Political views on the Macedonian language
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the Republic of Macedonia
The existence and distinctiveness of the Macedonian language is disputed among the politicians[who?], linguists and common people from the neighboring countries. The Eastern South Slavic varieties indigenous to the current Republic of Macedonia are part of dialectal continuum which stretches from Croatian, Bosnian and Serbian Shtokavian dialect through Torlakian on the northwest, to western and eastern Bulgarian dialects on the East, and the Macedonian language, like Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian, is a standardized form of (some of) these dialects.
Bulgarian ethnos in Macedonia existed long before the earliest articulations of the idea that Macedonian Slavs might form a separate ethnic group from the Bulgarians in Danubian Bulgaria and Thrace. Throughout the period of Ottoman rule, the Slav-speaking people of the geographic regions of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia referred to their language as Bulgarian and called themselves Bulgarians. For instance, the Serbian researcher St. Verković who was a long term teacher in Macedonia, sent by the Serbian government with special assimilatory mission wrote in the preface of his collection of Bulgarian folk songs: "I named these songs Bulgarian, and not Slavic because today when you ask any Macedonian Slav: Who are you? he immediately answers: I am Bulgarian and call my language Bulgarian...." The name "Bulgarian" for various Macedonian dialects can be seen from early vernacular texts such as the four-language dictionary of Daniil of Moschopole, the early works of Kiril Pejchinovich and Ioakim Kurchovski and some vernacular gospels written in the Greek alphabet. These written works influenced by or completely written in the Bulgarian vernacular were registered in Macedonia in the 18th and beginning of the 19th century and their authors referred to their language as Bulgarian. The first samples of Bulgarian speech and the first grammar of modern Bulgarian language were written by the leading Serbian literator Vuk Karadjić on the basis of the Macedonian Razlog dialect. In those early years the re-emerging Bulgarian written language was still heavily influenced by Church Slavonic forms so dialectical differences were not very prominent between the Eastern and Western regions. Indeed, in those early years many Bulgarian activists sometimes even communicated in Greek in their writing.
When the Bulgarian national movement got under way in the second quarter of the 19th century some cities in Macedonia were among the first to demand education in Bulgarian and Bulgarian-speaking clerics for their churches. By the 1860s however, it was clear that the Central Balkan regions of Bulgaria were assuming leadership in linguistic and literary affairs. This was to a large extent due to the fact that the affluent towns on both sides of the Central Balkan range were able to produce more intellectuals educated in Europe than the relatively more backward other Bulgarian regions. Consequently, when the idea that the vernacular rather than Church Slavonic should be represented in the written language gained preponderance, it was the dialects of the Central Balkan region between Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv that were most represented.
Some prominent Bulgarian educators from Macedonia like Parteniy Zografski and Kuzman Shapkarev called for a stronger representation of Macedonian dialects in the Bulgarian literary language but their advice was not heeded at the time and sometimes met with hostility. In the article The Macedonian Question by Petko Rachev Slaveykov, published on 18 January 1871 in the Makedoniya newspaper in Constantinople, Macedonism was criticized, his adherents were named Macedonists, and this is the earliest surviving indirect reference to it, although Slaveykov never used the word Macedonism.The term's first recorded use is from 1887 by Stojan Novaković to describe Macedonism as a potential ally for the Serbian strategy to expand its territory toward Macedonia, whose population was regarded by almost all neutral sources as Bulgarian at the time. The consternation of certain Macedonians with what they saw as the domineering attitude of Northern Bulgarians towards their vernacular was later deftly exploited by the Serbian state, which had begun to fear the rise of Bulgarian nationalism in Macedonia.
Up until 1912/18 it was the standard Bulgarian language that most Macedonians learned (and taught) in the Exarchate schools. All activists and leaders of the Macedonian movement, including those of the left, used standard Bulgarian in documents, press publications, correspondence and memoirs and nothing indicates they viewed it as a foreign language. This is characteristic even of the members of IMRO (United) well into the 1920s and 1930s, when the idea of a distinct Macedonian nation was taking shape.
From the 1930s onwards the Bulgarian Communist Party and the Comintern sought to foster a separate Macedonian nationality as a means of achieving autonomy for Macedonia within a Balkan federation. Consequently, it was Bulgarian-educated Macedonians who were the first to develop a distinct Macedonian language, culture and literature. When Socialist Macedonia was formed as part of Federal Yugoslavia, these Bulgarian-trained cadres got into a conflict over the language with the more Serbian-leaning activists, who had been working within the Yugoslav Communist Party. Since the latter held most of the political power, they managed to impose their views on the direction the new language was to follow, much to the dismay of the former group.
