The orthography of Macedonian
includes an alphabet consisting of 31 letters. (Macedonian
: Македонска азбука, Makedonska azbuka
), which is an adaptation of the Cyrillic script
, as well as language-specific conventions of spelling and punctuation.
The following table provides the upper and lower case forms of the Macedonian alphabet, along with the IPA
value for each letter:
In addition to the standard sounds of the letters Ѓ
above, in some accents
these letters represent /dʑ/ and /tɕ/, respectively.
The word Македонија ("Macedonia") in Macedonian, written in cursive script.
The above table contains the printed form of the Macedonian alphabet; the cursive script
is significantly different, and is illustrated below in lower
and upper case
(letter order and layout below corresponds to table above
Allowed italic variants of some letters in different languages.
Macedonian has a number of phonemes
not found in neighbouring languages. The committees charged with drafting the Macedonian alphabet decided on phonemic principle with a one-to-one match between letters and distinctive sounds.
Map of the phoneme kj (Ќ) in the Macedonian language
Map of the phoneme gj (Ѓ) in the Macedonian language
In "On Macedonian Matters
used the combinations Г'
to represent the phonemes /ɟ
/ and /c
/, which are unique to Macedonian among South Slavic languages
. In his magazine
"Vardar", Misirkov used the letters Ѓ
, as did Dimitar Mirčev
in his book. Eventually, Ѓ
were adopted for the Macedonian alphabet.
Despite their forms, Ѓ and Ќ are ordered not after Г
, but after Д
respectively, based on phonetic similarity. This corresponds to the alphabet positions of Serbian Ђ
respectively. These letters often correspond to Macedonian Ѓ and Ќ in cognates
(for example, Macedonian "шеќер" (šeḱer, sugar
) is analogous to Serbo-Croatian "шећер/šećer"), but they are phonetically different.
Although Ѕ is generally transcribed as dz
, it is a distinct phoneme
and is not analogous to ДЗ, which is also used in Macedonian orthography for /d.z/. Ѕ is sometimes described as soft-dz
was most likely the first writer to use this letter in print prior to the standardization of 1944.
Letters analogous to Serbian Cyrillic
Prior to standardization, the IPA phoneme
/j/ (represented by Ј
in the modern Macedonian alphabet) was represented variously as:
Eventually the Ј
was selected to represent /j/.
The letters Љ
(/l/ and /ɲ/) are ultimately from the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet. Historically, Macedonian writers have also used:
- the digraphs ЛЬ and НЬ (used by Gjorgjija Pulevski and in the "Macedonian primer" of the Secret Macedonian Committee)
- the digraphs ЛЈ and НЈ (used by Temko Popov)
- the combinations Л' and Н' (used by Krste Misirkov and Dimitar Mirčev)
The letter Џ
(representing the phoneme /dʒ/) was likely adopted from the Serbian alphabet and used by Gjorgjija Pulevski in four of his works, as well as by the Secret Macedonian Committee and Dimitar Mirčev. Misirkov used the digraphДЖ
. The letter Џ
is used today.
The accented letters Ѐ
are not regarded as separate letters, nor are they accented letters (as in French
, for example). Rather, they are the standard letters Е
topped with an accent when they stand in words that have homographs
, so as to differentiate between them (for example, "сè се фаќа" – sè se faḱa
, "everything is touchable"; "и ѝ рече" – i ì reče
, "and he/she told her").
Development of the Macedonian alphabet
Until the modern era, Macedonian was predominantly a spoken language, with no standardized written form of the vernaculardialects
. Formal written communication was usually in the Church Slavonic language
or in Greek,
which were the languages of liturgy
, and were therefore considered the 'formal languages'.
The decline of the Ottoman Empire
from the mid-19th century coincided with Slavic resistance to the use of Greek in Orthodox churches and schools,
and a resistance amongst Macedonian Slavs to the introduction of standard Bulgarian in Vardar Macedonia.
During the period of Bulgarian National Revival
many Christians from Macedonia supported the struggle for creation of Bulgarian cultural, educational and religious institutions, including Bulgarian schools that used the version of Cyrillic adopted by other Bulgarians. The majority of the intellectual and political leaders of the Macedonian Bulgarians used this version of the Cyrillic script, which was also changed in the 19th and early 20th century.
