Otto Kronsteiner (Austria)

  There are quite a few European languages spoken outside their "own" country: for instance German in Germany, but also in Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg,: Denmark, Belgium, Poland, Russia; Spanish in Spain, but also in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia etc. But nowhere a necessity has come to being, neither an attempt has been made to father a new (official) language (Austrian, Liechtensteinian, Argentinian, Chilien etc.) despite apparent differences emerging in the usage of the languages.

Many minority languages have never had their own state, others have had - though for a short time. Nevertheless, they have kept their integrity in the course of centuries, and have patiently waited for their recognition. This holds good of Ladinian, Basque, Sardian, Catalan and others. Quite to the contrary, there has never been a necessity for the creation of a spedal literary language to serve the Bulgarian-speaking Slavs residing outside Bulgaria (for example, in Vardar or Aegean Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Rumania, Ukraine). Similarly, there had never been a Macedonian linguistic community dreaming for centuries on end to be recognised for its linguistic uniqueness.

As late as the XXth c. the method of linguistic partition (glossotomy) [1] would be repeatendly applied, motivated politically, rather than linguistically. In the West (as was the case of SlovenianNindian) those attempts crashed and burned. In the East however, forcefully conceived languages under communism (socialism) (Rumanian/Moldovan [2]; Finnish/Karelian; Tatar/Bashkir; Turkish/Gagaouz) did survive to live a longer "life" thanks to political coercion. Those who refused to accept language partition would be proclaimed nationalists and treated in the respective way. In politics, language partition was counted upon as a way to reinforce the new political borders, thus eliminating the feeling of one-time belonging to a certain community. [3] The strategies behind the fathering of such new languages in the communist regions would follow one and the same principles.

One scholar (or a handful united in a group) would publish an orthography, grammar, dictionary, bilingual dictionaries (but, note, never from the old to the new language, that is, never Rumanian- Moldovan, but Moldovan-Russian for example, or others). Shortly, they would publish a historical grammar, a history of the language, as well as a history of the new nation. Further, as "flank" initiatives, an Academy of Sciences, a National Theatre and a National Folk Ensemble would be established. In the meantime, a national literature was bound to shape up, and the first writer to venture in any genre, would be proclaimed a great playwright, novelist or Iyrist on the new language. [4] All that in its turn, called to life a literary history. The political accompaniment to the whole affair would be a most characteristic sentence in the communist countries: notably, that the (new) language was "a remarkable achievement serving the entire cultural complex". And, the direction to follow derived from the (unvoiced) formulation: "the worse the old language is treated, the better for the new one", that is, the worse Roumanian is being spoken/spelled, the better for Moldovan, which would be more correctly spoken/spelled. And, this entailed a deepening of the artificial gulf between the old and the new tongue (even by the use of force). All that holds good of the Macedonian literary language (македонскиот jазик).

Date of creation: 1944

Place of creation: The Socialist Republic of Macedonia (within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) - the "Prohor Pcinski" monastery.

Used by: some 1 000 000 Bulgarians (in Macedonia).

Oldest literary monument: "New Macedonia" newspaper.


While T. Stamatoski (also Stamatov, Stamatovski) wrote back in 1986 on the struggle for Macedonian literary language, looking back and ahead in future at the same time (?) (Борба за македонски литературен jазик, Скопjе), Blaze Koneski had already (3 years before) told the "Communist" (1376, from July 29, 1983) the story of the endorsement and the introduction of this literary language (Афирмациjа на македонскиот jазик. Сосем оформен современен литературен jазик, Скопjе).

A most ridiculous text is the historical phonology of the new language fathered in 1944 (B. Koneski, A Historical Phonology of the Macedonian Language, Heidelberg, 1983).

A major departure was effected, not only from the Bulgarian language, but also from its rich literary heritage, as well as from the world literature in translation. However, something had to be saved, and it was done by encroaching upon the miscellany of songs by the Miladinov brothers, born in Macedonia, and which had been originally entitled "Bulgarian Folk Songs", (1861) containing songs from Struga, Okhrida, Prilep, Kukus, Kostur and from other parts of Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. In 1962 it came out in Skopie under the forged title of "Miscellany", with a forged "Macedonian" text, and on top of everything else, labelled "the most outstanding work ever published, of the Macedonian literature.

