LINGUIST List 5.84

Sat 22 Jan 1994

Disc: The term "Macedonian"

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  1. , Re: 4.1085 Obituary: Blazhe Koneski

Message 1: Re: 4.1085 Obituary: Blazhe Koneski

Date: Thu, 13 Jan 1994 14:08:08 Re: 4.1085 Obituary: Blazhe Koneski
From: <AFLEISCHfacl.lan.mcgill.ca>
Subject: Re: 4.1085 Obituary: Blazhe Koneski

I would like to clarify some terms that were used in the obituary for
Blazhe Koneski (sent to the list on December 21st). Blazhe Koneski,
we were told, "was a leading linguist and poet in Skopje, Macedonia",
and he "did the major work on standardizing the Macedonian
.... language ...". Firstly, what Mr. Browne calls Macedonia is still
officially called "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Maceconia"
until a name is found that is acceptable for all neighbors of this
new state. But let me say a few words on the so- called Macedonian
language.

Yugoslav "Macedonia" was formed in 1946, when the state of Yugoslavia
was reorganized by Tito into a Federal People's Republic. The
"Macedonian" dialect, which until then had only been considered a
dialect of the Bulgarian language, was purged of all Bulgarian
elements which were replaced with Serbo-Croatian words, and it became
the official language of the region. No wonder this language has been
called "a linguistic artifact" by an Italian linguist. This case of
language policy par excellence is indicative of the efforts of this
region to develop in its citizens a sense of identity, a "Macedonian"
identity.

Some historic and political reminders:
The terms "Macedonia" and "Macedonians" are strictly geographical
but are used by Skopje in a national sense. There is no doubt that
the ancient Macedonians were a Greek tribe, even if Skopje tries to
throw doubts on this. After the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, the area
occupied by ancient Macedonia was divided up, most of it becoming
Greek territory, the rest going to Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. The
former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia thus has the northern part of
ancient Macedonia but tries to claim the name for itself. Moreover,
expansionist tendencies are clearly evident, e.g. there are claims
made that the whole of "Macedonia" has never been "liberated", and
that only that part of it which is contolled by Skopje is free.

I am well aware of the fact that this is a linguistic list, but I
believe that every case of status language planning can only become
transparent with a knowledge of the historical or sociopolitical
context.
 Alkisti Fleischer
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