Macedonian language between the two World Wars.


After the Balkan Wars, the Macedonian territory was divided between the neighbouring states. That impeded social, cultural, and educational development and further complicated the language situation in Macedonia. That division had an extremely negative impact on the Macedonian people. Therefore, in the period between the two World Wars, depending on its divisioning pattern, as official were imposed the languages of the following neighbouring states:
This period is characterized by the assimilating policy of the neighbouring states towards Macedonia and Macedonian people. That policy almost succeeded in extinguishing Macedonian national awareness, particularly before the third decade of the XX century. The situation improved during the third decade and the beginning of the fourth, though the historic circumstances were quite disadvantageous. Throughout the period Macedonian language was prohibited for the official use, in accordance with the legal acts of the states within which certain parts of Macedonia were annexed.

The most drastic measures against the Macedonian people were exercised in the Aegean Macedonia, which was subdued by Greece: Macedonian language was banned by a separate law even from the use at home, and Macedonians who did not comply with that law were inflicted severe sentences. Such progressive policy of Greece was also taken before the Association of Nations. Under such pressures, the Greek Government set about to prepare the Macedonian language primer - Abecedar (1924).

The Primer contained short readings in Macedonian language, was intended for teaching the alphabet, and was written in Lerin speech, with the Roman Latin alphabet. However, it was never used in practice due to the obstructions by the Greek authorities. Nevertheless, the Primer signified the official recognition of the Macedonian inhabitants and Macedonian language.

The issue of the establishment of Macedonian schools in Greece was reopened in 1935, but it was not resolved.

As for the Vardarian Macedonia, then within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians, and Slovenes (later to become the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), in the official use imposed was Serbian (i.e. Serbo-Croatian) language. That was the language of the administration and education, and was used in all spheres of public communication. Macedonian language was reduced to a dialectal language for use at home. Nevertheless, Macedonian language managed to find its raised route in the form of regional literature.

It became the language of the theatres: plays in Macedonian language were written and performed. This form was in accordance with the theatrical tradition of writing and performing folklore plays in native language in numerous stages of Yugoslavia from that period. Such activity in Macedonia started with Vasil Iljoski's drama Len~e Kumanov~e (1928), later renamed in Begalka, written in Kumanovo speech, but was even more enhanced by the stage performance of the play Pe~albari (1935).

Instead of his indigenous language, Strumica speech, Anton Panov wrote his play by using the western Macedonian dialect. Thus he reflected the established practice of raising the western Macedonian dialect to the level of the literature language. These strivings were further enhanced by Risto Krle with his play "Parite se otepuva~ka", written in his indigenous Strumica speech.

These plays stirred the cultural life in Macedonia between the two World Wars and affirmed the use of Macedonian language.

Macedonian language in its literature form was also present in the poetry. That was particularly obvious after the publication of Beli Mugri (White Dawn) in 1939 by Kocho Racin. With the publication of this book the official Yugoslav administration was faced with the fact that Macedonian language was emancipating as a standard language.

Racin's "Beli Mugri" also strengthened the role of the central Macedonian speeches as the basis of the Macedonian literature (standard) language.

In Bulgaria Macedonian language was prohibited for the official use, and the assimilating policy of Bulgaria aimed at destroying the Macedonian national identity. In that period the Pirinian Macedonia was a so-called "deaf" province within the Bulgarian state. Macedonian cultural life in Bulgaria found its route to light through the Macedonian emigration in Sofia, organized by the Macedonian Literature Circle. Among the significant literature works from the period are the poetic anthologies by Kole Nedelkovski: "M'skavici" (1940) and "Pe{ po svetot" (1941).

From 1944 till 1948 in the Pirinian Macedonia (within the PR of Bulgaria), Macedonian language was used in the newly established schools, in theatres, and in other forms of cultural emancipation of the Macedonian people.

After the Second World War, the literature and language aspirations of the Macedonian-directed emigration in Bulgaria merged with their Macedonian mainstream.
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