ON THE SO-CALLED “POMAK” LANGUAGE IN GREECE
Prof. I. Kochev
The publishing in Greece of “A Grammar of the Pomak Language”, as well as of “A Greek-Pomak” and “Pomak-Greek” dictionaries in 1995-96 is a political act which has nothing to do with science in spite of the linguistic form it is vested with.
The part of Bulgarian Mohammedans who were left in Greece after 1913, 1919 and 1944 is declared an independent “ethnos”. That fact, along with the conjuring up of a new literary “language” different from literary Bulgarian is aimed at tearing off that ethnically Bulgarian population from its relatives in the Republic of Bulgaria and then assimilating it.
If Greece had indeed been willing to observe the international conventions on human rights stipulating the studying of the mother's tongue in schools, then, after banning the
foreign language - Turkish (being learned so far for religious reasons alone) - it should have renewed the teaching of the literary Bulgarian language.
Even the neglecting of the Slavonic scripts related to the centuries-old Bulgarian tradition and the introduction of the Greek and Latin ones in the above-mentioned reference books (sometimes only Greek letters are used) is a fact rather indicative of the deed conceived.
The substitution of the name of the language - ”Pomak” instead of Bulgarian is paradoxical for several reasons:
1. The derogatory appellation Pomak is oriented towards the religious and not the ethnical appurtenance of the Bulgarian population. It could possibly correspond to absurd labels like “Catholic”, “Protestant”, “Buddhist”, etc., since these do not and cannot exist in terms of language names.
2. The Bulgarian dialect of the so-called “Greek” Pomaks does not differ from the dialect spoken by the Bulgarian Mohammedans who reside in Bulgaria mostly.
3. On the other hand, there is no substantial difference between the speech of the Bulgarian Mohammedans and the Bulgarian Christians living in Bulgaria itself.
In other words, the dialect of the so-called Pomaks in Greece is nothing but the Bulgarian Rhodopes dialect spoken at the two sides of the present-day Bulgarian-Greek border both by Christians and Mohammedans residing mostly in the Republic of Bulgaria. That dialect is quite obsolete and reminds of the Cyrillo-Methodian language (9th c.) which has so far been determined as Bulgarian by all Greek historians and linguists.
The fraud was well defined by the Vice-President of the Greek Parliament, Mr. Panayotis Sgouridis at the promotion of the grammar book and the dictionaries in Athens, on 10 May 1996. He did not conceal the fact that the end of the Civil War has made it possible for the Pomaks to “turn to Bulgaria” because of their origin and language. However, that verbal statement has never been reflected in the dictionaries and the grammar book.
The promotion of the books was also visited by state politicians and political figures of primary role in Greece: ministers, members of Parliament, metropolitan bishops, the President of the Academy of Athens, high-ranking magistrates, judges, etc., which testifies to the political nature of the event,
The conjuring up of new “ethnoses” and “languages” in the mid- and late 20th ñ in Europe - which avails itself of old cultural traditions and has long ago outlived those processes (during the Renaissance) - is a unique phenomenon. It does not inscribe into the contemporary development of this continent but rather reminds of the situation with some African tribes which only recently began their ethnical consolidation.
After 1925, Greece saw the first unsuccessful attempt at creating a writing different from the literary Bulgarian form, on the basis of the Kostour Bulgarian dialect.
Later on, in 1953, a second attempt at making up a grammar of the “Macedonian-Aegean” language on the part of the adherents of the Greek Communist Party also failed.
The “Pomak” experiment was also a wretched one, since the Pomaks (from the Chech region) - according to the Greek “reasonings” - probably belonged to two “ethnoses” at the same time: the “Aegean-Macedonian” (in terms of the Greek “Aegean-Macedonian Grammar” of 1953) and to the “Pomak” one (in terms of the Greek “Pomak Grammar” of 1996); their dialect, respectively, should refer to two “languages” simultaneously. The three Greek experiments to create “languages” on the basis of the Bulgarian language form are not isolated, to mention for instance the attempt of Skopje at the conjuring up of another “Macedonian” language in the former federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as well as the current attempt of Belgrade to fabricate a “Shopski” language in the western outlying districts which were taken away from Bulgaria (and included within Serbia since 1919).
All “political” languages which have emerged on the basis of Bulgarian
dialects abroad are of the same status -they are written regional variants
of the Bulgarian official language.