Drd. Silvana LEKA: The memory of the community…

(Sea in the historic memory of the Albanians /
Proverbs, rituals, customs, codex’s, texts and notions in Albanology)

The sea and its paradigm have left their imprints and marks in the psyche, prehistoric and historic memory of the Albanians. The memory of the community has managed to record, conserve and transmit examples, witnesses and proofs of coexistence between Albanians and sea, as well as witnesses of their “anger” toward it.
Just as history does, the folklore and especially the language craft memory and collective inheritance. But such common memory, for better and more, was preserved and inherited in its most expressive and articulated form as folklore.
There exist a considerable number of scholars that have made research on the sea traces on the memory of the Albanians. Thanks to these studies it has been able to collect, to classify, to interpret the presence of sea in the cycle of Brave Knights, to trace traditions, rites and crafts, fairytales, legends, oral traditions and facts upon sailors, pirates and distinguished captains of the sea, as well as other transversal data about the presence of a sea related culture such as, olives, salt, fishing, the crafts and other special abilities that relate with the sailing and the relationship of sailors with the coast, in the Albanian tradition.

Throughout almost a century of the existence of Albanology science, the question regarding the presence and preservation of marine memory in Albanians has been transformed into one of key problematic that was related and it is related directly with the theses of Albanian’s lineage, autochthony and ethno genesis.
This theme has sourced strong arguing among well known scholars and Albanologists. One of the theses that has raised controversies regarding the so-formulated “lack of marine memory in Albanians”, mainly formulated upon the autochthon/alokthon controversy, has been working as a thesis that relies on the linguistic argumentation and the inclusion of the historic memory in relation with the language, especially with the specific marine language.
In the 2nd paragraph of the paper published under the title “ARE ALBANIANS DESCENDENTS OF ILLYRIANS OR THRACIANS?”, (From volume III of Dr. G. Wegiandt’s Balkan-Archive), the Austrian scholar lists opinions, evaluates and concludes that: “The marine and fishing terms are of a foreign source, Greek, Venetian, Slavic or Turkish, or they are entirely new”.
In the same paper, right after the title: “What proves that Albanians come from Thracians and what proves that they don’t come from Illyrians?” Dr. Gustav Weigandt offers this conclusion-these: “The marine and fishing terminology has foreign roots”.
Theses of Dr. Weigandt regarding the natives and settlers, on which “All the marine words are Greek, Venetian, Slavic or Turkish and in general are very young[1]”, it is further expanded when he expresses that: “The marine words such as boat, ship, barge, scull, sail, wheel, mast, etc…, are foreign to Albanian language[2]”.
To further explore this author we quote: “If Albanians were the descendants of Illyrians and if they were to live in Illyricum forever, even if they were to be rooted from the coast by Romans or Greeks, certainly that some of the most usual words of marine and fishes would prove their own initial Indo-Germanic root, which at present is not possible by all means”. Even the common word “fish” is of a Latin root”[3].
Further, making comparisons also with the other cultures with which Albanians and Albanian language have had contacts, he remarks: “It is a known fact that Illyrians were seaman and numerous harbors that were located deep into their lands made the fishing activity easy to exercise. The ancient venetians, who, according to the convincing arguments of Carl Paulis, were Illyrians, must have arrived there (In Venice) by land, while the Japigeans and Messapians of the lower part of Italy, also Illyrians in their origin, must have arrived there from the sea. Due to all this, it becomes certain that they had a enriched terminology of sailing and fishing, a terminology that, at least partially, was to be found also in the Albanian language and Albanian people if they were to be their descendants. All the words that relate with the sailing are Greek, Venetian, Slavic or Turkish, and in general, recent.
