Albanian or Shqip (ISO 639 codes alb/sqi, sq) is an Indo-European language spoken by some six million inhabitants of the western Balkan peninsula in the south-eastern Europe (Albanians). There are two principal dialects of limited mutual intelligibility: Tosk and Gheg. Tosk is spoken in southern and central Albania, by the Arbëreshë of Italy, among the Albanian minority of Greece: the Çam and the Arvanites, and in small communities of Albanian immigrants in Ukraine, Turkey, Egypt, and United States. Gheg (or Geg) is spoken in northern Albania and by the Albanians of Serbia and Montenegro (including the province of Kosovo) as well as those of the Republic of Macedonia.
Albanian is thought by some to derive principally from the Illyrian languages spoken in the region two millennia ago, and forms part of no known wider sub-group within the Indo-European family. The oldest known Albanian printed book, Meshari  or missal, was written by Gjon Buzuku, a Catholic cleric, in 1555. The first Albanian school is believed to have been opened by Franciscans in 1638 in Pdhanë.
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|letter||SAMPA - example||letter||SAMPA - example|
|a||a - Spanish la||n||n - gun|
|b||b - burn||nj||n^ - Spanish niña|
|c||ts - hats||o||O - four|
|ç||tS - church||p||p - opera|
|d||d - dance||q||c - Close to hit you|
|dh||D - this||r||4 - Spanish pero|
|e||E - let||rr||r - Spanish perro|
|ë||@ - allowed (ë is a schwa)||s||s - save|
|f||f - fight||sh||S - shun|
|g||g - gun||t||t - tell|
|gj||J - Close to did you||th||T - thought|
|h||h - hope||u||u - doom|
|i||i - eat||v||v - victory|
|j||j - year||x||dz - adze|
|k||k - king||xh||dZ - jungle|
|l||l - lee||y||y - French du jour|
|ll||l_e - tell||z||z - zone|
|m||m - mother||zh||Z - vision|
Note: all sounds in words used for comparison are those of the English language unless otherwise noted.
transliterate foreign words in their own way, even from the Latin alphabet; thus Josh McDowell is transliterated Xhosh Mekdauëll. Each sound is approximated by one or more of the 36 letters of the alphabet, therefore words are spelled as they sound.
Some eminent scholars in the field of Albanian language have been Johann Georg von Hahn, Franz Bopp, Gustav Meyer, Norbert Jokl, Eqrem Çabej, Stuart Edward Mann, Carlo Tagliavini, Wacław Cimochowski, Eric Pratt Hamp and Agnija Desnickaja.