On the name (glossonym) Macedonian

The adjective Macedonian (in Bulgarian: македонски; in Greek: , in Albanian: maqedonas) was out ot use as a glossonym prior to 1944. Until then, Macedonian used to be an adjective (designating the region (toponym) of Macedonia).[5] So-ever since 1944 it has scarcely been clear whether the toponym or the glossonym is actually meant under the word Macedonian, which caused a confusion of notions (deliberately provoked, too), that worked in favour of the reinforcement of the myths of the Macedonian nation. The impression was created as if this same language since time immemorial, has been the language of the "country" Macedonia. Alexander the Great was Macedonian. Cyril and Methodius were Macedonians, and Kemal Ataturk too, was Macedonian (a fact which is often suppressed). Neither of those however, had anything in common with the Macedonian literary language of Mr. Blaze Koneski (i.e. Blagoj Konev). And for the delusion to be complete, the textbooks in history and geography read: "In the Socialist Republic of Macedonia there live Macedonians, Albanians, Turks etc." This downright usurpation of ethnic names seems the right tool of forcible differentiation (compare: the French, Bretons, Basques - all of them nationals of France) etc., instead of the French French, the Breton French, the Basque French or (given the common territory of a nation), the French Bretons, the French Basques etc. It would be right to say: the Bulgarian Macedonians, the Albanian Macedonians, the Turkish Macedonians etc. (in this case, the residents of the republic of Macedonia), or, as it had been generally accepted to say by 1944 (e.g. Veigand) - the Macedonian Bulgarians, Macedonian Albanians, Macedonian Turks, etc. (given the common territory of a nation). And, since through the new Macedonian language, erstwhile Bulgarian ceased to exist officially (!), that is, it became a (strongly estranged) foreign language, the glossonym and the ethnonym Bulgarian disappeared too.

On the orthographyof the Macedonian literary language

Similarly to the case with Moldovan, when the Cyrillic script was introduced to distance it from Roumanian, the Macedonian glossotomists decided to adopt the Serbian alphabet (respectively, orthography) including letters having become more or less a myth (instead of the Bulgarian Щ, ЖД, as well as the Serbian .) . The core of the Macedonian alphabet is actually lying in these two letters and their phonetic materialisation. Hence the joke: Macedonian is Bulgarian typed on a Serbian type-writer. Had the Bulgarian orthography been applied to the new language, everyone would take it for Bulgarian (despite the peripheral nature of the basic dialect chosen), just like the dialectally tinged texts by Ludwig Toma and Peter Poseger, which are taken for German ones.

On the dialectal basis of the Macedonian literary language

A very special trick of the Macedonian glossotomists was the choice of the peripheral dialectal area as the dialectal basis of the new language. It lies precisely on the Serbian-Bulgarian language boundary, hence, it represents a transitional dialect to Serbian. Another town could have been chosen instead ot Skopie as capital (in the linguistic aspect too), such as Okhrida, but it would have made the difference with Bulgarian hardly discernable. The inner structure of the new language follows lexically and morphologically [6] the Serbian model enforced through the Belgrade Radio and TV, received everywhere. The new language served the rule: the more non-Bulgarian, the more Macedonian! The strengthening of the Serbian influence meant Macedonia's estrangement from Bulgaria politically and culturally as well [7] (something passed unnoticed by Europe). Bulgarian studies were not taught in Yugoslavia's universities, as they were replaced by Macedonian studies (and that, needless to say, held good of Skopje). Bulgarian was converted into an anti-language.

In the lingual-geographic aspect, the "Macedonian" dialects were declared all too unique, having nothing in common with Bulgarian. This explains why a Macedonian dialectal atlas was never released. Every dialectologist is well aware that there is no dialectical boundary to separate Bulgaria from Macedonia (see the maps at the end of this article), and that intrinsic Macedonian peculiarities (such as the triple article,  instead of Щ, etc.) are common in Bulgaria too. Hence, the whole thing smells of Stalin-styled misinformation which was successful in misleading even some representatives of "critical" Slavonic studies in the West. [8]

Who was in need ot linguistic partition (glossotomy)?

