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Bulgarian language
Bulgarian language

Bulgarian /bʌlˈɡɛəriən/ (listen), /bʊlˈ-/ (български, translit. bălgarski, pronounced [ˈbɤɫɡɐrski]) 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. The two languages have several characteristics that set it 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.[18][19] 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 860s.
  • 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.

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 and Ivan Bogorov),[20] 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.[21] Eventually the eastern dialects prevailed,[22] and in 1899 the Bulgarian Ministry of Education officially codified[21] a standard Bulgarian language based on the Drinov-Ivanchev orthography.[22]

Dialects


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.[23]
  • 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).[24]

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 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.)
  • adjectives received the same treatment as тѣ: "whole" – tsyal → "the whole ...": tseliyat (masc.); tsyalata (fem.); tsyaloto (neut.); tselite (plur.)

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). The latter hypercorrection is called свръхякане (svrah-yakane ≈"over-ya-ing").

Bulgarian is the only Slavic language whose literary standard does not naturally contain the 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/ "writing", etc.), as well as some Western Bulgarian dialectal forms – e.g. ора̀н’е /oˈraɲʲɛ/ (standard Bulgarian: оране /oˈranɛ/, "ploughing"),[25] 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


Until the period immediately following the Second World War, all Bulgarian and the majority of foreign linguists referred to the South Slavic dialect continuum spanning the area of modern Bulgaria, North Macedonia and parts of Northern Greece as a group of Bulgarian dialects.[26][27][28][29][30][31] In contrast, Serbian sources tended to label them "south Serbian" dialects.[32][33] Some local naming conventions included bolgárski, bugárski and so forth.[34] The codifiers of the standard Bulgarian language, however, did not wish to make any allowances for a pluricentric "Bulgaro-Macedonian" compromise.[35] In 1870 Marin Drinov, who played a decisive role in the standardization of the Bulgarian language, rejected the proposal of Parteniy Zografski and Kuzman Shapkarev for a mixed eastern and western Bulgarian/Macedonian foundation of the standard Bulgarian language, stating in his article in the newspaper Makedoniya: "Such an artificial assembly of written language is something impossible, unattainable and never heard of."[36][37][38]

After 1944 the People's Republic of Bulgaria and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began a policy of making Macedonia into the connecting link for the establishment of a new Balkan Federative Republic and stimulating here a development of distinct Slav Macedonian consciousness.[39] With the proclamation of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia as part of the Yugoslav federation, the new authorities also started measures that would overcome the pro-Bulgarian feeling among parts of its population and in 1945 a separate Macedonian language was codified.[40] After 1958, when the pressure from Moscow decreased, Sofia reverted to the view that the Macedonian language did not exist as a separate language. Nowadays, Bulgarian and Greek linguists, as well as some linguists from other countries, still consider the various Macedonian dialects as part of the broader Bulgarian pluricenrtric dialectal continuum.[41][42] Outside Bulgaria and Greece, Macedonian is generally considered an autonomous language within the South Slavic dialect continuum.[43] Sociolinguists agree that the question whether Macedonian is a dialect of Bulgarian or a language is a political one and cannot be resolved on a purely linguistic basis, because dialect continua do not allow for either/or judgments.[44][45]

Alphabet


In 886 AD, the Bulgarian Empire introduced the Glagolitic alphabet which was devised by the Saints Cyril and Methodius in the 850s. The Glagolitic alphabet was gradually superseded in later centuries by the Cyrillic script, developed around the Preslav Literary School, Bulgaria in the 9th century.

Several Cyrillic alphabets with 28 to 44 letters were used in the beginning and the middle of the 19th century during the efforts on the codification of Modern Bulgarian until an alphabet with 32 letters, proposed by Marin Drinov, gained prominence in the 1870s. The alphabet of Marin Drinov was used until the orthographic reform of 1945, when the letters yat (uppercase Ѣ, lowercase ѣ) and yus (uppercase Ѫ, lowercase ѫ) were removed from its alphabet, reducing the number of letters to 30.

With the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union on 1 January 2007, Cyrillic became the third official script of the European Union, following the Latin and Greek scripts.[46]

Phonology


Bulgarian possesses a phonology similar to that of the rest of the South Slavic languages, notably lacking Serbo-Croatian's phonemic vowel length and tones and alveo-palatal affricates. The eastern dialects exhibit palatalization of consonants before front vowels (/ɛ/ and /i/) and reduction of vowel phonemes in unstressed position (causing mergers of /ɛ/ and /i/, /ɔ/ and /u/, /a/ and /ɤ/) - both patterns have partial parallels in Russian and lead to a partly similar sound. The western dialects are like Macedonian and Serbo-Croatian in that they do not have allophonic palatalization and have only little vowel reduction.

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

Grammar


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.

Nouns and adjectives have the categories grammatical gender, number, case (only vocative) and definiteness in Bulgarian. Adjectives and adjectival pronouns agree with nouns in number and gender. Pronouns have gender and number and retain (as in nearly all Indo-European languages) a more significant part of the case system.

