On January 1, 2021, the FWF-financed project “Linguistic History of Place Names in Albania” commenced its four-year term. The aim of this project is the diachronic-linguistic analysis of the place names (town and village names, so-called macro-toponymy) documented on the national territory of Albania from ancient to modern times. The particular historical background of the settlement and migration history of the Albanian area is taken into account and evaluated. Among others, the following questions will be tackled: the controversially discussed issue of autochthony or immigration of the Albanians into their historically documented settlement area; the geographically high number of undoubtedly Slavic settlement names in the whole territory of Albania; the creation of a distinctive Albanian toponomy; etc.
Since the Albanian language is documented only from the middle of the 16th century A.D. and since for the period between the end of antiquity and the 11th century A.D. (—the Albanians as an ethnicity are mentioned for the first time Albanians in Byzantine sources—) only sparse historical sources are available for the territory of Albania, place names provide useful information to shed light on the historical events of these periods. An analysis based on modern historical-linguistic methods will show which phonological changes the place names of Albania have undergone since their first attestation and how these phonological changes can be classified chronologically and linguistically, especially with regard to their origin (pre-Albanian = Greek and Latin, Albanian, Slavic, Vlach, Turkish place names). Also, the geographical distribution of the Albanian place names of various origins will be taken into account. At the end of this project, an online lexicon of Albanian place names from A-Zh will be made available. Complementary to this, active virtual maps will illustrate the results. Also, a practical handbook of Albanian place names will be published, covering various aspects of place names in Albania. This project will serve as a model and example for the diachronic-linguistic research of the place names of the other states of Southeastern Europe, which is still pending.