After 1944 the communist-dominated government sought to create a Bulgarian-Yugoslav federation (see Balkan Communist Federation) and part of this entailed giving "cultural autonomy" to the Pirin region. Consequently, Bulgarian communists recognised the Macedonian language as distinct from Bulgarian. After the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, those plans were abandoned. This date also coincided with the first claims of Bulgarian linguists as to the Serbianisation of the Macedonian language. Officially Bulgaria continued to support the idea of a Macedonian unification and a Macedonian nation but within the framework of a Balkan Federation and not within Yugoslavia. However, a reversal in the Macedonisation policy was already announced in the secret April plenum of the BCP in 1956 and openly proclaimed in the plenum of 1963. 1958 was the first time that a "serious challenge" to the Macedonian position was launched by Bulgaria. These developments led to violent polemics between Yugoslav and Bulgarian scholars and sometimes reflected on the bilateral relations of the two countries.
According to the Macedonian view, now prevalent and official in the books in Republic of Macedonia, Macedonian was the first official language of the Slavs, thanks to the St. Cyril and St. Methodius's introduction of Slavic literacy language through the Glagolitic script, that was based on Southern Macedonian dialect from the neighbourhood of Thessaloniki, the home of the two saints. Later on, Macedonia fell under the rule of Bulgarians, and the Byzantines regarded all Slavic Macedonians as Bulgarians. According to a minority view, supported in the Republic of Macedonia, Tsar Samuil's realm in the early Middle Ages was allegedly the first Macedonian Slavic state. However, Krste Misirkov, who allegedly set the principles of the Macedonian literary language in the late 19th century, stated: "We speak a Bulgarian language and we believed with Bulgaria is our strong power."
During the time of the Ottoman Empire, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Greece were all under Ottoman reign. During the nineteenth century, the primary source of identity was religion. Because Slavs in the geographical regions of Macedonia and Bulgaria were both Orthodox Christian and the Greek Orthodox Church was attempting to Hellenize the population, Macedonian and Bulgarian intellectuals banded together to establish a Slavic literary language in opposition to Greek. Two competing centers of literacy rose at the beginning of the nineteenth century: southwestern Macedonia and northeastern Bulgaria. These centers were different enough at every linguistic level to be competing to become the literary language. When the Bulgarian Exarchate was recognized as a millet on par with the Greek millet (on religious grounds), the designation Bulgarian was still a religious term, in opposition to Greek, and the language began to be standardized on the basis of the Bulgarian center of literacy. Intellectuals from the Macedonian center of literacy felt that their dialects were being excluded from the literary Bulgarian language. By the time the Bulgarian state gained independence in 1878, the population of Macedonia and Bulgaria was subjected to conflicting claims from the Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek states and churches, which provided education, and a distinct Macedonian national identity was written about in print. By 1903, a separate Macedonian identity and language is solidified in the works of Krste Petkov Misirkov, who advocates for a distinct Macedonian literary language.
Although Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, most of its academics, as well as the general public, regard the language spoken there as a form of Bulgarian. However, after years of diplomatic impasse caused by an academic dispute, in 1999 the government in Sofia solved the problem with the Macedonian Language under the formula: "the official language of the country (Republic of Macedonia) in accordance with its constitution".
Most Bulgarian linguists consider the Slavic dialects spoken in the region of Macedonia as a part of the Bulgarian dialect area. Numerous shared features of these dialects with Bulgarian are cited as proof. Bulgarian scholars also claim that the overwhelming majority of the Macedonian population had no conscience of a Macedonian language separate from Bulgarian prior to 1945. Russian scholars cite the early references to the language in Slavic literature from the middle of 10th century to the end of 19th century as "bulgarski" or "bolgarski" as proof of that claim. From that, the conclusion is drawn that modern standard Macedonian is not a language separate from Bulgarian either but just another written "norm" based on a set of Bulgarian dialects. See dialect and dialect continuum to assess the validity of these arguments.
