Macedonia from S. S. Cyril and Methodius to Horace Lunt and Blazhe Koneski:
Language and Nationality
(Prof. James F. Clarke, The Pen and the Sword: Studies in Bulgarian History, edited by Dennis P. Hupchick, Boulder: East European Monographs ; New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1988.)

Among Americans increasing interest in Macedonian subjects is to be noted in academic circles. Few society meetings occur without Macedonia appearing on the program, usually in a linguistic form, but lacking historical perspective. Occasionally an article appears in a scholary journal such as one by Prof. Stephen Fisher - Galati on "IMRO" in the East European Quarterly, edited by him, but without first-hand knowledge of the subject. Perhaps more interesting is a book published in 1977 by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Reading the Ashes, An Anthology of the Poetry of Modern Macedonia. Basically a product of Skopje, the Introduction by the American editor is riddled with errors. It required 32 "translators" to translate the 26 poets. As is to be expected, it ignores, or is ignorant of, Bulgarian Macedonian history and literature, substituting instead myth and misinformation. It is my purpose here to describe how the myth of a Macedonian literary language got started.
There have been two so-called Macedonian literary languages separated by 1081 years. That of Cyril and Methodius was the first Slavic literary language, with the first Slavic alphabet - the Glagolitic, later transformed into the Cyrillic. This was adopted by all the Slavs and became a world language, the first language and alphabet in Europe with a religious basis. The other, as now practiced in Yugoslav Macedonia, is the latest, the smallest (exept for Lusatian Serbian) and we may presume, the last Slavic literary language. Cyril's Old Bulgarian, or Old Church Slavonic, was originally spoken by the Slav inhabitants of what is now Greek (or Aegean) Macedonia (Lunt, Old Church Slavonic, p. 2). New Macedonian is made up of dialects from the Centre of Yugoslav (Vardar) Macedonia.
My title would seem to put Horace Lunt in the position of isapostolos, or a latter-day Saint; "disciple" would be more appropriate. Like St. Cyril, he is a distinguished multilinguist. Since 1959 professor of Slavic at Harvard, he has worked both ends of the longMacedonian street. His first major work, written at the Biblical age 33, was a Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language (Skopje, 1952), the first languistic description and analysis in any language. Lunt's is the only grammar listed in Koneski's Istorija na Makedonskiot Jazik (History of the Macedonian Language, Skopje 1965), aside from his own. Only three years later (1974) came his Old Church Slavonic Grammar (6th ediction, rev.), described as "the first to be written in English" and for many years a standard work (J. O. Ferrell, Language, vol. 33, p. 450 - 453). A thousand years of spoken Macedonian separate these two grammars.
By-product of Lunt's work on the Macedonian language was his "Survey of Macedonian Literature" in the first volume of Harvard Slavic Studies (1954) of which he was editor. This also was a pioneer work (and remains the only English source - other than an English translation of one of Koneski's works. Towards the Macedonian Renaissance, Skopje, 1961). He has also published a few shorter pieces. Of special interest is an article, "The creation of Standard Macedonian" (Anthropological Linguistics, May, 1959).
Lunt himself tells us how he discovered Macedonia in the Preface to Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language, p. 1. While in the U. S. Army in 1944, he stumbled on some partizan underground publications in a Macedonian dialect. After the war he attended lectures on Macedonian in Prague, and in 1950 at Bled, given by the leading Skopje authority, Blazhe Koneski, and sponsored by the Yugoslav Council for Science and Culture. In 1951, fresh from a Columbia Ph. D. (1950), he spent three months in Skopje with financial aid from the Yugoslav Council and the Macedonian Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture. There he had the guidance and assistance of Prof. Koneski and associates at the University of Skopje. Thus, Koneski's Slavic Seminar acted as judge and jury in determining what was to be standard. Lunt's Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language was printed in Belgrade and published by the Macedonian State Press in Skopje in August 1952. It might, therefore, be considered official.