There are three grammatical genders in Bulgarian: masculine, feminine and neuter. The gender of the noun can largely be inferred from its ending: nouns ending in a consonant ("zero ending") are generally masculine (for example, градcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ɡrat/ 'city', синcode: bul promoted to code: bg /sin/ 'son', мъжcode: bul promoted to code: bg /mɤʃ/ 'man'; those ending in –а/–я (-a/-ya) (женаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ʒɛˈna/ 'woman', дъщеряcode: bul promoted to code: bg /dɐʃtɛrˈja/ 'daughter', улицаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈulitsɐ/ 'street') are normally feminine; and nouns ending in –е, –о are almost always neuter (детеcode: bul promoted to code: bg /dɛˈtɛ/ 'child', езероcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈɛzɛro/ 'lake'), as are those rare words (usually loanwords) that end in –и, –у, and –ю (цунамиcode: bul promoted to code: bg /tsoˈnami/ 'tsunami', табуcode: bul promoted to code: bg /tɐˈbu/ 'taboo', менюcode: bul promoted to code: bg /mɛˈnju/ 'menu'). Perhaps the most significant exception from the above are the relatively numerous nouns that end in a consonant and yet are feminine: these comprise, firstly, a large group of nouns with zero ending expressing quality, degree or an abstraction, including all nouns ending on –ост/–ест -{ost/est} (мъдростcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈmɤdrost/ 'wisdom', низостcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈnizost/ 'vileness', прелестcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈprɛlɛst/ 'loveliness', болестcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈbɔlɛst/ 'sickness', любовcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ljuˈbɔf/ 'love'), and secondly, a much smaller group of irregular nouns with zero ending which define tangible objects or concepts (кръвcode: bul promoted to code: bg /krɤf/ 'blood', костcode: bul promoted to code: bg /kɔst/ 'bone', вечерcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈvɛtʃɛr/ 'evening', нощcode: bul promoted to code: bg /nɔʃt/ 'night'). There are also some commonly used words that end in a vowel and yet are masculine: бащаcode: bul promoted to code: bg 'father', дядоcode: bul promoted to code: bg 'grandfather', чичоcode: bul promoted to code: bg / вуйчоcode: bul promoted to code: bg 'uncle', and others.

The plural forms of the nouns do not express their gender as clearly as the singular ones, but may also provide some clues to it: the ending –иcode: bul promoted to code: bg (-i) is more likely to be used with a masculine or feminine noun (фактиcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈfakti/ 'facts', болестиcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈbɔlɛsti/ 'sicknesses'), while one in –а/–яcode: bul promoted to code: bg belongs more often to a neuter noun (езераcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ɛzɛˈra/ 'lakes'). Also, the plural ending –овеcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ovɛ/ occurs only in masculine nouns.

Two numbers are distinguished in Bulgarian–singular and plural. A variety of plural suffixes is used, and the choice between them is partly determined by their ending in singular and partly influenced by gender; in addition, irregular declension and alternative plural forms are common. Words ending in –а/–яcode: bul promoted to code: bg (which are usually feminine) generally have the plural ending –иcode: bul promoted to code: bg , upon dropping of the singular ending. Of nouns ending in a consonant, the feminine ones also use –иcode: bul promoted to code: bg , whereas the masculine ones usually have –иcode: bul promoted to code: bg for polysyllables and –овеcode: bul promoted to code: bg for monosyllables (however, exceptions are especially common in this group). Nouns ending in –о/–еcode: bul promoted to code: bg (most of which are neuter) mostly use the suffixes –а, –яcode: bul promoted to code: bg (both of which require the dropping of the singular endings) and –таcode: bul promoted to code: bg .

With cardinal numbers and related words such as няколкоcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('several'), masculine nouns use a special count form in –а/–яcode: bul promoted to code: bg , which stems from the Proto-Slavonic dual: два/три столаcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('two/three chairs') versus тези столовеcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('these chairs'); cf. feminine две/три/тези книгиcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('two/three/these books') and neuter две/три/тези леглаcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('two/three/these beds'). However, a recently developed language norm requires that count forms should only be used with masculine nouns that do not denote persons. Thus, двама/трима ученициcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('two/three students') is perceived as more correct than двама/трима ученикаcode: bul promoted to code: bg , while the distinction is retained in cases such as два/три моливаcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('two/three pencils') versus тези моливиcode: bul promoted to code: bg ('these pencils').

Cases exist only in the personal and some other pronouns (as they do in many other modern Indo-European languages), with nominative, accusative, dative and vocative forms. Vestiges are present in a number of phraseological units and sayings. The major exception are vocative forms, which are still in use for masculine (with the endings -е, -о and -ю) and feminine nouns (-[ь/й]о and -е) in the singular.

In modern Bulgarian, definiteness is expressed by a definite article which is postfixed to the noun, much like in the Scandinavian languages or Romanian (indefinite: човекcode: bul promoted to code: bg , 'person'; definite: човекътcode: bul promoted to code: bg , "the person") or to the first nominal constituent of definite noun phrases (indefinite: добър човекcode: bul promoted to code: bg , 'a good person'; definite: добрият човекcode: bul promoted to code: bg , "the good person"). There are four singular definite articles. Again, the choice between them is largely determined by the noun's ending in the singular.[47] Nouns that end in a consonant and are masculine use –ът/–ят, when they are grammatical subjects, and –а/–я elsewhere. Nouns that end in a consonant and are feminine, as well as nouns that end in –а/–я (most of which are feminine, too) use –та. Nouns that end in –е/–о use –то.

The plural definite article is –те for all nouns except for those whose plural form ends in –а/–я; these get –та instead. When postfixed to adjectives the definite articles are –ят/–я for masculine gender (again, with the longer form being reserved for grammatical subjects), –та for feminine gender, –то for neuter gender, and –те for plural.

Both groups agree in gender and number with the noun they are appended to. They may also take the definite article as explained above.

