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Macedonian language

Македонски јазик
Makedonski jazik
Pronunciation [maˈkɛdɔnski]
Spoken in Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria,[1][2] Greece, Serbia, Macedonian diaspora
Region Balkans
Ethnicity Macedonians
Native speakers 1.6[3] – 3.0 million.[4][5]  (1985–1998)
Language family
Writing system Cyrillic (Macedonian alphabet)
Official status
Official language in  Republic of Macedonia
Recognised minority language in  Albania
Regulated by Macedonian Language Institute "Krste Misirkov" at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje
Language codes
ISO 639-1 mk
ISO 639-2 mac (B)
mkd (T)
ISO 639-3 mkd
Linguasphere 53-AAA-ha (part of 53-AAA-h)
Countries with significant Macedonian-speaking populations
(Click on image for the legend)

Macedonian (македонски јазик, makedonski jazik, pronounced [maˈkɛdɔnski ˈjazik] ( listen)) is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora. It is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia and holds the status of official minority language in parts of Albania, Romania and Serbia.

Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia in 1945[9] and has since developed a thriving literary tradition. Most of the codification was formalized during the same period.[10][11][11]

Macedonian dialects form a continuum with Bulgarian dialects; together in turn they form a broader continuum with Serbo-Croatian through the transitional Torlakian dialects. The name of the Macedonian language is a matter of political controversy in Greece[12] as is its distinctiveness in Bulgaria.[13][14]


  Classification and related languages

The Macedonian language belongs to the eastern sub-branch of the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages of the Indo-European family of languages, and hence is not descended from Ancient Macedonian. Its closest relative is Bulgarian,[15] with which it has a high degree of mutual intelligibility.[14] Prior to their codification in 1945, Macedonian dialects were for the most part classified as Bulgarian[16][17][18] and some linguists consider them still as such, but this view is politically controversial.[14][19][20] The next-closest language is Serbo-Croatian (often known by the names of its standard languages, Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, and Croatian). All South Slavic languages, including Macedonian, form a dialect continuum.[14] The Torlakian dialect group is intermediate between Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian.

Together with its immediate Slavic neighbours, Macedonian also forms a constituent language of the Balkan Sprachbund, a group of languages which share typological, grammatical and lexical features based on geographical convergence, rather than genetic proximity. Its other principal members are Romanian, Greek and Albanian, all of which belong to different genetic branches of the Indo-European family of languages (Romanian is a Romance language, while Greek and Albanian each comprise their own separate branches). Macedonian and Bulgarian are sharply divergent from the remaining South Slavic languages, Serbo-Croatian and Slovene,[21] and indeed all other Slavic languages, in that they don't use noun cases (except for the vocative, and apart from some traces of once productive inflections still found scattered throughout the languages). They are also the only Slavic languages with any definite articles, but only Macedonian has got three: unspecified, proximate and distal article. This last feature is shared with Romanian, Greek, and Albanian.

  Geographical distribution

Macedonian language
Macedonian language
Slognica recovska

The population of the Republic of Macedonia was 2,022,547 in 2002, with 1,644,815 speaking Macedonian as the native language.[22] Outside of the Republic, there are Macedonians living in other parts of the geographical area of Macedonia. There are ethnic Macedonian minorities in neighbouring Albania, in Bulgaria, in Greece, and in Serbia. According to the official Albanian census of 1989, 4,697 ethnic Macedonians reside in Albania.[23]

A large number of Macedonians live outside the traditional Balkan Macedonian region, with Australia, Canada and the United States having the largest emigrant communities. According to a 1964 estimate, approximately 580,000 Macedonians live outside of the Macedonian Republic,[24] nearly 30% of the total population. The Macedonian spoken by communities outside the republic dates back to before the standardisation of the language[citation needed] and retains many dialectic though, overall, mutually intelligible variations.[citation needed] The Macedonian language has the status of official language only in the Republic of Macedonia, and is a recognised minority and official language in parts of Albania (Municipality of Pustec), Romania, and Serbia (Municipalities of Jabuka and Plandište). There are provisions for learning the Macedonian language in Romania as Macedonians are an officially recognised minority group. The language is taught in some universities in Australia, Canada, Croatia, Italy, Russia, Serbia, the United States, and the United Kingdom among other countries.

  Macedonian language in Greece

The varieties spoken by the Slavophone minority in parts of northern Greece, especially those in the Greek provinces of West and Central Macedonia, are today usually classified as part of the Macedonian language, with those in East Macedonia being transitional towards Bulgarian.[25] Bulgarian linguistics traditionally regards them all as part of the Bulgarian diasystem together with the rest of Macedonian.[26][27] However, the codification of standard Macedonian has been in effect only in the Republic of Macedonia, and the Slavonic dialects spoken in Greece are thus practically "roofless",[28] with their speakers having little access to standard or written Macedonian.

