In standard Albanian, there is a restricted class of three intransitive verbs (hip-, ec-, ik-) that shows a suffix ‑i/‑ën in the conjugation of the present singular. In dialects and in Old Albanian, however, this suffix is more prolific. This paper studies the history of this suffix and its function by comparing its use in a wide range of Albanian dialects. Based on the dialectal data a Proto- Albanian inchoative/imperfective function inherited from Proto-Indo-European can be reconstructed for the suffix. This function is still present in the Arbëresh dialect of San Costantino Albanese. As the suffix lost its semantic component, it became a marker for the imperfect in Tosk and southern Geg, while in northern Geg the suffix is used as a present marker in verbs where ambiguity with the imperfect could arise. The verbs hip-, ec-, and ik- were originally transitive verbs which were intransitivized by the suffix ‑i/‑ën. As their original transitive meaning was lost, the suffix was obligatory in these verbs in Proto-Albanian already, a situation that is continued in almost all present dialects.
© 2020 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston