of Arvanitika within Albanian
Geographical distribution of Albanian dialects

Arvanitika was brought to southern Greece during the late Middle Ages by settlers from what is today Albania. Arvanitika is also closely related to Arbëresh, the dialect of Albanian in Italy, which largely goes back to Arvanite settlers from Greece. Italian Arbëresh has retained some words borrowed from Greek (for instance haristis 'thank you', from ευχαριστώ; dhrom 'road', from δρόμος; Ne 'yes', from ναι, in certain villages). Italo-Arbëresh and Graeco-Arvanitika have a mutually intelligible vocabulary base, the unintelligible elements of the two dialects stem from the usage of Italian or Greek modernisms in the absence of native ones.

While linguistic scholarship unanimously describes Arvanitika as a dialect of Albanian[9] many Arvanites are reported to dislike the use of the name "Albanian" to designate it,[8] as it carries the connotation of Albanian nationality and is thus felt to call their Greek identity into question.

Sociolinguistic work[10] has described Arvanitika within the conceptual framework of "ausbausprachen" and "abstandssprachen".[11] In terms of "abstand" (objective difference of the linguistic systems), linguists' assessment of the degree of mutual intelligibility between Arvanitika and Standard Tosk range from fairly high[12] to only partial (Ethnologue). The Ethnologue also mentions that mutual intelligibility may even be problematic between different subdialects within Arvanitika. Mutual intelligibility between Standard Tosk and Arvanitika is higher than that between the two main dialect groups within Albanian, Tosk and Gheg. See below for a sample text in the three language forms. Trudgill (2004: 5) sums up that "[l]inguistically, there is no doubt that [Arvanitika] is a variety of Albanian".

In terms of "ausbau" (sociolinguistic "upgrading" towards an autonomous standard language), the strongest indicator of autonomy is the existence of a separate writing system, the Greek-based Arvanitic alphabet. A very similar system was formerly in use also by other Tosk Albanian speakers between the 16th and 18th century.[13][14] However, this script is very rarely used in practice today, as Arvanitika is almost exclusively a spoken language confined to the private sphere. There is also some disagreement amongst Arvanites (as with the Aromanians) as to whether the Latin alphabet should be used to write their language.[8] Spoken Arvanitika is internally richly diversified into sub-dialects, and no further standardization towards a common (spoken or written) Standard Arvanitika has taken place. At the same time, Arvanites do not use Standard Albanian as their standard language either, as they are generally not literate in the Latin-based standard Albanian orthography, and are not reported to use spoken-language media in Standard Albanian. In this sense, then, Arvanitika is not functionally subordinated to Standard Albanian as a dachsprache ("roof language"), in the way dialects of a national language within the same country usually are.

Geographic distributionEdit

Regions of Greece with a traditional presence of languages other than Greek. The green areas represent where Arvanitika was/is spoken.
Nineteenth-century ethnic map of Peloponnese. Arvanitika-speaking areas in red.

There are three main groups of Arvanitic settlements in Greece. Most Arvanites live in the south of Greece, across Attica, Boeotia, the Peloponnese and some neighbouring areas and islands. A second, smaller group live in the northwest of Greece, in a zone contiguous with the Albanian-speaking lands proper. A third, outlying group is found in the northeast of Greece, in a few villages in Thrace.

According to some authors, the term "Arvanitika" in its proper sense applies only to the southern group[15] or to the southern and the Thracian groups together[16] i.e. to those dialects that have been separated from the core of Albanian for several centuries. The dialects in the northwest are reported to be more similar to neighbouring Tosk dialects within Albania and to the speech of the former Muslim Cham Albanians (Çamërishte), who used to live in the same region.[17] These dialects are classified by Ethnologue as part of core Tosk Albanian, as opposed to "Arvanitika Albanian" in the narrow sense, although Ethnologue notes that the term "Arvanitika" is also often applied indiscriminately to both forms in Greece.[18] In their own language, some groups in the north-west are reported to use the term Shqip (Albanian language) to refer to their own language as well as to that of Albanian nationals, and this has sometimes been interpreted as implying that they are ethnically Albanians.[19] The Arvanitika of southern Greece is richly sub-divided into local dialects. Sasse (1991) distinguishes as many as eleven dialect groups within that area: West Attic, Southeast Attic, Northeast-Attic-Boeotian, West Boeotian, Central Boeotian, Northeast Peloponnesian, Northwest Peloponnesian, South Peloponnesian, West Peloponnesian, Euboean, and Andriote.

