Macedonian is the official language of the Republic of Macedonia, formerly known as the Yugoslavian Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Today, it has a total of 2 million speakers: 1.4 million in Macedonia (where Macedonian is the official language), about 200,000 in Greece and the rest reside in the Republic of Serbia, Albania, and Bulgaria. There are also speakers outside of Europe, in the USA, Canada, and Australia. Although Macedonian is fairly homogeneous, several dialect areas can be distinguished: a major division of East and West, then a subsidiary division in the Northern region.
Macedonian is a Slavic language belonging to a group of South Slavic languages that includes Slovene, Serbian/Croatian, and Bulgarian. Macedonian is most closely related to Bulgarian, leading some to consider Macedonian a dialect of Bulgarian.
The official ortography uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet, more similar to that used for Serbian than for Russian or Bulgarian; it was codified in the late 1940s and adopted in final form in the early 1950s. Before standardization, the language had been written in a variety of different versions of Cyrillic by different writers. Macedonian has a number of phonemes not found in neighbouring languages, which makes it unique.
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