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News from the University of Regensburg

New Courses: Albanian Language and Culture

April 3, 2023

Starting in the summer semester 2023, Albanian courses will be offered at the University of Regensburg. There are good reasons for this: "The Albanian language is spoken by six million people in several Balkan states, in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, northern Macedonia and Serbia. Another 1.5 million Albanian speakers live in the diaspora worldwide," says Professor Dr. Ger Duijzings, head of the seeFField project - an area studies initiative to strengthen Southeastern European studies in Regensburg. The lectureship is funded for six years - like the overall project - by the Volkswagen Foundation. Duijzings also emphasizes the importance of Albanian for the region: "In Regensburg and the surrounding area, Kosovars make up 4.8 percent of the total number of foreign citizens*, according to the latest integration monitoring of 2019," Duijzings explains.

Credit: Gresa Morina / GS OSES URThe Albanian courses are open to all interested people, not least to so-called heritage speakers - people who have already learned oral Albanian within the family. The new UR lecturer Ledio Hala intends to focus in his lessons on strengthening the communication skills of the learners. The differences between standard Albanian, which is mainly spoken in Albania, and its main varieties, which have priority in Kosovo or northern Macedonia, are always considered, explains Hala, who is very excited about his new position at UR and cordially invites all interested parties to attend his courses. Additionally, Ledio Hala will also offer a course on Albanian literature, culture and history.

Credit: Gresa Morina / GS OSES UR

Why Albanian?

The country's tourism potential is a good reason to dive into the language, but the context is a much broader one. Social anthropologist Duijzings, professor at the Department of History of Southeastern and Eastern Europe (Prof. Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer), points to the regions inhabited by Albanians* that are at the center of numerous global entanglements: "These include the fact that the Albanians* in Southeastern Europe are predominantly Muslim; there are close historical ties to Turkey (during the Ottoman period), but also to China (during communism)," says Duijzings, who also reminds us of the political dimension: "The growth and expansion of the Albanian population in the Balkans, as well as the diaspora, play an increasingly important role in the stability of the region and regional aspirations regarding European integration. " At the same time, he said, there is growing activity in an economical context, for example with regard to the shortage of skilled workers in the nursing professions.

For philologists and especially those interested in linguistics, Albanian is also an exciting field: Professor Dr. Björn Hansen, Chair of Slavic Philology (Linguistics) at the UR, points out that the Albanian language "linguistically represents a branch of its own within the Indo-European language family". It is still little explored, he adds. According to Hansen, Albanian also has a "unique language contact profile": "It is surrounded by several Slavic and Romance languages, as well as Greek, and has for a long time had contact with Turkish."

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