On August 2, 1944, one of the first acts of the 122 delegates from Macedonia to the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Council, meeting clandestinely at the St. Prohor Pchinski Monastery in Serbia, was the following decree:
1. In the Macedonian state as official language is adopted the People's Macedonian language.
2. This decision enters into force immediately.
(Dokumenti od sozdavanjeto i razvitokot na N. R. Makedonija, Documents on the Creation and Development of the P. R. of Macedonia, Skopje, 1949, p. 22)
This must be the quickest creation of a literary language in history. A Commission, including Blazhe Koneski, was appointed in December to spell out the new literary language. It came up with a new alphabet and orthography on May 3 and June 7, 1945.
After two centuries of Slavic scholarship, very little is known about the origins and nature of Old Bulgaria in Macedonia. Many questions remain and some probably always will. Although the locale of the language seems established, the ethnic origin of the sainted brothers is still disputed. It is hard for Slavs to accept them as anything but Slavs. Prof. Lunt calls them "Greeks" (Slavic Review, June, 1964, p. 216), but also refers to Macedonian as "St. Cyril's native Salonika dialect" (Lunt, Old Church Slavonic, p. 3). Many questions would be answered should we discover that their mother, or at least their wet-nurse, was a "native" (I'm told by Konstantin Mechev, a Cyrillo-Methodian scholar of Sofia, that after 5 month's research in Moscow, he has conclusive evidence that they were Slavs; e. g. Bulgarians). Even the traditional date for the language, 863, is disputed, especially by Russian and Bulgarian scholars, not all of whom are Marxists. Aside from such assertions that there must have been a couple of centuries of prior literary development (P. Dinekov, Deloto, 1100 godini, p. 5) we find such statements as "the brothers finished their epoch-making work in 855" (N. Todorov, et al, Bulgaria, Historical and Geographic Outline, Sofia, 1965, p. 28).
Considering the times and circumstances, it is inevitable that the great achievement of the two "Apostles to the Slavs" should still be shrouded in myths and legends. On the other hand, the second contemporary Macedonian literary language was created in the full light of our day. Yet this too is obscured by a growing Macedonian Myth. To it Horace Lunt has contributed his share and set the pace for subsequent American linguistics.
I am not here to quarrel with the current Macedonian literary language. No less an authority than Roman Jakobson years ago declared it the thirteenth Slavic literary language. Every man has the right to invent and write in his own language. Nor is the upgrading of a dialect into a literary language a heresy, though only in a totalitarian police state can this become standard overnight by decree.
To the 19th century the literary language used by Bulgarians in Macedonia was some form of Serb or Bulgarian variation of the Russianized Church Slavic with degrees of spoken admixtures, as in the so-called Damaskini. In the first part of the 19th century Greek (or Slavic with Greek letters) was also used but increasingly the literary language was the same as that used elsewhere in Bulgaria with occasional use of Macedonian dialects. Between the two wars in Yugoslavia, it was Serbian by compulsion, with Bulgarian proscribed. Now it is the new Macedonian, with Bulgarian proscribed, and with Serbo-Croatian as a second official language.
According to Prof. Lunt, Macedonian "came of age" with the 1951 publication of Koneski and Toshev's little Macedonian Orthography. He rather prematurely declared at the time he compiled his Grammar that Macedonian "had achieved a degree of homogenity comparable to that of the other Balkan languages" - this in the space of six precotions years (Grammar, p. 6). The chief architect of the language has been Prof. Koneski, President of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, whom Lunt considers one of the best Macedonian authors. The first part of the Grammar came on the heels of Lunt's; the second, in 1954. His Dictionary, in three volumes, was published in 1961, 1965, and 1966, with definitions in Serbian. The last two volumes were delayed by the great Skopje earthquake. A major work is his History of the Macedonian Language (1965).
I too am prepared to stipulate that a kind of Macedonian literary language is in use in Skopje, although its growing pains are still showing. But to claim as Koneski does (The Macedonian Language in the Development of the Slavic Literary Language, 1968), that Macedonian is comparable to the other Slavic languages is nonsense. What interests me here are the ideological and the political rationalizations and the problems and myths thus created.