Estimated numbers of speakers of Arvanitika vary widely, between 30,000 and 150,000. These figures include "terminal speakers" (Tsitsipis 1998) of the younger generation, who have only acquired an imperfect command of the language and are unlikely to pass it on to future generations. The number of villages with traditional Arvanite populations is estimated to more than 500.[1] There are no monolingual Arvanitika-speakers, as all are today bilingual in Greek. Arvanitika is considered an endangered language due to the large-scale language shift towards Greek among the descendants of Arvanitika-speakers in recent decades.[20]


Arvanitika shares many features with the Tosk dialect spoken in Southern Albania. However, it has received a great deal of influence from Greek, mostly related to the vocabulary and the phonological system. At the same time, it is reported to have preserved some conservative features that were lost in mainstream Albanian Tosk. For example, it has preserved certain syllable-initial consonant clusters which have been simplified in Standard Albanian (cf. Arvanitika gljuhë [ˈɡljuhə] ('language/tongue'), vs. Standard Albanian gjuhë [ˈɟuhə]).

In recent times, linguists have observed signs of accelerated structural convergence towards Greek and structural simplification of the language, which have been interpreted as signs of "language attrition", i.e. effects of impoverishment leading towards language death.[21]

Writing systemEdit

Noctes Pelasgicae, a collection of folk-songs, proverbs and lexical materials in Arbërishte, published by Karl Th. H. Reinhold.

Arvanitika has rarely been written. Reportedly (GHM 1995), it has been written in both the Greek alphabet (often with the addition of the letters b, d, e and j, or diacritics, e.g.[8]) and the Latin alphabet. Orthodox Tosk Albanians also used to write with a similar form of the Greek alphabet (e.g. [9]).

Texts in Arvanitika have survived in the private correspondence between Arvanites who used the dialect. Such is the correspondence of Ioannis Orlandos with Georgios Kountouriotis and other letters by members of the Kountouriotis family written in the Arvanitika of Hydra with Greek script.[22]

In public use, Arvanitika has been used in election pamphlets of Attica and Boeotia in the 19th century. These pamphlets were published in Greek and Arvanitika for the better propagation of party lines among Arvanites and to ease communication between non-Arvanite candidates who couldn't speak Arvanitika and Arvanite voters.[23]

Arvanitic script[24][25][26]
Arvanitic Albanian IPA
Α α A a /a/
Β β V v /v/
Б b B b /b/
Γ γ G g /g/
Γj γj Gj gj /ɟ/
Δ δ Dh dh /ð/
D d D d /d/
E ε E e /ɛ/
E̱ ε̱ Ë ë /ə/
Ζ ζ Z z /z/
Ζ̇ ζ̇ Zh zh /ʒ/
Θ θ Th th /θ/
Ι ι I i /i/
J j J j /j/
K κ K k /k/
K̇ κ̇ Q q /c/
Λ λ L l /l/
Λλ λλ Ll ll /ɫ/
Λ̇ λ̇ Lj lj /ʎ/
Μ μ M m /m/
Ν ν N n /n/
Ν̇ ν̇ Nj nj /ɲ/
O o O o /ɔ/
Π π P p /p/
Ρ ρ R r /ɾ/
Ṗ ρ̇ Rr rr /r/
Σ σ S s /s/
Σ̈ σ̈ Sh sh /ʃ/
Τ τ T t /t/
ȣ ȣ U u /u/
Υ υ Y y /y/
Φ φ F f /f/
Χ χ H h /x/
Χ̇ χ̇ Hj hj /xʲ/
Τσ τσ C c /t͡s/
Τσ̈ τσ̈ Ç ç /t͡ʃ/
Dσ dσ X x /d͡z/
Dσ̈ dσ̈ Xh xh /d͡ʒ/

Language samplesEdit


Source: Arvanitikos Syndesmos Ellados


  Personal pronouns Possessive pronouns
1Sg. û I ími mine
2Sg. ti you íti yours
3Sg.m. ái he atía his
3Sg.f. ajó she asája hers
1Pl. ne we íni ours
2Pl. ju you júai yours
3Pl.m. atá they (m.) atíre theirs (m.)
3Pl.f. ató they (f.) atíre theirs (f.)

Verb paradigmsEdit

  The verb HAVE The verb BE
  Pres. Imperf. Subj.Impf. Subj.Perf. Pres. Imperf. Subj.Impf. Subj.Perf.
1Sg. kam keshë të kem të keshë jam jeshë të jem të jeshë
2Sg. ke keshe të kesh të keshe je jeshe të jesh të jëshe
3Sg. ka kish të ket të kish ishtë, është ish të jet të ish
1Pl. kemi keshëm të kemi te keshëm jemi jeshëm të jeshëm të jeshëm
2Pl. kine keshëtë të kini te keshëtë jini jeshëtë të jeshëtë të jeshëtë
3Pl, kanë kishnë të kenë të kishnë janë ishnë të jenë të ishnë

Comparison with other forms of AlbanianEdit

The Lord's Prayer (Áti ýnë / Άτι ύνε̱) in Arvanitika[27]