Most of the language speakers in Greece do not identify ethnically as "Macedonians", but as ethnic Greeks (Slavophone Greeks) or dopii (locals). Therefore, the simple term "Macedonian" as a name for the Slavic language is often avoided in the Greek context, and vehemently rejected by most Greeks, for whom Macedonian has very different connotations. Instead, the language is often called simply "Slavic" or "Slavomacedonian", with "Macedonian Slavic" often being used in English. Speakers themselves variously refer to their language as makedonski, makedoniski ("Macedonian"), slaviká (Greek: σλαβικά, "Slavic"), dópia or entópia (Greek: εντόπια, "local/indigenous [language]"),[29] balgàrtzki, bolgàrtski or bulgàrtski in the region of Kostur, bògartski ("Bulgarian") in Dolna Prespa [30] along with naši ("our own") and stariski ("old").[31]

The exact number of speakers in Greece is difficult to ascertain, with estimates ranging between 20,000 and 250,000.[2][32][33] Jacques Bacid estimates in his 1983 book that "over 200,000 Macedonian speakers remained in Greece".[34] Other sources put the numbers of speakers at 180,000[35][unreliable source?],[36] 220,000[37] and 250,000, while Yugoslav sources vary, some putting the estimated number of "Macedonians in Greek Macedonia" at 150,000–200,000 and others at 300,000.[38] The Encyclopædia Britannica[39][dead link] and the Reader's Digest World Guide both put the figure of ethnic Macedonians in Greece at 1.8% or c.200,000 people, with the native language roughly corresponding with the figures. The UCLA also states that there are 200,000 Macedonian speakers in Greece.[40][41] A 2008 article in the Greek newspaper Eleftherotipia put the estimate at 20,000.[42]

The largest group of speakers are concentrated in the Florina, Kastoria, Edessa, Giannitsa, Ptolemaida and Naousa regions. During the Greek Civil War, the codified Macedonian language was taught in 87 schools with 10,000 students in areas of northern Greece under the control of Communist-led forces, until their defeat by the National Army in 1949.[43] In recent years, there have been attempts to have the language recognised as a minority language.[44]


The total number of Macedonian speakers is highly disputed. Although the precise number of speakers is unknown, figures of between 1.6 million (from Ethnologue) and 2–2.5 million have been cited; see Topolinjska (1998) and Friedman (1985). The general academic consensus[citation needed] is that there are approximately 2 million speakers of the Macedonian language, accepting that "it is difficult to determine the total number of speakers of Macedonian due to the official policies of the neighbouring Balkan states and the fluid nature of emigration" Friedman (1985:?). According to the 2002 censuses and figures, the number of speakers of Macedonian is:

  A welcoming sign for the EXIT Festival 2010 in Bulevar, Novi Sad, Serbia. The left sign is written in Macedonian Latinic.
State Number
Census Data Lower Range Higher Range
Macedonia 1,344,815[45] 1,344,815[45] 2,022,547[46]
Albania 4,697[47] 30,000[48] - 150,000[2]
Bulgaria 1,404[49] 1,404[50] 150,000[2]
Greece 35,000 [32] 250,000 [2]
Serbia 14,355[51] 14,355[51] 30,000[citation needed]
Rest of the Balkans 15,939[52] 25,000
Canada 18,440 [53] 18,440 [53] 150,000[54]
Australia 72,000[55] 72,000[55] 200,000[54]
Germany 62,295[56] 85,000[54]
Italy 50,000[57] 74,162[58]
United States of America 45,000[59] 200,000[54]
Switzerland 6,415[60] 60,116[61]
Rest of World 101,600[54] 110,000[62]
Total 2,289,904 4,100,000


Macedonian Slavic dialects.png
Dialect divisions of Macedonian[63]
  Lower Polog
  Crna Gora
  Kumanovo / Kratovo
  Upper Polog
  Mala Reka / Galičnik
  Drimkol / Golo Brdo
  Vevčani / Radοžda
  Upper Prespa / Ohrid
  Lower Prespa
  Mariovo / Tikveš
  Štip / Strumica
  Maleševo / Pirin
  Solun / Voden
  Ser / Drama

Based on a large group of features, Macedonian dialects can be divided into Eastern and Western groups (the boundary runs approximately from Skopje and Skopska Crna Gora along the rivers Vardar and Crna). In addition, a more detailed classification can be based on the modern reflexes of the Proto-Slavic reduced vowels (yers), vocalic sonorants, and the back nasal *ǫ. That classification distinguishes between the following 5 groups:[64]

Western Dialects:

Eastern Dialects:

The Ser-Drama-Lagadin-Nevrokop dialect and Maleševo-Pirin dialect are also considered to be Bulgarian dialects.[65]


  Map of the use of the intervocalic phoneme kj in the Macedonian language (1962)
  Map of the use of the intervocalic phoneme gj in the Macedonian language (1962)

Macedonian possesses five vowels, one semivowel, three liquid consonants, three nasal stops, three pairs of fricatives, two pairs of affricates, a non-paired voiceless fricative, nine pairs of voiced and unvoiced consonants and four pairs of stops.

Vowels of Macedonian[66]
Front Central Back
Close и /i/ у /u/
Mid е /ɛ/ о /ɔ/
Open а /a/

In addition, the schwa [ə] appears in certain literary words in which it is always stressed. In orthography it is expressed by an apostrophe, like in к'на ['kəna] (henna). A more common usage of the schwa, however, is found in certain dialects or loanwords.

Consonants of Macedonian[66]
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k ɡ
Affricate t͡s d͡z t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x
Approximant j
Trill r
Lateral ɫ l

Macedonian exhibits final obstruent devoicing and syllabic /r/

Other than recent loanwords, word stress in Macedonian is antepenultimate, meaning it falls on the third from last syllable in words with three or more syllables, and on the first or only syllable in other words. By comparison, in standard Bulgarian, the stress can fall anywhere within a word.


