2016 Albania Stamp. 100 anniversary of Albanian Literary Commission of 1916.
Albanian Literary Commission (Albanian: Komisia letrare shqype), also known as Literary Commission of Shkodra, was a commission established in Shkodër, north Albania in 1916. It gathered major personalities of the Albanian literature and writings of that time, and aimed in defining a literary standard and orthographic rules for the Albanian language which were lacking at the moment, in order to encourage the publication of schooltexts.
The commission started officially on 1 September 1916 with the initiative of the Austrian diplomat August Ritter von Kral. Some of the notable members were Gjergj Fishta, Luigj Gurakuqi, Hilë Mosi, Aleksander Xhuvani, Maximilian Lambertz, Gjergj Pekmezi, Ndre Mjeda, Sotir Peçi, and Mati Logoreci. The members agreed on the necessity of having an orthography standard "as phonetic as possible" and a unified literary language which would preserve what the Albanian dialects had in common and leave out any stigmatized regional forms.
Fishta played a leading role in the commission. He tried hard to push the dialect of Shkodra as the Albanian standard, in respect to the cultural contribute that Shkodra dialect, writers, and literature had given to Albanian culture at that time, "much as Dante's language had served for literary Italian. Regardless of Fishta's influence and the fact that other founding members were from Shkodra as well, he did not succeed. Under the influence of Aleksander Xhuvani who claimed "njisia e gjuhes asht njisia e kombit" (The unity of the language is the unity of the nation), the Commission accepted the dialect of Elbasan to be used as basis. While being a Gheg dialect, it is a southern one and closest possible to the Tosk dialect. The standard was adopted by the Educational Congress of Lushnje in 1920.
The commission published a reader for middle schools in 1920. However, since there was no grammar or dictionary published in the new standard, it did not succeed. Moreover, most of the works and translations during the National Awakening and early 20th century were in Tosk dialect.
The efforts for unification would continue post WWII. A conference was held in Pristina in 1968, the Linguistic Conference of Pristina (Alb: Konsulta gjuhësore e Prishtinës), where the literary standard used so far in Albania and based in the Tosk Albanian dialect was adopted by the Albanians of Yugoslavia at the expense of the Gheg dialect. The Tosk-based current standard would be established by the Orthography Congress of 1972.