Dialects of Macedonian

The dialects of Macedonian comprise the Slavic dialects spoken in the Republic of Macedonia as well as some varieties spoken in the wider geographic region of Macedonia.[1] They are part of the dialect continuum of South Slavic languages that joins the Macedonian language with Bulgarian to the east and Serbo-Croatian to the north. The precise delimitation between these languages is fleeting and controversial.

Macedonian authors tend to treat all dialects spoken in the geographical region of Macedonia as Macedonian, including those spoken in the westernmost part of Bulgaria (so-called Pirin Macedonia), whereas Bulgarian authors treat all Macedonian dialects as part of the Bulgarian language.[2][3] Prior to the codification of Standard Macedonian in 1945, the dialects of Macedonia were for the most part classified as Bulgarian.[4][5][6] In Greece, the identification of the dialects spoken by the local Slavophone minority with either Bulgarian or Macedonian is often avoided, and these dialects are instead described simply as "Slavic",[7] Dopia ('Local'), Stariski (old) or Našinski (ours).

Linguistically, the dialects of Macedonia in the wider sense can be divided into Eastern and Western groups (the boundary runs approximately from Skopje and Skopska Crna Gora along the rivers Vardar and Crna) based on a large group of features. In addition, a more detailed classification can be based on the modern reflexes of the Proto-Slavonic reduced vowels ("yers"), vocalic sonorants and the back nasal (o). That classification distinguishes between the following 3 major groups:[8][9]


Dialect divisions of Macedonian[10]
  Lower Polog
  Upper Polog
  Crna Gora
  Kumanovo / Kratovo
  Mala Reka / Galičnik
  Drimkol / Golo Brdo
  Vevčani / Radοžda
  Upper Prespa / Ohrid
  Mariovo / Tikveš
  Štip / Strumica
  Maleševo / Pirin
  Solun / Voden
  Ser / Drama
  Lower Prespa

Northern dialects

  1. Lower Polog dialect
  2. Skopska Crna Gora dialect
  3. Gora dialect (Torlakian)
  1. Kumanovo dialect
  2. Kratovo dialect
  3. Kriva Palanka dialect
  4. Ovče Pole dialect

Western Dialects:

  1. Prilep-Bitola dialect[11]
  2. Kičevo-Poreče dialect[12]
  3. Skopje-Veles dialect
  1. Upper Polog dialect
  2. Reka (Torbeš) dialect
  3. Galιčnik (Malorekanski or Mala Reka) dialect[13]
  4. Debar dialect
  5. Drimkol-Golo Brdo dialect
  6. Vevčani-Radožda dialect[14]
  7. Struga dialect
  8. Ohrid dialect
  9. Upper Prespa dialect
  10. Lower Prespa dialect

Eastern and Southern dialects

  1. Tikveš-Mariovo dialect
  2. Štip-Strumica dialect
  3. Maleševo-Pirin dialect[15]
  1. Nestram-Kostenar dialect
  2. Korča (Gorica) dialect
  3. Kostur dialect
  1. Solun-Voden dialect[17]
  2. Ser-Drama-Lagadin-Nevrokop dialect[17]

Most linguists classify the dialects in the Pirin (Blagoevgrad) region of Bulgaria and in the far east of Greek Macedonia as Bulgarian and the dialects in the rest of Greece and in Republic of Macedonia as Macedonian.[18][19]

Variation in consonants

Map of the phoneme kj in the Macedonian language
Map of the phoneme gj in the Macedonian language

As far as consonantal features are concerned, the entire Western region is distinguished from the East by loss of /x/ (except Tetovo, Gora and Korča) and the loss of /v/ in the intervocalic position (except Mala Reka and parts of Kostur-Korča): /ɡlava/ (head) = /ɡla/, /ɡlavi/ (heads) = /ɡlaj/. The Eastern region preserves /x/ (except Tikveš-Mariovo and Kumanovo-Kriva Palanka) and intervocalic /v/. The East is also characterised by the development of epenthetic /v/ before original /o/ where the West has epenthetic /j/: Eastern /vaɡlɛn/ (coal) but Western /jaɡlɛn/. The diphonemic reflexes are most characteristic of the dialects of Greek Macedonia and Blagoevgrad province, Kostur-Korča and Ohrid-Prespa. The Serres – Nevrokop dialects have a series of phonemically palatalised consonants.

