Illyrian languages

Formerly spoken in

Indo-European languages

  • Illyrian


Ine ( other Indo-European languages)


The Illyrian language was spoken in ancient times by the people of the Illyrians and was an independent branch of the Indo-European languages ​​. The distribution area covered mostly with the historical region of Illyria, the Messapians in Puglia ( in present-day Italy) may also spoke an Illyrian dialect.

The Illyrian is sparsely narrated and poorly understood. One only knows a few single words as well as some local and personal names, which are primarily delivered to grave or building inscriptions. The individual words are known from Greek and Roman sources, such as sabaia ( beer -like drink), sybina (hunting spear ), mantia ( mulberry ), rhinos (fog, clouds), brisa ( vessel with grapes filled ), tertigio (dealer) and Bosona ( running water ). Many place names and personal names are passed down through the Greek and Roman sources, such as the Queen Teuta, the kings Agron, Genthius, Glaukias, Bardyllis and Monunios and Illyrian places like Amantia, Lychnidos, Byllis, Ulpiana and others.

To date, there is controversy as to whether and to what extent related to the Albanian language with the Illyrian. Such a relationship has already been adopted by Johann Georg von Hahn appeared in the 1845 book of Albanian studies. The results of linguistic research of the 20th century speak partly for and partly against this assumption. According to the current state of research, neither the hypothesis of descent nor the opposite hypothesis can be proven. More articles in Albanian language.


The Illyrian language has hardly left written traces and is therefore delivered particularly sparse. It has been yet found no whole Illyrian set; so the only sources are a handful of words that have been handed down in Greek and Roman sources. In addition, several personal names have survived.

About the Illyrian grammar is virtually nothing is known; only that the Indo-European cases have been received, is safe.


The Illyrian dialects emerged for the first time probably around the 2nd millennium BC, possibly around 1300 BC, when the Mycenaean centers coincided in Greece. The language evolved quite indigenous to their regions ( Illyria ). Since the 6th century BC, Greeks established individual colonies in the area of the Illyrians (eg Dyrrachium, Apollonia or Lissus ), since this century influenced the ancient Greek language the Illyrian vocabulary. In the 1st century BC, the conquest of the Illyrian territories by the Romans began, for the first time under Caesar ( Illyrian - Roman war ). The further history of the Illyrian language is not resolved safely. Only under the controversial assumption that the Albanian language is a daughter of Illyrian, it can be said safely that a complete romanization of the Illyrian language (s) has not taken place and the later Slavic immigration just could not repress.