Macedonian language

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Македонски јазик
Makedonski jazik
Native toRepublic of North Macedonia, Greece, Australia, Serbia, Albania, Germany, France, 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

Macedonian language (Macedonian: Македонски јазик, romanized: Makedonski jazik) is a Eastern South Slavic language spoken mainly in Macedonia and other parts of the Balkan, including South-West Bulgaria, Northern Greece and Eastern Albania. Some estimate that there are around 3 million speakers in the world.

Distrubution[change | change source]

Map of the speakers in the Balkans.

the Macedonian language was formed from the speeches of the Macedonian tribes that inhabited the territory of Macedonia, so they are deep in the territories of today's Greece and Albania, but with the very development of the states of that region narrowed down and the Macedonian dialects in those parts slowly began to be replaced by other languages. Today in Albania, the Macedonian language is spoken mostly in Mala Prespa, Golo Brdo and almost all border areas with the Republic of Macedonia. In Aegean Macedonia, the Macedonian language is spoken mostly in Voden and Lerin prefectures, but also in other towns and villages in Aegean Macedonia. In Bulgaria, the Macedonian language is spoken in Pirin Macedonia and in Serbia it is spoken in the border region with Macedonia and in the Gora area of Kosovo.[8]

The Macedonian speech around Thessaloniki was the basis for the formation of the Old Slavic language and literacy. What characterizes the history of the Macedonian language is its radical change that occurred from the 10th century onwards. Similar changes affected the Bulgarian language and the eastern dialects of the Serbian language. Those fundamental changes led to a small sharing of grammatical features between the Old Slavic and Macedonian languages,[8] so as a result the Macedonian recension of the Old Slavic language was created. Well-known centers of Macedonian review are the Ohrid Literary School and the Lesnov Literary School.

History[change | change source]

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.

Early Period[change | change source]

Codex Assemanianus, old script written in an old Macedonian dialect from the 10th century

The Macedonian languages early began to develop certain features that set them apart as a whole in relation to the languages of the neighboring South Slavic languages.

One such feature is the replacement of the hard sign, such as: Ъ > о, Ь > е (сон, темно). This change occurred in the 10th century and is quite represented in Old Slavic texts of Macedonian origin. Unlike Macedonian, in Serbian and Croatian these vowels merged into one sound - a (сан, дан), while in Bulgarian they merged into Ъ with the difference that before Ь the soft pronunciation of the consonant (сън, дън) was kept.

The Macedonian language also showed a special development in relation to nasal consonants. Here the vocalization of the hard sign appeared and the change of nasal consonants are chronologically and as a result separate phenomena. At the same time, it was only in the Macedonian language that Ѧ was equated with Ѣ, after the loss of the nasal consonant, so that in the texts from the 12th century and the 13th century there were examples such as: пѦтель for пѢтель, сѢмѢ for сѢмѦ, etc. In other words, this development went like this: Ѧ > Ѣ (ä)> is. In some West Macedonian dialects, especially in Pogradec and Gorica in Albania, the pronunciation with ä is still preserved, so we have: рʲäka for river.

Attempts of codifying a Macedonian language[change | change source]

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.[9]

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:[9]

  • 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 | change source]

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 | change source]

Vowels of Macedonian[10]
Front Central Back
Close и /i/ у /u/
Mid е /ɛ/ о /ɔ/
Open а /a/
Consonants of Macedonian[10]
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 | change source]

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 | change source]

  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“. 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 8.2 Конески, Блаже (1967). Историја на македонскиот јазик. Скопје: Култура.
  9. 9.0 9.1 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.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lunt (1952:1)

Other websites[change | change source]