On the semantic evolution of Albanian motër 'sister' and vajzë 'girl' in the context of the Albanian extended family


The Albanian extended family includes more generations, elder people, parental couples, all unmarried children and married sons with their wives and children living in the same household. The organization and the function of the extended family take a central place in the Albanian Customary Law (often referred to as Kanun). Its origins reach far back in antiquity. In Northern Albania it has survived in its classical form until the first half of the 20th century. Alb. motër (older motërë) 'sister' has been deemed as a reflex of the Pre-Indo-European word for MOTHER in nearly all other Indo-European languages. The semantic change MOTHER → SISTER has been long discussed, reaching no convincing conclusions. Recently M. Majer (2019) has put forward a keen and well argued proposal, reconstructing a PIE derivative *meh2t(e)reh2 'of the mother' as the preform of motër(ë). Such a reconstruction fits well in a hypothesis that takes into account the structural frame of the Albanian extended family as described above, as well as the disputed origin of vajzë 'girl' from PIE *swesor- 'sister'.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22804250v10i1p75

Keywords: Extended family; Albanian Customary Law Code (Kanun); mother; sister; girl; Indo-European; semantic change

Full Text: PDF

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.