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Bulgarian
български
Pronunciationbǎlgarski
Native toBulgaria, Albania[1] Greece, Romania, Macedonia,[2][3] Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine
EthnicityBulgarians
Native speakers
8[4]–9[5][6][7][8]
million[dubious ]
Dialects
Official status
Official language in
Bulgaria, European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byInstitute for Bulgarian Language, BAS
Language codes
ISO 639-1bg
ISO 639-2bul
ISO 639-3bul
Glottologbulg1262[11]
Linguasphere53-AAA-hb < 53-AAA-h
Distribution of Bulgarian Speakers.png
The Bulgarian-speaking world:
  regions where Bulgarian is the language of the majority
  regions where Bulgarian is the language of a significant minority
This article contains /bʌlˈɡɛəriən/ (About this soundlisten), /bʊlˈ-/ bu(u)l-GAIR-ee-ən; български, bǎlgarski, pronounced [ˈbɤɫɡɐrski] (About this soundlisten)) is a South Slavic language spoken in Southeastern Europe, primarily in Bulgaria. It is the language of Bulgarians.

Along with the closely related Macedonian language (collectively forming the East South Slavic languages), it is a member of the Balkan sprachbund and South Slavic dialect continuum. The two languages have several characteristics that set them apart from all other Slavic languages: changes include the elimination of case declension, the development of a suffixed definite article and the lack of a verb infinitive, but it retains and has further developed the Proto-Slavic verb system. One such major development is the innovation of evidential verb forms to encode for the source of information: witnessed, inferred, or reported.

It is the official language of Bulgaria, and since 2007 has been among the official languages of the European Union.[12][13] It is also spoken by minorities in several other countries.

History

One can divide the development of the Bulgarian language into several periods.

  • The Prehistoric period covers the time between the Slavonic migration to the eastern Balkans (c. 7th century CE) and the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in the 860 and the language shift from now extinct Bulgar language.
  • Old Bulgarian (9th to 11th centuries, also referred to as "Old Church Slavonic") – a literary norm of the early southern dialect of the Common Slavic language from which Bulgarian evolved. Saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples used this norm when translating the Bible and other liturgical literature from Greek into Slavic.
  • Middle Bulgarian (12th to 15th centuries) – a literary norm that evolved from the earlier Old Bulgarian, after major innovations occurred. A language of rich literary activity, it served as the official administration language of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
  • Modern Bulgarian dates from the 16th century onwards, undergoing general grammar and syntax changes in the 18th and 19th centuries. The present-day written Bulgarian language was standardized on the basis of the 19th-century Bulgarian vernacular. The historical development of the

    Along with the closely related Macedonian language (collectively forming the East South Slavic languages), it is a member of the Balkan sprachbund and South Slavic dialect continuum. The two languages have several characteristics that set them apart from all other Slavic languages: changes include the elimination of case declension, the development of a suffixed definite article and the lack of a verb infinitive, but it retains and has further developed the Proto-Slavic verb system. One such major development is the innovation of evidential verb forms to encode for the source of information: witnessed, inferred, or reported.

    It is the official language of Bulgaria, and since 2007 has been among the official languages of the European Union.[12][13] It is also spoken by minorities in several other countries.

    One can divide the development of the Bulgarian language into several periods.

    • The Prehistoric period covers the time between the Slavonic migration to the eastern Balkans (c. 7th century CE) and the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia in the 860 and the language shift from now extinct Bulgar language.
    • Old Bulgarian (9th to 11th centuries, also referred to as "Old Church Slavonic") – a literary norm of the early southern dialect of the Common Slavic language from which Bulgarian evolved. Saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples used this norm when translating the Bible and other liturgical literature from Greek into Slavic.
    • Middle Bulgarian (12th to 15th centuries) – a literary norm that evolved from the earlier Old Bulgarian, after major innovations occurred. A language of rich literary activity, it served as the official administration language of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
    • Modern Bulgarian dates from the 16th century onwards, undergoing general grammar and syntax changes in the 18th and 19th centuries. The present-day written Bulgarian language was standardized on the basis of the 19th-century Bulgarian vernacular. The historical development of the Bulgarian language can be described as a transition from a highly synthetic language (Old Bulgarian) to a typical analytic language (Modern Bulgarian) with Middle Bulgarian as a midpoint in this transition.
    The Codex Zographensis is one of the oldest manuscripts in the Old Bulgarian language, dated from the late 10th or early 11th century