Literary Macedonian owes its existence largely to Tito and the inclusion of Macedonia in his six-room federal house. The new federal idea was laid in 1942 and publicly hatched at Jajce in 1943. The new "co-equal" Macedonian republic was launched in 1944 at the St. Prohor Pchinski Monastery. The motives behind its existence help explain much of its subsequent character: Macedonian's relations with Belgrade had been a running, bloody sore in the interbellum period; to head off Stalin opting for the Bulgarian Communist Party's claims, Macedonia and the partizan movement there had to be forcibly tied to the new Yugoslavia; and there was the possibility of using Vardar Macedonia as a magnet or springboard for the acquisition of Greek and Bulgarian Macedonia and a restoration of partitioned Macedonia.
The elevation of Macedonia into the ranks of the historically and ethnically based Yugoslav federal republics had to be rationalized; ideologically, politically, historically, and culturally. A separate Macedonia had to have a separate and different official literary language - different both from Bulgarian and Serbian. The obvious necessity to use an existing spoken language meant deciding which of the many dialects to use. The Western Macedonian was chosen, which in Vardar Macedonia - meant the central dialect group, was removed as much as possible from both Bulgarian and Serbian contamination.*
At the same time, a separate Macedonian alphabet was devised, made unnecessarily different from the Bulgarian, including a few peculiarly Serbian letters, and containing some letters not found in any other Cyrillic alphabet** , but it is still closer to Bulgarian than anything else.
In other ways, the makers of Modem Macedonian have tried to be different. A folk-based language of a relatively primitive people finds it both necessary and difficult suddenly to adapt to mid twentieth century conditions. In addition to finding or coining local folk substitutes for Bulgarian literary expressions, the Macedonian language legislators avoid taking ready-to-hand Bulgarian (or Russian or Serbian) technical and other ultra-modern expressions in favor of Western, including American, terms. The purpose is to make Macedonian as different as possible. The result is barbarous jargon, literally a Macedonian Salad.
In contrast to the arbitrary severing of the Bulgarian literary umbilical cord, there is daily contact with Serbian via the school, press, radio, business, politics, and the army. For Macedonians, Serbian has to be a second, official language.


Professor Lunt reminds us that a "language can be described and learned without the slightest knowledge of history" unfortunately true of some of American linguists, but also that the "elements of history are always present" (Old Church Slavonic Grammar, 2nd ed. 1959, p. x.). The new Macedonian state and language in particular required historical rationalization to justify their separatism. But the discouraging fact was that there was virtually no Macedonian "state" history, as such. Consequently the Skopje scholars have found it necessary to rewrite Balkan history at least as far back as Cyril and Methodius to make room for Macedonia. As Lunt says, "except for a brief period under Samuil at the end of the ninth (sic) century, Macedonia never had its own government" (Grammar, p. 3). Because the history of Macedonia has hitherto inevitably been written mostly in terms of Bulgaria, Macedonian historians are finding it necessary to deprive Bulgarians of some of their history, for example, St. Clement, chief disciple of Cyril and Methodius, whose anniversary on Ohrid in 1966 (with Professor Lunt as honored guest) was celebrated as a Macedonian affair. Another example is the Bogomils, whom the Macedonians have adopted as their very own national movement. On some of these points Macedonians have trouble convincing even their fellow Yugoslavs. But it is not my purpose here to retread Macedonian historiography and its catharsis of Bulgarian elements.


