- Linguistic origins of F.Y.R.O.M – From Bulgarian dialect to “Macedonian” language
Linguistically the current so-called “Macedonian” language was and is infact a Bulgarian dialect. Beginning in the 1860 and 70s, the Bulgarian idiom was dubbed ‘makedonski’ by the first Macedonists, without success initially they attempted to promote the term among the wider Slavonic population of Macedonia. In 1903 whilst in Sofia, Krste Misirikov, (who indeed possessed of a strong Bulgarian conscience) was the first person to transform the idiom into a literary language by laying down the principles of the ‘Makedonski’ language in his book: ”Za Makedonckite Raboti” (On Macedonian Matters). Come the Balkan wars, the Slavic idiom of the population of Vardar was still regarded by most Slavologists and foreign obsevers as a Bulgarian dialect, despite Serbian claims of it being a off-shoot of the Serbian language. In 1913 Yugoslavia undertook a policy of de-bulgarianization and Serbinization of the Slavic idiom of Vardarska. In 1945 a similar policy was adopted in terms of de-bulgarianising the dialect by the YCP (Yugoslav Communist Party) who codified the “Macedonian” alphabet and language. The codification of the idiom was based in part on the principles laid down by Misirkov. Despite the Slavs of F.Y.R.O.M being under the rule of Belgrade for 75 years (monarchist rule from 1913 until communist rule from 1945), the so-called “Macedonian” language of F.Y.R.O.M is still mutually intelligible with standard Bulgarian and from a linguistic point is undeniably a Bulgarian dialect. This page will examine the language both linguistically and track its progress historically.
The first instances of the Bulgarian idiom being dubbed “Makedonski” by Macedonists
The early origins of the Bulgarian idiom being referred to as ‘Macedonian’ or ‘Makedonski’ by Macedonists is described as being “Imposed” on the Slavs in the Macedonian region by outsiders (Foreign powers such as Russia are linked to such developments):
|In a letter to Prof. Marin Drinov of May 25, 1888 Kuzman Shapkarev writes:”But even stranger is the name Macedonians, which was imposed on us only 10 to 15 years ago by outsiders, and not as something by our own intellectuals… Yet the people in Macedonia know nothing of that ancient name, reintroduced today with a cunning aim on the one hand and a stupid one on the other. They know the older word: “Bugari”, although mispronounced: they have even adopted it as peculiarly theirs, inapplicable to other Bulgarians. You can find more about this in the introduction to the booklets I am sending you. They call their own Macedono-Bulgarian dialect the “Bugarski language”, while the rest of the Bulgarian dialects they refer to as the “Shopski language”. (Makedonski pregled, IX, 2, 1934, p. 55; the original letter is kept in the Marin Drinov Museum in Sofia, and it is available for examination and study)
Here is the text in the original In Bulgarian
“No pochudno e imeto Makedonci, koeto naskoro, edvay predi 10-15 godini, ni natrapiha i to otvqn, a ne kakto nyakoi mislyat ot samata nasha inteligenciya… Narodqt obache v Makedoniya ne znae nishto za tova arhaichesko, a dnes, s lukava cel ot edna strana, s glupeshka ot druga, podnoveno prozvishte; toy si znae postaroto: Bugari, makar i nepravilno proiznasyano, daje osvoyava si go kato sobstveno i preimushtestveno svoe, nejeli za drugite Bqlgari. Za tova shte vidite i v predgovora na izpratenite mi knijici. Toy naricha Bugarski ezik svoeto Makaedono-bqlgarsko narechie, kogato drugite bqlgarski narechiya naricha Shopski.”
Krste Misirkov is a prime example of the often fluxuating ethnic conscience of some of the early Macedonists at the turn of the century. Many intellectuals were having to decide whether they favoured annexation by Bulgaria, or an autonomous Macedonia. While Misirkov is curiously heralded by Skopjians as one of the “founders of the Macedonian nation”, he is also wrote that the Slavs of Macedonia “are more Bulgarian than those in Bulgaria!”.
