A primer on Albanian names

I don’t have any ethnically Albanian characters to date, but I do have some characters with an Albanian connection. General Varlam Hagopian of my Atlantic City books was born in Albania (his mother, Aghavni, died giving birth to him), and in spite of being a proud Armenian, he maintains the Albanian language throughout his life. He reads an Albanian newspaper every single day, and serves as president of the Albanian Club in the school’s language program. Near the end of WWII, he becomes old enough to enlist, and is wounded while fighting in the Pacific Theatre. Later on, he ends up as Cinni and Levon’s neighbor on base.

Levon Kevorkian and his siblings, Rebecca and Shavash, also briefly live in Vlorë before coming to America. Their hometown is Vratsa, Bulgaria, but they also spend some time in Albania and Italy until Tiffany Seward brings them to America in 1942.

Albanian alphabet:

Albanian, one of the few isolated branches of the Indo–European language family, uses the Roman alphabet. However, they have many sounds which are unfamiliar to the average Westerner. C is pronounced like TS; Ç is like the CH in “chat”; DH is like the English TH sound; Ë is like a short U; GJ is like the J in “join”; J is pronounced like a Y; LL is like the LL in “balloon”; NJ is like the Spanish Ñ or Italian GN; Q is like the CH in “churn”; RR is a rolled R; X is like the DZ in “adz”; and XH is like the J in Jupiter.

Albanian surnames, middle names, and other issues:

Albanian surnames tend to be either Muslim or Christian in origin. Due to the tiny country’s proximity to and long interaction with the Slavic peoples, many Albanian surnames end in -ović, -ić, or -ovit.

Instead of true middle names, Albanians have the middle slot filled by their father’s name (atësia). However, this name is by and large only used on official documents.

Starting in 1944, Albania’s new government adopted a policy of rooting out any names of Christian or Muslim origin. Because it was believed the Albanian people descended from Illyrians, alleged Illyrian names were considered and promoted as the only appropriate names. In 1966, a decree was issued to force people to change religious names. Newborns had to receive secular names. In November 1975, another decree was issued, forcing anyone who still had a religious or otherwise “objectionable” name to change it by the end of the year.

Some common Albanian names:

Male:

Admir (To admire/wonder)
Afrim (Approach)
Agim, Agon (Dawn)
Agron (an Illyrian king)
Alban, Albion
Aleksander (Skender, Sandër)
Altin (Gold)
Andri
Ani (Son of the spirit)
Arald, Erald (Harold)
Arbën, Arbër, Arbnor, Arbri (Albania’s name in the Middle Ages)
Ardian, Ardi (an Illyrian tribe)
Ardit (Golden day)
Arlind (Born from gold)
Armend (Golden mind)
Arsim (Education)
Avni (Helpful)
Bardh (White)
Bardhyl (White star)
Bashkim (Unity)
Behar (Summer)
Bekim (Blessing)
Beqir
Besart (Golden faith)
Besfort (Strong faith)
Besmir, Besmiri (Good faith)
Besnik (Faithful)
Betim (Oath)
Blerim (Greenery)
Bujar (Generous)
Burim (Spring)
Clirim (To set free)
Dardan
Defrim (Fun)
Delin
Dhimtër (Demetrius, Dmitriy)
Diell (Sun)
Drini (Albania’s longest river)
Dritan, Driton (Light)
Edon (He loves)
Egzon (He enjoys)
Endrit (Light)
Engjëll (Angel)
Ermal (Wind)
Fatjon (Our luck)
Fatlind (To bring forth destiny)
Fatmir (Lucky)
Fatos (Daring man)
Feta (Brave)
Fisnik (Of noble stock)
Flamur (Flag)
Gentian
Florin (Piece of gold)
Gentius (To beget)
Gjergj (George)
Gjon, Xhon (John)
Guxim (Courage)
Hënor (Lunar)
Ilir
Jetmir (Good life)
Korab
Kostandin (Constantine)
Kreshnik (Knight)
Kujtim (Memory)
Kushtim (Devotion)
Lavdrim (Praise)
Ledion (Caress)
Liridon (Desire for freedom)
Loran, Lorenc
Lorik (Quail)
Luan (Lion)
Mëhill (Michael)
Meriton (Deserving)
Mirlind (Good birth)
Nderim (Respect; Honor)
Nikolin
Olsi (the name of a prince)
Pal, Pali, Pavli (Paul)
Pëllumb (Dove)
Perparim (Progress)
Petrit (Hawk)
Pjetër (Pjer)
Qamil
Qëndrim (Stance)
Ramiz (A noble person)
Refik
Rexhep (Respect)
Rezart (Golden ray)
Rilind (Regenerate)
Rinor (Youth)
Samron
Shkelqim (To shine)
Sokol (Hawk)
Spartak, Sparti
Ujk (Wolf)
Valdrin (Wave of the River Drin)
Valon
Vasil
Vendin (Decision; Resolution)
Veprim (Action; To act)
Veseli
Veton (Thunderbolt; Flash of lightning)
Vllaznim (Brotherhood)
Xhavit (Jewel)
Xhemal, Qemal, Xhemil
Ylli (Star)
Zamir (Good/sweet voice)