For Macedonians to deny their Bulgarian heritage is like Peter denying Christ. But Peter repented! You are familiar, I am sure, with all the distortions and denials of Bulgarian history, literature, and culture, as related to Macedonia eminating from Skopje. But we here too have scholars seemingly ignorant of Bulgarian Macedonian history. Take Prof. Golab of Chicago who cites a work by Russian scholar Selishchev on Polog and Its Bulgarian Inhabitants as Polog and Its Slav Inhabitants. It was at Chicago that Koneski got an honorary doctorate as "father of the Macedonian Language". Actually Tito was the "father" and Koneski the "mother" with Horace Lunt as "mid-wife". The kind of historical gymnastics and dialectical Macedonianism indulged in at Skopje puts the ideological cart before the historical horse: suddenly we had ultra-Macedonian Nationalism, a gift from Marx; then came the establishment of a "state", then the official language, then back-up "history" and finally what? A Macedonian Consciousness?
I see no quick or easy solution for today's version of the age-old Macedonian Questions, invented at the Congress of Berlin (1878). My conviction, however, is that historical truth will prevail and our task is to see that these truths must not be forgotten. This is the least we should do.
Prof. James F. Clarke



Repercussion of the Macedonian emigration in USA about creation of the so-called Macedonian language (Macedonian Tribune, Volume 43, Number 2177, Indianapolis, March 27, 1969).


The wild assimilatory campaign in the enslaved Macedonian land near Vardar often seems pitiful and funny. The Skopian janissaries not only are embroiled to death with the elementary historic truths but also they're trying to do the same with the truth about the alphabet. For them it is a rule to call black white, they are used to maintain, that the sun does not rise from the east, but from the west, that the satellite of the Earth is not the Moon, but ... Yugoslavia.
In this preculiar way, the decision was made in Skopje to issue Bulgarian - Macedonian dictionary. It is necessary for them to prove to their own people and, if it is possible, to some foreigners, that the population near Vardar has no relationship to the Bulgarian nation and Bulgaria. The above mentioned dictionary is already a fact and let's say at the beginning - one more fact of the failure of Tito's assimilatory mission.Its' authors M. Miadenov, D. Tsarvenkovski and B. Blagoevski are Bulgarians by origin - in all their documents till 1945 they have ascertained themselves their Bulgarian origin, they have graduated Bulgarian schools. They speak Bulgarian and Serbian fluently. In the last 20 years they are trying to distort their conscience and play the role of creators of literary "Macedonian" language. We must confess that they are very determined in the creation of the dictionary, to alienate their language from the Bulgarian and to make it look like Serbian. Fortunately they have not succeeded.
On the first page for the explanations of the abbreviations we see:
ав. авиациja aviatsiya авиация aviatsiya aviation
адми. администрациja administratsiya администрация administratsiya administration
анат. анатомиja anatomiya анатомия anatomiya anatomy
археол. археологиja arheologiya археология arheologiya archaeology
архит. архитектура arhitektura архитектура arhitektura architecture
Afterwards is published the "Macedonian" alphabet and we notice with admiration and anger at the same time because of the impudence that this is the holy Bulgarian alphabet (Cyrillic). There are only two changes - the Bulgarian Щ (sht) is written as ШТ (sht) and second - they have suppressed the Bulgarian Ъ*** The first change is hardly noticeable but the second leads to jokes. For example:
щръклица  shtraklitsa  штръклица  shtraklitsa  species of fly 
върба  varba  врба  varba  willow 
изтръпвам  iztrapvam  изтрпвам  iztrapvam  numb 

Sometimes the Bulgarian Ъ and **** are changed with the Bulgarian A. For example:
път  pat  пат  pat  way 
зъзна  zazna  зазна  zazna  have a cold 

