Bulgarian language

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Bulgarian language
(български език (Balgarski Esik) bǎlgarski ezik )

Spoken in

BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria , Ukraine , Moldova , Hungary , North Macedonia , Greece , Serbia , Romania , Turkey
Moldova RepublicRepublic of Moldova 
Macedonia 1995Macedonia 
speaker 7.8 million speakers worldwide
Official status
Official language in BulgariaBulgaria Bulgaria Athos ( Greece ) European Union
Athos GreeceGreece 
European UnionEuropean Union 
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The Bulgarian language (Bulgarian български език , Balgarski Esik, bǎlgarski ezik [ˈbɤ̞ɫgɐrski ɛˈzik] ) belongs to the South Slavic group of the Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages . Together with the Macedonian language , it forms the subgroup of the East-South Slavic languages within the South Slavic group .

The Bulgarian language is spoken by around 8 million people; especially in Bulgaria (approx. 7.72 million), but also in other countries in Southeastern and Eastern Europe , in Greece (1970: 20,000), Romania (1970: 13,000), North Macedonia , Moldova (2005: 40,000), Ukraine (2001 : 205,000), Serbia (1991: 25,200), Belarus , Slovakia (2001: 1,176) and Turkey (2001: 30,000 so-called Pomaks ).

History and characteristics

Simeon's laudation written in old Bulgarian
Title page of the book Bulgarian Folk Songs by the Miladinowi Brothers

The Bulgarian language is one of the oldest documented Slavic languages. Their historical development can be recorded in three periods:

Old Bulgarian period (9th-11th centuries)

The period of the Old Bulgarian language covers the time between the adoption of the Slavic language as the official language in the First Bulgarian Empire and its fall under Byzantine rule in 1018. However, some linguists see the beginning of the period with the creation of the first Slavic alphabet, the Glagolitic alphabet, in 862 by Cyril philosopher . During this period of the Golden Age of Bulgarian culture , the Cyrillic alphabet was created at the court of the Bulgarian tsars in Preslav. Another center was Ohrid , which at that time was located in the western part of the Bulgarian Empire and produced a large part of the old Bulgarian literature. Because of the spread of the Old Bulgarian language and culture to the other Slavic peoples, one speaks of the “ First South Slavic Influence ” and the “Old Church Slavonic” language .

Central Bulgarian period (12th-14th centuries)

The period of the Central Bulgarian language spans the period between the restoration of the Bulgarian Empire and its subjugation by the Ottoman Turks. The language with the grammatical rules established by the Tarnow School in the orthography of Tarnowo became the basis for further linguistic development in the areas of today's states of Romania, Moldova and Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, so that one can assume a " Second South Slavic influence " this country speaks. The language of the Second Bulgarian Empire is still used today in the Slavic Orthodox Churches as the liturgical language , which is why it is also called Church Slavonic.

From the end of the 14th to the 16th century, Bulgarian was used by the Wallachian princes as the language of their offices.

New Bulgarian period (since the 15th century)

The New Bulgarian era is first documented by the so-called Damaskini of the 17th and 18th centuries. These were primarily the translated Greek sermons of the Damaskenos Studites , which were translated several times into Bulgarian and in which the most important characteristics of almost all New Bulgarian dialects can be found.

Changes in the development of Bulgarian culture and education during the Bulgarian National Revival established the need for secular education and literature written in the vernacular. Although the beginnings of the Bulgarian rebirth lie in Macedonia , the Eastern Bulgarians played a leading role in the development of the standard language.

Due to the extensive publication activity in the Eastern Bulgarian dialects , after the initial predominance of Western Bulgarian dialects, the former gradually dominated, which was due to the origin of the journalists. Thusly Vasil Aprilov , one of the biggest sponsors of the school and church being as Petar Beron and nayden gerov in the formation of the early Bulgarian language the ostbulgarischen dialects as the basis of the formation of a unified written language. The proximity of these dialects to Russian smoothed Russia's cultural influence on the Bulgarians. The first Bulgarian textbook represents a further step in this direction: The primer with various instructions , which was written in the Eastern Bulgarian dialects typical of the author's hometown, was published by Petar Beron in Kronstadt in 1824 .