Pronouns may vary in gender, number, and definiteness, and are the only parts of speech that have retained case inflections. Three cases are exhibited by some groups of pronouns – nominative, accusative and dative. The distinguishable types of pronouns include the following: personal, relative, reflexive, interrogative, negative, indefinitive, summative and possessive.

The Bulgarian verb can take up to 3,000[48] distinct forms, as it varies in person, number, voice, aspect, mood, tense and even gender.

Finite verbal forms are simple or compound and agree with subjects in person (first, second and third) and number (singular, plural). In addition to that, past compound forms using participles vary in gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and voice (active and passive) as well as aspect (perfective/aorist and imperfective).

Bulgarian verbs express lexical aspect: perfective verbs signify the completion of the action of the verb and form past perfective (aorist) forms; imperfective ones are neutral with regard to it and form past imperfective forms. Most Bulgarian verbs can be grouped in perfective-imperfective pairs (imperfective/perfective: идвам/дойдаcode: bul promoted to code: bg "come", пристигам/пристигнаcode: bul promoted to code: bg "arrive"). Perfective verbs can be usually formed from imperfective ones by suffixation or prefixation, but the resultant verb often deviates in meaning from the original. In the pair examples above, aspect is stem-specific and therefore there is no difference in meaning.

In Bulgarian, there is also grammatical aspect. Three grammatical aspects are distinguishable: neutral, perfect and pluperfect. The neutral aspect comprises the three simple tenses and the future tense. The pluperfect is manifest in tenses that use double or triple auxiliary "be" participles like the past pluperfect subjunctive. Perfect constructions use a single auxiliary "be".

The traditional interpretation is that in addition to the four moods (наклонения /nəkloˈnɛnijɐ/) shared by most other European languages – indicative (изявително, /izʲəˈvitɛɫno/) imperative (повелително /poveˈlitelno/), subjunctive (подчинителноcode: bul promoted to code: bg /pottʃiˈnitɛɫno/) and conditional (условно, /oˈsɫɔvno/) – in Bulgarian there is one more to describe a general category of unwitnessed events – the inferential (преизказно /prɛˈiskɐzno/) mood. However, most contemporary Bulgarian linguists usually exclude the subjunctive mood and the inferential mood from the list of Bulgarian moods (thus placing the number of Bulgarian moods at a total of 3: indicative, imperative and conditional)[49] and don't consider them to be moods but view them as verbial morphosyntactic constructs or separate gramemes of the verb class. The possible existence of a few other moods has been discussed in the literature. Most Bulgarian school grammars teach the traditional view of 4 Bulgarian moods (as described above, but excluding the subjunctive and including the inferential).

There are three grammatically distinctive positions in time – present, past and future – which combine with aspect and mood to produce a number of formations. Normally, in grammar books these formations are viewed as separate tenses – i. e. "past imperfect" would mean that the verb is in past tense, in the imperfective aspect, and in the indicative mood (since no other mood is shown). There are more than 40 different tenses across Bulgarian's two aspects and five moods.

In the indicative mood, there are three simple tenses:

  • Present tense is a temporally unmarked simple form made up of the verbal stem and a complex suffix composed of the thematic vowel /ɛ/, /i/ or /a/ and the person/number ending (пристигамcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /priˈstigɐm/, "I arrive/I am arriving"); only imperfective verbs can stand in the present indicative tense independently;
  • Past imperfect is a simple verb form used to express an action which is contemporaneous or subordinate to other past actions; it is made up of an imperfective or a perfective verbal stem and the person/number ending (пристигахcode: bul promoted to code: bg /priˈstiɡɐx/, пристигнехcode: bul promoted to code: bg /priˈstiɡnɛx/, 'I was arriving');
  • Past aorist is a simple form used to express a temporarily independent, specific past action; it is made up of a perfective or an imperfective verbal stem and the person/number ending (пристигнахcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /priˈstiɡnɐx/, 'I arrived', четохcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /ˈtʃɛtox/, 'I read');

In the indicative there are also the following compound tenses:

  • Future tense is a compound form made of the particle щеcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ʃtɛ/ and present tense (ще учаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ʃtɛ ˈutʃɐ/, 'I will study'); negation is expressed by the construction няма даcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈɲamɐ dɐ/ and present tense (няма да учаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈɲamɐ dɐ ˈutʃɐ/, or the old-fashioned form не ще учаcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /nɛ ʃtɛ ˈutʃɐ/ 'I will not study');
  • Past future tense is a compound form used to express an action which was to be completed in the past but was future as regards another past action; it is made up of the past imperfect of the verb щаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ʃtɤ/ ('will'), the particle даcode: bul promoted to code: bg /dɐ/ ('to') and the present tense of the verb (e.g. щях да учаcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /ʃtʲax dɐ ˈutʃɐ/, 'I was going to study');
  • Present perfect is a compound form used to express an action which was completed in the past but is relevant for or related to the present; it is made up of the present tense of the verb съм /sɤm/ ('be') and the past participle (e.g. съм училcode: bul promoted to code: bg /sɤm ˈutʃiɫ/, 'I have studied');
  • Past perfect is a compound form used to express an action which was completed in the past and is relative to another past action; it is made up of the past tense of the verb съм and the past participle (e.g. бях училcode: bul promoted to code: bg /bʲax ˈutʃiɫ/, 'I had studied');
  • Future perfect is a compound form used to express an action which is to take place in the future before another future action; it is made up of the future tense of the verb съм and the past participle (e.g. ще съм училcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ʃtɛ sɐm ˈutʃiɫ/, 'I will have studied');
  • Past future perfect is a compound form used to express a past action which is future with respect to a past action which itself is prior to another past action; it is made up of the past imperfect of щаcode: bul promoted to code: bg , the particle даcode: bul promoted to code: bg the present tense of the verb съм and the past participle of the verb (e.g. щях да съм училcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /ʃtʲax dɐ sɐm ˈutʃiɫ/, 'I would have studied').

