Чecтитa нoвa гoдинa! Or for you non-Slavic speakers, Happy New Year! I wish you all many blessings and prosperity to come in 2009.
Nevertheless, it’s time to move on from Bulgarian. I think an appropriate title for this post could have been, Macedonian: Part Two, But Not Really.
SUMMARY: Another South-Slavic language spoken exclusively in the Balkans, the groundwork for Bulgarian can be traced to several important events. A prominent one is the development of the Glagolitic alphabet by Sts. Cyril and Methodius, which fostered a Church Slavonic language. Church Slavonic, which was used in Russia and the Balkans, became the official language during the Second Bulgarian Empire. During and after the horrific capture and oppression by the Ottomans for five centuries, Bulgaria’s lingua franca evolved, changing from a synthetic language (a language in which a word can mean several different things at once, like German) to a more analytic one (a language where a word generally has one meaning, like Chinese).
One interesting thing about Bulgarian is that it’s the only Slavic language to use a definite article; for example, it uses a suffix to specifiy “the” (good dog vs. the good dog). Like English, noun cases are reserved only for personal pronouns. For those of you who are completely unfamilar with linguistics, a case indicates a noun’s function in a sentence or statement. [Nouns in English are generally subjective/nominative (a subject), possessive (show possesion) or objective (an object in the sentence]. Bulgarian uses the subjective/nominative case, along with three others that don’t really occur in American English.
With that, Bulgarian word order is pretty loose. This could be easy for learners because a verb’s ending tends to reveal who is doing what (like Spanish, a person can just say “lo tiene”, which means “he/she has it” because tiene is the third person singular form, instead of saying “él/ella lo tiene”). However, conjugation (the forming of verbs) seems to be the most difficult part of the language, at least to me. Another complexity is that Bulgarian uses masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives. Gosh darn it, I guess it was too much to hope this wouldn’t exist in Slavic languages.
FINAL IMPRESSION: Bulgarian, as I said before, doesn’t really seem that different from Macedonian. Even though they’re mutually intelligible, Bulgarian still sounds stronger, but not as strong as Russian. I still can’t explain that factor or how I even made that deduction.
While watching YouTube, I listened to several videos documenting Gay Pride in Sofia, which was one of Bulgaria’s most memorable events of 2008. It was the first time the country held a gay parade and it sparked future dialogue about GLBT issues, but like neighboring conservative countries in Eastern Europe it was rocked by violence. There aren’t any subtitles in the video below, but you can get a gist of what happened during the summer there.
By listening to this, I was able to recognize a number of cognates (gay, parade) and I could differentiate between words in speech. In my opinion, I don’t really think Bulgarian would be exceptionally difficult to learn. The verbs seem to be the most eminent difficultly, along with understanding different dialects. A huge advantage to learning Bulgarian would be understanding Macedonian, and to a lesser degree, some of the other Slavic languages.
Will Keith pursue this language in the New Year? Maybe, maybe not.
COMING UP: Slovenian