Opposite them were other sponsors, such as the Miladinowi brothers from Struga . Her work Bulgarian Folk Songs was published in Zagreb in 1861 and was based on the Western Bulgarian dialects. The scholar Neofit Rilski also initially used the western Bulgarian dialects, but tried in his grammar (1835) to combine the eastern and western Bulgarian dialects. Josif Kowatschew campaigned for the central Bulgarian dialect, which should act as a link. However, during the 20th century, Western Bulgarian gained a stronger influence on the language.

Bulgarian must not be confused with Proto- Bulgarian , which was a Turkic language (a north-east Iranian language according to other theories ). Today, however, there are still some words in the New Bulgarian language that are derived from Proto-Bulgarian, such as: B. Тояга / Tojaga (stick) or Баща / Baschta (father). There are also a few words that come from the Thracian substratum, such as katerja se (to climb) from Thracian katerdass and kacna, kacvam (to settle down).


The Bulgarian dialects have been extensively researched and documented over the past hundred years. Traditionally, they are divided into two groups based on the pronunciation of the old Bulgarian ›jat‹ (also called jat border ): Eastern Bulgarian (pronunciation of ›jat‹  * ě as [ʲa] and e : bjal - beli ) and Western Bulgarian (pronunciation of ›jat <as [⁠ ɛ ⁠] : bel - beli ). Apart from that, some linguists define the Rupee dialect as a third dialect group, which has its own parallels to Old Bulgarian, as well as to neighboring Turkish and Greek dialects as characteristics. The dialect groups are divided into the following dialects:

Jat border, west of people * ì only as [⁠ ɛ ⁠] is represented
  • Western Bulgarian dialects:
    • Northwest Bulgarian dialects
    • Southwestern dialects
    • Transitional dialects
  • Eastern Bulgarian dialects:
    • Balkan mouth species
    • Mysian dialects
  • Rupzian dialects:
    • Rhodope mouth species
    • Eastern Romanian dialects: are spoken on the one hand in the southern half of the Thracian Plain up to the Turkish border, on the other hand in the Strandscha Mountains
    • West Rupzian dialects (transitional dialect)

Various phonetic, accentological, morphological and lexical isoglosses connect the western Bulgarian dialects of the Rhodope and Strandscha Mountains to the Black Sea with the dialects spoken east of the Jat border . These dialects have several characteristics in common, which is why some researchers define them as a third dialect group, Rupzian. Its properties include the reflex of the ancient Slavic * ě as an open e, the ancient Slavic д and ъ as an open * ô and the so-called triple article. The forms for singular and plural in these dialects are partly derived from case forms for the dative. Another feature is the preservation of numerous lexical archaisms , which often have parallels to Old Bulgarian, but to which there is no equivalent in the other Bulgarian dialects. Speakers of the Rhodope mouth species are on the one hand Christian and on the other hand Muslim Bulgarians ( Pomaks ). The difference in beliefs, which dates back to the middle of the 17th century, has hardly had any effect on the dialects, but affects in particular the vocabulary in the religious field and the Arabic-Turkish first names of Muslims .

Before the First World War, the Rhodope and Rubzian dialects extended beyond today's Bulgarian state border. The Thracian dialects in connection with Turkish and partly also with Greek dialects were widespread as far as the coast of the Aegean Sea .

