Messages from Albania’s Communist Past, Translated

Let’s Fulfill all duties and smash the blockade! The rifle andpick-axe are prominent in albanian communist imagery

I decided to practice Albanian by translating pictures of old signs from communist Albania that Ive gathered from around the internet. Enjoy  and Rrofte Populli Shqiptar!

“we protect and we keep watch”

mbrojme is 1st person plural from of mbroj which is to defend or protect. mbrojtje mjedisit means environmental protection, for example.

“the power of the people was born from the barrel of a rifle”

Pushteti is a noun form of the verb pushtoj which is a fun word because in english it means all of these things: overwhelm,to envelop, to invade, to stradlle. Pushteti means somthing like power/stength/authority. It is in nominative singular case and is the subject. Popullor is the adjective of Populli which means people. Lind is a verb that means to be born and here it is in the 3rd person singular past tense. nga gryka e pushkes literally means “from barrel of rifle.” Pushkes is in the genitive case and has the e infront of it because in albanian you have to alter the beginning of adjectives as well as the end depending on case and gender and number and definiteness of the noun it modifies.

PPSH stands for The Worker’s Party of Albania, or Partia e Punës e Shqipërisë (Sh is one letter in the albanian alphabet). this was the one party that ruled Albania from 1945 to 1991. It was founded in 1941 and was then named the Communist Party of Albania. It became the modern Socialist Party in 1991. Note the dude in the military uniform.

Shqipërisë is the gentiive (possessive) form of Shqiperia which is how you say Albania in Albanian. The adjective is shqiptar. To pronounce the Sh and q at the beginning… its complicated. Q in albanian makes  kind of mix between ch and sh.

“there is no blockade that defeats the Workers Party of Albania and the Albanian People” Its arguable whether the “blockade” albania faced was more self imposed than not. Check out those comically evil capitalists.

Popullin is the word popull again but is in the definite accusative case because it is the direct object. Sometimes in albanian you see abbreviations declined. For example, in this case “PPSH” would be “PPSH-in.” ShBA is how you say USA in shqip. If it is definite and nominative in a sentence it becomes ShBA-ja and if it is genitive (used to show possession) it is ShBA-es (like pushkes in the previous image).

“That we put ourselves the chest of workers (doesnt translate)
That we overcome the difficulties
That we Fulfill Our Duties Head On”
Durres 1988

The subjunctive in albanian is pretty easy. It only differs from the indicative case in 2nd person and 3 person singular. you just add a
“të” before the verb and you got yourself a subjunctive tense.

Socialist Albania Marches.

the albanian word order is “Marches Albania Socialist” which is exactly reversed from the english word order. Albanian is a heavily inflected language which means that the each word is modified or tuned by the role it plays in the sentence. this means you can put the words in almost any order without loss of meaning.

Long Live the New Tirana-Durres Railway! Enver Hoxha’s picture is the same size as Stalin’s as if they were some how equal. I like that the background is clearly made of planks of wood.

Enver Hoxha is that prominent guy with the cool jacket and hat. The word friend in albanian “shok” was employed by communist Albania to be the word for “Comrade”. Thus, Enver Hoxha was called “Shoku Enver” and the word shoku itself became a title used in ways such as “shoket punetor” or worker comrades.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. mirupafshim! (the albanian word for good bye translates as something like “great we saw eachother!”)

See one thousand more photos of communist albania here

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8 responses to “Messages from Albania’s Communist Past, Translated

  1. Those are some really cool photos. The Czech side of my family has a lot of memorabilia (stamps, postcards, etc.) that feature very similar Soviet realism-type art. Do the Albanians want to leave the art up? Do they care at all?

    • we are trying, you know. As the trauma of transition is fading away, we are feeling more collected ourselves, and things are falling in their own places. yes, definitively we care.

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  3. Pretty impressive that you have been able to learn as much as you have in such a short amount of time. And not only learn to speak it, but actually study the language and all its rules. The easy part about the Albanian language is that what you read is what you pronounce, there’s no 2 ways about it, whereas in English reading and pronounciation are not always the same. For example, “book” vs “door”. They appear similar in structure, the same vowel appearing twice within two consonants and thus you would think they would be pronounced the same. We know that’s not the case. In Albanian you don’t have that problem, you pronounce what you read so once you learn the alphabet, you should be able to read…although you may not really understand what you’re reading 🙂

    Anyhow, a couple of corrections regarding your translations above. On the 6th picture, the first statement of the Albanian sign reads “T’u veme gjoksin puneve” which literally translates to “that we put our chest to the works” (not workers). It means to tackle the jobs/works. On the last picture, the sign reads “Rrofshin ndertonjesit e rinj te hekurudhes Durres-Tirane”. The word “ndertonjesit” is not used anymore, it has been replaced by “ndertuesit” and the translation should be “Long live the builders of the railway Durres-Tirane”

    Great job again. Keep up the good work..

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  6. I for sure did enjoy your post. Thank you for trying with our language.
    Mirupafshim = May we see each other for the best (in the future)

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