Macedonian language

South Slavic language mostly spoken in North Macedonia and its neighbouring countries

Macedonian language (Macedonian: Македонски јазик, romanized: Makedonski jazik) is a Eastern South Slavic language spoken mainly in North Macedonia and other parts of the Balkans, including South-West Bulgaria, Eastern Albania and Gora region in Kosovo. The Macedonian language has many similarities with Bulgarian and Serbian. Most Bulgarian historians do not recognize the language and label Macedonian as a dialect of Bulgarian, as do some linguists. Some estimate that there are around 3 million speakers in the world.

Macedonian language
Македонски јазик
Makedonski jazik
Native toRepublic of North Macedonia, Australia, Serbia, Albania, Germany, France, Greece, Italy, United States, Canada, Turkey
RegionThe Balkans
Native speakers
1.6[1] - 3 million[2]
Cyrillic (Macedonian variant)
Official status
Official language in
North Macedonia
recognised as minority language in parts of:
 Bosnia and Herzegovina[7]
Regulated byMacedonian Language Institute "Krste Misirkov" at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje
Language codes
ISO 639-1mk
ISO 639-2mac (B)
mkd (T)
ISO 639-3mkd
Countries with significant Macedonian-speaking populations

Distrubution change

Today in Albania, the Macedonian language is spoken mostly in Mala Prespa, Golo Brdo and almost all border areas with the Republic of North Macedonia. In Bulgaria, the Macedonian language is spoken in Blagoevgrad Province and in Serbia it is spoken in the border region with North Macedonia and in the Gora area of Kosovo.[8] In Greece, the Macedonian language is still spoken by some Slavic speakers but the number of remaining speakers is not clear.[9]

History change

In terms of Macedonian historians the history of the language is divided as the following periods:[8]

  • First appearance and documentation: IX — XI c.
  • Macedonian dialects influence on Old Slavonic: XII and XIII c.
  • Church Slavonic written language from the Macedonian dialcets and from a mixed type: XIV and XVIII c.
  • beginning of the Macedonian literary language (the appearance of the National Revival during Ottoman rule): XVI century.
  • discussion about the appearance and basis of the modern written language for Macedonians: second half of the XIX century.
  • Final standardization of the language from 1944 and 1945.

Attempts of codifying a Macedonian language change

The idea of standardization of the Macedonian language has its roots in the 19th century, but the first serious attempt at a scientific approach was the publication of the book "On Macedonian Matters" by Krste Petkov Misirkov in 1903, on the basis of which in 1945 and the standardization of the modern Macedonian language was carried out. This book was criticized by the Bulgarian public, because around the time the Bulgarian propaganda was trying to push the theory that the Macedonian language and people were Bulgarians, so it was immediately seized and destroyed. Only a few copies remained, one of which was found by K. Nedelkovski in the Sofia library.[10]

Based on the ideas about the uniqueness of the Macedonian language and the need for its codification published by Gjorgija Pulevski, and the ones published by Krste Petkov Misirkov, when codifying the language they did the following:[10]

  • Make the main grammar and spelling be based of the dialect the central region (VelesPrilepBitolaOhrid);
  • Make the language a phonetic language (spelt exactly as it's pronounced with no silent letters or different sounding letters)
  • lexical fund of all Macedonian languages.

Codification change

Decision from ASNOM to start using the Macedonian language as the official language of the newly formed Macedonian country (1944)

The codification of the Macedonian language is related to the following historical events:

Macedonian statehood is strengthened with the historic decisions of the First Session of ASNOM. Among those decisions of particular importance is the Decision to introduce the Macedonian literary language as an official language in the Macedonian state.

Decision for the use of the Macedonian Alphabet as the main alphabet in the newly formed Macedonian country (May 1st 1945), created by ASNOM

Also, the Presidium of ASNOM, as the highest body of the Macedonian state, in November 1944 appointed a commission composed of Macedonian philologists and social actors who were to submit a proposal for the alphabet and spelling of the Macedonian language. The issue of the alphabet and spelling was resolved in May 1945. Along with this issue, the members of the commission considered several issues of particular importance for the formation of the Macedonian literary language.

The codification of the Macedonian literary language reflects the Macedonian language practice. Blaže Koneski has made a significant contribution to the codification of the Macedonian literary language and to the standardization of the literary-linguistic norm.

The Macedonian language has similarities with other Slavic languages, and mostly with the Serbian language. The Macedonian and Bulgarian languages are the only ones from the group of Slavic languages that lost their case forms in the course of development, and only the vocative (Македонијо; Мајко; професоре, etc.) remains, as well as in some words (немо, нему, скришум, etc.).

Phonology change

Vowels of Macedonian[11]
Front Central Back
Close и /i/ у /u/
Mid е /ɛ/ о /ɔ/
Open а /a/
Consonants of Macedonian[11]
Bilabial Labio-
Dental Alveolar Post-
Palatal Velar
Nasal m n ɲ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k g
Affricate ts dz
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ x
Approximant j
Trill r
Lateral ɫ l

Alphabet change

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

CyrillicIPA А а/a/ Б б/b/ В в/v/ Г г/ɡ/ Д д/d/ Ѓ ѓ


Е е/ɛ/ Ж ж/ʒ/ З з/z/ Ѕ ѕ


И и/i/
CyrillicIPA Ј ј/j/ К к/k/ Л л/l/ Љ љ/lj/ М м/m/ Н н/n/ Њ њ/ɲ/ О о/ɔ/ П п/p/ Р р/r/ С с/s/
CyrillicIPA Т т/t/ Ќ ќ


У у/u/ Ф ф/f/ Х х


Ц ц/ts/ Ч ч/tʃ/ Џ џ/dʒ/ Ш ш/ʃ/

References change

  1. 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 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:?).
  3. Hill (1999:?)
  4. Focus News (4 јули 2003) Kosovo Government Acquires Macedonian language and grammar books for Gorani Minority Schools
  5. Macedonian language, official in Dužine and Jabuka
  6. „European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages“ Archived 2012-05-22 at the Wayback Machine. Архивирано од изворникот на 2018-12-26. Посетено на 2009-09-06.
  7. "Reservations and Declarations for Treaty No.148 – European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages". Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Конески, Блаже (1967). Историја на македонскиот јазик. Скопје: Култура.
  9. "Macedonians Hail Opening of Pioneer Language Centre in Greece". Balkan Insight (BIRN). 30 November 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Груевска-Маџоска, Симона (2020). „За стандардизацијата на македонскиот јазик во XX век од социолингвистички аспект“. Македонскиот јазик - континуитет во простор и време. Скопје: Македонска академија на науките и уметностите. стр. 241–242.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Lunt (1952:1)

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