The irony of history and the Macedonians

Modern historyThe irony of history and the Macedonians

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 “Guide to the Slavonic Languages” is the name of the work that we are taking a closer look at here, or rather the section on the Macedonians and the Macedonian language.

Reginald George Arthur De Bray, born in Russia and died in Australia, is the author of the work. The excerpt we are talking about is from the 1951 edition distributed by M. Dent & Sons LTD of London and E.P. Dutton & Co Inc of New York.

Professor Reginald de Bray has held chairs at Monash University, the University of London and the Australian National University. His “Guide to the Slavic Languages” has been a standard reference for four decades. He was one of the most respected academics of the Slavic language.

Guide to the Slavonic Languages

As the title of the work suggests, this is a handbook that provides an insight into the Slavic languages. On page 243, de Bray introduces the Macedonian language to the readers, but we only delve into the introduction the author made to Macedonian.

So we also see that de Bray writes “Note on the language and its history” under the title “Macedonian”, and these notes and short story we now look at:

Macedonians gave the Slavs First Literary Language

There de Bray writes that the Macedonians were the ones who gave the Slavs the first literary language, but the last to find recognition for their modern language. The author describes this as the “irony of history”:

By an irony of history the people who gave to the Slavs their first literary language, were the last to have their modern language recognized as a separate Slavonic language, distinct from the neighboring Serbian and Bulgarian.

De Bray then explains to the readers that Macedonia was part of the Serbian and Bulgarian kingdoms in the Middle Ages until it was occupied by the Ottomans in the 15th century. Macedonia remained under the Ottomans until “finally” they were expelled in 1912.

Macedonians divided among the neighbors

Then de Bray explains to the readers that after the Ottomans were driven out, the Macedonians were divided among the neighboring countries. And that this fact still persists since a quarter of a million Macedonians live in Greece and Bulgaria:

Then the Macedonians were split up between the three nieghbouring countris of Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece – a state of affairs which still partially persists today, as there are still about a quarter of a million Macedonians in both Greece and Bulgaria.

However, none of this could bring the Macedonians to their knees – wrote de Bray. “Oppressed and poor”, the Macedonians have preserved their national identity:

Thus the Macedonians though oppressed and poor, preserved their national identity and their cultural and artistic individuality.

Source: “Guide to the Slavonic Languages” by Reginald G.A. de Bray, London, 1951 (note: the hyperlink contains the 1969 edition!)

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