The transition dialects each have characteristics of two languages ​​(Serbian and Bulgarian or Macedonian and Bulgarian) and are determined by the Bulgarian dialect continuum . The affiliation of these dialects, which continues on the other side of the border in Serbia and Macedonia, was in the past among Serbian and is now controversial among Macedonian and Bulgarian linguists. While some stretched the Bulgarian language border far to the west as far as Niš , Prizren and Ohrid , the other stretched the language border in the east to Sofia and the entire Pirin Mountains (Macedonism). For this reason, Macedonian is sometimes assigned to Bulgarian as a dialect in Bulgaria. Since there is no sufficient linguistic criterion for distance between these dialects and the respective languages, only the criterion of the national self-identification of the speakers and the standard language recognized by them can be used. According to this, the dialects west of today's Bulgarian state border would be designated as Serbian or Macedonian and those east of the state border as Bulgarian or as dialects assigned to Bulgarian.

The language closest to Bulgarian is Macedonian .


The vocabulary consists mainly of Slavic hereditary words ; Loan words come mainly from Greek and Turkish . Since the 19th century there have been repeated efforts to replace Turkish words with Slavic words, which mainly come from Russian . These efforts had an impact primarily on the written language; the colloquial language is still rich in Turkish elements, the majority of which (e.g. Диван / divan for sofa , Тефтер / tefter for notebook; Пехливан / Pehlivan for wrestler) are of Arabic and Persian origin. In the technical field, many French and German words have been adopted (see below), as well as recently anglicisms .


Bulgarian cursive alphabet.png

Bulgarian is written in the Bulgarian variant of the Cyrillic script . The Bulgarian alphabet ( Азбука / Asbuka ) consists of 30 letters in the following order:

а б в г д е ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ь ю я
а б в г д е ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ь ю я

In ancient texts, the letters Ѣ / ѣ ( Jat ; pronunciation usually, depending on the context, such as е or я ; e.g. голѣм 'goljam' ↔ голѣми 'golemi'; original pronunciation [æː] ) and Ѫ / ѫ ( Big Jus , голям юс '; debate usually [⁠ ɐ ⁠] ; pronounce [ɔ] ; the letter should not use the Cyrillic letters Small Jus ѧ / ѧ be confused) emerge. In today's Bulgarian, however, these old characters are no longer used; they were abolished in the course of a spelling reform in 1945.

The so-called cursive forms are often used for the lower case letters, also in the upright font. Since these differ greatly from the (Russian) standard forms that appear in most lexicons, people without knowledge of Slavic languages ​​(tourists etc.) often have problems deciphering street signs, for example.

When spelling, the vowel sound value is retained. The consonant is always the sound ъ: (debate [⁠ ə ⁠] adjusted); Exceptions are the й, which is spelled as i kratko (и кратко, ʿshort iʾ) and the ь , which is spelled as er malăk (ер малък, ʿkleines Jerʾ). This results in the following spelling alphabet in Bulgarian:

Letter а б в г д е ж з и й к л м н о
Bulgarian pronunciation а бъ въ гъ дъ е жъ зъ и и кратко къ лъ мъ нъ о
German pronunciation a b ă there e schă (voiced) să (voiced) i i kratko n / A O
IPA debate a b ə ɛ ʒ ə z ə i iˈkratko ɫ ə ɔ
Letter п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ь ю я
Bulgarian pronunciation пъ ръ съ тъ у фъ хъ цъ чъ шъ щъ ъ ер малък ю я
German pronunciation ßă u fa chă cha schă schtă ă he malăk ju Yes
IPA debate u x ə tsə t ʃ ə / tʃ ʲ ə ʃə ʃtə ə ɛrˈmaɫək ju Yes

This represents a clear deviation from German, but also from Russian (also written in Cyrillic) . Examples:

  • Letter "К": Bulgarian [kə] ↔ German and Russian [kaː]
  • Letter "M": Bulgarian [mə] ↔ German and Russian [ɛm]
  • Letter "T": Bulgarian [tə] ↔ German and Russian [te]


Most letters are generally pronounced like in German or like their equivalents in German. The main differences to the standard German pronunciation lie

  • in the pronunciation of the r sound (rolled with the tongue)
  • in the pronunciation of the l sound (see table)
  • in the fact that the ə sound (unstressed German e ) can also occur in a stressed position
  • in the somewhat breathy pronunciation of the ch sound (see table)
  • in the palatalization , especially audible at l and n