When I stayed for some time in Durrës, in 1910, I heard that the Turkish authorities had brought in some fisherman from Anatolia, so they might teach Albanians the fishing, because the natives didn’t know how to, this being a proof that they (the natives) should have come from the inner territories. One should know that Durrës has been a harbor since early times. Even to this day one might recognize in the hooks that still hang in the city walls, where once the vessels were tied. But, as centuries went by, the earth elevated and the harbor was taken by the sand.
In Elbasan, that is found near the river Shkumbin, that is full of fish, I have been asking around about the fish names, but in vain, because all names were of foreign origin; I heard only one native name, but this name was recent. The marine terms such as boat, ship, barge, scull, sail, wheel, mast, are foreign and not Albanian. Also the Romanians, being a non marine people, have not preserved almost anything from the Latin terminology. Most of marine terms that they use are Slavic and Turkish and recently plenty of other foreign words were introduced as well; the names of the fish often are Russian. Albanians that live in the watery parts of Greece, who had to work as fisherman, use a terminology that is composed of Greek and Neo Italic words. If Albanians were the descendants of Illyrians and if they were to live in Illyricum forever, even if they were to be rooted from the coast by Romans or Greeks, certainly that some of the most usual words of marine and fishes would prove their own initial Indo-Germanic root, which at present is not possible by all means”. Even the common word “fish” is of a Latin root[4]
Professor E. Çabej, whose point of view joins with those of other scholars and Albanologists such as N. Yokl, S. Mladenov, W. Cimochovsky, who have been critical toward the approach of Wegiandt, presents his own scientific arguments toward the theses of Dr. Gustav Weigandt.
It is a widely accepted fact that the lexicon of Albanian language has a lack of word-roots which connect it directly with the marine lexicon, that there exist borrowings from the Italian, Slavic or Turkish source when referring to the fields of sailing and navy, as i.e.:
-  From Italian: barkë (boat), baticë (tide-influx), zbaticë (tide-reflux), bunacë (doldrums), furtunë (storm), gale, marinar (sailor), rem (oar), timon (wheel), vapor (ship), vel (sail), mjastrall *il vento maestrale*, shirok *il vento scirocco*, as well as some fish names;
-  From Slavic source: vozit (paddle), lopatë (scull), grezhë, kosh, vllak, pestrovë, krap, belvicë (fish names)[5].
Other basic words can be added to above mentioned words despite their uncertain etymology, words such as rwrw (sand), that is to be found in Albanian probably by the Latin arena and Turkish kum (Turkish-kum-sand).
In advancing his argumentation regarding the inheritance of Albanian in the marine field, Prof. Eqrem 7abej remarks: “concentrating on some of his arguments we will say that first of all, the marine and sailing terminology is not entirely of foreign origin, as Weigandt pretends. Only the technical vocabulary of this field is foreign: the names of marine vehicles, of boats and vessels, the names of the fishing equipment and most of the fish’s names. But, there exists a number of words of general character that belong to the autochthon fund, such as det (sea), pellg (pond), va-u (ford), mal “buzë lumi a deti” (mountain near sea or river), ships that relate with the words side, vessel, in Ulqin, the little vessels and large vessels, meaning, “the little or large sailing vehicles”.[6]
For the approach of this paper, despite scientific argumentation, the categorization, classification and most especially the explanation that Prof. Çabej offers are of a primary importance when referring to the question of borrowings in the marine technical vocabulary. Such borrowings/cultural import makes an open and known fact for all those languages and cultures where along with the imported object, the appropriate marking word that refers to such object is borrowed.

Citește materialul integral în ComUnique Nr. 10-12 / 2015

[1] Weigandt, Gustav, source quoted from “Përpjekja” magazine, Tirana, 1995, No 3, pg. 80-88. Article: “Are Albanians Descendents of Illyrians or Thracians?”
[2] Weigandt, ibid.
[3] Weigandt, ibid, pg. 83-84
[4] Published in the “Diturija” magazine, No. 7 & 8, respectively in pg. 260, 291-295, Printed in 1928 Tiranë.
[5] Çabej, E., Studime Gjuhësore, Vol. 3, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1976, Pg. 58.
[6] Çabej, E., Studime Gjuhësore, Vol. 3, Rilindja, Prishtinë, 1976, Pg. 34.