He was the first person to transform “Macedonian” as a literary language. While in Sofia in 1903, he published the book ”Za Makedonckite Raboti” (‘On Macedonian Matters’) in which he laid down the principles of the ‘Macedonian’ language. According to this book, the language should be based on the central dialects of Vardar. He also used those dialects to write the book itself. Misirkov died in 1926. Decades after his death with the communist takeover of Yugoslavia, Misirkov’s principles were used by the Yugoslav committees for the codification of the Macedonian language.
It appears that at one point in his life, under Russian sponsership, he favoured his own brand of Macedonism and this is when he published his book on the ‘Macedonian language. Later he adopted a vehemently Bulgarian nationalist stance and abandoned his Macedonism, apparently beleiving it would never materialise as an ideology; though it ironically it did, long after his death after WW2.
In his book, ”The national identity of the Macedonians”, which he wrote in 1924, two years before he died, he uncompromisingly defends the Bulgarian character of the population of Macedonia saying “We [Macedonian Slavs] are more Bulgarian than those in Bulgaria!”. He completley retracts everything he wrote in his book ”Za Makedonckite Raboti” about the Macedonian language, with the explanation that “I wrote it as a politician”. The book is considerably pro-Bulgarian, describing himself as a Bulgarian, nationalistically so.
National Identity of the Macedonians. 1924 γ:
|Krste Misirkov wrote:1. We speak Bulgarian language and we believed with Bulgarians is our strong power.
2. The Bulgarians in Macedonia. The future of Macedonia is spiritual union of the Bulgarians in Macedonia.
3. The Macedonian Slavs are called Bulgarians.
4. The biggest part of the population are called Bulgarians.
5. All spoke that Macedonians are Bulgarians. Until 1978 all including Russian Government spoke the Macedonians are Bulgarians. But after the Berlin Congress the Serbs came with pretension to have Macedonia. They try to change the European opinion that in Macedonia there are Serbian too.
6. If Ilinden uprising win we will be thankful to Bulgarians, but Serbians try to compete with Bulgarians and spend a lot of money and propaganda. If Macedonia is autonomic there will be no space for propaganda and the Serbs have to leave Bulgarian in peace.
7. The Ilinden Uprising Committee is Bulgarian.
8. Bulgarian Language and Bulgarian name. The Committee is ready to give guarantee to Europe that Macedonia will not unify with Bulgaria, but they can’t take the Bulgarian name and language from Macedonia!
9. Unification between Turks and Bulgarians in Macedonia. Serbia and Greece do not want to give us autonomous and independent Macedonia, because they see this as a fist step to unification. In Macedonia have only pure Bulgarian population, which can’t be unified with the Turks.
10. Serbia is against autonomous Macedonia. Serbia is afraid because Macedonia with the Bulgarian population will have tendency to united with Bulgaria and for this reason Serbia will not allow this.
11. They divided us and now they do not allow us to unify. We are living now 25 years divided from Bulgaria and they do not allow us to unify? We call ourselves Bulgarians or Macedonians and see us as separate and radically different from the Serbs with Bulgarian national consciousness.
12. Our Grandfathers call themselves Bulgarians. They never thing that we will be having such a problem to call ourselves so.
13. Bulgarian Literally Language. We the Macedonians voluntarily choose one and the same language with Bulgarians long before the liberation of Bulgaria from Turkey. The prohibition from the Serbs to use our literally language, which is the only one connection between us and Bulgarians is significant violation of our human rights. .. and further.. when they forbid us to call ourselves Bulgarians, to learn Bulgarian history and to be ashamed from everything which connect us with Bulgarians. It is enough to learn our Macedonian culture and history to understand that we are very different from Serbian nationality.
14. There no difference between Bulgarian and Macedonian Slav. The Greeks in 1804 long before Bulgarian exarchate do not make any difference between Bulgarian and West Macedonian dialect.