    Bulgarian was the first "Slavic" language attested in writing. As Slavic linguistic unity lasted into late antiquity, the oldest manuscripts initially referred to this language as языкъ словяньскъ, "the Slavic language". In the Middle Bulgarian period this name was gradually replaced by the name языкъ блъгарьскъ, the "Bulgarian language". In some cases, this name was used not only with regard to the contemporary Middle Bulgarian language of the copyist but also to the period of Old Bulgarian. A most notable example of anachronism is the Service of Saint Cyril from Skopje (Скопски миней), a 13th-century Middle Bulgarian manuscript from northern Macedonia according to which St. Cyril preached with "Bulgarian" books among the Moravian Slavs. The first mention of the language as the "Bulgarian language" instead of the "Slavonic language" comes in the work of the Greek clergy of the Archbishopric of Ohrid in the 11th century, for example in the Greek hagiography of Clement of Ohrid by Theophylact of Ohrid (late 11th century).

    During the Middle Bulgarian period, the language underwent dramatic changes, losing the Slavonic case system, but preserving the rich verb system (while the development was exactly the opposite in other Slavic languages) and developing a definite article. It was influenced by its non-Slavic neighbors in the Balkan language area (mostly grammatically) and later also by Turkish, which was the official language of the Ottoman Empire, in the form of the Ottoman Turkish language, mostly lexically. As a national revival occurred toward the end of the period of Ottoman rule (mostly during the 19th century), a modern Bulgarian literary language gradually emerged that drew heavily on Church Slavonic/Old Bulgarian (and to some extent on literary Russian, which had preserved many lexical items from Church

    Bulgarian was the first "Slavic" language attested in writing. As Slavic linguistic unity lasted into late antiquity, the oldest manuscripts initially referred to this language as языкъ словяньскъ, "the Slavic language". In the Middle Bulgarian period this name was gradually replaced by the name языкъ блъгарьскъ, the "Bulgarian language". In some cases, this name was used not only with regard to the contemporary Middle Bulgarian language of the copyist but also to the period of Old Bulgarian. A most notable example of anachronism is the Service of Saint Cyril from Skopje (Скопски миней), a 13th-century Middle Bulgarian manuscript from northern Macedonia according to which St. Cyril preached with "Bulgarian" books among the Moravian Slavs. The first mention of the language as the "Bulgarian language" instead of the "Slavonic language" comes in the work of the Greek clergy of the Archbishopric of Ohrid in the 11th century, for example in the Greek hagiography of Clement of Ohrid by Theophylact of Ohrid (late 11th century).

    During the Middle Bulgarian period, the language underwent dramatic changes, losing the Slavonic case system, but preserving the rich verb system (while the development was exactly the opposite in other Slavic languages) and developing a definite article. It was influenced by its non-Slavic neighbors in the Balkan language area (mostly grammatically) and later also by Turkish, which was the official language of the Ottoman Empire, in the form of the Ottoman Turkish language, mostly lexically. As a national revival occurred toward the end of the period of Ottoman rule (mostly during the 19th century), a modern Bulgarian literary language gradually emerged that drew heavily on Church Slavonic/Old Bulgarian (and to some extent on literary Russian, which had preserved many lexical items from Church Slavonic) and later reduced the number of Turkish and other Balkan loans. Today one difference between Bulgarian dialects in the country and literary spoken Bulgarian is the significant presence of Old Bulgarian words and even word forms in the latter. Russian loans are distinguished from Old Bulgarian ones on the basis of the presence of specifically Russian phonetic changes, as in оборот (turnover, rev), непонятен (incomprehensible), ядро (nucleus) and others. Many other loans from French, English and the classical languages have subsequently entered the language as well.

    Modern Bulgarian was based essentially on the Eastern dialects of the language, but its pronunciation is in many respects a compromise between East and West Bulgarian (see especially the phonetic sections below). Following the efforts of some figures of the National awakening of Bulgaria (most notably Neofit Rilski

    During the Middle Bulgarian period, the language underwent dramatic changes, losing the Slavonic case system, but preserving the rich verb system (while the development was exactly the opposite in other Slavic languages) and developing a definite article. It was influenced by its non-Slavic neighbors in the Balkan language area (mostly grammatically) and later also by Turkish, which was the official language of the Ottoman Empire, in the form of the Ottoman Turkish language, mostly lexically. As a national revival occurred toward the end of the period of Ottoman rule (mostly during the 19th century), a modern Bulgarian literary language gradually emerged that drew heavily on Church Slavonic/Old Bulgarian (and to some extent on literary Russian, which had preserved many lexical items from Church Slavonic) and later reduced the number of Turkish and other Balkan loans. Today one difference between Bulgarian dialects in the country and literary spoken Bulgarian is the significant presence of Old Bulgarian words and even word forms in the latter. Russian loans are distinguished from Old Bulgarian ones on the basis of the presence of specifically Russian phonetic changes, as in оборот (turnover, rev), непонятен (incomprehensible), ядро (nucleus) and others. Many other loans from French, English and the classical languages have subsequently entered the language as well.