Moreover, Bulgarian linguists assert that the Macedonian and Yugoslav linguists who were involved in codifying the new language artificially introduced differences from literary Bulgarian to bring it closer to Serbian. They are also said to have resorted to falsifications and deliberate misinterpretations of history and documents in order to further the claim that there was a consciousness of a separate Macedonian ethnicity before 1944. Although the original aim of the codifiers of Macedonian was to distance it from both Bulgarian and Serbian, Bulgarians today view the standard Macedonian language as heavily Serbianised, especially with regards to its vocabulary. Bulgarian scholars such as Kosta Tsrnushanov claim there are several ways in which standard Macedonian was influenced by Serbian. Venko Markovski, writer, poet and Communist politician from Macedonia, who in 1945 participated in the Commission for the Creation of the Macedonian Alphabet and once wrote in the Macedonian language and published what was the first contemporary book written in standardized Macedonian, stated in an interview for Bulgarian National Television only seven days prior to his death, that ethnic Macedonians and the Macedonian language do not exist and that they were a result of Comintern manipulation. Part of Bulgarian scholars and people hold the view that Macedonian is one of three "norms" of the Bulgarian language, the other two being standard Bulgarian and the language of the Banat Bulgarians. This formulation was detailed in 1978 in a document of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences entitled "The Unity of the Bulgarian Language Today and in the Past". Although Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, it has refused to recognise the existence of a separate Macedonian ethnicity and a separate Macedonian language. This was a major obstacle to the development of diplomatic relations between the two countries until a compromise solution was worked out in 1999.
From the Greek point of view, there can be only one meaning for the term Macedonia, and that is in reference to ancient Macedon and the modern Greek region of Macedonia. It follows that the term cannot properly be used for a Slavic language.
Demetrius Andreas Floudas, Senior Associate of Hughes Hall, Cambridge, explains that it was only in 1944 that Josip Broz Tito, in order to increase his regional influence, gave to the southernmost province of Yugoslavia (hitherto officially known as Vardarska banovina) the new name of People's Republic of Macedonia. At the same time, in a "political master-stroke", the local language - which was until then held to be a western Bulgarian dialect - was unilaterally christened "Macedonian" and became one of Yugoslavia's official languages.  Greece similarly rejects the name "Republic of Macedonia", seeing it as an implicit territorial claim on the whole of the region.
Books have been published in Greece which purport to expose the artificial character of the Macedonian language. Some Greeks believe that the Slavic dialects spoken in Greek Macedonia are actually a mixture of Slavic and Greek  (see Slavic language (Greece)).
Linguists outside of Macedonia and Bulgaria subscribe either to a pro-Macedonian or a pro-Bulgarian view.
Illustrating the pro-Macedonian view is Horace Lunt, a Harvard professor, who wrote the first English language grammar of the Macedonian language in the early 1950s: "Bulgarian scholars, who argue that the concept of a Macedonian language was unknown before World War II, or who continue to claim that a Macedonian language does not exist look not only dishonest, but silly, while Greek scholars who make similar claims are displaying arrogant ignorance of their Slavic neighbours"; (Lunt 1984:110, 120). Similarly, Loring Danforth, professor of Anthropology at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, addresses the stance of linguists, who attribute the origin of the Macedonian language to their will, stressing that all languages in the standardisation process have a certain political and historical context to them and the fact that Macedonian language had a political context in which it was standardised doesn't mean it's not a language.
Illustrating the pro-Bulgarian view, Italian linguist Vittore Pisani stated "the Macedonian language is actually an artifact produced for primarily political reasons". German linguist Friedrich Scholz, argues that the Macedonian national consciousness and from that conscientious promotion of Macedonian as a written language, first appears just in the beginning of our century and is strengthened particularly during in the years between the two world wars. Austrian linguist Otto Kronsteiner, states that the Macedonian linguists artificially introduced differences from the literary Bulgarian language to bring Macedonian closer to Serbian, jesting that the Macedonian language is a Bulgarian one, but written on a Serbian typewriter. Dennis P. Hupchick, American professor of history, states that "the obviously plagiarized historical argument of the Macedonian nationalists for a separate Macedonian ethnicity could be supported only by linguistic reality, and that worked against them until the 1940s. Until a modern Macedonian literary language was mandated by the socialist-led partisan movement from Macedonia in 1944, most outside observers and linguists agreed with the Bulgarians in considering the vernacular spoken by the Macedonian Slavs as a western dialect of Bulgarian".
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