The irony of history and the Macedonians

StoryThe irony of history and the Macedonians

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“Guide to the Slavonic Languages” is the name of the work we are going to take a closer look here, precisely the section on the Macedonian language is our focus. There we can read about the irony of history and the Macedonians

Reginald George Arthur De Bray, born in Russia and died in Australia, is the author of the work. The excerpt is from the 1951 edition, distributed by M. Dent & Sons LTD in London and E.P. Dutton & Co Inc in 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” was 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 manual which gives 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 that the author made.

A must read on our page: Macedonians in Bulgaria called for the ‘legalization of the Macedonian language’ in 1922

So we see (on the screenshot below) that de Bray writes “Note on the language and its history” under the title “Macedonian”, and we now look at these notes and the history.

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 own modern language. This is what the author calls an “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 readers that Macedonia was once 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 they were finally expelled in 1912.

Macedonians divided among the neighbors

Then de Bray explains to the readers that after the expulsion of the Ottomans, 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, writes de Bray, none of this was able to bring the Macedonians to their knees. “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.

Used literature: “Guide to the Slavonic Languages” by Reginald G.A. de Bray, London, 1951

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