At the end of 1879 Despot Badžović
published the 'Alphabet Book for Serbo-Macedonian Primary Schools' (Serbian
: Буквар за србо-македонске основне школе) written on "Serbo-Macedonian dialect".
The latter half of the 19th century saw increasing literacy and political activity amongst speakers of Macedonian dialects, and an increasing number of documents were written in the dialects. At the time, transcriptions of Macedonian used Cyrillic with adaptations drawing from Old Church Slavonic, Serbian and Bulgarian, depending on the preference of the writer.
Early attempts to formalize written Macedonian included Krste Misirkov's book "On Macedonian Matters" (1903). Misirkov used the Cyrillic script with several adaptations for Macedonian:
- i (where Ј is used today);
- л' (where Љ is used today);
- н' (where Њ is used today);
- г' (where Ѓ is used today);
- к' (where Ќ is used today); and
- ѕ (as used today).
Another example is from Bulgarian folklorist from Macedonia Marko Tsepenkov
who published in two issues of the "A Collection of folklore, science and literature
" (1892, 1897) folklore materials from Macedonia.
Cepenkov used a version of Bulgarian Cyrillic alphabet with his own adaptations for some of the local Macedonian dialects. He did not use ѣ
, using е
instead, and did not use the ъ
in the final position of masculine nouns. Other adaptations included:
- і (where Ј is used today);
- щ (where Шт is used today);
- ль (where Љ is used today);
- нь (where Њ is used today);
- гь (where Ѓ is used today);
- кь (where Ќ is used today);
- дж (where Џ is used today);
- ѫ (sometimes for А).
Between the expulsion of the Ottoman Empire from Macedonia in the Balkan Wars
of 1912/13, and the liberation of Vardar Macedonia from the Nazis
in 1944, Northern Macedonia was divided between Serbia (within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
) and Bulgaria, and standard Serbian and Bulgarian were the official languages. The Serbian and Bulgarian authorities considered Macedonian to be a dialect
of Serbian or Bulgarian respectively, and according to some authors proscribed its use
(see also History of the Macedonian language
). However, some books in Macedonian dialects were published in Bulgaria,
some texts in Macedonian dialect were published in Yugoslavia in the 1920s and 1930s as well.
Greek was used in areas under Greek control.
Standardization of the Macedonian Alphabet
ASNOM rejected the first committee's recommendations, and formed a second committee, whose recommendations were accepted. The (second) committees' recommendations were strongly influenced by the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet (28 of the Macedonian alphabet's 31 letters are common to both Macedonian and Serbian, the letters unique to Macedonian being Ѓ
, and Ќ
), and by the works of Krste Misirkov.
The First Committee
The first committee meeting, November 1944. From left to right: Vasil Iljoski, Hristo Zografov, Krum Tošev, Dare Džambaz, Venko Markovski, Mirko Pavlovski, Mihail Petruševski, Risto Prodanov, Georgi Kiselinov, Georgi Šoptrajanov, Jovan Kostovski
The first committee met from November 27, 1944 to December 4, 1944, and was composed of prominent Macedonian academics and writers (see list below
). The committee chose the dialects of Veles
as the basis for the literary language (as Misirkov had in 1903), and proposed a Cyrillic alphabet. The first committee's recommendation was for the alphabet to use
ASNOM rejected the first committee's recommendations, and convened a second committee. Although no official reason was provided, several reasons are supposed for the rejection of the first committee's recommendation, including internal disagreement over the inclusion of Ъ
(the Big Yer
, as used in Bulgarian), and the view that its inclusion made the alphabet "too close" to the Bulgarian alphabet.
While some Macedonian dialects contain a clear phonemic schwa
and used a Bulgarian-style Ъ
, according to some opinions the western dialects – on which the literary language is based – do not. Blaže Koneski
objected to the inclusion of the Big Yer on the basis that since there was no Big Yer in the literary language (not yet standardized), there was no need for it to be represented in the alphabet. By excluding it from the alphabet, speakers of schwa
-dialects would more rapidly adapt to the standard dialect.
