English-Macedonian Dialectal Dictionary Based on the Lerin-Kostur Dialects As Spoken by Oshchimians


English-Macedonian Dialectal Dictionary Based on the Lerin-Kostur Dialects As Spoken by Oshchimians
Author: Chris Stefou
Publisher: Risto Stefov Publications
Publication date: 2007
Number of pages: 146
Format / Quality: PDF / excellent
Size: 644 KB

At the dawn of the 19th century when nationalism was introduced to the
Balkans and as new states began to form out of the ashes of the Ottoman
Empire, dialectal languages were viewed as simplistic, backwards, limited
and, to some degree, expressionless. They were deemed vulgar and were
scoffed at. Modern and literary languages were created to replace them and
students were discouraged from speaking them because they were
presented as the languages of uneducated peasants.
Generations later, as the newly created societies began to culturally
mature and search for their roots, attitudes towards dialectal languages
began to change. Dialects began to be seen no longer as vulgar and limited
but rather as the mothers of modern languages and the sources of modern
Dialectal languages, at least in the Balkans, are the most natural and
longest lasting cultural elements that not only defined the uniqueness of
certain societies but also, in a positive way, highlight the diversities within
them. The Balkans has always been a multicultural, multiethnic region
with various ethnicities living together. Languages have been the
predominant factors of cultural divide in a positive way. And within each
culture, at least with the Macedonians, a number of micro-cultures existed
predominantly defined by unique characteristics such as dress, colour,
pattern, song, dance and obviously dialectal language. Before the
introduction of nationalism these cultural elements were seen as positive
characteristics that uniquely identified each micro-culture in those
Macedonians, no matter from which corner of Macedonia, recognized
a dress with certain colours and patterns as belonging to a certain region of
Macedonia. They all knew how to dance to the “Bufskoto”, “Tikveshkoto”
or “Bitolskoto” Oro but also knew it belonged to the people of Buf,
Tikvesh or Bitola. Their culture was based on long standing practical
traditions but was by no means culturally limited, vulgar or unnatural. In
fact, as people are discovering today, it was the most natural course of
cultural evolution that a society could experience. What was truly
unnatural was the attempt of our 19th century authorities to destroy it and
replace it with something artificial for the sake of standardization and
It is most unfortunate that Macedonians, who recognize that the
strength of a culture is in its diversity, were not allowed to form their own
state and thus were subjected to cultural destruction. Macedonian culture
was seen as a threat to Macedonia’s occupiers who, in their attempts to
create a monolithic and to a large extent fictional replacement, were bent
on its destruction. Some states,like Greece went as far as banning the
Macedonian culture by making the Macedonian language in all its dialectal
forms illegal and forcibly muted Macedonian songs. As for the dress with
its beautiful colours and unique patterns, it was deemed to be the
“peasants’ dress” with no place for it in an otherwise “modern world”
based on an otherwise “artificial culture”.
In view of the resurgence of Macedonians needing to rediscover their
roots, the study of dialects has become interesting and of importance. Here
we find ourselves in a unique situation where I am personally familiar with
one particular dialect and am in a good position to document it. There is
urgent need to do this because I believe, with time and by the application
of literary languages through the educational system, dialects will
disappear forever. I am one of the last generations to be born in
Oshchima, Lerin-Kostur Region, in a society that until as recently as half a
century ago spoke a dialect of the Macedonian language. I still remember
the language as it was spoken by the elders of Oshchima.
Today, Oshchima is virtually extinct and it is a matter of time before
this language too will cease to exist. Oshchima is a small village located
half way between Lerin and Kostur in Western Macedonia, now Greek
occupied Macedonia, which in 1939, at its height, had about six-hundred
residents. By 1969 its population had dropped to less than a dozen people.
Now only a couple of families live there and all the younger generations
speak Greek. Oshchima was hard hit and nearly destroyed by the Greek
Civil War and most of its residents fled for Canada, Australia, the USA
and the Republic of Macedonia.
Since the vast majority of new generations and future generations of
Oshchimians live and will continue to live in English speaking countries,
this book is my gift to them, to remind them of how their ancestors once
The publishing of this book was timed to coincide with the 100th
anniversary of the organization “Benefit Society Oshchima” founded in
1907 by Oshchimian emigrants in Canada. This organization was founded
to help newly landed Oshchimian emigrants adjust in the world.
Over the years Benefit Society Oshchima evolved into an organization
of unity and Macedonian culture bringing Oshchimians together and
giving them a sense of belonging.
I would like to thank my parents Nikola and Sofia for their
contribution to this book and for their help in clarifying the meaning of the
more difficult words.
In putting this dictionary together, my attempt is to bring you a unique
version of the Macedonian language as spoken by Oshchimians. The
sixteen hundred or so words documented here are uniquely Oshchimian as
they were spoken by the last generations living in Oshchima. I would like
to remind the reader that this particular language, like all Macedonian
dialects in Greece, was banned in the 1930’s by the Greek authorities and
was made illegal to speak. It is a miracle it has survived for this long.
The dialectal Macedonian language presented here is a naturally
evolving oral language that has been in use uncodified for many centuries.
I have made every effort to present it in its exact form as it was spoken by
generations before me and without grammatical adjustments or
corrections. Like most natural languages, it follows logical patterns but not
without some exceptions.
My intent here was to document words and phrases as I remember
them spoken and to not necessarily explain them grammatically. For
grammatical clarifications, the reader is advised to consult the Macedonian
literary language.
Because my target audience is the English speaking reader, I found it
necessary to use the English or Latin alphabet to define the sounds of the
Macedonian words. However, to successfully duplicate and accurately
pronounce words I must lay down some fundamental rules;
1. Each word is phonetically pronounced.
2. Each letter has a unique sound unless otherwise specified.
Here is a list of letters with unique sounds, their equivalents in the
Macedonian alphabet, and their pronunciation;
The Macedonian language is structured differently than the English
Please also note:
(D) indicates “Macedonian Dialectal equivalent to” and
(L) indicates “Macedonian Literary equivalent to”
Also note that all Macedonian “word application” examples are given in
the dialectal language.


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