Macedonian grammar is markedly analytic in comparison with other Slavic languages, having lost the common Slavic case system. The Macedonian language shows some special and, in some cases, unique characteristics due to its central position in the Balkans. Literary Macedonian is the only South Slavic literary language that has three forms of the definite article, based on the degree of proximity to the speaker, and a perfect tense formed by means of an auxiliary verb "to have", followed by a past participle in the neuter, also known as verbal adjective.


Macedonian nouns (именки, imenki) belong to one of three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) and are inflected for number (singular and plural), and marginally for case. The gender opposition is not distinctively marked in the plural [67]. The Macedonian nominal system distinguishes two numbers (singular and plural), three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), case and definiteness. Definiteness is expressed by three definite articles pertaining to the position of the object (unspecified, proximate and distal) which are suffixed to the noun.

The definite articles
Singular Plural
Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
Unspecified −ot (−от) −ta (−та) −to (−то) −te (−те) −te (−те) −ta (−та)
Proximate −ov (−ов) −va (−ва) −vo (−во) −ve (−ве) −ve (−ве) −va (−ва)
Distal −on (−он) −na (−на) −no (−но) −ne (−не) −ne (−не) −na (−на)


Macedonian has a complex system of verbs. Generally speaking Macedonian verbs have the following characteristics, or categories as they are called in the Macedonistics: tense, mood, person, type, transitiveness, voice, gender and number.

According to the categorization, all Macedonian verbs are divided into three major groups: a-group, e-group and i-group. Furthermore, the e-subgroup is divided into three more subgroups: a-, e- and i-subgroups. This division is done according to the ending (or the last vowel) of the verb in the simple present, singular, third person.[68] Regarding the form, the verb forms can be either simple or complex.

The Macedonian simple verb forms are:

  • Present tense (сегашно време)
  • Imperfect (минато определено несвршено времe, 'past definite incomplete tense')
  • Aorist (минато определено свршено време, 'past definite complete tense')
  • Imperative (заповеден начин)
  • Verbal l-form (глаголска л-форма)
  • Verbal adjective (глаголска придавка)
  • Verbal noun (глаголска именка)
  • Verbal adverb (глаголски прилог)

The Macedonian complex verb forms are:

  • Perfect of imperfective verbs (минато неопределено несвршено време, 'past indefinite incomplete tense')
  • Perfect of perfective verbs ( минато неопределено свршено време, 'past indefinite complete tense')
  • Past perfect tense (предминато време)
  • Future tense (идно време)
  • Future-in-the-past (минато-идно време)
  • Future perfect tense (идно прекажано)
  • Potential mood (можен начин)
  • Have-construction (има-конструкција)
  • Be-construction (сум-конструкција)
  • To-construction (да-конструкција)


Prepositions (предлози, predlozi) are part of the closed word class that are used to express the relationship between the words in a sentence. Since Macedonian lost the case system, the prepositions are very important for creation and expression of various grammatical categories. The most important Macedonian preposition is 'na' ('of', 'on', 'to'). Regarding the form, the prepositions can either be simple or complex. Based on the meaning the preposition express, they can be divided into prepositions of time, place, manner and quantity[68] [69].


As a result of the close relatedness with Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian shares a considerable amount of its lexicon with these languages. Other languages which have been in positions of power, such as Ottoman Turkish and increasingly English also provide a significant proportion of the loan words. Prestige languages, such as Old Church Slavonic, which occupies a relationship to modern Macedonian comparable to the relationship of medieval Latin to modern Romance languages, and Russian also provided a source for lexical borrowings.

During the standardization process, there was deliberate care taken to try and purify the lexicon of the language. Serbisms and Bulgarisms, which had become common due to the influence of these languages in the region were rejected in favor of words from native dialects and archaisms. One example was the word for "event", настан [ˈnastan], which was found in certain examples of folk poetry collected by the Miladinov Brothers in the 19th century, while the Macedonian writer Krste Misirkov had previously used the word собитие [sɔˈbitiɛ].[70] This is not to say that there are no Serbisms, Bulgarisms or even Russianisms in the language, but rather that they were discouraged on a principle of "seeking native material first".[71]

The language of the writers at the turn of 19th century abounded with Russian and, more specifically, Old Church Slavonic lexical and morphological elements which in the contemporary norm are substituted with more current models.[72] Thus, the now slightly archaized forms with suffixes –ние and –тел, adjectives with the suffixes –телен and others, are now constructed following patterns more typical of Macedonian morphology. For example, дејствие corresponds to дејство, лицемериелицемерство, развитиеразвиток, определениеопределба, движениедвижење, продолжителпродолжувач, победителпобедник, убедителенубедлив, etc.[72] Many of these words are now synonymous or have taken on a slightly different nuance in meaning.

New words were coined according to internal logic and others calqued from related languages (especially Serbo-Croatian) to replace those taken from Russian, which include известиеизвештај, количествоколичина, согласиеслога, etc.[72] This change was aimed at bringing written Macedonian closer to spoken language, effectively distancing it from the Bulgarian language which has kept its numerous Russian loans, and represents a successful puristic attempt at abolishing a lexicogenic tradition once common in written literature.[72]

  Writing system


The modern Macedonian alphabet was developed by linguists in the period after the Second World War, who based their alphabet on the phonetic alphabet of Vuk Stefanović Karadžić, though a similar writing system was used by Krste Misirkov in the early 20th century. The Macedonian language had previously been written using the Early Cyrillic alphabet, or later using the Cyrillic script with local adaptations from either the Serbian or Bulgarian alphabets.

