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Updating of the Orthographic Norm of Foreign Words that Are Flocking in the Albanian Language Today in the Conditions of Globalization

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Updating of the Orthographic Norm of Foreign Words that Are Flocking in the Albanian Language Today in the Conditions of Globalization

Brikena Furxhi

PhD student in the University of Tirana, Albania

Teacher of Аlbanian language and literature in High SchoolGjergj Kastrioti, Durres

Keywords: orthographic norm, foreign words, globalization, lexical corpus, standard, language culture.

According to Saussure, language as a phenomenon is never an isolated act, but a mechanism that enables communication, therefore, is a social phenomenon. It also carries symbolic value becoming one of the determinative indicators of national ethnicity, history, culture being transformed into a tool of national identification. In the new conditions of globalization often misused and misinterpreted by Albanians, no matter inside and or outside of the Albanian bounds, the influx of a lot of foreign words, used everywhere not according to the Albanian language norm, the non-satisfactory level of education of the Albanian population, are putting the standard of the Albanian language in very difficult situations. One of the main problems, besides the others, is a case of the last decades that should resolve the question of the orthographic norm and more precisely in the written Albanian as it has been decided at the Orthographic Congress in 1972 in Tirana or its updating and what we can adapt by it to the extralinguistic requirements of the Albanian itself. Specifically, this problem occurs in the following area: will the writing of foreign proper nouns continue to be in line with the Albanian phonetic rules? Because the examples that can be found in the newspapers, press, etc. prove otherwise.

These foreign words, excluding terminology, which continues increasing in the Albanian language under the conditions of its opening to other cultures and the influence of foreign languages, ​​should be translated using the source of the Albanian itself, without sacrificing its lexical corpus because we are aware of the cultural level of misunderstanding of foreign languages by the Albanians. On the other hand it is known that this part of the language is more flexible, so can these new feeds (some of them) be seen as enrichment opportunities becoming part of the vocabulary?

Are these foreign words, proper nouns going to be pronounced according to the system of the Albanian language like its nouns? These problems should be discussed at round table talks by linguists, editors, teachers and journalists with the purpose of reaching conclusions that must be reflected in textbooks, whose design is another disturbing problem of the language policies nowadays.

It is known that the language as a social phenomenon always develops. Important part of the language word stock are the personal names as anthroponymic, the family names – patronymic or places’ names as toponymic. There is no reason why the development of the whole language must not include these nouns. Therefore, it’s necessary in this field of science, which, inter alia, is strongly bound up with the everyday social, legal and administrative practices, the measures for updating or revising their orthographic norm in Albanian to be taken. What troubles us today are the pressures of foreign languages, especially English or any other, that have large differences in structural typological comparison with Albanian. The Albanian language, as the old major languages like Ancient Greek and Latin, though both dead, as German and to some extent as Russian, has highly developed inflection and the nouns are either determined or not which is expressed by the declension in the respective form.

For example, the declension of an Albanian name in the five cases:

Alma; I, e, të, së Almës; Almës; Almën; of (prej) Almës, where in bold are given the case endings in Albanian.

There are many Albanians today, especially working in the media, who don‘t use inflectional endings after the model of foreign languages, mainly English, such as in the following cases: visit of Obama-s, Merkel-s; for KESH-in bills, etc. which are written without the appropriate case endings. But it isn’t only that, looking at how many titles of programs are written in a foreign language without taking the trouble of translating it into Albanian, for example: „Big Brother is found in Albanian, while in Italy it is translated into the local language „Grande Fratello“. The right question is: Is ignoring the nominal declension, whether general, impersonal Albanian or foreign name, that brings to no inflection (except the failure to distinguish if the general names are determined or not) a serious stroke to the grammatical structure of the Albanian language or it only leaves space for innovation? The facts show that today foreign proper nouns are written in Albanian as they are in the respective language. This tradition has been followed for the names of Anglo-Saxon and American origin before the Second World War, therefore, preserved their original orthography. In 1972, with the Orthographic Congress hold in Tirana was drafted an orthographic dictionary of the Albanian language, according to which the writing of impersonal foreign names is going to be according to the phonetic principle. This is for several reasons:

  1. These names will be written as they are pronounced in our language, because these names can belong to different languages and not all Albanians are aware of all languages (we have  a  part of the population that does not know any foreign language yet),
  2. In the translated literature, if the names of the characters will be kept as in their original language, the reader would tire quickly, the process of reading will get slower and the understanding of the names will be getting more complicated, the literary work will not be appreciated emotionally and esthetically,
  3. Let consider for a moment the names that come from the Cyrillic alphabet languages (such as Slavic languages), which names are not transcribed in the Albanian language, will not be understood at all by the broad masses of the population.

So, in Albanian is created a tradition in the writing of „traditional“ names that have been used in Albanian for a long time language as A. Dyma, U. Shekspir, L. Tolstoi, etc. but recently it isn‘t followed so thoroughly, for example the different ways in which the name of the author is written by two publishing house: W. Shakespeare by the first one and U. Shekspir by the other one. Besides this case, we often find the trend of violation of the norm of writing foreign personal names perhaps as an expression of „humility“ to the foreigner or of the influence of political, economic and cultural globalization. A situation more or less similar to today’s Albanian language we find in other European languages. New linguistic impacts, especially from English on Albanian, today observed mainly in the fields of sports, computer, management and business, politics, medicine, art and culture and other spheres in which we find most flagrant violations of this norm, shall be categorized according to the degree of occurrence of the problem:

