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GreekGoddess

Are Greeks The Real Macedonians?

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Who were/are the real Macedonians, the Greeks or the Yugoslavs??? Let's see how educated we really are on this topic.

Oh joy, another Greek patriot bashing Slavs. The ancient Macedonians appear to have spoken a divergent dialect of ancient Greek and were culturally distinct from the Greeks proper, though the Macedonian kings adopted elements of Greek culture and spread it throughout the areas conquered by Alexander the Great. Slavs settled in the region of Macedonia starting around 550-600 AD and have been there since. They call themselves Macedonian and speak a divergent dialect of Bulgarian; Greeks don't like that and insist on calling the region FYROM (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) and if I remember correctly Greece has threatened military action if they call themselves simply Macedonia. GreekGoddess is arguing in a huff just like all the foul-mouthed denizens of soc.culture.greek and its ilk against...against...well, I'm not sure who she's arguing against, probably some shadow on the wall.

Edited by Adrian Hester

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Who were/are the real Macedonians, the Greeks or the Yugoslavs??? Let's see how educated we really are on this topic.
The real Macedonians are the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. The Greeks (at least, the real Greeks) are the citizens of Greece ("The Hellenic Republic"), which is south of Macedonia. The majority of citizens speak Macedonian, a South-east Slavic language. The next largest ethnic group speak Albanian (Gheg, specifically) -- about half as many -- this is a separate branch of Indo-European. Next there are about 200,000 speakers of the unrelated Altaic language Turkish, around 120,000 speakers of Rom (a central Indo-Aryna language), plus a few thousand speakers of Romanian and a few speakers of Adyghe. There are no doubt speakers of Serbian (a South-west Slavic language) but it does not seem to be possible at present to get good figures on how many "real" speakers there are. It would not be surprising if there were speakers of Greek in Macedonia, just as there are speakers of Somali and Japanese.

Adrian: I was rooting around in my dead-language materials, and can't find anything substantial about ancient Macedonian. Can you point to something that indicates that Macedonian was a Greek dialect, being liberal about what constitutes a dialect? I'm familiar with the pedigree of Pelasgian. The scant evidence that I know of indicates that they didn't speak a mainstream Greek dialect such as Attic, which only tells you what they didn't speak. Anyhow, I was wondering if you had a decent source on ancient Macedonian.

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Adrian: I was rooting around in my dead-language materials, and can't find anything substantial about ancient Macedonian. Can you point to something that indicates that Macedonian was a Greek dialect, being liberal about what constitutes a dialect? I'm familiar with the pedigree of Pelasgian. The scant evidence that I know of indicates that they didn't speak a mainstream Greek dialect such as Attic, which only tells you what they didn't speak. Anyhow, I was wondering if you had a decent source on ancient Macedonian.

No. I was relying on what I remember from, I think, Sihler's New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. I'll check later today. A few dozen or a couple hundred words were recorded in Greek sources, on Macedonian coins, and so on. In any case, I remember the words danos 'death' (cf. Attic thanatos) and kombous 'molars' (Attic gomphous 'nails' (acc.), cognate with Russian zuba 'tooth,' for example). These show that Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirates became voiced stops and PIE voiced stops became voiceless word-initially in Macedonian. Whether Macedonian was a dialect of Greek or a distinct language is a matter of debate, but I gather the majority view is that it was a Greek dialect.

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Way to bury a question under so much information that the asker looks silly, guys :) I'm impressed.

On a slightly more philosophical bent: why does it even matter?

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On a slightly more philosophical bent: why does it even matter?

No reason I can think of, except curiosity.

No. I was relying on what I remember from, I think, Sihler's New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin. I'll check later today.

Couldn't find my copy of it. Turns out Wiki has a substantial list of Macedonian words; search under "ancient Macedonian language" if you're curious.

...cognate with Russian zuba 'tooth,'...

Dumb typo. Russian zub.

