Albanian is an Indo-European
language spoken by about 6,400,000 inhabitants of the eastern Adriatic
coast in Albania and also in neighboring Yugoslavia, principally in Kosova
and Macedonia, west of a line from near Leskovac to Lake Ohri. There are
perhaps 300,000 more speakers in isolated villages in southern Italy (Abruzzi,
Molise, Basilicata, Puglia, and Calabria), and Sicily, and southern Greece
(in Voiot’a, Attica, ƒvvoia, çndros, and the Pelop—nnesos)
The origins of the general name Albanian, which traditionally referred to a restricted area in central Albania, and of the current official name Shqip or Shqip‘ri, which may well be derived from a term meaning "pronounce clearly, intelligibly," are still disputed. The name Albanian has been found in records since the time of Ptolemy. In Calabrian Albanian the name is Arbresh, in Modern Greek Arvan’tis, and in Turkish Arnaut; the name must have been transmitted early through Greek speech.