Since in all the cases (in the communist region) of linguistic partition the underlying strategy would be quite the same, the question arises whether it is also valid for the functioning of that mechanism. The method of "spliting" would be applied not only to languages, but also to the history of nations, and to entire nations. And as in neither of those cases people's will had been consulted, it is thus far unclear where the centralstage players had actually seen the sense, for themselves, their country and their policy. It is surprising that together with the states (The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia) the purpose would be lost behind these language partitions, given it was related to a centralised state policy. The latter would unite on the one hand, and divide, on the other. Within the framework of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Byelorussia had to be russified, whereas, the Turkish- speaking peoples would be partitioned in the smallest possible portions. For its part, Yugoslavia had been pursuing a language and cultural assimilation with a Serbian emphasis (see: "Directive" by Garasanin). All this attests to the moral (!) integrity of science which has never been short of people for such tasks. As to the Serbian policy, it did not resort to similar language partition against the Yugoslav Albanians and Turks - they were actually deprived of all their rights; they were not considered nations at all, but rather a "minority" in its worst connotation, although they were prevalent in some areas. The assimilation effort against linguistically closer Bulgarian Macedonians, however, was much more apparent. For the salce of historical truth we should note that those assimilation efforts do not date back to socialist Yugoslavia, but even earlier, to the Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Yet they could score success only under socialism with its methods - in the post-1944 period. No wonder then that the Albanians do not tend to associate with the new Republic of Macedonia, while as far the "macedonized" Bulgarian Macedonians are concerned, it seems at least, they. do. l do not subscribe to any annexations (Anschlusse), something I feel alien to, being Austrian; I believe that the Slav Macedonians are bound to re-think the roots of their identity which as of 1944, has been resting on a diffusse feeling of being Yugoslav. Any single piece of criticism against the new, Macedonian language is by rule interpreted as a blow against Yugoslavia. Thus, the whole thing has boiled to overcoming the past since historical falsehood and forgery could not but influence younger generations who now suffer the copse-i quences of national nihilism. The generation of today indentifies itself with neither Serbia, nor Bulgaria. We can hardly deny the emergence of initial symptoms of a new identity. Here is one example from among many: the complete separation back in 1967, of the Macedonian from the Serbian-Orthodox church (though the former has never been recognized by the latter). [9] The degree of serbization however is considerable, which is indicative of the power of the Serbo-phile nomenclature in Macedonia.

Linguistic chaos

For the constructors of a language, and of the Macedonian literary language too, it is no problem at all to invent linguistic norms. The actual difficulty is whether these norms are applicable. The ways to say something on the one hand, and to spell it on the other, have always differed, yet the question is: Whospeaks this language? Macedonians themselves can be heard to say quite often: we have no command of this language, we have not studied it. The immediate impression is how very uncertain such Macedonians feel linguistically. It transpires in every single piece of conversation, how tough it is for them to "stick" to this language. [10] Soon one is in trouble guessing whether what is spoken is bad Bulgarian, or bad Serbian. Anyway, no impression is left of a linguistic identity (unlike the case with Ladinian or Catalan). Talking with Macedonians, one is overwhelmed by compassion over their linguistic confusion. Such a language can be defined negatively: by stating what it is not. The drive to replace the nationality of the Macedonians, making them Serbian, has actually called to life a kind of a creole tongue, which for its part might be helpful to the Serbians some generations later to "recommend" to the Macedonians Serbian as a literary language. And, in its current capacity of a literary Ianguage, Macedonian is open to Serbian, with the latter supplying the former. As to Bulgarian, it has fallen in total isolation.

With the political situation of today pregnant with options for new orientation, this destructive process needs to be contained, despite the deep traces it has left in the course of its 50-year-long development. I will refrain from forecasts as to the future direction linguistic development is likely to take. However, one thing is certain: the present shuation is quite unsatisfactory. Moreover, fears remain that there are quite a few people in Skopje, who might try to accomplish what has already been started. If so, a precedent for Europe might emerge when political glossotomy being a preliminary stage leading up to linguistic, respectively ethnic, changes, has turned out to be successful.

In view of the common, older than a millenium Bulgarian history, we can hope that political objectives resting upon numerous lies, will ultimately fail. Otherwise, the televised statement of a Serbian tchetnik on the Austrian Tv' might become a sad truth, notably, that Macedonians were not using a normal tongue, but a hotchpotch of Serbian plus Bulgarian words, hence, the Macedonians belonged to Serbia.

The fact that an American, Horace Lunt is the author of the Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language (Skopje, 1952), the first grammar-book of Macedonian (!) paving the way for a literary language tailored by the communists, attests to the profound "insight" Americans show in European problems.

Ways to tackle the "Macedonian problem":

1) Leaving behind the bilingual theory.

2) Wider access for Bulgarian so that it can be used parallel to the current form of the Macedonian literary language.

