4. National Language and its Formalization

4.1 Standardization of the Macedonian Literary Language

The official Macedonian language was proclaimed on August 2, 1944, when the first session of the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM), considered to be the first national assembly of Macedonia, proclaimed the Macedonian Republic and made Macedonian its official language. It should be noted, however, that there had been some attempts to standardize the Macedonian language prior to that date, gathering pace during World War Two, when Partisan press appeared in Macedonian and Macedonian partisans conducted their business in Macedonian. As pointed out by the most outstanding foreign scholar of Macedonia, Victor Friedman, the proclamation of 1944 has rather to be seen as a symbolic act, which marked the beginning of the implementation of the standard. The new standard was based on the central Macedonian dialect of the Veles region, which was chosen because its distance to Bulgarian as greater than that of other dialects. The daily “Nova Makedonija” (“New Macedonia”), published by the “People’s Liberation Front of Macedonia” and most important newspaper in socialist Macedonia, was the first broadsheet to appear in the new Macedonian language, starting with its first issue on November 14, 1944.

The first official Macedonian grammar was published by Krume Kepeski in 1946. The probably most important linguist for the standardization of the Macedonian literary language, though, was Blaže Koneski (1921–1993). He published grammars, dictionaries and histories of the Macedonian language, and he was also instrumental for the decision on the alphabet in 1944–45: a version of the Cyrillic alphabet was adopted for Macedonian, which contained two special letters and also took some letters specific to the Serbian version of Cyrillic. By that, Macedonian has become an almost perfectly phonetic script.

While the Macedonian Language was soon recognized not only in Yugoslavia but also abroad, Bulgaria declined to recognize the existence of a Macedonian language until the 1990s. Today it is reckoned that, apart from the population of Macedonia, up to 250,000 people in northern Greece (Aegean Macedonia) speak Macedonian and an estimated 250,000 people in southwestern Bulgaria (Pirin Macedonia) as well, although they are not officially recognized as minorities neither in Greece nor in Bulgaria (in the Bulgarian 1956 census, 256,000 people in southwestern Bulgaria stated “Macedonian” as their nationality). The only recognized Macedonian minority lives in eastern Albania and number according to estimates 30,000‑50,000 people. Macedonian is also spoken by emigrants from Macedonia, in particular in Northern America and Australia.

4.2 Institutes for the Macedonian Language

The leading institution for the study of Macedonian, which was also instrumental for the further development of the standard, is the Institut za makedonskiot jezik “Krste Misirkov” (“Krste Misirkov” Institute for the Macedonian Language), founded in Skopje in 1954.

In 1946, the Seminar for Macedonian Language was established at the Chair for South-Slavic Languages, the first department of the newly founded Philosophical Faculty of the University of Skopje. Today, the Philological Faculty has two departments for Macedonian: The Department for Macedonian Language and South-Slavic Languages, and the Department for Macedonian Literature and South-Slavic Literatures. Both departments d research on Macedonian language and literature and train teachers for school.

Both departments are involved in the organization of the annual International Seminar for Macedonian Language, Literature and Culture, which takes place in Ohrid every year and now runs into its 40th year. This seminar is the main state sponsored attempt to disseminate the knowledge of Macedonian among foreigners.

The chair for South-Slavic Languages at the University of Skopje publishes the journal “Makedonski jazik” (“Macedonian Language”) since 1950.

The Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) runs a Department for Linguistic and Literary Sciences, which studies also Macedonian, and a Lexicographic Centre (est. 2000), which prepares a Macedonian encyclopedia.

The Society of the Macedonian Language publishes the journal “Literaturen zbor” (“Literary Word”) since 1954.

4.3 Major Language Textbooks

  • Dimitrovski, Todor: Rečnik na makedonskiot jazik (Dictionary of the Macedonian Language), vol. 1: Skopje 1961, vol. 2: Skopje 1965, vol. 3: Skopje 1966 (new edition 1983--2001).
  • Kepeski, Krume: Makedonska gramatika (Macedonian Grammar). Skopje1946.
  • Koneski, Blaže: Makedonskata literatura vo 19. vek (Macedonian Literature in the 19th century). Skopje 1950.´
  • Koneski, Blaže: Gramatika na makedonskiot literaturen jazik (Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language), part 1: Skopje 1952, part 2: Skopje 1954 (and later editions).
  • Koneski, Blaže: Istorija na makedinskiot jazik (History of the Macedonian Language). Skopje 1965.
  • Koneski, Blaže / Krum Tosev: Makedonski pravopis so pravopisen rečnik (Macedonian Orthography with an Orthographic Dictionary). Skopje1950.