FREE Quote   Call Toll FREE: 1-800-322-0284
Accredited Language Services
Free Translation Tool Website Translation Language Identifier LanguagesCountries Useful Links

Macedonian

The Macedonian language is controversial in many aspects, from its actual name to its linguistic classification.

An official language in the country of Macedonia, formally known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Macedonian is not even recognized as an autonomous language by some academics within the Balkans region. A number of other disputes surrounding Macedonian make it an interesting language to study.

Disputed Classification of the Macedonian Language

Macedonian is part of the South Slavic branch of the Slavic language family, along with the closely-related Bulgarian language. However, due to the similarities between the Bulgarian and Macedonian languages, the country of Bulgaria classifies Macedonian not as a language, but as a southwest Bulgarian dialect.

In the past, many Serbs have also refused to acknowledge Macedonian as an autonomous language, referring to it as a south Serbian dialect until 1945. Many linguists in Macedonia, on the other hand, consider the Serbian and Bulgarian languages to be dialects of the Macedonian language.

These disputes have arisen largely due to the similarities found between these languages and because of the complicating fact that in the South Slavic language area, linguistic divisions do not correspond to geopolitical divisions. Despite these varying theories, most academics outside of the Balkans region classify Macedonian as a fully autonomous language separate from Bulgarian or Serbian.

Early History of the Macedonian Language

Map of Macedonia

As a Slavic language, Macedonian traces its origins back to the language of the Slav people, who migrated from Old Poland and settled throughout Eastern Europe in the 6th century AD. Three primary Slavic language groups emerged as the Slav peoples resettled: Eastern, Western, and Southern.

Macedonian originated from this last group. The first Slavic language of literacy was one developed by the missionaries Cyril and Methodius around the 9th century AD, who hoped to bring their religion to the Slavic-speaking peoples of the Eastern European regions.

Macedonia in World War II

During World War II, Germany and the Axis allies, including Bulgaria, conquered and divided the union of Yugoslavia, which included present-day Macedonia. Resistance against the Bulgarian occupation that ensued quickly grew under the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. In 1943 Tito proclaimed that the Macedonians made up a distinct nation and were entitled to their own republic in postwar Yugoslavia.

By 1945, Tito had reestablished Yugoslavia as a federal state comprised of six republics, among them Yugoslav Macedonia. Tito maintained control until his death in 1980, a time when Yugoslav Macedonia was being hit by a difficult economic crisis.

Standardization of the Macedonian Language After World War II

Despite the fact that a Macedonian literary culture can be dated back to the 18th century, Macedonian as a standardized official language dates only from 1944, the year Macedonian was declared the official language of Yugoslav Macedonia. In the years that followed, the Macedonian language was quickly standardized.

The first official Macedonian grammar text was designed by Krume Kepeski. In 1944, the first document written in the newly standardized literary Macedonian appeared: an issue of the Macedonian language newspaper Nova Makedonija.

Purifying the Macedonian Language

Due to a close relationship, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Macedonian all share a significant amount of vocabulary. In the Macedonian language, a standardization process following World War II put forth efforts to purify the Macedonian language from any “Serbisms” or “Bulgarisms.”

Archaic terms and words from various native dialects were introduced to replace such words. While various loan words from the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Russian languages do still exist in the Macedonian language, efforts are still made to promote a purely Macedonian language free of these outside linguistic influences.

Macedonia After the Collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Flag of Macedonia

In 1991, Macedonian Slavs voted for independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, following similar actions by Slovenia and Croatia. Negotiations with the Yugoslav army resulted in a peaceful withdrawal of troops, making Yugoslav Macedonia the only former Yugoslav republic to gain its independence without entering warfare.

Contemporary Macedonian Language and Dialects

Today Macedonian serves as the official language of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where it is spoken by approximately 2 million people. Macedonian is a native language to the majority of Macedonia’s inhabitants, and is also a second language for many minority groups in the country. Macedonian is also spoken and taught in schools in Romania, due to the fact that Macedonians are an officially recognized minority group.