Palatalizations are not as common as in Russian, for example . Strong differences between palatalized and non-palatalized pronunciation are only clearly audible with a few letters, e.g. B. for n and l :

  • See син [sin] ↔ синьо [siɲo]; ñ as in "España" or as gn in "Cognac" [ kɔɲak ]
  • Cf. ла (кукла - doll) [ l as in Dutch ] ↔ ле (зеле - cabbage) [German l ] (not palatized - [ ɫɛ ]) ↔ ля (леля - aunt) [roughly lj or as l in Italian gli in Tagliatelle] .

As in other Slavic languages ​​and in German, there is a hardening of the final voice .

Cyrillic ISO 9 Official transliteration IPA phonetic transcription Bulgarian pronunciation of the letter in the alphabet Description of sound formation with German phonetics
А а A a A a a "A" / "а" like German a
Б б B b B b b "Be" (with a murmur) / "бъ" like German b
В в V v V v v "We" (with a murmur) / "въ" like German w
Г г G g G g ɡ "Ge" (with a murmur) / "гъ" like German g
Д д D d D d d "De" (with a murmur) / "дъ" like German d
Е е E e E e ɛ "E" / "е" like German e like in "he" or "inheritance law"
Ж ж Ž ž Zh zh ʒ "Sche" (with a murmur) / "жъ" voiced sch -sound as in "Journal" or "garage"
З з Z z Z z z "Se" (with a murmur) / "зъ" voiced s as in "say"
И и I i I i i "I" / "и" like German bright i in "Licht" or "Sie"
Й й J j Y y j "I kratko" / "и кратко" ("short i") like German j
К к K k K k k "K" (with a murmur) / "къ" like German k
Л л L l L l l
([ ɫ ], [ ʎ ])
"Le" (with a murmur) / "лъ"
  • before а , о , у , ъ and consonants more dull ( velar ) than in German, comparable to the l in Dutch or with English "well"
  • before e and и often roughly like German l
  • before ь (ьо), ю , я and often also before e and и clearly palatalized , roughly like gl in Italian "Ta gl iatelle"
М м M m M m m "Me" (with a murmur) / "мъ" like German m
Н н N n N n n "Ne" (with a murmur) / "нъ"
  • usually like German n
  • before ь (ьо), ю , я (regionally also before e and и ) clearly palatalized, roughly like ñ in "España" or gn in "Cognac"
О o O o O o ɔ "O" / "о" like German o
П п P p P p p "Pe" (with a murmur) / "пъ" like German p
Р р R r R r r "Re" (with a murmur) / "ръ" rolled tongue- r
С с S s S s s "Se" / "съ" always voiceless like German ß
Т т T t T t t "Te" (with a murmur) / "тъ" like German t
У у U u U u u "U" / "у" like German u
Ф ф F f F f f "Fe" (with a murmur) / "фъ" like German f
Х х H h H h x "Che" (with a murmur) / "хъ" like German ch in "make"
Ц ц C c Ts ts ʦ "Tse" (with a murmur) / "цъ" like German z
Ч ч Č č Ch ch ʧ "Tsche" (with a murmur) / "чъ" like German ch in "Bye"
Ш ш Š š Sh sh ʃ "Sche" (with a murmur) / "шъ" like German sch in "Scheibe"
Щ щ Ŝ ŝ Sht sht / ʃt / "Schte" (with a murmur) / "щъ" like German shit in "nascht"
Ъ ъ ʺ A a / ə /
([ ɤ̞ ], [ ɐ ], [ ɤ ])
Audio file / audio sample ъ ? / i "e" (murmur) / "ер голям" ("big Jer") like Romanian ă . Roughly like an unstressed German e in "succeed". But can also go in the direction of dull a , roughly like German he at the end of the word as in "aber".
Ь ь ʹ Y y ʲ "Ер малък" ("little Jer"); mostly “jo” for the combination ьо Palatalizes preceding consonants. Only occurs together with о in the middle of the word as ьо , pronunciation like German jo in "yoke".

