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Being in Albania I decided to sit down with a word frequency list of the language and look each up so I would know some of the common words I see around me.

The second most common word in Albanian is "të", which Wiktionary describes as an "adjectival article". (A neat coincidence after my recent question asking what other kinds of articles exist). Here are Wiktionary's senses:

  1. indefinite masculine and feminine singular adjectives in all cases but nominative
  2. definite masculine singular adjectives in the genitive, dative and ablative cases
  3. indefinite plural adjectives in all cases
  4. definite plural adjectives in the genitive, dative and ablative cases

So what is an "adjectival article"? Where can I read more about them? What other languages have them?

(Wikipedia doesn't have a separate grammar article for Albanian and doesn't have an article on adjectival articles)

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  • what is the first most frequent word?
    – Louis Rhys
    Oct 9 '11 at 7:40
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    @Louis: The most frequent word was "e" which doesn't yet have an Albanian entry in Wiktionary. But I'll see what my paper Albanian dictionary says. The paper dictionary doesn't try to define or classify it but gives a selection of example phrases in Albanian and equivalent English. Oct 9 '11 at 7:45
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From the explanations and examples in the wiktionary page you mentioned, it is not a real article, it is a word that combines with an adjective to mark its definiteness (and in this case, also gender and noun case). In other words, it is to adjective as an article to a noun. An example (from wiktionary)

Kam nevojë për një libër shumë të mirë.
I need a really good book.

(libër = book, mirë = good. Note that libër has the article një and mirë has the "article" ).

Wiktionary goes on to list the different adjectival articles Albanian has, which varies according to definiteness, gender and noun case. wiktionary.

A little experiment with Google Translate and Google Search:

I read a book.
-> Kam lexuar një libër.
I read a good book.
-> Kam lexuar një libër të mirë.
I read the good book.
-> Kam lexuar librin e mirë. (note the adj. art for definite masculine in accusative)
The book is good.
-> Libri është i mirë.

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  • 1
    Ah I think that info on Wiktionary may have just appeared. I'm a big user of the little-used feature to request entries for missing words, which appears to be working even better than I expected! Of course it poses the question what is a "real article"? ... Oct 9 '11 at 8:16
  • Indeed, I just realised that one Dick Laurent guy added a lot of info a few hours ago.
    – Louis Rhys
    Oct 9 '11 at 8:20
  • @hippietrail you can contact him in his talk page, I guess..
    – Louis Rhys
    Oct 9 '11 at 8:22
  • Yes I remember who he is now. I think he's one of those very intelligent but sometimes difficult to get along with people as mentioned if you follow through his page. Thankfully he's into weird languages and seems to be quite resourceful! Oct 9 '11 at 8:30
  • Invite him here >:-)
    – Louis Rhys
    Oct 9 '11 at 8:52
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In albanian të can be used for many things. I am not a linguist, but albanian is my native tongue.

  • Të qenurit vetëm - noun (to be alone)
  • të mira - adjective (good ones)
  • të notuarit - noun (swimming)
  • të bëj - function word (to do)
  • të shikoj - (you I see [I see you])
  • të tmerron - (you it/she/he frightens )

but you can have this

  • ty të shoh (you you I see)

thus no need for ty just say të shoh.

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Did you ever notice that these marvelous particles i, e, të, së, which link postposed adjectives to their head nouns, are also used to form the postposed genitive construction. In both cases the choice of particle depends on the number, gender, and case of the preceding head noun. But it also brings up a huge question: how can you call the Albanian genitive construction a case when the particle that introduces the genitive is itself inflected for case? The simple answer is, the genitive is not a case, but rather a construction analogous to the noun+adjective construction. In the genitive construction, the linking particle agrees with the preceding head noun in number, gender, and case (as in the noun+adjective construction), and is followed by a noun in the dative case.

Here's a way to parse these two constructions mentally: translate the linking particle as "which [is/are]". So, for example: libri i mirë "the-book which-is good" = "the good book", librit të mirë "to-the-book to-the-one-which-is good" = "to the good book".

Likewise in the genitive construction: libri i njeriu "the-book which-is to-the-man" (i.e. belonging to the man) = "the man's book", librit të njeriut "to-the-book to-the-one-which-is to-the-man" = "to the man's book".

And in fact it appears likely that these linking particles are historically weakened forms of the old demonstrative stem that underlies the modern ai, ajo "he, she; that one" and ky, kjo "this one". This stem can be found by taking the initial a- off of ai, ajo, and the initial kë- off of all forms of ky, kjo except for the nominative m.sg. and f.sg. So we find m.sg. i, f.sg. jo (or an earlier form of it) could have been weakened to e; të comes from accusative të or masc. dative tij and was generalized to the plural; së comes from fem. dative saj. At one point they evidently came to be used as relative pronouns "(that/those) which" as well as plain old demonstratives--"that/those".

And ultimately they became essential components both types of attributive constructions: (1) head noun modified by postposed adjective and (2) head noun modified by postposed dative-case noun, also known as the genitive construction.

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