The Macedonian language is divided into two primary dialects: eastern and western. Differences between the two are small, however, and in general Macedonian dialects are less distinct than those of other Slavic languages such as Slovenian, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, or Bulgarian.

Controversy Concerning the Term “Macedonia”

The terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” have been criticized by the Greek peoples, who have vociferously opposed the use of these terms in reference to the former Yugoslav republic, its language, and people.

Many Greeks believe that the ancient Macedonian language, which they view as a dialect of ancient Greek, is the “only” Macedonian language. They therefore object to it being used in reference to a Slavic language, and even find its use in reference to Slavic Macedonian to be offensive. Most Greeks associate the term “Macedonian” with the dialect of Modern Greek spoken in the north of the country.

The Greek assertion that “Macedonia” is historically a Greek name and should remain exclusively a Greek term has caused considerable problems for Macedonia. For example, Greece imposed an economic blockade against the country in 1994, and Greece’s opposition to Macedonia joining the European Union made Macedonia’s struggle to join the EU significantly more difficult.


Get Your FREE Quote



 

Macedonian Quick Facts

Alternate Names & Spellings: Makedonski, Slavic, Macedonian Slavic

Language Family: Indo-European, Slavic, South, Eastern.

Official Language of: Macedonia

Spoken by Approximately 1,300,000 people

Also Spoken In: United States

Related Services


Learn About Other Languages


A

Afar

Afrikaans

Akan

Albanian

Amharic

Arabic

Aramaic

Armenian

Ashanti

Aymará

Azerbaijani

B

Bafut

Bahasa

Bambara

Basque

Bassa

Belarussian

Bemba

Bengali

Bislama

Blackfoot

Bosnian

Breton

Bulgarian

Burmese

C

Cajun

Cambodian

Cantonese

Catalan

Cebuano

Chamoro

Chichewa

Chinese

Chinook

Creole

Croatian

Crow

Czech

D

Danish

Dari

Dhivehi

Dutch

Dzongkha

E

Edo

English

Estonian

Ewe

F

Faroese

Farsi

Fijian

Fijian Hindi

Filipino

Finnish

Flemish

French

Frisian

Fulani

Fuuta Jalon

G

Ga

Gaelic

Galician

Georgian

German

Gikuyu

Greek

Greenlandic

Guaraní

Gujarati

H

Hausa

Hawaiian

Hebrew

Hindi

Hmong

Hungarian

I

Ibo

Icelandic

Ilocano

Ilonggo

Indonesian

Italian

J

Japanese

Jola

K

Kannada

Karen

Kazakh

Khalkha Mongol

Khmer

Kinyarwanda

Kirghiz

Kirundi

Kissi

Kiswahili

Koniagui

Kono

Korean

Kurdish

Kwanyama

Kyrgyz

L

Laotian

Latin

Latvian

Liberian

Lingala

Lithuanian

Luxemburgian

M

Macedonian

Malagasy

Malay

Malayalam

Malinke

Maltese

Mandarin

Mandingo

Mandinka

Maori

Marathi

Marshallese

Mirandese

Moldovan

Mongolian

N

Nauruan

Navajo

Ndebele

Nepali

Niuean

Norwegian

Nzema

O

Oriya

Oromo

Ossetian

Otetela

P

Palauan

Papiamento

Pashtu

Polish

Polynesian

Portuguese

Provencal

Punjabi

Pushtu

Q

Quechua

R

Romanian

Russian

S

Samoan

Sanskrit

Scots

Serbian

Sesotho

Sign Language

Sign Language - American

Sindhi

Sinhala

Sinhalese

Sioux

Slovak

Slovenian

Somali

Soninke

Spanish

Sranan

Swahili

Swati

Swedish

T

Tagalog

Tajik

Tamil

Telugu

Tetum

Thai

Tibetan

Tigrigna

Tokelauan

Tongan

Turkish

Turkman

Tuvaluan

Twi

Tzotzil

U

Ukrainian

Urdu

Uzbek

V

Valencian

Vietnamese

Vlaams

W

Wallisian

Welsh

Wolof

X

Xhosa

Y

Yanomami

Yiddish

Yoruba

Z

Zarma

Zulu