The following table provides the upper and lower case forms of the Macedonian alphabet, along with the IPA value for each letter:

А а
Б б
В в
Г г
Д д
Ѓ ѓ
Е е
Ж ж
З з
Ѕ ѕ
И и
Ј ј
К к
Л л
/l/, /ɫ/
Љ љ
/lj/, /l/
М м
Н н
Њ њ
О о
П п
Р р
С с
Т т
Ќ ќ
У у
Ф ф
Х х
Ц ц
Ч ч
Џ џ
Ш ш


Macedonian orthography is consistent and phonemic in practice, an approximation of the principle of one grapheme per phoneme. A principle represented by Adelung's saying, "write as you speak and read as it is written" („пишувај како што зборуваш и читај како што е напишано“). However, as is common to language, there are occasional inconsistencies or exceptions.


The Lord's Prayer

Оче наш (Cyrillic alphabet)
Оче наш, кој си на небесата,
да се свети името Твое,
да дојде царството Твое,
да биде волјата Твоја,
како на небото, така и на земјата;
лебот наш насушен дај ни го денес
и прости ни ги долговите наши
како и ние што им ги проштеваме на нашите должници;
и не нè воведувај во искушение,
но избави нè од лукавиот.
Oče naš (Latinic version)
Oče naš, koj si na nebesata
da se sveti imeto Tvoe,
da dojde carstvoto Tvoe,
da bide voljata Tvoja,
kako na neboto, taka i na zemjata;
lebot naš nasušen daj ni go denes
i prosti ni gi dolgovite naši
kako i nie što im gi proštevame na našite dolžnici
I ne nè voveduvaj vo iskušenie,
no izbavi nè od lukaviot.


The region of Macedonia and the Republic of Macedonia are located on the Balkan peninsula. The Slavs first came to the Balkan Peninsula in the sixth and seventh centuries AD. In the ninth century, the Byzantine Greek monks[73][74][75][76][77][78][79][80] Saints Cyril and Methodius developed the first writing system for the Slavonic languages. At this time, the Slavic dialects were so close as to make it practical to develop the written language on the dialect of a single region. There is dispute as to the precise region, but it is likely that they were developed in the region around Thessalonika. The Ohrid Literary School was established in Ohrid in 886 by Saint Clement of Ohrid on orders of Boris I of Bulgaria. In the fourteenth century, the Ottoman Turks invaded and conquered most of the Balkans, incorporating Macedonia into the Ottoman Empire. While the written language, now called Old Church Slavonic, remained static as a result of Turkish domination, the spoken dialects moved further apart. During the increase of national consciousness in the Balkans, standards for the languages of Slovene, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian were created. As Turkish influence in Macedonia waned, schools were opened up that taught the Bulgarian standard language in areas with significant Bulgarian population. The concept of the various Macedonian dialects as a part of the Bulgarian language[81] can be seen from early vernacular texts from Macedonia such as the four-language dictionary of Daniel Mоscopolites, the works of Kiril Peichinovich and Yoakim Karchovski, and some vernacular gospels written in the Greek alphabet. These written works influenced by or completely written in the local Slavic vernacular appeared in Macedonia in the 18th and beginning of the 19th century and their authors referred to their language as Bulgarian.[82] The earliest lexicographic evidence of these local dialects can be found in a lexicon from the 16th century written in the Greek alphabet.[83]

In 1845 the Russian scholar Viktor Grigorovich travelled in the Balkans in order to study the south Slavic dialects of Macedonia. His work articulated for the first time a distinct pair of two groups of Bulgarian dialects: Eastern and Western (spoken in today Western Bulgaria and Republic of Macedonia). According to his findings, a part of the Western Bulgarian variety, spoken in Macedonia, was characterized by traces of Old Slavic nasal vowels.[84] It wasn't until the works of Krste Misirkov that parts of what had been regarded as West Bulgarian dialects were defined as a separate 'Macedonian' language. Misirkov was born in a village near Pella in Greek Macedonia. Although literature had been written in the Slavic dialects of Macedonia before, arguably the most important book published in relation to the Macedonian language was Misirkov's On Macedonian Matters, published in 1903. In that book, he argued for the creation of a standard literary Macedonian language from the central dialects of Macedonia which would use a phonemic orthography.

After the first two Balkan wars, the region of Macedonia was split among Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia (Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Yugoslavia). Yugoslavia occupied the area that is currently the Republic of Macedonia incorporating it into the Kingdom as "Southern Serbia". During this time, Yugoslav Macedonia became known as Vardar Banovina (Vardar province) and the language of public life, education and the church was Serbo-Croatian. In the other two parts of Macedonia, the respective national languages, Greek and Bulgarian, were made official. In Bulgarian (Pirin) Macedonia, the local dialects continued to be described as dialects of Bulgarian.

During the second World War, a part of Yugoslav Macedonia was occupied by the Bulgarian army, who were allied with the Axis. The standard Bulgarian language was reintroduced in schools and liturgies. The Bulgarians were initially welcomed as liberators from Serbian domination until connections were made between the imposition of the Bulgarian language and unpopular Serbian assimilation policies; the Bulgarians were quickly seen as conquerors by communist movement.