The four perfect constructions above can vary in aspect depending on the aspect of the main-verb participle; they are in fact pairs of imperfective and perfective aspects. Verbs in forms using past participles also vary in voice and gender.

There is only one simple tense in the imperative mood, the present, and there are simple forms only for the second-person singular, -и/-й (-i, -y/i), and plural, -ете/-йте (-ete, -yte), e.g. уча /ˈutʃɐ/ ('to study'): учиcode: bul promoted to code: bg /oˈtʃi/, sg., учетеcode: bul promoted to code: bg /oˈtʃɛtɛ/, pl.; играяcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈiɡrajɐ/ 'to play': играйcode: bul promoted to code: bg /iɡˈraj/, играйтеcode: bul promoted to code: bg /iɡˈrajtɛ/. There are compound imperative forms for all persons and numbers in the present compound imperative (да играеcode: bul promoted to code: bg , da iɡˈrae/), the present perfect compound imperative (да е игралcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /dɐ ɛ iɡˈraɫ/) and the rarely used present pluperfect compound imperative (да е бил игралcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /dɐ ɛ bil iɡˈraɫ/).

The conditional mood consists of five compound tenses, most of which are not grammatically distinguishable. The present, future and past conditional use a special past form of the stem би- (bi – "be") and the past participle (бих училcode: bul promoted to code: bg , /bix ˈutʃiɫ/, 'I would study'). The past future conditional and the past future perfect conditional coincide in form with the respective indicative tenses.

The subjunctive mood is rarely documented as a separate verb form in Bulgarian, (being, morphologically, a sub-instance of the quasi-infinitive construction with the particle да and a normal finite verb form), but nevertheless it is used regularly. The most common form, often mistaken for the present tense, is the present subjunctive ([по-добре] да отидаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (ˈpɔdobrɛ) dɐ oˈtidɐ/, 'I had better go'). The difference between the present indicative and the present subjunctive tense is that the subjunctive can be formed by both perfective and imperfective verbs. It has completely replaced the infinitive and the supine from complex expressions (see below). It is also employed to express opinion about possible future events. The past perfect subjunctive ([по добре] да бях отишълcode: bul promoted to code: bg (ˈpɔdobrɛ) dɐ bʲax oˈtiʃɐl/, 'I'd had better be gone') refers to possible events in the past, which did not take place, and the present pluperfect subjunctive (да съм бил отишълcode: bul promoted to code: bg /dɐ sɐm bil oˈtiʃɐl/), which may be used about both past and future events arousing feelings of incontinence, suspicion, etc. and has no perfect English translation.

The inferential mood has five pure tenses. Two of them are simple – past aorist inferential and past imperfect inferential – and are formed by the past participles of perfective and imperfective verbs, respectively. There are also three compound tenses – past future inferential, past future perfect inferential and past perfect inferential. All these tenses' forms are gender-specific in the singular. There are also conditional and compound-imperative crossovers. The existence of inferential forms has been attributed to Turkic influences by most Bulgarian linguists. Morphologically, they are derived from the perfect.

Bulgarian has the following participles:

  • Present active participle (сегашно деятелно причастие) is formed from imperfective stems with the addition of the suffixes –ащ/–ещ/–ящ (четящ, 'reading') and is used only attributively;
  • Present passive participle (сегашно страдателно причастие) is formed by the addition of the suffixes -им/аем/уем (четим, 'that can be read, readable');
  • Past active aorist participle (минало свършено деятелно причастие) is formed by the addition of the suffix –л– to perfective stems (чел, '[have] read');
  • Past active imperfect participle (минало несвършено деятелно причастие) is formed by the addition of the suffixes –ел/–ал/–ял to imperfective stems (четял, '[have been] reading');
  • Past passive aorist participle' (минало свършено страдателно причастие) is formed from aorist/perfective stems with the addition of the suffixes -н/–т (прочетен, 'read'; убит, 'killed'); it is used predicatively and attributively;
  • Past passive imperfect participle' (минало несвършено страдателно причастие) is formed from imperfective stems with the addition of the suffix –н (прочитан, '[been] read'; убиван, '[been] being killed'); it is used predicatively and attributively;
  • Adverbial participle (деепричастие) is usually formed from imperfective present stems with the suffix –(е)йки (четейки, 'while reading'), relates an action contemporaneous with and subordinate to the main verb and is originally a Western Bulgarian form.

The participles are inflected by gender, number, and definiteness, and are coordinated with the subject when forming compound tenses (see tenses above). When used in attributive role the inflection attributes are coordinated with the noun that is being attributed.

