Bulgarian: Дa, тoчнo тaka.

Ok, reviewing Bulgarian was kind of confusing at first. If you remember what I wrote about Macedonian (you know, how Bulgarian is mutually intelligible with Macedonian and all that), then you’ll understand.

The history of Bulgaria, like Macedonia, stretches back to ancient Greece when it was inhabited by Thracians and subsequently became part of the Roman Empire. Bulgarian statehood can actually be traced to 165 AD when the region was ruled by leaders called Kans. The most notable ruler was Kan Koubrat, who governed from 632-665, which began the Old Great Bulgaria period. A significant event in Bulgaria’s history was when Slavs entered the region around the 500s, as the Slavic Invasions were taking place all over the Balkan peninsula.

After Koubrat died, Bulgaria split into two: Volgar and Danubian Bulgaria. While Volgar Bulgaria had converted to Islam (and was later wiped out by Russians in the 1200s), Danubian Bulgaria expanded and eventually went through a period of growth, leading to a golden age. After a treaty with the Byzantine Empire in 681 (although Byzantium would continue to fight with Bulgaria) Bulgaria gained more territory while fighting against Arab forces, most notably in the battle for Constantinople in 717-718, where 22,000 Arabs were killed.

Several coinciding events also happened. As I mentioned in the Macedonian post, Sts. Cyril and Methodius developed the Glagolitic alphabet in the mid 800s, which would pave the way for the Cyrillic alphabet to be created by their adherents. In 864, Eastern Orthodox Christianity became the common religion. This led to a Church Slavonic tradition that influenced Bulgaria’s culture, arts and literature. After a tug-of-war for power between Byzantium and Bulgarian forces from 1018-1300, the Ottoman Empire took control of the region for five centuries. Unfortunately, Ottoman rule was extremely barbaric, as many were killed through genocide or forced to take part in it, as Turkish culture was forced upon the locals. It wouldn’t be until the late 1800s, after a series of wars, when Bulgaria regained some autonomy and later full independence in 1905.

Bulgaria would suffer again in WWI and WWII before becoming part of the Soviet’s Communist bloc. Like so many other countries in the late 1980s, Bulgaria became a republic and implemented a free-market system. A brand-spanking new member of the European Union, Bulgaria, though poorer than the other countries in the pact, is experiencing rapid economic growth.


Um, since we’re really just looking at the Cyrillic alphabet again, I just copied the Macedonian one and highlighted the differences:

А а – a as in father
Б б – b as in book
В в – v as in vow
Г г – g as in give
Д д – d as in deer
Е е – e as in pet
Ж ж – a “zh” sound similar to the “si” in vision
З з – z as in zebra
И и – e as in me
Й й – y as in yes
Ј ј – y as in yes
К к – c as in cat
Л л – l as in love
М м – m as in mother
Н н – n as in new
О о – o as in bold
П п – p as in pat
Р р – r as in race
С с – s as in sale
Т т – t as in type
У у – u as in yule
Ф ф – f as in five
Х х – h as in help
Ц ц – cz as in czar
Ч ч – ch as in chew
Ш ш – sh as in shy
Щ щ – scht as in schtick
Ъ ъ – the schwa sound, as u in but
-ь – a d/t sound*
Ю ю – a “yu” sound
Я я – a “ya” sound

*This indicates palatalization (when the tongue makes a “d” or “t” sound). makes consonants softer after an “ah” sound (o as in pot).

Bulgarian doesn’t have these special Macedonian letters (I like to think of them as the “dual sounds”): Ѓ ѓ (a “gee-yuh” sound similar to “gu” in argue), Ѕ ѕ (a “dz” sound similar to “ds” in birds), Љ љ (an “lyuh” sound as the “lli” in million), Њ њ (an “ng” sound as in “ny” in canyon), Ќ ќ (cu as in cute), Џ џ (g as in giant).

That’s about it for the alphabet. No shocker there. But if you need a surprise of some sort (at least linguistically), check out 2:03 in this video of Bulgarian phrases:

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: This language, to my ear, sounds exactly like Russian. Maybe I’m just tired and am trying to finish this post, but I feel bold enough to determine a difference between this and Macedonian. I’m not really sure what it is and I don’t know how to translate “je ne se quoi” into Bulgarian. But whatever it is, it’s making me believe that Bulgarian is slightly more Slavic and a little bit stronger when spoken. I still haven’t mastered Cyrillic though. Maybe by next post I won’t have to resort to prepared transliterations or (gasp) actually type them myself.

2 thoughts on “Bulgarian: Дa, тoчнo тaka.

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