Macedonian: ве молам!

A train ride between Romania and Macedonia, were it possible, would be about 250 miles apart. Linguistically, the ride would be much longer.

I’ll bet you’ve heard of the name Macedonia at some point during middle or secondary school. Way before the country was part of the Yugoslav kingdom and republic, the history of the region known as Macedonia stretches back to the days of ancient Greece. The area was ruled by Phillip II (from Macedon) and was eventually passed down to his famous son, Alexander the Great, before eventually breaking up and being annexed to the Roman Empire in the mid-100s.

Macedonia eventually became part of the Byzantine empire around 300 AD. It wouldn’t be too much longer until Slavs entered the region around the end of the 6th century, which would lead to much of the Macedonian language’s influence. Shortly after this, the region was taken by the Bulgarian Empire. A tug-of-war would continue between Byzantine and Bulgarian powers up until the 1300s, when it briefly became part of the Serbian empire and later the Ottoman empire for five centuries.

During Byzantine rule, the Cyrillic alphabet was developed. In the early 860s, brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, monks from Salonika, created the Glagolitic alphabet, the first Slavic alphabet, and later translated Christian texts used by Slavs who at this point had adopted Christianity. The alphabet was later reformed by St. Cyril’s student St. Clement, who named it Cyrillic in honor of his teacher.

A language spoken mostly in the Balkan peninsula, Macedonian gets much of its influence from nearby sister South Slavic countries. As a result of its history, the language is mutually intelligible with Bulgarian, to the point where some scholars consider it a dialect of Bulgarian altogether. Its  vocabulary is also mixed with Serbian loan words, along with Russian and, predictably, English ones.


Here is the Cyrillic alphabet, along with a video pronouncing the letters (credit to Learn Macedonian Geocities and Learn Macedonian at Blogspot):

А а – a as in father
Б б – b as in book
В в – v as in vow
Г г – g as in give
Д д – d as in deer
Ѓ ѓ  – a “gee-yuh” sound similar to “gu” in argue
Е е – e as in pet
Ж ж – a “zh” sound similar to the “si” in vision
З з – z as in zebra
Ѕ ѕ – a “dz” sound similar to “ds” in birds
И и – e as in me
Ј ј – y as in yes
К к – c as in cat
Л л – l as in love
Љ љ – an “lyuh” sound as the “lli” in million
М м – m as in mother
Н н – n as in new
Њ њ – an “ng” sound as in “ny” in canyon
О о – o as in bold
П п – p as in pat
Р р – r as in race
С с – s as in sale
Т т – t as in type
Ќ ќ – cu as in cute
У у – u as in yule
Ф ф – f as in five
Х х – h as in help
Ц ц – cz as in czar
Ч ч – ch as in chew
Џ џ – g as in giant
Ш ш – sh as in shy

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I’m really intrigued by Macedonian. Part of it comes from using a different alphabet altogether (I was able to memorize some letters of the Cyrillic alphabet from when I was in middle school). At first glance, it looks and sounds like Russian. I’m eager to learn more about the history of this region in general.

2 thoughts on “Macedonian: ве молам!

  1. I became fascinated by Macedonian language and culture after getting into the music of Tose Proeski.

    I bought a book by Christina Kramer, and can honestly say i have never found anything more difficult in my life.

    This language surely has to be one of the most difficult to learn.

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