Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Country Profile: The Languages of Macedonia

We started August with a look at the languages of Lesotho, a landlocked country that is completely surrounded by South Africa. Today we're shifting our focus to Macedonia, another landlocked country, which is located in Southeast Europe.

The Official Language

The sole official language of Macedonia is Macedonian, a Slavic language that is so closely related to Bulgarian that some people consider it to be a dialect of Bulgarian. It is the native language of over 1.3 million people in Macedonia, and is also used as a minority language in neighboring countries like Albania.

Recognized Minority Languages

Galičica Mountain in Macedonia
Macedonia's government also officially recognizes six other languages as minority languages: Albanian, Turkish, Balkan Romani, Serbian, Bosnian and Aromanian. In some areas where they are spoken by at least 20% of the population, they even share co-official status with Macedonian.

Albanian, the official language of neighboring Albania, is the second most spoken language in Macedonia, with over 500,000 native speakers. It is followed by Turkish, the native language of over 70,000 Macedonians, and Balkan Romani, which is spoken by over 38,000 people.

Serbian and Bosnian are two of the four standard varieties of the Serbo-Croatian language. There are nearly 25,000 Serbian speakers in Macedonia, as well as over 8,000 Bosnian speakers. Finally, there are about 7,000 native speakers of Aromanian, a Romance language.

Other Languages

The Ethnologue lists three other native languages spoken in Macedonia. First, there's Balkan Gagauz Turkish, a Turkic language. It is spoken by about 4,000 Macedonians, and is also used in Greece and Turkey.

Macedonia is also home to about 2,000 native speakers of the endangered Megleno-Romanian language. It is closely related to both Romanian and Aromanian, and is spoken in villages along the border between Macedonia and the Greek region of the same name.

Last but not least, there are an unknown number of speakers of the Adyghe language, although most speakers of this language reside in Russia and Turkey.