THE PELASGIAN PARENTAGE OF THE ILLYRIAN AND ALBANIAN LANGUAGES - Albanian History & Culture

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THE PELASGIAN PARENTAGE OF THE ILLYRIAN AND ALBANIAN LANGUAGES

THE PELASGIAN PARENTAGE OF THE ILLYRIAN AND ALBANIAN LANGUAGES

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The ancient term “Pelasgian” is almost as mysterious now as ever, for scholars still have difficulty assigning precise meaning to it. For that reason some linguistic authorities prefer to substitute the term “pre-Hellenic” for the language of the people who antedated the Greeks in the Balkan Peninsula(Hamp 1983). However, Herodotus and Strabo wrote a great deal about the Pelasgians. So did Thucydides, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Pliny the Elder, Hesiod, Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Virgil and many others.

Living as they did so much closer to that period of human history, their combined testimony to the Pelasgians should have considerable weight. These Pelasgians migrated into the Balkans in prehistoric times before the Illyrians and were called by Korkuti “paleoindoeuropeans. They were the progenitors of the Illyrians who in turn were progenitors of the Albanians. According to the earliest writers those Pelasgians resided throughout the Balkan-Aegean world, including all the Balkans, the Aegean coast of Asia Minor and Crete. Their Pelasgian language was called ‘barbarian,’ that is, not Greek. Linguistic studies show that these Pelasgians left their traces in the Balkans in the pre-Greek terms for the names of persons, places and divinities, names which have no apparent tie to Greek, but which are explained by the later Illyrian and Albanian.


ALBANIAN TIES WITH THE PELASGIANS

The first modern scholar to identify the present-day Albanians as  descendants of the ancient Pelasgians was Johan von Hahn, who continued historical and linguistic research during his 40 years of service as Austrian consul at Janina. The Arbëreshë poet and scholar in Italy Jeronim De Rada continued the same thesis, demonstrating that ancient Pelasgian place names could be explained only by the Albanian language.



In 1879, the year following the denial of Albania’s legitimacy by the Congress of Berlin, Pashko Vasa of Shkodra continued the argument, publishing in Parisand Berlinin French and German his well-known E Vërteta për Shqipërinë dhe Shqiptarët (The Truth about Albania and the Albanians). He pointed out that when people are obliged to migrate they often name new places after the old which they had to abandon. So the ancient name of Macedonia was Emathia (Albanian: E madhja, the great one), and the Pelasgians, forced back toward present Albanian territory, renamed the mountainous region Matia or Mati (Liria 1. 15 May 1983. 1, 7). Virgil claimed that the defeated Heroes of Troy did the same on migrating to Butrint, and the Arbëreshë did the same upon reaching southern Italy.

The scholar J. Thomopullos listed a number of such place names and in addition showed how certain Etruscan words had the same roots as their modern Albanian equivalents (ibid.). Another modern scholar, Spiro Konda, pointed out examples from Homer’s Odyssey where the compound name of a mountain, for instance, consisted of the Albanian name given by the local Pelasgian inhabitants and the Greek equivalent of their supplanters.



Thus there was a Gyropetra from the Albanian gur for stone and the Greek petra for stone. There was also a Megallopetras Gyres, combining great stone in Greek and stone in Albanian. Then there were many variations of the Albanian word mal for mountain and its Greek equivalent  oros, as Maleiaon oros. Indicating the wide diffusion of the Pelasgian people and language he noted the similar compound name for a mountain near Budapest named Maliegy, mali being Albanian for the mountain, egy being its Hungarian equivalent. Another linguist, Xhaxhiu, also pointed out the many variations of the Albanian word pyll for forest found in the Pelasgian island of Lesbos and in Epirus. He made the following observation: ‘The fact that the Pelasgians, attacked by their Greek kinsmen, were forced to withdraw from the lowlands to the forests and the mountains explains the widespread use of place names using the Albanian roots pyll, mal and gur’ (ibid.).