Bulgarian uses reflexive verbal forms (i.e. actions which are performed by the agent onto him- or herself) which behave in a similar way as they do in many other Indo-European languages, such as French and Spanish. The reflexive is expressed by the invariable particle se,[1] originally a clitic form of the accusative reflexive pronoun. Thus –

  • miya – I wash, miya se – I wash myself, miesh se – you wash yourself
  • pitam – I ask, pitam se – I ask myself, pitash se – you ask yourself

When the action is performed on others, other particles are used, just like in any normal verb, e.g. –

  • miya te – I wash you
  • pitash me – you ask me

Sometimes, the reflexive verb form has a similar but not necessarily identical meaning to the non-reflexive verb –

  • kazvam – I say, kazvam se – my name is (lit. "I call myself")
  • vizhdam – I see, vizhdame se – "we see ourselves" or "we meet each other"

In other cases, the reflexive verb has a completely different meaning from its non-reflexive counterpart –

  • karam – to drive, karam se – to have a row with someone
  • gotvya – to cook, gotvya se – to get ready
  • smeya – to dare, smeya se – to laugh

When the action is performed on an indirect object, the particles change to si and its derivatives –

  • kazvam si – I say to myself, kazvash si – you say to yourself, kazvam ti – I say to you
  • peya si – I am singing to myself, pee si – she is singing to herself, pee mu – she is singing to him
  • gotvya si – I cook for myself, gotvyat si – they cook for themselves, gotvya im – I cook for them

In some cases, the particle si is ambiguous between the indirect object and the possessive meaning –

  • miya si ratsete – I wash my hands, miya ti ratsete – I wash your hands
  • pitam si priyatelite – I ask my friends, pitam ti priyatelite – I ask your friends
  • iskam si topkata – I want my ball (back)

The difference between transitive and intransitive verbs can lead to significant differences in meaning with minimal change, e.g. –

  • haresvash me – you like me, haresvash mi – I like you (lit. you are pleasing to me)
  • otivam – I am going, otivam si – I am going home

The particle si is often used to indicate a more personal relationship to the action, e.g. –

  • haresvam go – I like him, haresvam si go – no precise translation, roughly translates as "he's really close to my heart"
  • stanahme priyateli – we became friends, stanahme si priyateli – same meaning, but sounds friendlier
  • mislya – I am thinking (usually about something serious), mislya si – same meaning, but usually about something personal and/or trivial

The most productive way to form adverbs is to derive them from the neuter singular form of the corresponding adjective—e.g. бързоcode: bul promoted to code: bg (fast), силноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (hard), странноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (strange)—but adjectives ending in -киcode: bul promoted to code: bg use the masculine singular form (i.e. ending in -киcode: bul promoted to code: bg ), instead—e.g. юнашкиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (heroically), мъжкиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (bravely, like a man), майсторскиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (skillfully). The same pattern is used to form adverbs from the (adjective-like) ordinal numerals, e.g. първоcode: bul promoted to code: bg (firstly), второcode: bul promoted to code: bg (secondly), третоcode: bul promoted to code: bg (thirdly), and in some cases from (adjective-like) cardinal numerals, e.g. двойноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (twice as/double), тройноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (three times as), петорноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (five times as).

The remaining adverbs are formed in ways that are no longer productive in the language. A small number are original (not derived from other words), for example: тукcode: bul promoted to code: bg (here), тамcode: bul promoted to code: bg (there), вътреcode: bul promoted to code: bg (inside), вънcode: bul promoted to code: bg (outside), многоcode: bul promoted to code: bg (very/much) etc. The rest are mostly fossilized case forms, such as:

  • Archaic locative forms of some adjectives, e.g. добреcode: bul promoted to code: bg (well), злеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (badly), твърдеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (too, rather), and nouns гореcode: bul promoted to code: bg (up), утреcode: bul promoted to code: bg (tomorrow), летеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (in the summer)
  • Archaic instrumental forms of some adjectives, e.g. тихомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (quietly), скришомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (furtively), слепешкомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (blindly), and nouns, e.g. денемcode: bul promoted to code: bg (during the day), нощемcode: bul promoted to code: bg (during the night), редомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (one next to the other), духомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (spiritually), цифромcode: bul promoted to code: bg (in figures), словомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (with words); or verbs: тичешкомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while running), лежешкомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while lying), стоешкомcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while standing)
  • Archaic accusative forms of some nouns: днесcode: bul promoted to code: bg (today), нощесcode: bul promoted to code: bg (tonight), сутринcode: bul promoted to code: bg (in the morning), зиме/зимъсcode: bul promoted to code: bg (in winter)
  • Archaic genitive forms of some nouns: довечераcode: bul promoted to code: bg (tonight), снощиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (last night), вчераcode: bul promoted to code: bg (yesterday)
  • Homonymous and etymologically identical to the feminine singular form of the corresponding adjective used with the definite article: здраватаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (hard), слепешкатаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (gropingly); the same pattern has been applied to some verbs, e.g. тичешкатаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while running), лежешкатаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while lying), стоешкатаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (while standing)
  • Derived from cardinal numerals by means of a non-productive suffix: веднъжcode: bul promoted to code: bg (once), дважcode: bul promoted to code: bg (twice), трижcode: bul promoted to code: bg (thrice)

Adverbs can sometimes be reduplicated to emphasize the qualitative or quantitative properties of actions, moods or relations as performed by the subject of the sentence: "бавно-бавноcode: bul promoted to code: bg " ("rather slowly"), "едва-едваcode: bul promoted to code: bg " ("with great difficulty"), "съвсем-съвсемcode: bul promoted to code: bg " ("quite", "thoroughly").

Bulgarian employs clitic doubling, mostly for emphatic purposes. For example, the following constructions are common in colloquial Bulgarian:

The phenomenon is practically obligatory in the spoken language in the case of inversion signalling information structure (in writing, clitic doubling may be skipped in such instances, with a somewhat bookish effect):

Sometimes, the doubling signals syntactic relations, thus:

This is contrasted with:

In this case, clitic doubling can be a colloquial alternative of the more formal or bookish passive voice, which would be constructed as follows:

Clitic doubling is also fully obligatory, both in the spoken and in the written norm, in clauses including several special expressions that use the short accusative and dative pronouns such as "играе ми сеcode: bul promoted to code: bg " (I feel like playing), студено ми е (I am cold), and боли ме ръката (my arm hurts):

Except the above examples, clitic doubling is considered inappropriate in a formal context.