There were a number of groups fighting the Bulgarian occupying force, some advocating independence and others union with Bulgaria. The eventual outcome was that almost all of Vardar Banovina (i.e. the areas which geographically became known as Vardar Macedonia) was incorporated into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a constituent Socialist Republic with the Macedonian language holding official status within both the Federation and Republic. The Macedonian language was proclaimed the official language of the Republic of Macedonia at the First Session of the Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia, held on August 2, 1944. The first official Macedonian grammar was developed by Krume Kepeski. One of the most important contributors in the standardisation of the Macedonian literary language was Blaže Koneski. The first document written in the literary standard Macedonian language is the first issue of the Nova Makedonija newspaper in 1944. Makedonska Iskra (Macedonian Spark) was the first Macedonian newspaper to be published in Australia, from 1946 to 1957. A monthly with national distribution, it commenced in Perth and later moved to Melbourne and Sydney.

  Common expressions

  • Здраво (Zdravo) — 'Hello'
  • Добро утро (Dobro utro) — 'Good morning'
  • Добар ден (Dobar den) — 'Good afternoon'
  • Добровечер (Dobrovečer) — 'Good evening'
  • Добра ноќ (Dobra nokj) — 'Good night'
  • До видување (Do viduvanje) — 'Good bye'
  • Кој сте Вие? (Koj ste Vie?) [formal, see T–V distinction] — 'Who are you?'
  • Какo сте? (Kako ste?) — 'How are you?'
  • Да (Da) — 'Yes'
  • Не (Ne) — 'No'
  • Можеби (Možebi) — 'Maybe'
  • Што правите? (Što pravite?) — 'What are you doing?'
  • Добро сум (Dobro sum) — 'I'm fine'
  • Сè најдобро (Sè najdobro) — 'All the best'
  • Поздрав (Pozdrav) — 'Regards'
  • Благодарам (Blagodaram) — 'Thank you'
  • Молам (Molam) — 'Please' or 'You're welcome'
  • Извинете (Izvinete) — 'Sorry'
  • Те сакам (Te sakam) — 'I love you'
  • Колку е часот? (Kolku e časot) — 'What's the time?'
  • Колку чини ова? (Kolku čini ova?) — 'How much does this cost?'
  • Дали зборувате…? (Zboruvate li…?) — 'Do you speak…?'
…англиски (angliski) — 'English'
…македонски (makedonski) — 'Macedonian'
…германски (germanski) — 'German'
…руски (ruski) — 'Russian'
…грчки (grčki) — 'Greek'
…турски (turski) — 'Turkish'
…бугарски (bugarski) — 'Bulgarian'
…италијански (italijanski) — 'Italian'
…француски (francuski) — 'French'
…шпански (španski) — 'Spanish'
…кинески (kineski) — 'Chinese'
…арапски (arapski) — 'Arabic'
  • Ќе се видиме наскоро (Kjе se vidime naskoro) — 'We'll see each other soon'
  • Ќе се видиме утре (Kjе se vidime utre) — 'We'll see each other tomorrow'

  Political views on the language

As with the issue of Macedonian ethnicity, the politicians, linguists and common people from Macedonia and neighbouring countries have opposing views about the existence and distinctiveness of the Macedonian language.

In the ninth century AD, saints Cyril and Methodius introduced Old Church Slavonic, the first Slavic language of literacy. Written with their newly invented Glagolitic script, this language was based largely on the dialect of Slavs spoken in Thessaloniki; this dialect is closest to present-day Macedonian and Bulgarian.[85]

Although described as being dialects of Bulgarian prior to the establishment of the standard[26][65] the current academic consensus (outside the Balkans) is that Macedonian is an autonomous language within the South Slavic dialect continuum.[86]

  Bulgarian view

In most sources in and out of Bulgaria before the Second World War, the southern Slavonic dialect continuum covering the area of today's Republic of Macedonia and Northern Greece was referred to as a group of Bulgarian dialects. The local variants of the name of the language were also balgàrtzki, bùgarski or bugàrski; i.e. Bulgarian.[87] Although Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, most of its academics, as well as the general public, regard the language spoken there as a form of Bulgarian.[4] However, after years of diplomatic impasse caused by an academic dispute, in 1999 the government in Sofia solved the problem of the Macedonian language by using the euphemistic formula: "the official language of the country (Republic of Macedonia) in accordance with its constitution".[88]

  Greek view

Greeks object to the use of the "Macedonian" name in reference to the modern Slavic language, calling it "Slavomacedonian" (Greek: σλαβομακεδονική γλώσσα), a term coined by some members of the Slavic-speaking community of northern Greece itself.[89]

