Bulgarian


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Bulgarian

the official language of Bulgaria, belonging to the S Slavonic branch of the Indo-European family

Bulgarian

 

the language of the Bulgarians, one of the southern group of Slavic languages. More than 7 million people speak Bulgarian (1965). Phonetic features of Bulgarian include the combinations sht and zhd (from the ancient *tj, *dj), as in veshch/svecha “candle” and mezhda/mezha “boundary”; the presence of the vowel instead of the ancient and b̄, as in sb̄ n/son “sleep” and ρb̄ n/pen’ “tree stump”; and the ancient nasal Q̨, as in db̄ b/dub “oak.” [The first word in the pair is the Bulgarian reflex; the second, the Russian reflex.] Bulgarian gradually lost its declensions and synthetic forms of the comparative degree. (Case relations are expressed by prepositions.) Bulgarian acquired a postpositive definite article. Literary Bulgarian is a language with an ancient tradition of writing. It originally used the Greek uncial script. The Slavic script (886) created by the enlighteners Cyril and Methodius arose on the basis of this script. The first Slavic books translated from Greek were written in the Thessalian Slavic dialect, which is the basis of Old Church Slavonic. It is also called Old Bulgarian. It was used in Bulgarian literature of the tenth and 11th centuries. The period from the 12th to 16th centuries marked the development of Middle Bulgarian literary language. The neo-Bulgarian period in the history of the Bulgarian literary language begins in the second half of the 16th century with the spread of the Damascenes and other didactic church literature; this literature is characterized by the abandonment of the ancient bookish language in favor of the living, popular speech. Modern literary Bulgarian is derived from the northeastern Bulgarian dialects; it took shape toward the second half of the 19th century (the work of P. Slaveikov, L. Karavelov, Kh. Botev, and I. Vazov).

REFERENCES

Maslov, Iu. S. Ocherk bolgarskoi grammatiki. Moscow, 1956.
Bernshtein, S. B. Bolgarsko-russkii slovar’. Moscow, 1953.
Tsonev, B. Istoriia na bulgarskii ezik, vol. 1, 2nd. ed. Sofia, 1940. Vol. 2: Sofia, 1934. Vol. 3: Sofia, 1937.
Mirchev, K. Istoricheska gramatika na bulgarskiia ezik, 2nd ed. Sofia, 1963.
Mladenov, S. Geschichte der bulgarischen Sprache. Berlin, 1929.
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