THE MACEDONIAN LANGUAGE IN GREECE
In Greece, the Macedonian language is mainly spoken by older persons in private and public, however, it is also understood by younger generations. The use of Macedonian in Greece is most prevalent in folk songs that are performed in local Macedonian dialects and the Standard Macedonian language.
The exact number of Macedonian speakers in Greece is unknown, as data on linguistic diversity are not collected in the official census. However, the Macedonian language is spoken (to varying degrees) in many towns and in about 500 villages in the following places:
Region of Western Macedonia, Greece:
- Regional Unit of Florina/Lerin (around 80 villages)
- Regional Unit Kastoria/Kostur (around 75 villages)
- Regional Unit Kozani/Kozhani (around 20 villages)
Region of Central Macedonia, Greece:
- Regional Unit of Pella/Postol (around 85 villages)
- Regional Unit of Imathia (Ber) (around 40 villages)
- Regional Unit of Kilkis/Kukush (around 30 villages)
- Regional Unit of Serres/Ser (around 90 villages)
- Regional Unit of Thessaloniki/Solun (around 50 villages)
Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Greece:
- Regional Unit of Kavala (around 2 villages)
- Regional Unit of Drama/Dramsko (around 20 villages)
Past examples of Greek state recognition of the Macedonian language in Greece
Although the existence of the Macedonian language in Greece today is not yet recognised by the Greek government, there have been moments in history where the Macedonian language was explicitly recognised by the state.
For example, in the census of 1920, the first census after the incorporation of the “New Territories” i.e. Northern Greece, there was an explicit recognition of the MACEDONIAN language. Below is an extract from pages 181-182 of the volume of census data for 1920 for the area of Trikala (in Thessaly and Arta just south of the new territories) the following linguistic categories are reported for mother tongue: Greek, Spanish, Romi, Koutsovlach, Albanian, Bulgarian, Serbian and 37 individuals from Trikala (most likely workers from the regions of Macedonia) who declared their mother tongue as Macedonian.
Thanks to the digitialisation of the archives, a copy of the entire volume can be downloaded from the official website of the Hellenic Statistical Authority:
Note: the PDF document is 131MB
Another example of recognition occurred in 1925, when the Greek Ministry of Education commissioned a primer, named the Abecedar, for the Macedonian-speaking population. The primer was submitted to the United Nations as evidence of Greece’s compliance with its minority obligations. However, the Abecedar was not used by the Greek authorities but was confiscated and destroyed.
The beginner’s course in Macedonian offered by the Centre for the Macedonian Language in Greece seeks to protect and promote the Macedonian language by increasing the number of Macedonian speakers in Greece so that the language can continue to survive and prosper.