Questions in Bulgarian which do not use a question word (such as who? what? etc.) are formed with the particle ли after the verb; a subject is not necessary, as the verbal conjugation suggests who is performing the action:

  • Идвашcode: bul promoted to code: bg – 'you are coming'; Идваш ли?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'are you coming?'

While the particle лиcode: bul promoted to code: bg generally goes after the verb, it can go after a noun or adjective if a contrast is needed:

  • Идваш ли с нас?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'are you coming with us?';
  • С нас ли идваш?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'are you coming with us'?

A verb is not always necessary, e.g. when presenting a choice:

  • Той ли?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'him?'; Жълтият ли?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'the yellow one?'[2]

Rhetorical questions can be formed by adding лиcode: bul promoted to code: bg to a question word, thus forming a "double interrogative" –

  • Кой?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'Who?'; Кой ли?!code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'I wonder who(?)'

The same construction +не ('no') is an emphasized positive –

  • Кой беше там?code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'Who was there?' – Кой ли не!code: bul promoted to code: bg – 'Nearly everyone!' (lit. 'I wonder who wasn't there')

The verb съмcode: bul promoted to code: bg /sɤm/[3] – 'to be' is also used as an auxiliary for forming the perfect, the passive and the conditional:

  • past tense – /oˈdariɫ sɐm/ – 'I have hit'
  • passive – /oˈdarɛn sɐm/ – 'I am hit'
  • past passive – /bʲax oˈdarɛn/ – 'I was hit'
  • conditional – /bix oˈdaril/ – 'I would hit'

Two alternate forms of съмcode: bul promoted to code: bg exist:

  • бъдаcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈbɤdɐ/ – interchangeable with съм in most tenses and moods, but never in the present indicative – e.g. /ˈiskɐm dɐ ˈbɤdɐ/ ('I want to be'), /ʃtɛ ˈbɤdɐ tuk/ ('I will be here'); in the imperative, only бъда is used – /ˈbɤdi tuk/ ('be here');
  • бивамcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈbivɐm/ – slightly archaic, imperfective form of бъда – e.g. /ˈbivɐʃɛ zaˈplaʃɛn/ ('he used to get threats'); in contemporary usage, it is mostly used in the negative to mean "ought not", e.g. /nɛ ˈbivɐ dɐ ˈpuʃiʃ/ ('you shouldn't smoke').[4]

The impersonal verb щеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (lit. 'it wants')[5] is used to for forming the (positive) future tense:

  • /oˈtivɐm/ – 'I am going'
  • /ʃtɛ oˈtivɐm/ – 'I will be going'

The negative future is formed with the invariable construction няма даcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈɲamɐ dɐ/ (see нямаcode: bul promoted to code: bg below):[6]

  • /ˈɲamɐ dɐ oˈtivɐm/ – 'I will not be going'

The past tense of this verb – щях /ʃtʲax/ is conjugated to form the past conditional ('would have' – again, with да, since it is irrealis):

  • /ʃtʲax dɐ oˈtidɐ/ – 'I would have gone;' /ʃtɛʃɛ da otidɛʃ/ 'you would have gone'

The verbs имамcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈimɐm/ ('to have') and нямамcode: bul promoted to code: bg /ˈɲamɐm/ ('to not have'):

  • the third person singular of these two can be used impersonally to mean 'there is/there are' or 'there isn't/aren't any,'[7] e.g. /imɐ ˈvrɛmɛ/ ('there is still time' – compare Spanish hay); /ˈɲamɐ ˈnikoɡo/ ('there is no one there').
  • The impersonal form няма is used in the negative future – (see ще above). нямаcode: bul promoted to code: bg used on its own can mean simply 'I won't' – a simple refusal to a suggestion or instruction.

In Bulgarian, there are several conjunctions all translating into English as "but", which are all used in distinct situations. They are ноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (no), амаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (amà), аcode: bul promoted to code: bg (a), амиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (amì), and алаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (alà) (and обачеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (obache) – "however", identical in use to ноcode: bul promoted to code: bg ).

While there is some overlapping between their uses, in many cases they are specific. For example, ami is used for a choice – ne tova, ami onova – "not this one, but that one" (compare Spanish sino), while ama is often used to provide extra information or an opinion – kazah go, ama sgreshih – "I said it, but I was wrong". Meanwhile, a provides contrast between two situations, and in some sentences can even be translated as "although", "while" or even "and" – az rabotya, a toy blee – "I'm working, and he's daydreaming".

Very often, different words can be used to alter the emphasis of a sentence – e.g. while pusha, no ne tryabva and pusha, a ne tryabva both mean "I smoke, but I shouldn't", the first sounds more like a statement of fact ("...but I mustn't"), while the second feels more like a judgement ("...but I oughtn't"). Similarly, az ne iskam, ama toy iska and az ne iskam, a toy iska both mean "I don't want to, but he does", however the first emphasizes the fact that he wants to, while the second emphasizes the wanting rather than the person.

Ala is interesting in that, while it feels archaic, it is often used in poetry and frequently in children's stories, since it has quite a moral/ominous feel to it.