15. Bulgarian national name of Macedonians. In the IX century in the first Bulgarian kingdom we do not have anything against this Bulgarian national name for us and for the rest of Bulgarians in Bulgaria.
16. We Macedonian Bulgarians (Macedonians) like Bulgarian state as our own.
17. The Serbs are much inferior than we are. We demand freedom for all of us and not to be material for assimilation experiments of the Serbs, which stand much inferior from us in spiritual narrow-mindedness and chauvinism.
18. The Serbs come to the idea of the Macedonian nationality. The Serbs develop the concept for special Macedonian Nation, which they put in the south Macedonia. They declare north Macedonia as a pure Serbian land. Middle Macedonia as a transition between Serbian and Macedonian language.
19. The population of Skopje is pure Bulgarian. Bulgaria make a big error when recognize the territory for “neutral”. It is pure Bulgarian and the population in Skopje and surrounding area is pure Bulgarian.
20. Why the Serbs want Macedonia? What Serbian you can find in this pure Bulgarian land, which is since 6 century till today Bulgarian, despite of all vicissitude of the historical destiny.
21. Serbian-Greek attempt on the Bulgarians in Macedonia. Because of the treaty between Serbia and Greece Bulgaria was robed and 2 Millions Bulgarians where conquered from Serbia and Greece. Yes! To many damage did the Serbs on Bulgaria, Macedonia and Dobrudja and with this they do not stop! They filled that their vicious work will be discovered and to be prosecuted by the Slavic consciousness because of the freedom of 1/3 of Bulgarians – the Bulgarians in Macedonia.
22. The lies about Bulgarian and Bulgaria. Restoration of the human rights of the Bulgarians in Macedonia and Dobrudja, despite of the lies spread for Bulgaria and Bulgarians! Who is against Great Bulgaria, he is against the Slavs!
23. Krali Marko songs in Macedonia are from Bulgarian origin. The songs of Krali Marko in Macedonia are from Bulgarian origin and speak for the Bulgarian influence over the Serbs and not the opposite.
24. The Serbs will coarse many wars, if the “Dushan empire” will not disappear. In the last quarter of the XIX century the Serbs start to dream to restore this abandon from Serbs it selves empire. With intrigues and and allies they conquer big part of Bulgarian Macedonia. But this Serbian advantages of 1912 coarse the war in 1913 and they coarse the war in 1915-1918 and will coarse many more wars, unless “Dushan empire” get liquidate in the same way as in XIV century on the principal of the self-determination of the nations.
25. Serbs falsify the history. In Bulgaria Macedonians have all personal rights, freedom of expression and self-determination in Bulgaria. The Serbs try to destroy the soul of the Macedonians and for that reason the falsify the hole history. In this Serbian logic and Serbian fillings there are something abnormal, which is prove of the failure of the Serbian state. They are afraid from the Macedonians in Macedonia and also this living outside.
26. The Macedonian population is against Serbs. You have to know that because your Serbian politics against Macedonians you have against you all past present and future Balkan governments and the Macedonian population.
27. The Bulgarians are our fellow citizens. The European recognize that only independent sate will put an end of the competition conquer and hegemony on the Balkan. An will end once forever violence of the new conquer. And everlasting peace on the Balkan and in Europe will rise. Greece and Serbia will loose territorially and les Bulgaria and will win all Macedonians.
28. The Serbs forbid us to celebrate all Bulgarian holidays. We are forced to celebrate St. Sava and forbid to celebrate St. Cyril and St. Methodius and Ilinden Uprising.
29. Our souls are in Bulgaria. Serbia conquer the land and the body of Macedonians, the souls are in Bulgaria and with Bulgaria.
30. Krste Petkov Misirkov defines himself as a Bulgarian. 1897 I was accepted in Petersburg University in Russia and five years I was Bulgarian student community as Bulgarian.
