Is there Macedonia Language?

From a Bulgarian Dialect to a Macedonian Language!

The 'Macedonian' language, as a self-contained Slav tongue, was completely unknown until the time of the Second World War. The language used by the Slav-speaking inhabitants of southern Yugoslavia and south-western Bulgaria was known to be an idiomatic form of Bulgarian.

After the foundation of the 'Socialist Republic of Macedonia ', attempts were made, for obvious political reasons, to break the linguistic bonds which joined the inhabitants of Yugoslav Macedonia with Bulgaria. For that reason, an army of philologists and scholars of literature was pressed into service to construct a separate written language.

Taking the Perlepes dialect as their starting-point and borrowing widely from Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian and other Slav languages, the 'Macedonian literary language' was created and recognized by the Yugoslav Constitution as one of the country's three official languages.

It is true that in central Macedonia, and even more so in the north, the Slav-speaking population had a Slav dialect of their own. This served only for oral communication (there was no written language) and had a very scanty vocabulary of no more than one thousand to one thousand five hundred words. Of those, the majority were derived from Slav languages, though there were numerous Greek words in correct or corrupt forms and borrowings from Turkish, Vlach and Albanian. In essence, this dialect was the western form of the Bulgarian language spoken in northern Macedonia. The only real difference between the official (eastern) form of the language and the western dialect was the shift in the letter 5' ('promenlivoto 5"). Wherever this letter occurred in official Bulgarian, the western dialect converted it to E: thus, for instance, Bulgarian A5'TO ('ljato', summer) is pronounced 'LETO' in the western dialect.

Naturally enough, when Bulgarian education began to penetrate Macedonia after 1878, the differences between the dialect and official Bulgarian became less pronounced.

The Greek language had been spoken in Macedonia since ancient times, and as everyone knows the entire works of the Macedonian philosopher Aristotle were written in Greek.

As Nikolaos Martis aptly points out, "If we accept that the Macedonians spoke another non-Greek language, then how can this language have disappeared so suddenly and completely that not one text, not one inscription survived, and how did it fail to impose itself given the pride the Macedonians took in their origins?" (12).

Plutarch tells us that when Alexander the Great selected 30,000 Persians to join his army, he gave orders "that they should learn proper Greek and be trained in Macedonian weapons" (13).

The fact that the Macedonians spoke the same language as the other Greeks can also be seen in the work of the Roman historian Livy, who describes the assembly of Greeks in Aetolia in 200 BC as having been attended by "representatives of the Aetolians, the Acarnanians and the Macedon ians, all of whom spoke the same Ianguage" (14).

Professor Nikolaos Andriotis, of the Chair of Linguistics at Thessaloniki University, published his The Federal State of Skopje and its Language in English in 1957 and in Greek in 1960. On p.34, he notes that "In September1944, a committee of scholars was formed at Skopje in order to fix the grammatical form and orthography of the 'Macedon ian language

In an article entitled 'Macedonico' (15), the Italian linguist Vittore Pisani states that "the Macedon ian language is actually an artifact produced for primarily political reasons".

Despite 45 years of endeavor, the new language continues to be an offshoot of Bulgarian not that that has prevented Skopje from proclaiming for domestic and foreign consumption that there is such a thing as a 'Macedonian language'. The historians of Skopje have attempted to demonstrate that their dialect is a separate Slav language, thus further supporting the ethnic differentiation between 'Slav Macedonians' and Bulgarians. However, the Bulgarians themselves have produced a wealth of evidence to show that the 'Macedonian' school-books cited by Skopje were no more than Bulgarian texts printed in the local dialect "for the use of Macedonian Bulgarians", as was printed at the top of the page.

When the inhabitants of a region speak a particular language, they have an educational system which corresponds to it (teachers, schools and pupils). Between 1878 and 1888, the number of Greek schools, academies and nursery schools in Macedonia tripled: there were 58,000 Greek pupils in a total of nearly 900 schools, and that by itself is sufficient proof of the Greekness of Macedonia.

As the modern Skopje historian Kriste Pitoski writes, "the churches and schools of the town of Monastir in the mid-l9th century were in Greek hands" (16).

The number of Greeks among the population of Macedonia is also demonstrated by the memorandum submitted to his government in 1901 by Lecanda Lazarescu, head of Rornanian propaganda: "In villages where the population consists entirely of Vlachs, the Greek schools are packed with pupils while the Romanian schools stand empty. The Vlachs contribute to the running of the Greek schools and, when they die, leave their fortunes to the cause of disseminating Greek education" (17).

There can thus be no doubt that the 'Macedon ian language 'was invented to serve specific purposes. Since 1944, the linguists of Skopje have been engaged in a massive campaign to rid the Slav-Macedonian dialect of all its Bulgarian features and replace them with Serbo-Croatian words. They were so successful in this that a mere ten years after the attempt began the Bulgarian Macedonians of Pirin had difficulty in understanding radio programmes broadcast in Skopje.

9. The Pseudo-Macedonian Church of Skopje

The 'Orthodox Church of Macedonia ', founded in Skopje in 1967, which was initially autonomous and is now autocephalous, has done much to spread propaganda about the non-existent 'Macedonian Question'. Soon after its own foundation, this 'Church' set up a 'bishopric' in the United States.

It should be borne in mind, first of all, that no other Yugoslav republic has an independent church. This 'Church', founded in violation of all the rules of Orthodoxy, is not recognised either by the Ecumenical Patriarchate or by the Patriarch-ate of Serbia or indeed by any other Orthodox church. To cap it all, the pseudo-Orthodox Church of Macedonia was unique in world history as the only church to be set up by a Communist state which officially persecuted the Christian religion!

The irregularity of the founding of the 'Orthodox Church of Macedonia' by Presidential Decree and in the face of objections from the Patriarchate of Serbia broke the spiritual bonds between the Slavs in the Republic of Skopje and the Serbian nation.

Tito himself undertook to inaugurate this new ecclesiastical policy. On 28 May 1958, he received the hierarchy of the Serbian Church at the Presidential Palace, and, replying to an address by Patriarch Vincent of Serbia, said: "It is my wish that you should solve the problems of the Church of Macedonia in the best possible way and in accordance with the interests of our country" (18).

Despite Tito's personal intervention, the Serbian Church refused to settle the matter, and the years which followed were marked by a tug-of-war between the Church of Serbia and the governing Communist Party over whether a 'Macedonian Church' should be formed.

In the end, an assembly of clergy and laity controlled by Skopje met at Ochrid on 17 July 1967 and bestowed autocephalous status on the 'Church of Macedonia The Serbian Patriarchate reacted immediately, and at an extra-ordinary assembly on 14 and 15 September 1967 decided that the irregular activities of the 'Church of Macedonia' had severed all bonds between it and the Orthodox Church as a whole. The assembly went as far as to describe the 'Macedonian Church' as a "schismatic religious organisation".

All students of the subject are agreed that the objective of Tito's government was not to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful under a Communist regime in a more satisfactory manner. Tito used his political fabrication for the purposes of propaganda and to promote Skopje's positions abroad. Despite the limited role which the pseudo-Macedonian Church has played in domestic developments, it has to be admitted that it has been an effective means of disorientating and misinforming emigrants from the broader geographical area of Macedonia (Greeks and Bulgarians).

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