Here start the words. As in all dictionaries the beggining is for the words starting with A. Let's have a look at the first page:
абаджия  abadziya  абаџиja  abadziya  weaver 
абдикация  abdikatsiya  абдикациja  abdikatsiya  abdication 
абстрактен  abstrakten  апстрактен  apstrakten  abstract 
абстрахирам  abstrahiram  апстрахирам  abstrahiram  to abstract 
абсурд  absurd  апсурд  aзsurd  nonsense 
август  avgust  август  avgust  August 
автор  avtor  автор  avtor  autor 
aкo  ako  ako  аkо  if 
адрес  adres  адрес  adres  address 
астма  astma  астма  astma  asthma 
атака  ataka  атака  ataka  assault 
афион  afion  афион  afion  poppy 
ax  ah  ax  ah  oh 

Let's go to the words of the second Bulgarian letter Б:
баба  baba  баба  baba  gammer 
бавене  bavene  бавене  bavene  slow-coach 
бавно  bavno  бавно  bavno  slow 
багаж  bagazh  багаж  bagazh  baggage 
багра  bagra  багра  bagra  bloom 
баджанак  badzhanak  бацанак  badzhanak  brother in law 
байряк  bayryak  баjpak  bayryak  banner 
балама  balama  балама  balama  stupid 
белег  beleg  белег  beleg  blaze 

Or with the letter E:
евнух  evnuh  евнух  evnuh  eunuch 
еволюирам  evolyuiram  еволуирам  evoluiram  evolve 
евреин  evrein  евреин  evrein  jew 
европеец  evropeets  европеец  evropeets  european 
евтиния  evtiniya  евтиниja  evtiniya  cheapness 
егейски  egeyski  егеjски  egeyski  Aegean 
егоист  egoist  егоист  egoist  egoist 
еделвайс  edelvays  еделваjс  edelvays  edelweiss 
единайсет  edinayset  единаесет  edinaeset  eleven 
ерес  eres  ерес  eres  heresy 
езеро  ezero  езеро  ezero  lake 

This can be seen in the whole dictionary. Only when the existence of Serbian words in the "Macedonian" language must be justified, then they resort to translation. Or when they get to the archaisms from the Bulgarian language that have remained in the "Macedonian". For example:

не ме е еня,    B.      -       не ми е гаjле,  M.
бръснарница,    B.      -       берберница,     M. 
обущарница,     B.      -       кондурџиjница,  M.
The Bulgarian word мелничар (melnichar) is "translated" in "Macedonian" as воденичар (vodenichar) and the Bulgarian воденичар (vodenichar) is "translated" as мелничар (melnichar). But both words are Bulgarian and mean a miller.This dictionary can be well called Bulgarian - Bulgarian and then one can't justify its creation. The Skopian linguists tried to justify this booklet by writing series of notices in different newspapers. They wrote: "This dictionary will be helpful mainly to Bulgarian guests that visit our restaurants, hotels, cinemas, and other public places, in their conversations with Macedonian citizens". But the Bulgarians that visit the unfortunate Vardar area felt proud that their brothers and sisters speak just like them. So they have no need of this dictionary. This was proved by its creators who "translated" over 5 thousand Bulgarian words into ... pure Bulgarian language.

[ Index

* The so-called Macedonian Literary Language is too hasty in its development. While in the dictionaries we can't find a lot of Serbian words, the everyday official language contains 85 - 90 % Bulgarian words, 5 - 9 % Serbian, 1 - 2 % Macedonian dialectisms, and 1 - 3 % foreignisms.

** These letters are ќ and ѓ . They are modified by Serbian ђ and ћ.

*** This note-is not entirely correct. The differences between Bulgarian and Macedonian alphbets are as follow:
Bg й  щ  ъ  ь  ю  я  ль  нь  гь  кь  дж  дз 
Mc ј  шт  ј  јy  ja  љ  њ  ѓ  ќ  џ  ѕ 

****  is old Bulgarian letter from the times of St. Kliment Ohridski. It is suppressed by the Macedonian and Bulgarian communists after 1945 but is in use in the editions of some emigrant organizations. Depending on the dialect it is pronunced as Ъ, A or O, for example cбота: cъбота, сабота, собота (sabota, sobota).