Female:

Afërdita (possibly a form of Aphrodite)
Agnesa
Albana
Anda (Loved by soul)
Arbena, Arbërie
Arbnora
Ardiana
Ardita (Gold day)
Arjeta (Golden life)
Arlinda (Golden birth)
Besa (To keep the promise)
Blerta, Blerina (Green)
Bleta (Bee)
Bora (Snow)
Bukuroshe (Beauty)
Cymë
Dafina (Daphne)
Dardana
Dëborake (Snow)
Delina
Dieliza (Sun)
Dita (Day)
Donjeta (Desire for life)
Doruntina, Dorentina (the shero of Albania’s great national ballad Kostandini dhe Doruntina)
Drita (Light)
Ederina
Edlira (Pure)
Elira (To be free)
Entela (Perfect)
Enriketa (Henrietta)
Era (Wind)
Eralda (feminine form of Erald [Harold])
Erblina (Linden tree scent)
Eriselda
Ermira (Good scent)
Ersi
Ervjollca (Violet scent)
Fatima
Fatjona (Our luck)
Fatlinda (To bring forth destiny)
Fatmire (Lucky)
Fitore (Victory)
Fjolla (Snowflake)
Flaka (Flame)
Flutura (Butterfly)
Gentiana, Gentjana
Gonxha (Flower bud)
Gresa
Hana (Moon or Monday)
Jehona (Echo)
Jera (Gertrude)
Jonida (Ionian Sea)
Kaltrina (Katuj) (Blue)
Krenare (Proud)
Kujtime (Recollection)
Lauresha (Skylark)
Ledina, Lëndina (Meadow)
Lindita (The day is born)
Liri, Lirija (Freedom)
Liridona (Desire for freedom)
Lule (Flower)
Lulëzime (Blossoming)
Luljeta (Flower of life)
Lumturija (Happiness)
Luriana (a mountain)
Majlinda (Born in May)
Manjola (Magnolia)
Manushaqe (Violet)
Marsela (Born in March)
Medija (Medea)
Merjem, Merjeme (Mariam)
Mira (Good)
Mirjeta (Good life)
Mirlinda (Good birth)
Mjellma (Swan)
Natyra (Nature)
Ndrita (To shine)
Odeta (Ocean)
Olta
Pranvera (Spring)
Rexhina (Regina)
Rovena (Rowena)
Rudina
Saranda (name of a city)
Selvi (Cypress)
Shpresa (Hope)
Shqipe (Eagle)
Sihana (Moon)
Sonila
Teuta (Queen)
Thëllëza (Patridge)
Valbona (name of a river)
Valdete (Sea wave)
Valmira (Good wave)
Valona
Venera (Venus)
Vera, Verë, Verianë (Summer)
Vesa (Dew)
Vjollca (Violet)
Vjosa (name of a river)
Xhemile (Jamila)
Xheneta (Paradise)
Xhevahire (Jewel)
Xhulia (Julia)
Xhuliana (Juliana)
Xhyljeta (Juliet)
Xixëllime (Sparkling)
Xixëllore (To twinkle)
Yeta (Life)
Ylbere (Rainbow)
Yllka, Yllita (Star)
Zana (Fairy)
Zjarrta (Fiery; Fire)

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3 thoughts on “A primer on Albanian names

  1. I love seeing the meaning of names — many of these are so pretty! The only thing I really knew about Albania before this post is from a song on Cheers: “Albania, Albania, you’re bordered by the Adriatic.” WHY do I still remember that??

    Like

  2. Pingback: 2016 blogging stats in review | Welcome to My Magick Theatre

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