  See also


  1. ^ Macedonian language on Britannica
  2. ^ a b c d e Ethnologue report for Macedonian
  3. ^ Although the precise number of speakers is unknown, figures of between 1.6 million (from Ethnologue) and 2.5 million have been cited. The general academic consensus is that there are approximately 2 million speakers of the Macedonian language, accepting that "it is difficult to determine the total number of speakers of Macedonian due to the official policies of the neighbouring Balkan states and the fluid nature of emigration." Friedman (1985:?).
  4. ^ Topolinjska (1998)
  5. ^ Friedman (1985)
  6. ^ European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
  7. ^ Macedonian language, official in Dužine and Jabuka
  8. ^ http://www.isria.com/pages/22_June_2011_99.php
  9. ^ "МИА - Македонска Информативна Агенцијa - НА ДЕНЕШЕН ДЕН". Mia.com.mk. http://www.mia.com.mk/default.aspx?mId=25&vId=74488315&lId=1&pmId=25. Retrieved 2010-08-15. 
  10. ^ Studies in contact linguistics, G. Gilbert, Glenn G. Gilbert, Janet M. Fuller, Linda L. Thornburg, Peter Lang, 2006, ISBN 0-8204-7934-9, ISBN 978-0-8204-7934-7,p. 213.
  11. ^ a b Friedman, V. (1998) "The implementation of standard Macedonian: problems and results" in International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Vol. 131, pp. 31-57
  12. ^ Mirjana N. Dedaić, Mirjana Misković-Luković. South Slavic discourse particles (John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2010), p. 13
  13. ^ Victor Roudometof. Collective memory, national identity, and ethnic conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian question (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), p. 41
  14. ^ a b c d Language profile Macedonian, UCLA International Institute
  15. ^ Levinson & O'Leary (1992:239)
  16. ^ Mazon, Andre. Contes Slaves de la Macédoine Sud-Occidentale: Etude linguistique; textes et traduction; Notes de Folklore, Paris 1923, p. 4.
  17. ^ Селищев, Афанасий. Избранные труды, Москва 1968.
  18. ^ K. Sandfeld, Balkanfilologien (København, 1926, MCMXXVI).
  19. ^ Who are the Macedonians?, Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-85065-534-0,p. 116.
  20. ^ When languages collide: perspectives on language conflict, language competition, and language coexistence, Brian D. Joseph, Ohio State University Press, 2003, p. 281, ISBN 0-8142-0913-0.
  21. ^ Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction Blackwell textbooks in linguistics, Author Benjamin W. Fortson, Publisher John Wiley and Sons, 2009, ISBN 1-4051-8896-0, p. 431.
  22. ^ Popis na Naselenie, Domaćinstva i Stanovi vo Republika Makedonija, 2002 - Vkupno naselenie na Republika Makedonija spored majčin jazik.
  23. ^ Artan & Gurraj (2001:219)
  24. ^ Topolinjska (1998:?)
  25. ^ Schmieger, R. 1998. "The situation of the Macedonian language in Greece: sociolinguistic analysis", International Journal of the Sociology of Language 131, 125–55.; Friedman (2001).
  26. ^ a b Institute of Bulgarian Language (1978) (in Bulgarian), Единството на българския език в миналото и днес, Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, p. 4, OCLC 6430481 ; Стойков (Stoykov), Стойко (2002) [1962] (in Bulgarian), Българска диалектология (Bulgarian dialectology), София: Акад. изд. "Проф. Марин Дринов", ISBN 954-430-846-6, OCLC 53429452, http://www.promacedonia.org/jchorb/st/index.htm 
  27. ^ Шклифов, Благой. Проблеми на българската диалектна и историческа фонетика с оглед на македонските говори, София 1995, с. 14.; Шклифов, Благой. Речник на костурския говор, Българска диалектология, София 1977, с. кн. VІІІ, с. 201–205,
  28. ^ Trudgill P. (2000), "Greece and European Turkey: From Religious to Linguistic Identity". In: Stephen Barbour and Cathie Carmichael (eds.), Language and Nationalism in Europe, Oxford : Oxford University Press, p.259.
  29. ^ Greek Helsinki Monitor - Report about Compliance with the Principles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
  30. ^ Шклифов, Благой and Екатерина Шклифова, Български диалектни текстове от Егейска Македония, София 2003, с. 28-36, 172 - Shkifov, Blagoy and Ekaterina Shklifova. Bulgarian dialect texts from Aegean Macedonia, Sofia 2003, p. 28-36)
  31. ^ Lois Whitman (1994): Denying ethnic identity: The Macedonians of Greece Helsinki Human Rights Watch. p.37 [1]
  32. ^ a b Michel Candelier, ed. ; Ana-Isabel Andrade ... (2004), Janua Linguarum — The Gateway to Language, Council of Europe, ISBN 92-871-5312-4 , See Page 90, (Full Document)
  33. ^ Poulton, Hugh (1997), Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, McFarland, p. 193, ISBN 0-7864-0228-8 
  34. ^ Jacques Bacid, Ph.D. Macedonia Through the Ages. Columbia University, 1983.
  35. ^ GeoNative - Macedonia
  36. ^ L. M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World 1995, Princeton University Press
  37. ^ Hill, P. (1999) "Macedonians in Greece and Albania: A Comparative study of recent developments". Nationalities Papers Volume 27, 1 March 1999, page 44(14)
  38. ^ Poulton, H.(2000), "Who are the Macedonians?",C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, page 167,

    As often occurs with Yugoslav sources, there appears to be confusion about the number of Macedonians in Greek Macedonia at present: some Yugoslav sources put the latter figure at 300,000, while more sober estimates put the number at 150,000 - 200,000