Compared with Standard Tosk[28] (red),
Gheg[29] (green) and Arbëresh[30] (blue) Albanian:

Áti ýnë që jé ndë qiéjet
Ãτι ύνε̱ κ̇ε̱ jέ νdε̱ κ̇ιέjετ
Ati ynë që je në qiell
Ati ynë që je në qiell
Tata ghine cë jee në chiex
Our father who art in heaven
ushënjtëróft' émëri ýt
ȣσ̈ε̱ν̇τε̱ρόφτ' έμε̱ρι ύτ
u shenjtëroftë emri yt
shënjtnue kjoftë emni yt
schetruarë clost embri ghit
hallowed be thy name
árthtë mbëretëría jóte
άρθτε̱ μbε̱ρετε̱ρία jότε
arthtë mbretëria jote
ardhtë m(b)retënia jote
jar reghria jòte (jar mbretëria jòte)
thy kingdom come
ubëftë dashurími ýt
ȣbε̱φτε̱ dασ̈ȣρίμι ύτ
u bëftë dashurimi yt (u bëftë vullnesa jote)
u baftë dashnimi yt (u baftë vullneti yt)
bûrë clost vulema jùte
thy will be done
si ndë qiél, edhé mbë dhét
σι νdε̱ κ̇ιέl, εδέ μbε̱ δέτ
si në qiell, edhe mbi dhe (si në qiell, ashtu në tokë)
si në qiell, edhe m(b)y dheu (si në qiell, ashtu në tokë)
si në chiext, astu në dee
on earth, as it is in heaven
búkënë tónë të përdítëshimen'
bȣ́κε̱νε̱ τόνε̱ τε̱ πε̱ρdίτε̱σ̈ιμεν'
bukën tonë të përditëshme
bukën tonë të përditshmen
bucnë tënë tëdiscmen
our daily bread
ép-na néve sót
έπ-να νέβε σότ
na e jep sot
epna neve sod
emna sòt
give us this day
edhé fálj-na fájetë tóna
εδέ φάλ̇-να φάjετε̱ τόνα
edhe na i fal fajet tona
edhë falna fajët tona
e ndiena meatëtë tona
and forgive us our trespasses
sikúndrë edhé néve ua fáljmë
σικȣ́νdρε̱ εδέ νέβε ȣα φάλ̇με̱
sikundër edhe ne i falim
sikur edhe na ua falim
si (e) na ndicgnëmi
as we forgive those who
fajtórëvet tánë
φαjτόρε̱βετ τάνε̱
fajtorët tanë
fajtorëvet tanë
armikete tënë
trespass against us
edhé mos na shtiér ndë ngásie
εδέ μοσ να σ̈τιέρ νdε̱ νγάσιε
edhe mos na shtjerë në ngasje
(edhe mos na ler të biem në tundim)
e mos na shtinë në t'keq
etë mòj bieme ën pirasmô
and lead us not into temptation
pó shpëtó-na nga i ljígu
πό σ̈πε̱τό-να νγα ι λ̇ίγȣ
por shpëtona nga i ligu (por na liro nga i keqi)
po largona prej të keqit
ma lirona caa ghiet eliga
but deliver us from evil
sepsé jótia është mbëretëría
σεπσέ jότια ε̱σ̈τε̱ μbε̱ρετε̱ρία
sepse jotja është mbretëria
sepse e jotja âsht mretnia
for thine is the kingdom
e fuqía e ljavdía
ε φȣκ̇ία ε λ̇αβdία
e fuqia e lavdia
e fuqia e lavdia
and the power and the glory
ndë jétët të jétëvet.
νdε̱ jέτε̱τ τε̱ jέτε̱βετ.
në jetët të jetëvet.
në jetët të jetëvet.
for ever and ever.
Ashtu qoftë.
Ashtu kjoftë.

Source: Η Καινή Διαθήκη στα Αρβανίτικα; "Christus Rex" website

Some common phrasesEdit

Source: Arvanitikos Syndesmos Ellados

Flet fare arbërisht? Do you speak Arvanitika at all?
Flas shumë pak. I speak very little.
Je mirë? Are you well?
Greki është "palikari" (That) Greek is a "palikari" ( young man )
Jam shumë mirë. I am very well.
Çë bën, je mir? How do you do?.
Si jam? Shum mir. How am I doing? Very well, thanks.
Ti si je? What about you?
Edhé un jam shum mir. I'm fine, too.
Si ishtë it at? How is your father?
Edhé aj isht shum mir. He's doing fine.
Thuai të faljtura. Give him my best regards.
Gruaja jote si ishtë? How about your wife?
Nani edhe ajo, ishtë mir, i shkoi sëmunda çë kej. Now she too is ok, the sickness is over.
T'i thuash tët atë, po do, të vemi nestrë të presmë dru, të më thret. Tell your father, if he wants to go tomorrow to cut wood let him call me.


