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Macedonia & Its Questions

Origins, Margins, Ruptures & Continuity


Edited By Victor A Friedman, Goran Janev and George Vlahov

Macedonia and its Questions: Origins, Margins, Ruptures and Continuity is a multi-disciplinary book of 11 chapters, containing contributions that span the fields of linguistics, political science, sociology, history and law. The title of the book purposefully references but simultaneously interrogates and challenges the idea that certain nation-states and certain ethnicities can in some way constitute a "question" while others do not. The "Macedonian Question" generally has the status of a problem that involves questioning the very existence of Macedonians and one of the aims of this volume is to reframe the nature of the discussion.

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1. “Come Over into Macedonia and Help Us” Evidence for the Macedonian Language in the 19th Century.

1.“Come Over into Macedonia and Help Us”

Evidence for the Macedonian Language in the 19th Century.


Grace E. Fielder

University of Arizona

This paper builds on a previous discussion of language standardization in Balkan Slavic that compared the intertwined trajectories of the western Macedonian and eastern Bulgarian variants of Balkan Slavic leading up to and following the 1913 partition of Macedonia (Fielder 2015a). The focus here, however, is on the 19th century, when protestant missionary activity in the Balkans provides documented evidence of competition between a western variant (sometimes called “Macedonian”) and an eastern variant (sometimes called “pure Bulgarian”) for what would eventually become the Bulgarian standard language in 1899. A watershed moment in norm selection, i.e. the choice of the eastern variant over the western variant, I will argue, is a “partition” that took place in 1858 when the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and American Methodist Episcopal Church agreed to divide Balkan Slavic territory into two missions. The Methodists took responsibility for territory north of the Balkan Mountains and south of the Danube, which they often referred to as “Bulgaria proper”, and the ABCFM the territory to the south (roughly Thrace, Macedonia, and the territory that would become Eastern Rumelia in 1878). This “Missionary Partition” occurred 20 years prior to the Treaty of Berlin, which produced an autonomous Bulgarian principality in June 1878.1 With that treaty the Great Powers created the Principality of Bulgaria, the boundaries of which coincided to a large extent with the territory of the Methodist mission, while south of...

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