  39. ^ http://www.britannica.com/new-multimedia/pdf/wordat077.pdf
  40. ^ UCLA Language Materials Project: Language Profile
  41. ^ UCLA Language Materials Project: Language Profile
  42. ^ Eletherotipia article
  43. ^ Simpson, Neil (1994), Macedonia Its Disputed History, Victoria: Aristoc Press, pp. 101, 102 & 91, ISBN 0-646-20462-9 
  44. ^ "Report of the independent expert on minority issues, Gay McDougall Mission to Greece 8–16 September 2008". Greek Helsinki Monitor. 2009-02-18. http://cm.greekhelsinki.gr/uploads/2009_files/special_rapporteur_on_minorities_visit_to_greece_2008.pdf. 
  45. ^ a b 2002 Census - Mother tongue (p. 197)
  46. ^ 2002 Census - Total population (p. 22)
  47. ^ 1989 Census - ethnic Macedonians (p. 219)
  48. ^ Albania : 4.2.2 Language issues and policies : Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe
  49. ^ 2011 Census - Mother tongue
  50. ^ "Bulgarian 2011 census". www.nsi.bg. http://censusresults.nsi.bg/Reports/2/2/R8.aspx. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  51. ^ a b 2002 Census - Mother tongue (p. 16)
  52. ^ A combination of Balkan Censuses: [2], [3],2005 census, 2003 Census and [http://www.stat.si/popis2002/si/rezultati/rezultati_red.asp?ter=SLO&st=7
  53. ^ a b 2006 Census - Language spoken most often at home
  54. ^ a b c d e Estimate from the MFA
  55. ^ a b 2001 Census - People who spoke a language other than english at home
  56. ^ property=file.xls 2006 figures
  57. ^ Estimate from the Macedonian MFA
  58. ^ Italian government statistics
  59. ^ American FactFinder
  60. ^ 2000 Swiss government statistics - Population by National Languages
  61. ^ 2010 Swiss government statistics - Population by Nationality
  62. ^ 2001 census, 2001 census, 2001 census , Population Estimate from the MFA, OECD Statistics, 2002 census, 2002 census, 2006 census, 2008 census, 2008 census, 2003 census, 2005 census, Statistics New Zealand:Language spoken (total responses) for the 1996-2006 censuses (Table 16), 2003 Census and 2002 census
  63. ^ After Z. Topolińska and B. Vidoeski (1984), Polski-macedonski gramatyka konfrontatiwna, z.1, PAN.
  64. ^ Comrie & Corbett (2002:247)
  65. ^ a b Стойков (Stoykov), Стойко (2002) [1962] (in Bulgarian), Българска диалектология (Bulgarian dialectology), София: Акад. изд. "Проф. Марин Дринов", ISBN 954-430-846-6, OCLC 53429452, http://www.promacedonia.org/jchorb/st/index.htm 
  66. ^ a b Lunt (1952:1)
  67. ^ Friedman, V. (2001) Macedonian (SEELRC), p. 40.
  68. ^ a b Бојковска, Стојка; Лилјана Минова - Ѓуркова, Димитар Пандев, Живко Цветковски (декември 2008). Саветка Димитрова. ed. Општа граматика на македонскиот јазик. Скопје: АД Просветно Дело. ISBN [[Special:BookSources/978-9989-0-0662-7|978-9989-0-0662-7]]. 
  69. ^ Кепески, К. (1946), Македонска граматика, Скопје, Државно книгоиздавателство на Македонија.
  70. ^ In his most famous work "On the Macedonian Matters" (available online), Misirkov uses the word собитие (a Russian loan taken from Bulgarian) where настан is used today.
  71. ^ Friedman (1998:?)
  72. ^ a b c d Т. Димитровски. Литературната лексика на македонскиот писмен јазик во XIX в. и нашиот однос кон неа: Реферати на македонските слависти за VI Меѓународен славистички конгрес во Прага, Скопје, 1968 (T. Dimitrovski. The literary vocabulary of the Macedonian written language in the 19th century and our attitude to it. Abstracts of Macedonian slavists for the 6th International Slavistic Congress in Prague. Skopje, 1968)
  73. ^ Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05, s.v. "Cyril and Methodius, Saints"; Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Incorporated, Warren E. Preece – 1972, p.846, s.v., "Cyril and Methodius, Saints" and "Eastern Orthodoxy, Missions ancient and modern"; Encyclopedia of World Cultures, David H. Levinson, 1991, p.239, s.v., "Social Science"; Eric M. Meyers, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East, p.151, 1997; Lunt, Slavic Review, June, 1964, p. 216; Roman Jakobson, Crucial problems of Cyrillo-Methodian Studies; Leonid Ivan Strakhovsky, A Handbook of Slavic Studies, p.98; V.Bogdanovich , History of the ancient Serbian literature, Belgrade, 1980, p.119
  74. ^ The Columbia Encyclopaedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05, O.Ed. Saints Cyril and Methodius "Cyril and Methodius, Saints) 869 and 884, respectively, “Greek missionaries, brothers, called Apostles to the Slavs and fathers of Slavonic literature."
  75. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Major alphabets of the world, Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabets, 2008, O.Ed. "The two early Slavic alphabets, the Cyrillic and the Glagolitic, were invented by St. Cyril, or Constantine (c. 827–869), and St. Methodius (c. 825–884). These men were Greeks from Thessaloniki who became apostles to the southern Slavs, whom they converted to Christianity."
  76. ^ Hastings, Adrian (1997). The construction of nationhood: ethnicity, religion, and nationalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-521-62544-0. ". the activity of the brothers Constantine (later renamed Cyril) and Methodius, aristocratic Greek priests who were sent from Constantinople." 
  77. ^ Fletcher, R. A. (1999). The barbarian conversion: from paganism to Christianity. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press. p. 327. ISBN 0-520-21859-0. 
  78. ^ Cizevskij, Dmitrij; Zenkovsky, Serge A.; Porter, Richard E.. Comparative History of Slavic Literatures. Vanderbilt University Press. pp. vi. ISBN 0-8265-1371-9. ""Two Greek brothers from Salonika, Constantine who later became a monk and took the name Cyril and Methodius." 
  79. ^ The illustrated guide to the Bible. New York: Oxford University Press. 1998. p. 14. ISBN 0-19-521462-5. "In Eastern Europe, the first translations of the Bible into the Slavoruic languages were made by the Greek missionaries Cyril and Methodius in the 860s" 
  80. ^ Smalley, William Allen (1991). Translation as mission: Bible translation in the modern missionary movement. Macon, Ga.: Mercer. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-86554-389-8. "The most important instance where translation and the beginning church did coincide closely was in Slavonic under the brothers Cyril, Methodius, with the Bible completed by A.D. 880 This was a missionary translation but unusual again (from a modern point of view) because not a translation into the dialect spoken where the missionaries were The brothers were Greeks who had been brought up in Macedonia." 
  81. ^ Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world, Keith Brown, Sarah Ogilvie, Elsevier, 2008, ISBN 0-08-087774-5, pp. 120; 663.
  82. ^ F. A. K. Yasamee "NATIONALITY IN THE BALKANS: THE CASE OF THE MACEDONIANS" in Balkans: A Mirror of the New World Order, Istanbul: EREN, 1995; pp. 121–132.
  83. ^ 'Un Lexique Macedonien Du XVIe Siecle', Giannelli, Ciro. Avec la collaboration de Andre Vaillant, 1958
  84. ^ Seriot (1997:177)
  85. ^ Dostál (1965:69)
  86. ^ Trudgill (1992:?)
  87. ^ Шклифов, Благой and Екатерина Шклифова, Български деалектни текстове от Егейска Македония, София 2003, с. 28–33 (Shklifov, Blagoy and Ekaterina Shklifova. Bulgarian dialect texts from Aegean Macedonia Sofia 2003, p. 28–36)
  88. ^ 1999/02/22 23:50 Bulgaria Recognises Macedonian Language
  89. ^ Although acceptable in the past, current use of this name in reference to both the ethnic group and the language can be considered pejorative and offensive by ethnic Macedonians. In the past, the Macedonian Slavs in Greece seemed relieved to be acknowledged as "Slavomacedonians". Pavlos Koufis, a native of Greek Macedonia, pioneer of ethnic Macedonian schools in the region and local historian, says in Laografika Florinas kai Kastorias (Folklore of Florina and Kastoria), Athens 1996:

