#LanguageJam February 2019 - Macedonian

Macedonian – #LangJam Feb 2019

Time to play with a new language over a weekend with #LanguageJam! This time I drew Macedonian – which has a Cyrillic script, a messy political situation, and not many resources “because it’s really just a dialect of Bulgarian”. Well, so the Bulgarians say!

Recognition of the Macedonian Language

I did some research and found some fun facts. Turns out that the Macedonian language has been held hostage to an awkward political situation since the break up of the former Yugoslavia. The country itself is barely recognised, let alone its language. It is further complicated by the fact that Macedonian, Bulgarian, Croatian and Serbian are VERY closely related.

The legal status of Macedonian in the countries where it is spoken is as follows:

Flag for the Republic of Macedonia

Republic of Macedonia

Standard Macedonian is used in all areas of public and private life, along with Serbian. While Macedonian is used as a medium of instruction in elementary and secondary schools, there is lack of textbooks at the university level, resulting in the use of Serbian textbooks.

Flag for Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, Macedonian is viewed as a dialect of Bulgarian. It is officially forbidden to use Macedonian in publications.

Flag for Greece

Macedonian is considered to be a dialect of Greek, rather than a Slavic language. It is banned from all areas of public life, including all forms media and education.

Flag for Albania

Macedonian is not recognized.

Photo of a seagull with an open mouth
Photo by Holger Link on Unsplash

Wow! That’s enough to give *anyone* a complex!

It *is* only for the weekend, so I am really just going to get an introduction. I have been learning the Macedonian alphabet on Memrise. I’ll just try to do the same language hack I used on German last year, and see how far through I get. It would be good to at least be able to introduce myself, and know some verbs. Realistically, no one can learn a new language to a useful level in only a weekend!


Some more quick facts:

  • Between 1.3 million and 2 million speakers in Macedonia
  • Perhaps up to 2 million speakers around the world
  • 19 Western dialects, 10 Eastern dialects
  • No real case system (yay!), 3 genders (boo!), 3 definite articles “pertaining to the position of the object (unspecified, proximate, and distal), which are suffixed to the noun,”* (huh?!)
  • Waaaay too many verb characteristics, “depending on tense, mood, person, type, transitiveness, voice, gender and number”*! 🙁


We’d love for you to join us – sign up at LanguageJam.net. Then let me know below what language you got, and what you are aiming for over the weekend – Ready…. Set….. GO!