    Modern Bulgarian was based essentially on the Eastern dialects of the language, but its pronunciation is in many respects a compromise between East and West Bulgarian (see especially the phonetic sections below). Following the efforts of some figures of the National awakening of Bulgaria (most notably Neofit Rilski and Ivan Bogorov),[14] there had been many attempts to codify a standard Bulgarian language; however,

    Modern Bulgarian was based essentially on the Eastern dialects of the language, but its pronunciation is in many respects a compromise between East and West Bulgarian (see especially the phonetic sections below). Following the efforts of some figures of the National awakening of Bulgaria (most notably Neofit Rilski and Ivan Bogorov),[14] there had been many attempts to codify a standard Bulgarian language; however, there was much argument surrounding the choice of norms. Between 1835 and 1878 more than 25 proposals were put forward and "linguistic chaos" ensued.[15] Eventually the eastern dialects prevailed,[16] and in 1899 the Bulgarian Ministry of Education officially codified[15] a standard Bulgarian language based on the Drinov-Ivanchev orthography.[16]

    The language is mainly split into two broad dialect areas, based on the different reflexes of the Common Slavic yat vowel (Ѣ). This split, which occurred at some point during the Middle Ages, led to the development of Bulgaria's:

    • Western dialects (informally called твърд говор/tvurd govor – "hard speech")
      • the former yat is pronounced "e" in all positions. e.g. млеко (mlekò) – milk, хлеб (hleb) – bread.[18]
    • Eastern dialects (informally called мек говор/mek govor – "soft speech")
      • the former yat alternates between "ya" and "e": it is pronounced "ya" if it is under stress and the next syllable does not contain a front vowel (e or i) – e.g. мляко (mlko), хляб (hlyab), and "e" otherwise – e.g. млекар (mlekàr) – milkman, хлебар (hlebàr) – baker. This rule obtains in most Eastern dialects, although some have "ya", or a special "open e" sound, in all positions.

    The literary language norm, which is generally based on the Eastern dialects, also has the Eastern alternating reflex of yat. However, it has not incorporated the general Eastern umlaut of all synchronic or even historic "ya" sounds into "e" before front vowels – e.g. поляна (polyana) vs. полени (poleni) "meadow – meadows" or even жаба (zhaba) vs. жеби (zhebi) "frog – frogs", even though it co-occurs with the yat alternation in almost all Eastern dialects that have it (except a few dialects along the yat border, e.g. in the Pleven region).[19]

    More examples of the yat umlaut in the literary language are:

    • mlyàko (milk) [n.] → mlekàr (milkman); mlèchen (milky), etc.
    • syàdam (sit) [vb.] → sedàlka (seat); sedàlishte (seat, e.g. of government), etc.
    • svyat (holy) [adj.] → svetètz (saint); svetìlishte (sanctuary), etc. (in this example, ya/e comes not from historical yat but from small yus (ѧ), which normally becomes e in Bulgarian, but the word was influenced by Russian and the yat umlaut)

    Until 1945, Bulgarian orthography did not reveal this alternation and used the original polyana) vs. полени (poleni) "meadow – meadows" or even жаба (zhaba) vs. жеби (zhebi) "frog – frogs", even though it co-occurs with the yat alternation in almost all Eastern dialects that have it (except a few dialects along the yat border, e.g. in the Pleven region).[19]

    More examples of the yat umlaut in the literary language are:

    • mlyàko (milk) [n.] → mlekàr (milkman); mlèchen (milky), etc.
    • syàdam (sit) [vb.] → sedàlka (seat); sedàlishte (seat, e.g. of government), etc.
    • svyat (holy) [adj.] → svetètz (saint); svetìlishte (sanctuary), etc. (in this example, ya/e comes not from historical yat but from small yus (ѧ), which normally becomes e in Bulgarian, but the word was influenced by Russian and the yat umlaut)

    Until 1945, Bulgarian orthography did not reveal this alternation and used the original Old Slavic Cyrillic letter yat (Ѣ), which was commonly called двойно е (dvoyno e) at the time, to express the historical