    "[During its Panhellenic Meeting in September 1942, the KKE mentioned that it recognises the equality of the ethnic minorities in Greece] the KKE recognised that the Slavophone population was ethnic minority of Slavomacedonians]. This was a term, which the inhabitants of the region accepted with relief. [Because] Slavomacedonians = Slavs+Macedonians. The first section of the term determined their origin and classified them in the great family of the Slav peoples."

    The Greek Helsinki Monitor reports:

    "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness. Unfortunately, according to members of the community, this term was later used by the Greek authorities in a pejorative, discriminatory way; hence the reluctance if not hostility of modern-day Macedonians of Greece (i.e. people with a Macedonian national identity) to accept it."


  • Comrie, Bernard; Corbett, Greville (2002), "The Macedonian language", The Slavonic Languages, New York: Routledge Publications 
  • Dostál, Antonín (1965), "The Origins of the Slavonic Liturgy", Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks, Trustees for Harvard University) 19: 67–87, DOI:10.2307/1291226, JSTOR 1291226 
  • Hill, P. (1999), "Macedonians in Greece and Albania: A comparative study of recent developments", Nationalities Papers 27 (1): 17, DOI:10.1080/009059999109163 
  • Friedman, Victor (2001), "Macedonian", in Garry, Jane; Rubino, Carl, Facts about the World's Languages: An Encyclopedia of the Worlds Major Languages, Past and Present, New York: Holt, pp. 435–439 
  • Friedman, Victor (1998), "The implementation of standard Macedonian: problems and results", International Journal of the Sociology of Language (131): 31–57 
  • Hoxha, Artan; Gurraj, Alma (2001), "Local self-government and decentralization: case of Albania. History, reformes [sic and challenges."] (PDF), Local Self Government and Decentralization in South-East Europe:Proceedings of the Workshop held in Zagreb, 6th April 2001, pp. 194–224, http://www.fes.hr/E-books/pdf/Local%20Self%20Government/09.pdf 
  • Levinson, David; O'Leary, Timothy (1992), Encyclopedia of World Cultures, G.K. Hall, p. 239, ISBN 0-8161-1808-6 
  • Lunt, Horace G. (1952), Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language, Skopje 
  • Mahon, Milena (1998), "The Macedonian question in Bulgaria", Nations and Nationalism 4 (3): 389–407, DOI:10.1111/j.1354-5078.1998.00389.x 
  • Poulton, Hugh (2000), Who Are the Macedonians?, United Kingdom: C. Hurst & Co. Ltd., ISBN 0-253-34598-7 
  • Seriot, Patrick (1997), "Faut-il que les langues aient un nom? Le cas du macédonien", in Tabouret-Keller, Andrée, Le nom des langues. L'enjeu de la nomination des langues, 1, Louvain: Peeters, pp. 167–190, http://www2.unil.ch/slav/ling/recherche/biblio/97macedTK.html 
  • Topolinjska, Z. (1998), "In place of a foreword: facts about the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian language", International Journal of the Sociology of Language (131): 1–11 
  • Trudgill, Peter (1992), "Ausbau sociolinguistics and the perception of language status in contemporary Europe", International Journal of Applied Linguistics 2 (2): 167–177, DOI:10.1111/j.1473-4192.1992.tb00031.x 

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