Conversation with Marija Lozanoska, Macedonian language teacher: Loving the mother tongue should be the most basic obligation of every person

Photo: Private archive

"I'm not a pessimist and I won't say that Macedonians don't like the language, but they have nowhere to learn it, they finished school a long time ago, and according to my experience, they have a desire to use it correctly," says Maria.

Today is International Mother Language Day. This day is celebrated all over the world with various activities aimed at preserving and promoting native languages.

On that occasion, we talked with Maria Lozanoska, graduate professor of Macedonian language and literature and licensed lecturer. Among other things, she is the author of the two novels "The Big L" and "The Other" and a music songwriter.

Maria, how did you decide that Macedonian studies will be your vocation? Why a lecturer versus every other profession?

– I have always known that language is rooted in me. I learned letters from a very young age, and my talent for writing constantly whispered to me to create. Growing up with a mother who was a Macedonian language teacher, from whom I learned a lot about education and the subject itself, it was inevitable that I too would sail into the teacher's waters. By working as a teacher and as an author myself, I was getting more and more into the rules of the language, so upgrading to a proofreader was a sensible decision.

Today is International Mother Language Day. How much do we, as Macedonians, cherish and love our mother tongue throughout the year?

- To love and respect the mother tongue should be the most basic obligation of every person. Not everyone is talented in language, but everyone can respect it. We are a small number of people in the world and thus we are a small percentage of its speakers, and therefore we should fight for it as much as possible on a daily basis. I'm not a pessimist and I won't say that Macedonians don't like the language, but they have nowhere to learn it, they finished school a long time ago, and according to my experience they have a desire to use it correctly. If the state provides more laws, guidelines and entertaining content for learning or reminding the language, I believe that the level of the Macedonian language will rise significantly. We as individuals are not enough, for that we need much bigger projects.

Photo: Private archive

You are behind the Instagram profile "Lektorkata", where you publish educational content related to the Macedonian language. What are the most common spelling mistakes made on social media?

- The same mistakes have always been repeated, and that is with the words "I don't know" and "yet", and in recent years, the months and days of the week have been capitalized with a capital letter under the influence of the English language, but it is correct with a small one.

What is your attitude about language in the media?

- The most literate, in my opinion, are the news on television, also the reading of the announcers is at an enviable level, but of course there is some mistake there as well. I don't like entertainment content on TV either, because it is spoken and written incorrectly and the emphasis is on Skopje speech. Of course there are exceptions. There is anything and everything on the internet and it is a long topic to talk about, so let me mention the bright side and praise you as a media outlet for jumping out of that sea of ​​language irregularities.

Photo: Private archive

Linguistics and literature are inseparable, and the dictionary is best enriched by reading books. So, what is the best way to establish the love for the Macedonian language and reading in early childhood?

- In this age of digitalization, we are aware that children also grow up with mobile phones in their hands, so it is somehow difficult to replace that "toy" with a book that has no pictures, no buttons, no games. However, children are a mirror of their parents and environment, so they will only do what adults do. If adults don't read, who should they look up to? Therefore - adults, spend more time with the book because you know that children imitate everything.

Among other things, you are also a writer. Are you, perhaps, planning to surprise your readers with a new work in the near future?

- I have been on a break from writing books for a long time, and several years have passed since my second novel. Of course, I still create, but it's not novels, I also write lyrics for songs, I'm active on social networks with my creations, I also write about the school and students, I constantly have different projects related to language. However, you also "scolded" me for not writing books, and so do many of my readers, so I take this as a sign that I should already pick one of my titles from the drawer and finish it.

Photo: Private archive

The Law on the Use of the Macedonian Language was recently adopted, which prescribes the mandatory employment of lecturers in all public institutions. Do you think that this will increase the interest in studying the Macedonian language among young people?

- I welcome the state's decision and congratulate the Macedonians who fought for it, including my professors from the Department of Macedonian Language in Skopje. This is a big step, but it is still not enough to return the students to the desks where the Macedonian language is studied. The department could stand some changes and I would like to see it in a more modern edition, but what about after studies? The faculty is difficult and extensive, the language is not at all easy, and so far with that diploma you could only work as a teacher/professor in education, and those places are numbered and not enough for all the students who have graduated so far. For the law itself to come to life, a longer period is needed and only time will show how much we will respect it. God grant that he will move on to the better.

What is your message to those young people who are interested in linguistics and who want to study the Macedonian language?

- Without language, you are nobody and nothing, the great author Vidoe Podgorec once said. You need to be a literate person, regardless of whether you are a linguist or an IT specialist, an intellectual must not allow himself to not know how to compose a sentence without the appropriate Cyrillic alphabet. And those who want to continue learning the Macedonian language, I wish them the best of luck, they have my support and study it and learn it with love because it is our mother tongue, we have no other.

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