Meglen Vlach is an Eastern Romance variety, similar to Aromanian and Romanian. It is spoken by the Meglen Vlachs in a few villages in the Meglen region (today Almopia, Greece; and Gevgelija, Macedonia). It is also spoken by emigrants from these villages and their descendants in Romania, Serbia and Russia, as well as by a small Muslim group in Turkey. Some linguists consider Meglen Vlach to be an intermediary between Romanian and Aromanian, often being considered either a dialect of Romanian, a dialect of Aromanian, or an independent language. It is closer to standard Romanian than the Aromanian language, suggesting that it split from early Balkan Romance later than Aromanian. Meglen Vlach has been strongly influenced by the neighbouring South Slavic varieties. With not more than 5.000 speakers it is highly endangered.
The Meglen-Vlachs (endonym mostly Vlau, pl. Vlash, Romanian: Meglenoromâni, German: Meglenorumänen, Russian: Мегленорумыни, English: Meglenoromanians) are a branch of Balkan Romance population in close linguistic relationship with the Aromanian, Romanian and Istrian Vlach.
While their neighbouring peoples use the same name for Aromanians and Meglen Vlachs (Greek Βλάχοι, Macedonian Власи), in international scientific use the terms Aromanians and Meglenoromanians or Meglen Vlachs clear distinct between both groups. Meglen Vlach has more in common with the Romanian than the Aromanian (Atanasov 1984, Katsanis 2001), which shows that they have probably later detached from the Balkan Romanian population as the Aromanians (see Dahmen 1989, Schramm 1997: 275-343).
By their attachment to agriculture and the widespread abandonment of the remote pasture economy, the Meglen Vlachs settled compactly in a well-defined area of Central Macedonia until the beginning of the 20th century - in the so-called Upper Meglen (Mac.: M'glen, Greek: Meglená /Moglená, Turkish: Karacova). Their traditional settlement areas are located in the mountains Páiko (villages Lunguntsi / Langadiá, Birislaf / Períklia, Oshinj / Archángelos, Cupa / Kúpa, L'umnitsa / Skra, Tsrnareka / Kárpi, Nonti / Nótia) and Kožuf (village Uma / Huma). After phases of rural exodus and emigration, their distribution is now considered to disperse. Emigration took place to Romania and Turkey; the former was economically motivated, the latter forced by the Greek-Turkish population exchange. In addition to the settlement in cities of the Macedonian region (v. Guménissa, Édessa, Polýkastro, Axiúpoli, Thessaloníki, Gevgelija, Skopje) there are small numbers of Meglen Vlachs in the formerly socialist states of Eastern Europe.
The majority of Meglen Vlachs are Orthodox Christians. In the Ottoman period, the population withstood islamization - with one single exception, the village of Nânti (Νότια) whose population was converted to Islam in the 18th century.
The Meglen Vlachs were in close contact not only with their Christian Slavic-speaking neighbours, but also with the Islamic Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Meglen, the so-called Pomaks, Torbeshes or Citaks.
In contrast to most of the other Vlach population groups (especially the Aromanians), Meglen Vlachs are only to a small extent herders. Even though local livestock farming is practised in all localities, the Meglen Vlachs operate much more like farmers and agricultors. In the 1920ies groups of Meglen Vlachs were settled in the South Dobruja, more precisely in the districts of Caliacra and Durostor. After their emigration, only 9,425 Slav Macedonians and 6,472 Christian Vlachen continued to live in the area of Meglen (Mladenov 1936: 21). In the Dobruja they were settled in different villages. In most cases, the location of their settlement was based on the place of their origin, that Vlachs from the village Lundziń were housed together in one settlement, the population of the village Oşiń in another. The main villages in which Meglen Vlachs were settled were General Dragalina (a newly formed village in the community Bazargian, in the district of Dorustor), Aidudu (originally with predominantly Bulgarian population) and the adjacent Akdodu (originally with predominantly Turkish population), Asköy (here mainly population from Ľumniţa settled) and Visköy (here mainly population from Ľumniţa and Cupa / Kúpa was settled, the last two were originally Turkish villages). After the the Second Vienna Award (1940), the Meglen Vlach population of South Dobruja was forced to move to North Dobruja where they continue to live in the village of Cerna.
© Thede Kahl 2019
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