Scholars point out that vanished languages usually leave traces in their names which persist for rivers, mountains and other permanent natural features, just as American Indian names are still found all over the United States.

Such a word is Larissa, a Pelasgian word for fortress, which was widely used in the ancient world for a fortified city. Still found in maps, it evidences the widespread dissemination of the Pelasgian people. Shepperd’s Classical World Atlas shows 11 cities or towns named Larissa. There was a Larissa in Assyria on the Tigris River, and several in Asia Minor. One of these near Troy was mentioned by Homer as the home of ‘the tough Pelasgians from Larissa’s rich plowland” (Iliad 2:811-12). Cities in the Balkan Peninsula bearing that name were the following: one on the river Peneus in the district of Pelasgian Argos in central Thessaly; a Larissa Cremaste in the southern portion of Achaia-Phthiotis, and another Larissa now called Techos, near the river Larissos which flows into the Ionian Sea below the northwest promontory of the Gulf of Corinth at Elia in Achaea.



This may help us to appreciate the striking report of the Albanologist Otto Blau that the ancient inscriptions on stone tablets unearthed in Crete and Lemnos from 1897 to 1899, long unintelligible, could be deciphered by means of the Albanian language. Then there is the mysterious language of the ancient Etruscans in central Italy. It was long considered to have no established relationship to any other known language.

In recent years, however, an Italian scholar named Filippo Coarelli in his Etruscan Cities of Italy declared that the mysterious language of the Etruscans was closely ‘related to the pre-Hellenic language of Lemnos” (Coarelli 1975, 14). Lemnosis the Pelasgian island just west of Pelasgian Troy.



A contemporary scholar of Arbëreshë or Italo-Albanian origin, Nermin Vlora Falaschi, has authored a second study of ancient Euro-Mediterranean civilizations entitled Etruscan, A Living Language. Drawing upon the works of other scholars from ancient times down to the present and analyzing the wealth of Etruscan epigraphs, she concluded that the Etruscans were direct offspring of the Pelasgians who civilized much of the Mediterranean region. The Italian and English text of 176 pages is illustrated with 49 colored plates and 53 original reproductions of Etruscan inscriptions. There is also a transcription of each Etruscan word in Latin characters, with its Italian, English and Albanian equivalents and a table of alphabets. Her thesis is very convincing, that these ancient Etruscan inscriptions can be interpreted only by the Pellasgo-Illyrian idiom preserved in Albanian (Dielli 28 June 1989, 3; 10 October 1989, 2). Albanian scholars may not be thought altogether objective, but after studying epitaphs on Etruscan tombs, columns and pottery found in Perugia and elsewhere in Tuscany, they could liken the language to none other than the Tosk dialect of Albanian. Incidentally, the Italian name for this Etruscan region of Tuscanyis Toscana, the place of the Toscs, which is identical with the name of the southern Albanians, the Tosks. This matter, however, we must leave with the experts. But undoubtedly there is more here than mere coincidence.

A consideration of the characteristic vocabulary of this pre-Hellenic people led the French scholar Louis Benloew to the same conclusion in his book La Gréce about les Grecs, published in Paris in 1877. He observed, ‘Many names of places, mountains, rivers and legendary personages which cannot be explained by the etymology of Greek words apparently can be explained by a non-Greek language. Only one language up to the present is able to cast light on the names of these places, and this language is Albanian‘. Therefore, the author of this work is compelled to support the thesis that the Albanians of our day are the descendants of the populations which lived before the coming of the Greeks in the region from theAdriatic as far as the Halys” (x, xi). The Halys was a river in eastern Asia Minor. (Jacques 1995: 38/41)

Bibliography:

Edwin. E. Jacques 1995 ‘The Albanians: An ethnic history from prehistoric times to the present’

Source : http://www.albpelasgian.com/the-pelasgian-parentage-of-the-illyrian-and-albanian-languages.html

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