Prof. Friedman, of the University of Chicago, is the towering figure of Balkan linguistics, the adviser and mentor of Eric, and an all-around wonderful human being. He's spent the better part of his professional life studying the languages of Macedonia, and touches on almost every major political and cultural issue being thrown around today. Excerpt:
CD: From what I understand from different stories, this is because it is not helpful to advancement in Greek society, and can even be a strongly negative factor-
VF: Yes. The Greek government is effectively carrying out ‘linguicide’ on the Macedonians of Greece. And it has been a long-running policy. For another example, I have a photo of a sign in Greek, from the 1950s, printed up in blue-on-white, urging people to forbid anyone from speaking in ‘Vlahika, Makedonika etc.’ There used to be many such signs in Greek Macedonia.
CD: Really! That is quite compelling. Do people know about this?
VF: I don’t know-a friend sent the photo to me, I am finally getting around to publishing it in a review article in the journal Balkanistika next year.
But the Greek policy was always trying to kill the language. It was especially horrible in the 1930s. Macedonian kids would go to school, and if they spoke their language, the language they learned at home, numerous ‘corrective’ methods were used: teachers beat them, or stuck their tongues with needles, or rubbed a hot pepper on their tongues; anything to make them stop speaking Macedonian.I really suggest you read the whole thing . . .