Migrations from southeast parts of what is today known as Albania to various regions of Balkan peninsula inhabited by Croats started as early as 14th century, and continued in several waves until 18th century. Toponyms like Arbania at Čiovo island, Arbanasi near Zadar and Peroj village in Istria, as well as some surnames which have roots in Albanian language, testify of this influence.
However, it needs to be stressed that today’s surnames and toponyms which have origin in Albanian language should be considered only as a reflection of times past. The names that we mention here are integral part of Croatian culture, and their bearers consider themselves Croats, with no memory of the motherland of their ancestors.
Here are some of the surnames found in regions of the Republic of Croatia for which we can discern influence of Albanian language. Surname Flego comes from Albanian word fjetje, with the meaning spending the night or sleeping. Surname Kalember comes from the phrase kale mbare which means “bon voyage!”. Macura surname draws the meaning from macor or tomcat. Zogić or Zogović surnames have the same root in Albanian word zog which means the bird. Zotović comes from zot with the meaning master or lord. Kekić has a root in the word keke which stands for strong, sturdy, robust, vigorous, buxom. Šagolj is also a surname borne by Croats, with the origin in Albanian word shegol which means apron.
There is also a variants of surnames with the word shent which means Saint, thus Šimleša or Šimlješa (Lješ with the meaning Alexander, Aleksandar) and Šimrak (with the root in the first given name of Mark).
Image: Albinfo, Wikimedia Commons