  1. Media: newspapers, magazines, television, news, etc.
  2. Inscriptions, naming the restaurants, public announcements’ languages.
  3. Translated literature.
  4. School’s books.
  5. Let’s see some  concrete examples from the field of media, press and television, found in the Health” newspaper (27.10.2014): „ Stefan Ripich diabetes…“; „My name is Pauline Sowders…“;  „this disease … James Lind discovered…“; „Linus Pauling claimed that…“; „culinary expert Amy Biller … as newspaper reports Christine Ottery …”; in the „Telegraph newspaper (13.10.2014): “Czech sculptor Lubomir Janecka  praising…“; „former dissident Vaclav Havel …“, and cases where flectional feature is missing in the end of the names as follows: „Olsen team (missing the ending of genitive case -it)“, „Hamilton (without ending -i: Hamilton in the nominative case) wins a great award …“; „to Roger Feder (it should be Federer-in) there is never aging“; in the „Ballkan“ newspaper: „according to George Will…(it must be  Xhorxh Uillit), „The Secretary General of NATO-s, Fogh Rasmussen visited Kiev“, „American Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel…, „after accidental death of Pirro Marconi…“, „in the University of Cagliari…“, „thanks to the cooperation with Luigj Cardini…”, the names in bold aren’t written correctly.
  6. The names of restaurants, various shops, releases, public announcements, etc. We find numerous instances of deformation of the linguistic norm instead of observing it as the massive use of foreign words in these terms, for example: Bar-Restaurant „Old Wild West, „Fly, „Green Park, „Fish House, Nord Park, bar „Cialda, shop „Luxery, etc.
  7. Unfortunately this orthographic „epidemic“ has affected the translated literature especially recently. Thus we find in the novel „The World of Sofia“, translated from Norwegian, some characters‘ names, e.g. Sofi, Dekart, Epikur, and toponyms, e.g. Hirochima and Çernobil, written in accordance with the Albanian orthographic norm. While such names as: the character Marsilio Ficino, the name of the author Jostein Gaarder or the toponym Lillesand, the name Johann Wolfgang Goethe in the dedication on the first page, are given in brackets not transcribed after they are written in Albanian confusing this way the reader. In connection with this problem the researcher Jorgaqi states: „… to read a work in which, from the beginning to the end, the characters have „foreign“ names, which are in contradiction to the basic skills of your linguistic skills makes the reading more difficult, it is a lack of linguistic productivity of the reader. It is simply a matter of emotional perception, because with their presence, in a way, the easy reading brings the reader closer to the characters…“ (Jorgaqi 2000:90). All these areas that we touched exert a direct impact on inculcating and spreading literary norm among different groups of the population, but the area that has direct leading role in making people acquainted with this norm remains specifically the school textbook. Here, even though it‘s less common than in other areas, we encounter at some places a violation of this norm, for example: Chemistry book, Class  IX „…French chemist Georges Leclanche…“; Albanian Language and  Literature book, class IX – on the same page of the book is written once Gi de Mopasan’s name… and in another sentence: „Guy de Maupassant is a part of novelists…“; in „Returning to high school“ the name of the main character Lyllabaj is written without inflectional endings every time it is used, for example „… Lyllabaj (should be Lyllabaji) went after …“. This is the case when even it comes to labeling schools like the Open University in Milton Keynes, England as the famous Space Oddity. Albanian Language and Literature class XI: work „Poetic art“ Nicolas Boilleau; advance literature class XI:  there are given two statements of the same author on pages 86-87, while the name is written in two different ways: Maksimilian Lamberc and Maximilian Lambertz. Here we see recent trend to separate the ending of the name from the foreign personal name through a hyphen: Dietrich-i king or heritage of UNESCO-s, etc. These flagrant violations contradict with what is written in the Albanian Orthographic Dictionary Chapter 3, paragraph 37, p. 104: „Writing impersonal foreign names generally rely on their pronunciation in their own language, adapted by the graphic system of the Albanian language“. The protection of the Albanian standard language as one of the most precious treasures of our national cultural heritage is sanctioned by the Constitution of the Republic of Albania in its introduction, section 14. Today the concern of the language should not be left only to linguists and to those who love their language, but to the particularly relevant institutions, the ones who have the duty to protect our shared values.  The main problems concerning the lexical norm are due to the high presence of forign words in the media. The Albanian language today is an object of a great infiltration from other languages such as English, Italian, French, Greek, etc. Indeed, the tendencies in the whole history of the Albanian language have shown that it accepts foreign elements which are easily modified and developed further based on the word-formation’s rules. As words of foreign terms that enter in the Albanian vocabulary need to fill in the notional void created in the lexical field as a result of recent developments. But this influx should be „filtrated“ by linguists who manage and balance the processes of purification and enrichment of the language. It is already known, in the history of the written Albanian language, the purist movement of the nineteenth-twentieth century (with Kristoforidhi, Naim, Sami, Konica, etc. leading), whose leaders have recorded a bright stage in the development of the language and have created new tradition in writing and enrichment of the Albanian language.

Regarding the terminology in various fields, our main goal is to translate in Albanian foreign languages terms (if it is possible) with its own sources saving the notion that they carry. In case this process isn‘t realized the foreign word that will become part of the vocabulary of the Albanian language has to adapt to the grammatic and orthographic rules of our language (Islamaj 2008:31-32). It is duty of the scientific institutions to draft a national linguistic strategy which will asssure the revision of certain points in the Albanian orthographic norm that is caught today unprepared to face the new political, social and cultural context and the society that is  more and more inclined to globalization.


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Текстът е представен на Първия международен филологически форум за студенти и докторанти (13-16 ноември 2014)

Редактор: Борислава Иванова