Some common expressions use these words, and some can be used alone as interjections:

  • da, ama ne (lit. "yes, but no") – means "you're wrong to think so".
  • ama can be tagged onto a sentence to express surprise: ama toy spi! – "he's sleeping!"
  • ами!code: bul promoted to code: bg – "you don't say!", "really!"

Bulgarian has several abstract particles which are used to strengthen a statement. These have no precise translation in English.[8] The particles are strictly informal and can even be considered rude by some people and in some situations. They are mostly used at the end of questions or instructions.

  • беcode: bul promoted to code: bg (be) – the most common particle. It can be used to strengthen a statement or, sometimes, to indicate derision of an opinion, aided by the tone of voice. (Originally purely masculine, it can now be used towards both men and women.) kazhi mi, be – tell me (insistence); taka li, be? – is that so? (derisive); vyarno li, be? – you don't say!.
  • деcode: bul promoted to code: bg (de) – expresses urgency, sometimes pleading. stavay, de! – come on, get up!
  • маcode: bul promoted to code: bg (ma) (feminine only) – originally simply the feminine counterpart of be, but today perceived as rude and derisive (compare the similar evolution of the vocative forms of feminine names).
  • бреcode: bul promoted to code: bg (bre, masculine), мариcode: bul promoted to code: bg (mari, feminine) – similar to be and ma, but archaic. Although informal, can sometimes be heard being used by older people.

These are "tagged" on to the beginning or end of a sentence to express the mood of the speaker in relation to the situation. They are mostly interrogative or slightly imperative in nature. There is no change in the grammatical mood when these are used (although they may be expressed through different grammatical moods in other languages).

  • налиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (nalì) – is a universal affirmative tag, like "isn't it"/"won't you", etc. (it is invariable, like the French n'est-ce pas). It can be placed almost anywhere in the sentence, and does not always require a verb: shte doydesh, nali? – you are coming, aren't you?; nali iskaha? – didn't they want to?; nali onzi? – that one, right?; it can express quite complex thoughts through simple constructions – nali nyamashe? – "I thought you weren't going to!" or "I thought there weren't any!" (depending on context – the verb nyama presents general negation/lacking, see "nyama", above).
  • далиcode: bul promoted to code: bg (dalì) – expresses uncertainty (if in the middle of a clause, can be translated as "whether") – e.g. dali shte doyde? – "do you think he will come?"
  • нимаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (nimà) – presents disbelief ~"don't tell me that ..." – e.g. nima iskash?! – "don't tell me you want to!". It is slightly archaic, but still in use. Can be used on its own as an interjectionnima!
  • даноcode: bul promoted to code: bg (danò) – expresses hope – shte doyde – "he will come"; dano doyde – "I hope he comes" (compare Spanish ojalá). Grammatically, dano is entirely separate from the verb nadyavam se – "to hope".
  • некаcode: bul promoted to code: bg (nèka) – means "let('s)" – e.g. neka doyde – "let him come"; when used in the first person, it expresses extreme politeness: neka da otidem... – "let us go" (in colloquial situations, hayde, below, is used instead). nekacode: bul promoted to code: bg , as an interjection, can also be used to express judgement or even schadenfreudeneka mu! – "he deserves it!".

These express intent or desire, perhaps even pleading. They can be seen as a sort of cohortative side to the language. (Since they can be used by themselves, they could even be considered as verbs in their own right.) They are also highly informal.

  • хайдеcode: bul promoted to code: bg (hàide) – "come on", "let's" e.g. hayde, po-barzo – "faster!"
  • яcode: bul promoted to code: bg (ya) – "let me" – exclusively when asking someone else for something. It can even be used on its own as a request or instruction (depending on the tone used), indicating that the speaker wants to partake in or try whatever the listener is doing. ya da vidya – let me see; ya? or ya! – "let me.../give me..."
  • недейcode: bul promoted to code: bg (nedèi) (plural nedèyte) – can be used to issue a negative instruction – e.g. nedey da idvash – "don't come" (nedey + subjunctive). In some dialects, the construction nedey idva (nedey + preterite) is used instead. As an interjection – nedei! – "don't!" (See section on imperative mood).

These particles can be combined with the vocative particles for greater effect, e.g. ya da vidya, be (let me see), or even exclusively in combinations with them, with no other elements, e.g. hayde, de! (come on!); nedey, de! (I told you not to!).

Bulgarian has several pronouns of quality which have no direct parallels in English – kakav (what sort of); takuv (this sort of); onakuv (that sort of – colloq.); nyakakav (some sort of); nikakav (no sort of); vsyakakav (every sort of); and the relative pronoun kakavto (the sort of ... that ... ). The adjective ednakuv ("the same") derives from the same radical.[9]

Example phrases include:

  • kakav chovek?! – "what person?!"; kakav chovek e toy? – what sort of person is he?
  • ne poznavam takuv – "I don't know any (people like that)" (lit. "I don't know this sort of (person)")
  • nyakakvi hora – lit. "some type of people", but the understood meaning is "a bunch of people I don't know"
  • vsyakakvi hora – "all sorts of people"
  • kakav iskash? – "which type do you want?"; nikakav! – "I don't want any!"/"none!"

An interesting phenomenon is that these can be strung along one after another in quite long constructions, e.g.

An extreme (colloquial) sentence, with almost no physical meaning in it whatsoever – yet which does have perfect meaning to the Bulgarian ear – would be :

  • "kakva e taya takava edna nyakakva nikakva?!"
  • inferred translation – "what kind of no-good person is she?"
  • literal translation: "what kind of – is – this one here (she) – this sort of – one – some sort of – no sort of"

—Note: the subject of the sentence is simply the pronoun "taya" (lit. "this one here"; colloq. "she").

