Albanian is a language of the extensive Indo-European family and is thus related to a certain degree to almost all other languages of Europe. The Indo-European character of the language was first recognized in 1854 by the German linguist Franz Bopp (1791-1867). At the same time, Albanian shows no particularly close historical affinity to any other language or language group within the Indo-European family. Indo-European language spoken in Albania and by smaller numbers of ethnic Albanians in other parts of the southern Balkans, along the east coast of Italy and in Sicily, in southern Greece, and in Germany, Sweden, the United States, Ukraine, and Belgium.
The Albanian language is divided into two basic dialect groups: Gheg in the north of the country and Tosk in the south. The Shkumbin River in central Albania, flowing past Elbasan into the Adriatic, forms the approximate boundary between the two dialect regions. Here, in a zone ten to twenty kilometers wide, intermediate dialects are also found.
Albanian has been written with various alphabets since the 15th century. Originally the Tosk dialect used Greek alphabet, while the Gheg dialect was written with the Latin alphabet. At one point both dialects also been written down with the Turkish version of the Arabic alphabet. The Latin alphabet for Albanian was standardized in 1909, and a unified literary version of Albanian, based on the Tosk dialect, was established in 1972.