    More examples of the yat umlaut in the literary language are:

    Until 1945, Bulgarian orthography did not reveal this alternation and used the original Old Slavic Cyrillic letter yat (Ѣ), which was commonly called двойно е (dvoyno e) at the time, to express the historical yat vowel or at least root vowels displaying the ya – e alternation. The letter was used in each occurrence of such a root, regardless of the actual pronunciation of the vowel: thus, both mlyako and mlekar were spelled with (Ѣ). Among other things, this was seen as a way to "reconcile" the Western and the Eastern dialects and maintain language unity at a time when much of Bulgaria's Western dialect area was controlled by Serbia and Greece, but there were still hopes and occasional attempts to recover it. With the 1945 orthographic reform, this letter was abolished and the present spelling was introduced, reflecting the alternation in pronunciation.

    This had implications for some grammatical constructions:

    • The third person plural pronoun and its derivatives. Before 1945 the pronoun "they" was spelled тѣ (), and its derivatives took this as the root. After the orthographic change, the pronoun and its derivatives were given an equal share of soft and hard spellings:
      • "they" – те (te) → "them" – тях (tyah);
      • "their(s)" – tehen (masc.); tyahna (fem.); tyahno (neut.); tehni (plur.)
    • adje

      This had implications for some grammatical constructions:

      Sometimes, with the changes, words began to be spelled as other words with different meanings, e.g.:

      • свѣт (svět) – "world" became свят (svyat), spelt and pronounced the same as свят – "holy".
      • тѣ () – "they" became те (te),

      In spite of the literary norm regarding the yat vowel, many people living in Western Bulgaria, including the capital Sofia, will fail to observe its rules. While the norm requires the realizations vidyal vs. videli (he has seen; they have seen), some natives of Western Bulgaria will preserve their local dialect pronunciation with "e" for all instances of "yat" (e.g. videl, videli). Others, attempting to adhere to the norm, will actually use the "ya" sound even in cases where the standard language has "e" (e.g. vidyal, vidyali<

      In spite of the literary norm regarding the yat vowel, many people living in Western Bulgaria, including the capital Sofia, will fail to observe its rules. While the norm requires the realizations vidyal vs. videli (he has seen; they have seen), some natives of Western Bulgaria will preserve their local dialect pronunciation with "e" for all instances of "yat" (e.g. videl, videli). Others, attempting to adhere to the norm, will actually use the "ya" sound even in cases where the standard language has "e" (e.g. vidyal, vidyali). The latter hypercorrection is called свръхякане (svrah-yakane ≈"over-ya-ing").

      Shift from /jɛ/ to iotated sound /jɛ/ (or its palatalized variant /ʲɛ/, except in non-Slavic foreign-loaned words). The sound is common in all modern Slavic languages (e.g. Czech medvěd /ˈmɛdvjɛt/ "bear", Polish pć /pʲɛɲtɕ/ "five", Serbo-Croatian jelen /jělen/ "deer", Ukrainian немає /nemájɛ/ "there is not ...", Macedonian пишување /piʃuvaɲʲɛ/[stress?] "writing", etc.), as well as some Western Bulgarian dialectal forms – e.g. ора̀н’е /oˈraɲʲɛ/ (standard Bulgarian: оране /oˈranɛ/, "ploughing"),[20] however it is not represented in standard Bulgarian speech or writing. Even where /jɛ/ occurs in other Slavic words, in Standard Bulgarian it is usually transcribed and pronounced as pure /ɛ/ – e.g. Boris Yeltsin is "Eltsin" (Борис Елцин), Yekaterinburg is "Ekaterinburg" (Екатеринбург) and Sarajevo is "Saraevo" (Сараево), although - because the sound is contained in a stressed syllable at the beginning of the word - Jelena Janković is "Yelena" – Йелена Янкович.

      Relationship to Macedonian

      Bulgarian has six vowel phonemes, but at least eight distinct phones can be distinguished when reduced allophones are taken into consideration.

      The parts of speech in Bulgarian are divided in ten types, which are categorized in two broad classes: mutable and immutable. The difference is that mutable parts of speech vary grammatically, whereas the immutable ones do not change, regardless of their use. The five classes of mutables are: nouns, adjectives, numerals, pronouns and verbs. Syntactically, the first four of these form the group of the noun or the nominal group. The immutables are: adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, particles and interjections. Verbs and adverbs form the group of the verb or the verbal group.

      Nominal morphology