Macedonian language

Macedonian (македонски јазик, pronounced [maˈkɛdɔnski ˈjazik]  is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia and a member of the Eastern group of South Slavic languages. Standard Macedonian was implemented as the official language of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia after being codified in the 1940s, and has accumulated a thriving literary tradition.
Macedonian dialects form a dialect continuum with Serbian (Torlak) on North, and Bulgarian on East.

Classification and related languages

The modern Macedonian language belongs to the eastern sub-branch of the South Slavic branch of the Slavic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. The closest relative of Macedonian is Bulgaria, with which it is mutually intelligible. Before their codification in 1945 Macedonian dialects were for the most part classified as Bulgarian, and some lingusts consider them still as such, but this view is politically controversial. Following that, the next closest languages are Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian. All the South Slavic languages, including Macedonian, form a dialect continuum, in which Macedonian is situated between Bulgarian and Serbian. The Torlakian dialect group is intermediate between Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian, comprising some of the northernmost dialects of Macedonian as well as varieties spoken in southern Serbia.
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 the only Slavic languages that don't use noun cases (except for the vocative, and apart from some traces of once living inflections still found scattered throughout the languages). They are also the only Slavic languages with any definite articles (there are three: unspecified, proximate and distal). This last feature is shared with Romanian, Greek, and Albanian.

Geographical distribution

The population of the Republic of Macedonia was 2,022,547 in 2002, with 1,644,815 speaking Macedonian as the native language. 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
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,[16] 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 language in parts of Albania, Romania, and Serbia. 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.

History

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 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 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.The earliest lexicographic evidence of these local dialects can be found in a lexicon from the 16th century written in the Greek alphabet.
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. 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 the 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.

Read more on Source: Macedonian language on Wikipedia

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