Another interesting phenomenon that is observed in colloquial speech is the use of takova (neuter of takyv) not only as a substitute for an adjective, but also as a substitute for a verb. In that case the base form takova is used as the third person singular in the present indicative and all other forms are formed by analogy to other verbs in the language. Sometimes the "verb" may even acquire a derivational prefix that changes its meaning. Examples:

  • takovah ti shapkata – I did something to your hat (perhaps: I took your hat)
  • takovah si ochilata – I did something to my glasses (perhaps: I lost my glasses)
  • takovah se – I did something to myself (perhaps: I hurt myself)

Another use of takova in colloquial speech is the word takovata, which can be used as a substitution for a noun, but also, if the speaker doesn't remember or is not sure how to say something, they might say takovata and then pause to think about it:

  • i posle toy takovata... – and then he [no translation] ...
  • izyadoh ti takovata – I ate something of yours (perhaps: I ate your dessert). Here the word takovata is used as a substitution for a noun.

Similar "meaningless" expressions are extremely common in spoken Bulgarian, especially when the speaker is finding it difficult to describe something.

  • The commonly cited phenomenon of Bulgarian people shaking their head for "yes" and nodding for "no" is true but, with the influence of Western culture, ever rarer, and almost non-existent among the younger generation. (The shaking and nodding are not identical to the Western gestures. The "nod" for no is actually an upward movement of the head rather than a downward one, while the shaking of the head for yes is not completely horizontal, but also has a slight "wavy" aspect to it.) A dental click [ǀ] (similar to the English "tsk") also means "no" (informal), as does ъ-ъ [ʔəʔə] (the only occurrence in Bulgarian of the glottal stop). The two are often said with the upward 'nod'.
  • Bulgarian has an extensive vocabulary covering family relationships. The biggest range of words is for uncles and aunts, e.g. chicho (your father's brother), vuicho (your mother's brother), svako (your aunt's husband); an even larger number of synonyms for these three exists in the various dialects of Bulgarian, including kaleko, lelincho, tetin, etc. The words do not only refer to the closest members of the family (such as brat – brother, but batko/bate – older brother, sestra – sister, but kaka – older sister), but extend to its furthest reaches, e.g. badzhanak from Turkish bacanak (the relationship of the husbands of two sisters to each other) and etarva (the relationships of two brothers' wives to each other). For all in-laws, there are specific names, e.g. a woman's husband's brother is her dever and her husband's sister is her zalva. In the traditional rural extended family before 1900, there existed separate subcategories for different brothers-in-law/sisters-in-law of a woman with regard to their age relative to hers, e.g. instead of simply a dever there could be a braino (older), a draginko (younger), or an ubavenkyo (who is still a child).
  • As with many Slavic languages, the double negative in Bulgarian is grammatically correct, while some forms of it, when used instead of a single negative form, are grammatically incorrect. The following are literal translations of grammatically correct Bulgarian sentences that utilize a double or multiple negation: "Никой никъде никога нищо не е направил." (multiple negation without the use of a compound double negative form, i.e. using a listing of several successive single negation words) – "Nobody never nowhere nothing did not do." (translated as "nobody has ever done anything, anywhere"); "Никога не съм бил там." (double negation without the use of a compound double negative form, i.e. using a listing of several successive single negation words) – I never did not go there ("[I] have never been there"); Никога никакви чувства не съм имал! – I never no feelings had not have! (I have never had any feelings!). The same applies for Macedonian.

Vocabulary


Most of the vocabulary of modern Bulgarian consists of terms inherited from Proto-Slavic and local Bulgarian innovations and formations of those through the mediation of Old and Middle Bulgarian. The native terms in Bulgarian account for 70% to 80% of the lexicon.

The remaining 25% to 30% are loanwords from a number of languages, as well as derivations of such words. Bulgarian adopted also a few words of Thracian and Bulgar origin. The languages which have contributed most to Bulgarian are Russian, French and to a lesser extent English and Ottoman Turkish. Also Latin and Greek are the source of many words, used mostly in international terminology. Many Latin terms entered the language through Romanian, Aromanian, and Megleno-Romanian during Bulgarian Empires (present-day Bulgaria was part of Roman Empire), loanwords of Greek origin in Bulgarian are a product of the influence of the liturgical language of the Orthodox Church. Many of the numerous loanwords from another Turkic language, Ottoman Turkish (and, via Ottoman Turkish, from Arabic and Persian) which were adopted into Bulgarian during the long period of Ottoman rule, have been replaced with native terms. In addition, both specialized (usually coming from the field of science) and commonplace English words (notably abstract, commodity/service-related or technical terms) have also penetrated Bulgarian since the second half of the 20th century, especially since 1989. A noteworthy portion of this English-derived terminology has attained some unique features in the process of its introduction to native speakers, and this has resulted in peculiar derivations that set the newly formed loanwords apart from the original words (mainly in pronunciation), although many loanwords are completely identical to the source words. A growing number of international neologisms are also being widely adopted, causing controversy between younger generations who, in general, are raised in the era of digital globalization, and the older, more conservative educated purists. Prior to standardization in the 19th century, after a period of Ottoman Turkish as a lingua franca for about 5 centuries, vernacular Bulgarian is estimated to have been consisted of 50% Ottoman vocabulary, which contained predominantly (up to 80%) Arabic and Persian words.[50][51]

See also


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