Bulgarian - interesting facts
The Bulgarian language serves as the official language of Bulgaria and is also recognised as one of the official languages of the European Union. Furthermore, it is used by national minorities in countries like Serbia, Greece, and Turkey. Over 9 million people worldwide communicate in Bulgarian, comprising approximately 0.13% of the global population. Beyond Bulgaria, the language also enjoys the status of a minority language in Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary.
Belonging to the South Slavic language group, the Bulgarian language has been shaped by centuries of influence from other languages, such as Greek, Turkish, and Russian. This has contributed significantly to its development and evolution. The Old Bulgarian language was crucial in promoting literacy among other Slavic languages. Initially, the Glagolitic alphabet was used for writing Bulgarian, but Cyrillic replaced it at the turn of the 8th and 9th centuries. As the language continued to develop, it absorbed numerous words from Greek and, particularly, Turkish. However, the Bulgarian language experienced a renaissance in the 19th century, following the end of Turkish occupation in Bulgarian territories, with many Turkish-origin words being replaced by Russian borrowings.
In Bulgaria, about 70 dialects of the Bulgarian language have been identified, categorised into two major groups: Western (known as 'hard speech') and Eastern ('soft speech'). The primary phonetic difference between them revolves around the varying pronunciations of the old Slavic vowel 'yat' (Ѣ). Due to numerous structural similarities, some Bulgarian linguists even regard the Macedonian language as a Bulgarian dialect.
Compared to other Slavic languages, one distinguishing feature of Bulgarian is the absence of noun declension by case. Another peculiarity is using definite articles as suffixes attached to the noun; for example, 'chovek' (human) becomes 'chovekŭt' (the human). The Bulgarian verb system is comparatively complex due to its ability to inflect and the presence of nine grammatical tenses. In contemporary Bulgarian, the infinitive form doesn't exist, so the base form of the verb is considered to be its 1st person singular present tense form.
In Bulgarian, the stress is movable, and sometimes, differences in word stress can result in semantic differences. The longest word in Bulgarian is considered to be the 39-letter verb 'neprotivokonstitutsionstvuvatelstvuvayte', meaning 'do not engage in anti-constitutional actions'.
The Bulgarian language's influence on other languages is evident in several borrowed words. For instance, words such as 'cyrillic', 'circus', 'jeans', 'shirt', and certain dishes like 'shopska salad' and 'banitsa' have found their way into other languages from Bulgarian. However, the amount of borrowed words from Bulgarian is relatively small compared to other languages.
Another influence of the Bulgarian language can be seen in certain grammatical constructs' similarities. Both languages use endings that define the gender and number of words. In Bulgarian, such endings are more complex, but the similarity in this aspect can facilitate language learning.
The norms of the Bulgarian language are regulated by the Bulgarian Language Institute, which is part of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
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