Edited by Adrian Hester

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Why it matters is: there are a lot of people and cultural groups who try to appropriate (and magnify beyond belief) past cultural achievements for themselves, to make themselves feel better. That's why, at the same time that Western scholarship would say that great ancient armies in Greece and Rome had 50,000-80,000 men, the Chinese will say they had great armies of 800,000 regularly clashing against one another (China has very little conscientious 'scholarship', so they can say whatever makes them feel good), plus they also like to point out at the list of 'achievements' that show their Ancient Chinese culture to be most superior.

That's what's happening here as well, because it's not merely over being called Macedonians that these people are fighting about (who the hell cares), but over who can lay claim to Alexander the Great. Modern Greeks are doing something like this as well in their own respective ways, even though most of them are Slavs.

[For a discussion on Chinese history, see the thread (link) that was split from this one.]

Edited by softwareNerd

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Couldn't find my copy of it. Turns out Wiki has a substantial list of Macedonian words; search under "ancient Macedonian language" if you're curious
I may slog through the tangle of links and discussion; but one thing I noticed was that none of the etyma they give are probative of being Greek and a number are inconsistent with being Greek, esp. the kombous one. I wasn't sure whether there was some definitive resolution of the Macedonian / Pelasgian issue, but it seems, based on what I've seen, that Ancient Macedonian is the same as van Windeken's "Pelasgian", which is significantly different from Greek (it almost smells Germanic). I find it amusing (not all the way to interesting) how the participants in the discussion shed much heat and no light.

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On 11/23/2005 at 8:14 PM, Free Capitalist said:

Why it matters is: there are a lot of people and cultural groups who try to appropriate (and magnify beyond belief) past cultural achievements for themselves, to make themselves feel better. That's why, at the same time that Western scholarship would say that great ancient armies in Greece and Rome had 50,000-80,000 men, the Chinese will say they had great armies of 800,000 regularly clashing against one another (China has very little conscientious 'scholarship', so they can say whatever makes them feel good), plus they also like to point out at the list of 'achievements' that show their Ancient Chinese culture to be most superior.

 

That's what's happening here as well, because it's not merely over being called Macedonians that these people are fighting about (who the hell cares), but over who can lay claim to Alexander the Great. Modern Greeks are doing something like this as well in their own respective ways, even though most of them are Slavs.

 

[For a discussion on Chinese history, see the thread (link) that was split from this one.]

The truth is that the majority of northern Greeks are proud that they are Greeks, and speak modern Greek, the closest language to ancient Greek which is the perfect language. Also greek culture is the most important in the whole world: philosophy, poetry, architecture, sculpture and generally all kinds of science and art had developed in that region, in this specific period (1500-300 B.C.). Ancient Macedonians were speaking this language.For example Philippos, father of Alexander, in greek actually means friend of horse(philos+ippos). The slavic language has nothing to do with this culture. In fact Two Greek monks from Thessaloniki which lies in northern Greece, Kirillos and Methodios had found the slavic alphabet in order to make the (back to that era) savage slavic races more civilized for the benefit of the byzantine empire many centuries later(800-1000 A.C.). The center of ancient Macedonian Empire was in Pella, Greece. Philippos, Alexander the Great and their ancestors were speaking greek, and they had managed to unite all the other city-states of Greece in order to defeat the tyranic Perse Emperor, who had invaded several times in Greece. Though outnumbered they conquered the enormous Pesrsian Empire because of the genious strategy of the greek macedonian army. Unfortunatelly this was the only way to stop Persians' invations. Personally, I don't bother if the modern Macedonians want to call themselves that way. They can also call themselves Americans, or Chinese, I don't bother. The thing that does bother me is the part of that people who want to alternate history and steal elements of other nations. There are some dangerous Macedonian nationalists who insist that Ancient Macedonians are slavian which for historians is a joke, but simple-minded people can be persuaded. 

Be true,

peace and love! 

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