  1. ^ a b Skutsch, Carl (2005). Encyclopedia of the world's minorities. Routledge. p. 138. ISBN 978-1-57958-468-9. Retrieved 3 January 2011.
  2. ^ Arvanitika at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  3. ^ Arvanitika at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  4. ^ "Arvanitika". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  5. ^ Babiniotis, Lexicon of the Greek Language
  6. ^ Misspelled as Arberichte in the Ethnologue report, and in some other sources based on that.
  7. ^ Babiniotis 1998
  8. ^ a b c Greek Helsinki Monitor (1995): Report: The Arvanites
  9. ^ E.g. Haebler (1965); Trudgill (1976/77); Sasse (1985, 1991); Breu (1990); Furikis (1934), Babiniotis (1985: 41).
  10. ^ For detailed sociolinguistic studies of Arvanite speech communities, see Trudgill/Tzavaras 1977; Tsitsipis 1981, 1983, 1995, 1998; Banfi 1996, Botsi 2003.
  11. ^ Trudgill 2004 Archived 13 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine, citing the conceptual framework introduced by Kloss (1967).
  12. ^ Trudgill 2004: 5 Archived 13 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Botsi 2003
  13. ^ "Albanian-Greek". Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2006.
  14. ^ "Albanian language, alphabets and pronunciation". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  15. ^ Botsi 2003: 21
  16. ^ "Albanian, Arvanitika". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Euromosaic-Index1". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Albanian, Tosk". Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  19. ^ GHM 1995, quoting Banfi 1994
  20. ^ Salminen (1993) lists it as "seriously endangered" in the Unesco Red Book of Endangered Languages. ([1]). See also Sasse (1992) and Tsitsipis (1981).
  21. ^ Trudgill 1976/77; Thomason 2001 Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine, quoting Sasse 1992
  22. ^ Jochalas, Titos (2020). "Lettere di contenuto velenoso inviate da Londra al Primo Ministro greco scritte nel dialetto albanese di Idra (1824)". Shejzat. 3–4: 69. I testi che seguono sono due “documenti arvanitici” , unici nel loro genere, che rispecchiano le cricche e le passioni politiche, che dilaniavano la Grecia subito dopo l’indipendenza nazionale. Si tratta di due lettere che Ioannis Orlandos inviò da Londra, il 20 settembre del 1824 e il 16 marzo dello stesso anno, a Gheorghios Cunduriotis, Presidente dell’Esecutivo del Governo provvisorio del paese...Sembra che la lingua abituale di comunicazione dei Cundurioti anche con il loro cognato fosse l’arvanitica di Idra.
  23. ^ Philippou-Angelou, Petros (1984). "A pre-election speech in the Greek-Albanian dialect of Attica". Proceedings of 1st MNA Meeting: 301.
  24. ^ "Arvanitic". Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ [2][3] Aρbε̰ρίσ̈τ/Arbërísht (Aρβανίτικα/Arvanítika/Arvanitic) (Greece) sample, provided by Wolfram Siegel & Michael Peter Füstumum
  28. ^ [4] Misioni Katolik Shqiptar 'NËNA TEREZE' (Catholic Albanian Mission 'MOTHER TERESA'), Lutje themelore "Ati ynë" (Elementary Prayer: "Lord's prayer")
  29. ^ [5] Misioni Katolik Shqiptar 'BALLINA' (Albanian Catholic Mission 'BALLINA'), Lutjet themelore "Ati ynë" (Elementary Prayer: "Lord's prayer")
  30. ^ [6][7] Arbëreshë/Arbërisht (Italy) sample, provided by Wolfgang Kuhl


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  • Tsitsipis, Lukas (1998a): Αρβανίτικα και Ελληνικά: Ζητήματα πολυγλωσσικών και πολυπολιτισμικών κοινοτήτων. ["Arvanitika and Greek: Issues of multilingual and multicultural communities"]. Vol. 1. Livadeia.
  • Tsitsipis, Lukas (1998b): A Linguistic Anthropology of Praxis and Language Shift: Arvanitika (Albanian) and Greek in Contact. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-823731-6. (Review by Alexander Rusakov on Linguist List.)
  • The bilingual New Testament: Η Καινή Διαθήκη του Κυρίου και Σωτήρος ημών Ιησού Χριστού Δίγλωττος τουτέστι Γραικική και Αλβανιτική. Dhjata e re e Zotit sonë që na shpëtoi, Iisu Hrishtoit mbë di gjuhë, do me thënë gërqishte e dhe shqipëtarçe. Επιστασία Γρηγορίου Αρχιεπισκόπου της Ευβοίας. Κορφοί. Εν τη τυπογραφία της Διοικήσεως. 1827

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