3) Optional teaching of Bulgarian in primary and secondary schools.

4) Establishment of an Institute of Bulgarian Language and Literature a1 the University of Skopje.

5) Usage of the Bulgarian alphabet (orthography) for the current form of the Macedonian literary language.

6) Lifting all restrictions over the free exchange of newspapers, magazines and literature between Macedonia and Bulgaria.

7) Linguistic integration by way of joint radio and TV broadcasts, as well as theatre shows and recitals in the two countries.

8) Creation of a joint institution on the Macedonian-Bulgarian linguistic matters. (The linguistic convergence could intensify in this way).

9) Avoidance of further serbization of the language.

10) Exchange of works of history between the two

11) The right of free choice of a surname.

12) Joint effort on behalf of Macedonia and Bulgaria for the recognition of the Slav-Bulgarian ethnic group in Aegean Macedonia (Greece) in compliance with the principles of the European minority rights (see: the linguistic map in "Die slawischen Sprachen" 15/1988).

13) Recognition of minorities based on uniform principles.

14) Observance of accurate terminology with regard to residents of Macedonia (Bulgarian Macedonians, Albanian Macedonians, Turkish Macedonians etc.) and of Bulgaria (Bulgarian Bulgarians, Turkish Bulgarians, Macedonian Bulgarians etc.) .

Translated by Daniela Konstantinova

1. See: DSS 14/1988: 23-66 (H. Goebl, Glottonymie, Glotottomie und Schizoglossie. Drei sprachpolitisch bedeutsame Begriffe).

2. See: DSS 19/1989: 11 5-i40 (K. Heitmann, Probleme der moldauischen Sprache in der Ara Gorbacev).

3. In the case of the Turkic peoples in the USSR, there were fears over the possible emergence of Pan-Turkic movements.

4. Compare, the valuable notes by Izo Kamartin, a specialist in Romansh (Nichts als Worte?) Ein Pladoyer fur Kleinsprachen. Zurich Munchen, 1985: 171 - Eine Kleine Literatur...)

5. P. Koledarov, Името Македония в историческата география, Sofia, 1985; H.R. Wilkinson, Maps and Politics, A Review of the Ethnographic Cartography of Macedonia, Liverpool, 1951.

6. Even surnames with the Bulgarian ending -os/-es were refashioned into -ски or -ски ( Serbian ). Thus, Georgiev would turn into Georgievski or Georgievi.

7. My own experience testifies to how very anxious Serbia was over cutting off any contact between Bulgaria and Macedonia. After the First International Congress of Bulganan Studies closed (1981), I was travelling home from Sofia, when I was held for 5 hours at the Serbian border (in Gradina/Dimitrovgrad). There a UDBA-group from Nish started a lengthy inquiry, followed by taking away various Bulgarian books and magazines they found in my car. And since I wanted to speak in Bulgarian, they told me to use a normal (Serbian?) language. They accused me of being a Bulgarian spy employed by the Bulgarian secret services. Further I was warned that if I persisted in manifesting anti-Yugoslav sentiments (non-acceptance of the Macedonian language?), I had to suffer the respective consequences.

8. While in Slavonic and Romance studies and in general linguistics there was not a hint of hesitation as to the linguistic features of the region by World War II, after the war the view and stands of quite a few students of Slavonic studies concerning the Macedonian problem, could be singled out for their exceptional naively. The latter could very well be in some relation with summer courses in Macedonia at the fascinating Okhrida lake, or else with the awarding of the title of corresponding member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences.

An example of the in-depth pre-war research is the work "Ethnography of Macedonia"., Leipzig, 1924 (re-printed in Sofia, 1981) by G. Weigand and "Studies in Macedonian Dialectology", Kazan, 1918 (re-printed in Sofia, 1981) by A.M. Selishtchev. Weigand, as well as Selischev, speak about Bulgarians in Macedonia and Macedonian Bulgarian language.

9. Compare D. Ilievski, The Autocephality of the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Skopje, 1972. As there is no national (Macedonian) translation available of the Bible, the Serbian one is being recommended, and it is another factor for the structuring of the Macedonian literary language. Bulgarian in all of its aspects is deliberately kept in hiding.

10. The story goes that one of the leading glossotomists was delivering a lecture at the St. Kliment of Okhrida" University in Sofia, in Macedonian: when however, a sudden draught scattered his manuscript, he just went on lecturing... in Bulgarian.