Variation in word stress and its effects on vowels

The Western dialects generally have fixed stress, antepenultimate in the Republic of Macedonia, and penultimate in Greece and Albania. The Eastern region, along with the neighbouring Bulgarian dialects, has various non-fixed stress systems. In Lower Vardar and Serres-Nevrokop unstressed /a, ɛ, ɔ/ are reduced (raised) to [ə, i, u]. The reduction of unstressed vowels (as well as the aforementioned allophonic palatalisation of consonants) is characteristic of East Bulgarian as opposed to West Bulgarian dialects, so these dialects are regarded by Bulgarian linguists as transitional between East and West Bulgarian.


  1. isp. Большaя Советская Энциклопедия, tom. 37, Moscow 1938, р 743–744
  2. Institute of Bulgarian Language (1978). Единството на българския език в миналото и днес (in Bulgarian). Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. p. 4. OCLC 6430481.
  3. Стойков (Stoykov), Стойко (2002) [1962]. Българска диалектология (Bulgarian dialectology) (in Bulgarian). София: Акад. изд. "Проф. Марин Дринов". ISBN 954-430-846-6. OCLC 53429452.
  4. Mazon, Andre. Contes Slaves de la Macédoine Sud-Occidentale: Etude linguistique; textes et traduction; Notes de Folklore, Paris 1923, p. 4.
  5. Селищев, Афанасий. Избранные труды, Москва 1968.
  6. K. Sandfeld, Balkanfilologien (Copenhagen, 1926, MCMXXVI).
  7. Ethnologue. By Barbara F. Grimes, Richard Saunders Pittman, Joseph Evans Grimes, Summer Institute of Linguistics ISBN 0-88312-815-2, ISBN 978-0-88312-815-2
  8. стр. 244 Македонски јазик за средното образование- Стојка Бојковска, Димитар Пандев, Лилјана Минова-Ѓуркова, Живко Цветковски- Просветно дело- Скопје 2001
  9. Z. Topolińska – B. Vidoeski, Polski~macedonski- gramatyka konfrontatiwna, z.1, PAN, 1984
  10. After Z. Topolińska and B. Vidoeski (1984), Polski-macedonski gramatyka konfrontatiwna, z.1, PAN.
  11. стр.68 Граматика на македонскиот литературен јазик, Блаже Конески, Култура- Скопје 1967
  12. Академик Божидар видоески, Кичевскиот говор. МЈ, 1957, VIII, 1, стр. 31–90.
  13. Belić 1935: A. Belić, Galički dijalekat, Srpski dijalektološki zbornik, VII, Srpska kraljevska akademija, Belgrade – Sr. Karlovci, 1-352+IV
  14. The Radožda-Vevčani Dialect of Macedonian: Structure, Texts, Lexicon by P. Hendriks. The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1978), pp. 111–112
  15. A Comparative Historical Analysis of Nominal Accentuation in Archaic (Maleševo) and Transitional (Nivičino) Eastern Macedonian Dialects," in Proceedings of the Third North American-Macedonian Conference on Macedonian Studies. Indiana Slavic Studies 10:135–151. 1999
  16. Македонските дијалекти во Егејска Македонија: (Обид за класификација). Македонските дијалекти во Егејска Македонија: научен собир, Скопје 23–24 декември 1991. Скопје: МАНУ, 1994, стр. 23–60.
  17. 1 2 str. 249- 252 Makedonski jazik za srednoto obrazovanie- S. Bojkovska, D. Pandev, L. Minova-Ǵurkova, Ž.Cvetkovski- Prosvetno delo AD- Skopje 2001
  18. Trudgill P., 2000, "Greece and European Turkey: From Religious to Linguistic Identity". In: Stephen Barbour and Cathie Carmichael (eds.), Language and Nationalism in Europe, Oxford : Oxford University Press, p.259.
  19. Schmieger, R. 1998. "The Situation of the Macedonian Language in Greece: Sociolinguistic Analysis", International Journal of the Sociology of Language 131, 125–55.
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