The Macedonian language is a South Slavic language from the Indo-European language branch. Interestingly, the most similar language to Macedonian is the Bulgarian language. These languages have a relatively high level of mutual intelligibility, which means that speakers of one language can often understand many of the words of the other language. With the other Slavic languages, the Macedonian language is part of a group of languages that includes Romanian, Greek and Albanian. This group of languages is called the Balkan Sprachbund, and the languages that form this group share many grammatical, typological, and lexical features.
In the 1940s, the Macedonian language was standardized, which is surprisingly late considering how many years the language has been spoken for. It was then implemented as an official language in 1945, after which an influx of literature really broadened the language. Before this codification, the language of Macedonian is considered by some to actually be a Bulgarian dialect, but this is not accepted by all linguists.
The Macedonian is an official language in the Republic of Macedonia, though it is also recognized as a minority language in parts of Albania, Romania and Serbia. There are around two million people living in Macedonia presently, with just over three quarters speaking Macedonian as their native language. Due to a lack of census information, and very fluid immigration laws, it is not exactly known how many actual speakers there are of the Macedonian language, with numbers being estimated anywhere from 1.6 million to 2.5 million. On average, therefore, we can assume that there are around 2 million speakers of the Macedonian language.
There are Macedonian speaking people in many of the countries that are close to Macedonia. There are Macedonian communities in Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. In Albania, particularly, there are just under 5000 speakers of Macedonia. Macedonian people, not to be confused with Macedonian speakers, live all over the world, with around 30% of the population living outside of Macedonia itself. Australia, Canada, and the U.S., have the highest number of Macedonian people outside of Macedonia.
Roughly, the Macedonian language can be divided into two dialects, Eastern and Western. The boundary for these differences in dialect runs roughly in a vertical line along with the rivers Vardar and Crna.
The grammar of the Macedonian language is relatively analytic when compared to most other Slavic languages. This means that words are primarily composed of a single morpheme, or component of a word. The words of the Macedonian language have a clear root, making it relatively easy to look linguistically at the origins of many of the words. At the turn of the 19th century, Old Church Slavonic and the Russian language also had a strong influence on the Macedonian language, though in more recent years, both Serbo-Croatian words and those invented purely for the Macedonian language, have replaced the older Russian words. This was done in an attempt to distance the Macedonian language from the Bulgarian language, which still uses many Russian words.
In terms of vocabulary, the Macedonian is a language that has taken many influences from other languages. Ottoman Turkish and English have been two languages that have had an impact on Macedonian, due to control over the area. Bulgarian and Serbian have also given many words to the Macedonian language. When the language was standardized, certain Macedonian words were given precedence over the loanwords that had started to come in from various sources.
Why Learn The Macedonian Language?
The Macedonian language has spread through many areas close to the Republic of Macedonia itself, and Macedonia as a region extends to much of Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and a small area of Kosovo. When you learn the Macedonian language, you are not just learning a language you can use in one country, you are also learning a minority language for five other countries, making it a particularly useful language to learn for this part of the world.
In terms of tourism, the capital city of Skopje is certainly one of the reasons to visit Macedonia. With many historical buildings from many eras in time being preserved in this city, as well as many museums and galleries, it is an excellent tourist destination. There are also three national parks, and 33 natural reserves in Macedonia, each very beautiful, so if nature and wildlife are your interests, then it might be worth learning the Macedonian language so that you can travel to this stunning country.