*Note: I will be using Shqip and Albanian interchangeably throughout this post. Both are referring to the language Albanian people speak.
The day I learned you have to conjugate nouns in Shqip (even proper nouns), was the day I lost hope that I would ever be fluent in Albanian.
My current host family calls me “Ahpreel,” “Ahpreelin,” or “Ahpreelit,” depending on what part of speech my name fulfills in any given sentence. At first, my host mother was calling me “Preela,” but I put the kibosh on that quickly. I’ll answer to “Ahpreel,” since that’s close in sound to my own name, but no way am I answering to “Preela.” Preela sounds like a bad, alternate universe version of me, in a “She said she’d always been a dancer. She worked at 15 clubs a day,” kind of way.
One fun thing about being named after a month (thanks, Mom and Dad!) is that my name translates in all other languages. While I think April, the French Avril, and the Spanish Abril all sound pretty, the Albanian “Prill” leaves something to be desired. Like an “A.” (What happened to the A?!)
To demonstrate how far removed from English Albanian is, please see this lovely tree:
Look at Albanian! (Follow the European branch up and to the left.) All by it’s lonesome. Meaning, there is no other language like it!
According to Google, Shqip is spoken by approximately a little more than 7 million people in the world. Seven million people, out of 7 billion! As another volunteer put it, “Being able to speak Shqip is like having a weird super power.”