On the other hand, opponents of Koneski indicatеd that this phoneme is distributed among the western Macedonian dialects too and a letter Ъ should be included in the standardized at that time literary language.
The Second Committee and adoption
Official government decree enacting the Macedonian alphabet in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, May 16, 1945. Note the hand-written Ѕ, Ј and Џ in the typewritten line, and the hand-written diacritics added to create Ѓ and Ќ.
With the rejection of the first committee's draft alphabet, ASNOM convened a new committee with five members from the first committee and five new members. On May 3, 1945, the second committee presented its recommendations, which were accepted by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia
that same day, and published in Nova Makedonija
, the official newspaper.
The committee's recommendations were:
The rejection of the Ъ (Big Yer), together with the adoption of four Serbian Cyrillic letters (Ј
), led to accusations that the committee was "Serbianizing
" Macedonian, while those in favor of including the Big Yer (Ъ) were accused of "Bulgarianizing" Macedonian. Regardless of those claims, the new alphabet was officially adopted in the People's Republic of Macedonia
on May 16, 1945, and is still used in North Macedonia
and among Macedonian communities around the world.
- ^ a b The Macedonian Language in the Balkan Language Environment Archived 2008-01-15 at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Prior to the autocephaly of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1872, Old Church Slavonic and Greek were the liturgical languages of Orthodox Christians in Macedonia, and therefore had higher status than the local dialects (see diglossia).
- ^ "The first philological conference of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A. Friedman (1993), pages 162
- ^ "The first philological conference of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A. Friedman (1993), pages 162-3
- ^ Михайлов, Иван. Как пишеха нашите народни будители и герои
- ^ Zbornik Matice srpske za istoriju. Матица. 1992. p. 55. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- ^ "A Collection of folklore, science and literature", Book VIII (1892), Book XIV (1897), issue of the Ministry of Public Education, Sofia, in the form of text and .jpg photocopies (in Bulgarian)
- ^ "Language Policy and Language Behavior in Macedonia: Background and Current Events", Victor A Friedman, in "Language Contact – Language Conflict", edited Eran Fraenkel and Christina Kramer, Balkan Studies, Vol 1., p76.
- ^ "The Sociolinguistics of literary Macedonian", Victor A Friedman, in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 1985, Vol. 52, p49.
- ^ "The first philological conference for the establishment of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A Friedman, in "The Earliest Stages of Language Planning", edited by Joshua A Fishman, 1993, p163.
- ^ "Language Planning in Macedonia and Kosovo", Victor A Friedman, in "Language in the Former Yugoslav Lands", edited by Ranko Bugarski and Celia Hawkesworth (2004), p201.
- ^ Марковски, Венко. Огинот, Стихотворения, София 1938, 39 с. (, ), Марковски, Венко, Луня. Македонска лирика, София 1940, 160 с. (, ), Марковски, В., Илинден, София 1940, 16 с., Марковски, В., Лулкина песна, София 1939, 40 с.
- ^ Друговац, Миодраг. Историја на македонската книжевност, Скопје 1990, с. 194.
- ^ Друговац, Миодраг. Историја на македонската книжевност, Скопје 1990, с. 92.
- ^ Иванов, Костадин. Ролята на списание "Луч" в национално-освободителната борба на българите във Вардарска Македония, Македонски преглед, бр.2, 2008, с. 25-51.
- ^ Рацин, Кочо, Бели мугри, Загреб, 1939
- ^ "The first philological conference of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A. Friedman (1993), p169.
- ^ "The first philological conference of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A. Friedman (1993), p171.
- ^ Кочев, Иван и Иван Александров. Документи по съчиняването на т.нар. македонски книжовен език, София 1993. Regarding the distribution of phoneme schwa in the western Macedonian dialects see Stoykov, Stoyko. Bulgarian dialectology, Sofia 2002, p. 177-179(in Bulgarian)
- ^ "The first philological conference of the Macedonian alphabet and Macedonian literary language: Its precedents and consequences", Victor A. Friedman (1993), pages 166, 170.
Last edited on 16 June 2021, at 17:41
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