31. Self appreciation of the statement in the book “For Macedonian matters”. The readers of this article will be very surprised of the big controversy opinion, which they will meet here in comparison with the article “For Macedonian matters”. To understand this contradiction I will remember you, that I wrote as an improvised politicians
Contemporary foreign evaluation of the Slavonic idiom and the other languages spoken in MacedoniaAmerican 1910 Census of languages spoken in the U.S:
*that the instructions in bold at the bottom indicate to the census enumerators that the language of each American citizen is to be classified on the basis of language spoken, be it Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, Albanian, Turkish, Vlach etc, rather than classifying them geographically as ‘Macedonian’.
*It is seen from through that despite efforts of the Macedonists to have the Slavonic dialect recognised as “Macedonian”, no foreign records describe such a language in their list of the various languages spoken in the Balkans:
Department of Commerce and Labour
Bureau of the Census
Thirteenth Census of the United StatesApril 15, 1910
p.32 – Instructions to census Enumerators:
Study these instructions carefully before beginning work and carry this book with you during your work. Washington: Government Printing Office: 1910ABILITY TO SPEAK ENGLISH
133. Column 17. Whether able to speak English; or, if not, give language spoken.—This question applies to all person 10 years of age and over. If such a person is able to speak English, write English. If he is not able to speak English—and in such cases only—write the names of the language which he does speak, as French, German, Italian. If he speaks more than one language, but does not speak English, write the name of that language which is his native language or mother tongue. For persons under 10 years of age, leave the column blank.
134. The following is a list of principal foreign languages spoken in the United States. Avoid giving other names when one in this list can be applied to the language spoken. With the exception of certain languages of eastern Russian, the list gives a name for ever European language in the proper sense of the word.
135. Do not write “Austrian,” but write German, Bohemian, Ruthenian, Roumanian, Slovenian, Slovak, or such other term as correctly defines the language spoken.
136. Do not write “Slavic” or “Slavonian,” but write Slovak, Slovenian, Russian, etc., as the case may be.
137. Do not write “Macedonian,” but write Bulgarian, Turkish, Greek, Servian, or Roumanian, as the case may be.
138. Do not write “Czech,” but write Bohemian, Moravian,or Slovak, as the case may be.
139. Write Magyar instead of “Hungarian.”
140. Write Croatian instead of “Hervat.”
141. Write Little Russian instead of “Ukrainian.”
142. Write Ruthenian instead of “Rosniak” or “Russine.”
143. Write Roumanian instead of “Moldavian,” “Wallachian,” “Tsintsar,” or “Kutzo-Vlach.”
1913-WW2, 1945-present day – Belgrade’s impact on the Skopjian idiom
From 1913 until its collapse on account of the German invasion in WW2, the Yugoslav (monarchist) Government adopted a policy of Serbinzation and de-Bulgarianisation of the Slavic idiom spoken in Vardar (FYROM); an idiom which was generally considered by foreign sources and Slavologists to be a Bulgarian dialect.
From the end of WW2 with the Communists in control of Yugoslavia, a similar yet project, with many differences however was undertaken with the linguism of Vardar. While efforts de-bulgarianise the idiom and bring it closer to the Serbo-Croat dialect were again undertaken (Multiple peices of evidence confirm this), communist rule and the subsuming of Macedonism as an ideology meant that Belgrade made a concerted effort to develope unique aspects of the language. Surenames in some cases are even recorded as having been changed from the traditional Bulgarian possessive ending ‘ov’ to an ending to an ‘ovski’ surename ending. Commitees were set up by the Yugoslav Commitern to “resolve” matters of a “Macedonian” language and alphabet.
Venko Markovski, was one of the creators of the ‘Macedonian’ alphabet in 1944, but lost favour with Tito and fled to Bulgaria later on.
The Yugoslav committee for the creation of the Macedonian alphabet in November 1944.
Left to right: Vasil Ilioski, Hristo Zografov, Krum Toshev, Dare Djambas, Venko Markovski, Mirko Pavlovski, Mihail Petrushevski, Hristo Prodanov, Georgi Kiselinov, Georgi Shoptraianov, Iovan Kostov
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