Tuesday, December 7, 2010

C.Q., C.Q., calling all Albanians, C.Q., C.Q.

When I was 14 I heard my cousin Philip, who was 19 or 20, say into his ham radio microphone, “C.Q., C.Q., calling C.Q.” and I asked him why he did that. He answered that saying those two letters sounds just like saying the English words, “Seek you, seek you” so the phrase is used to elicit a response from another ham radio operator out there in the ether or great beyond or whatever it is. The last part of that sentence beginning with the words “out there” are my words, not his.

Live and learn.

Which brings me to my reason for this post.

I am still living, and I have this desperate need to keep learning.

My mother-in-law died in Orlando, Florida, in 1986 at the age of 79. She was born in Fier, Albania, in 1907 and lived there until 1926, when she married my father-in-law and came to the United States. When my children (who are now in their forties) were small, she used to say a little rhyme to them as she played with them. I should have asked her to write it down for me, but I was young and foolish.

Which is where you come in.

Any and all Albanians who happen to be reading this post, I need your help. Can you tell me what she was saying, what it meant (if it meant anything), or if it was just a nonsense rhyme? It seems to start off loosely based on numbers (see table at end of post). Since I don't write Albanian, I can give you only a phonetic rendering:

Oona-mahna, doota-mahna, tray-a-roni, karsa-koni, lain-see, plain-see, bahna-bahna, chooka-dahna, (something), (something), poopsie, KROOPSIE!

It’s sort of an Albanian equivalent, I think, of playing pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man, make me a cake as fast as you can.

Any help you can give me with the missing parts and the actual Albanian spelling will be greatly appreciated.

For everyone else, here for your reading pleasure and edification is a short course in learning how to say numbers in Albanian. Included is my own rough pronunciation guide:

0...... zero (zare-oh, roll the r)
1...... një (n’yeh, like a Spanish n with a tilde)
2...... dy (dooh, short oo as in book, but book (bukë) means bread in Albanian)
3...... tre (treh, roll the r)
4...... katër (katter)
5...... pesë (pess)
6...... gjashtë (g’yahsht)
7...... shtatë (shtaht)
8...... tetë (tet)
9...... nëntë (nahnt)
10.... dhjetë (thee-yet)
11.... njëmbëdhjetë (n’yeh meh thee-yet)
12.... dymbëdhjete (dooh meh thee-yet)
13.... trembëdhjetë (treh meh thee-yet)
14.... katërmbëdhjetë (katter meh thee-yet)
15.... pesëmbëdhjetë (pess meh thee-yet)
16.... gjashtëmbëdhjetë (g’yahsht meh thee-yet)
17.... shtatëmbëdhjetë (shtaht meh thee-yet)
18.... tetëmbëdhjetë (tet meh thee-yet)
19.... nëntëmbëdhjetë (nahnt meh thee-yet)
20.... njëzet (n’yeh zet)
21.... njëzet e një (n’yeh zet eh n’yeh)
22.... njëzet e dy (n’yeh zet eh dooh)
23.... njëzet e tre (n'yeh zet eh treh)
30.... tridhjetë (trih thee-yet)
40.... dyzet (dooh zet)
50.... pesëdhjetë (pess thee-yet)
60.... gjashtëdhjetë (g’yahsht thee-yet)
70.... shtatëdhjetë (shtaht thee-yet)
80.... tetëdhjetë (tet thee-yet)
90.... nëntëdhjetë (nahnt thee-yet)
100... njëqind (n’yeh kind, last syllable rhymes with sinned)
101... njëqind e një (n’yeh kind eh n’yeh)
102... njëqind e dy (n’yeh kind eh dooh)
111... njëqind e njëmbëdhjetë (n’yeh kind eh n’yeh meh thee-yet)
125... njëqind e njëzetepesë (n’yeh kind eh n’yeh zet pess)
200... dyqind (dooh kind)
500... pesëqind (pess kind)
1000... një mijë (n’yeh mee)
1,000,000... një milion (n’yeh meel-yahn)

There now, wasn’t that simple?

I didn’t think so either.

This has been another fascinating post from rhymeswithplague.


  1. i really do understand that poopsie kropsie part<>><<>they are enduring phrases{words} that are said around holiday time to bring famimly solidarity or else to offend those who don't know the language

  2. Your modesty is lacking, but your Albanian is rapping. There see, I COULD have written rap music no matter what my detractors may tell you, and I would hope that you and I could do some of my pieces as a duet. We would put them on youtube and then sit back and wait for the fans to insist on buying our album.

  3. Kam dëgjuar diçka si kjo por i harruar ku ... Familja ime është shqipja, nga Korca. Shumica e popullit shqiptar për të bërë këngë që do të thotë asgjë. Nëna ime thotë se "Na Na-ni-ni", por unë nuk e di se çka do të thotë.

  4. RachelS,, thank you for commenting! I copied your comment into translate.google.com and learned that you said, "I heard something like that but i forgot where ... My family is Albanian, from Korca. Most of the Albanian people to make songs that mean nothing. My mother says "Na Na-ni-ni", but I do not know what that means."

    My mother-in-law was from Fier and my father-in-law was from Vlonë.