Very rarely, with e as ьe , then debate each + Palatalisierung.

Ю ю Û û Yu yu / ju / "Ju" / "ю" like German ju in "Julian". Palatalizes preceding consonants and can often go in the direction ü , e.g. B. Кюстендил = "[ Küstendil ]"
Я я Â â Ya ya / yes / "Yes" / "я" like German yes in "Jasmin". Palatalizes preceding consonants.


Bulgarian grammar differs from other Slavic languages ​​in many ways. Neighboring languages ​​such as B. Albanian or Romanian , which are not themselves Slavic languages, have some of the same characteristics. This is why these languages ​​are also grouped under the term Balkan languages , although they are not closely related to one another. In this context one speaks of a language union .

Declination, article

Among the Slavic languages ​​there are articles only in Bulgarian and the closely related Macedonian . In contrast to many other languages, certain articles are appended to the noun (or the first word of its noun group) (postposed articles). In Bulgarian there are only very weakly pronounced Kasūs , except in pronouns and the article forms of the masculine they do not appear. In the few cases where they are visible, a distinction is made between nominative , dative and accusative ; the genitive is replaced by the preposition на + dative (comparable to the colloquial replacement of the genitive in German with von + dative).

The vocative is used when communicating with friends and family .


The Bulgarian has a very distinctive shape diversity of verbs . A distinction nine different tenses : present , two Futurformen ( future tense and future tense exactum ), four past tenses ( imperfect , Aorist , Perfect , perfect progressive ) and two mixed forms of past and future tense, wherein Aorist and imperfect as so-called (s u..). Synthetic forms Perfect and past perfect are called periphrastic forms of past tenses. The synthetic forms are not composed, whereas the periphrastic forms are mostly composed. Example: аз четох [aorist] “I have read (once)” and аз четях [past tense] “I read” are non-compound past tenses; on the other hand, аз съм чел [perfect] “I have read” and аз бях чел [ past perfect ] “I had read” are just like compound past tenses in German, which are always formed using the auxiliary verb съм “sein”. As becomes clear, the rendering of the aorist (which does not exist in German) is extremely difficult, since the uniqueness of the action in German usage can only be paraphrased and does not represent a separate grammatical category. Most of the time, the aorist in German is simply given with the perfect perfect.

In addition, there are two “mixed forms” of future and past, namely the future tense praeteriti and the rather uncommon future tense exactum praeteriti . The latter two forms are used to express that in the past one assumed that something would happen; an equivalent in German would be about a construction as "thought I, that he would do" or "He wanted to do" (future tense past tense) or "I thought he would have it done now" or "He was already up have done yesterday ” (future tense exactum praeteriti). Due to the fact that the act described may not have been carried out after all, these actually indicative forms often also take on the function of the subjunctive .

Verbal aspect

Like other Slavic languages, Bulgarian makes use of the grammatical category of the verbal aspect in (almost) all tenses . Thus, purely mathematically, there are 9 · 2 = 18 different combinations of aspect and tense. However, some aspect-tense pairs are very rare (e.g. imperfect perfect verbs).

The so-called "aspect paradigm" in Bulgarian is based on the fact that an action on the part of the speaker can be viewed in two different ways (the word aspect is derived from the Latin aspicere , `` see, look, look ''):

  • If the speaker wants to communicate the course , the duration or the repetition of an action, he uses the imperfect or unfinished aspect. This also expresses a general statement of an event. Imperfective verbs are often characterized by the suffix -ва, e.g. B. купу ва м (buy), ид ва м (come).
  • On the other hand, if the speaker wants to describe the result or the uniqueness of a process or a fact, he uses the perfective or completed aspect. Perfective verbs often have the suffix -н added to the root of the word, or they are expanded with the prefix на- or по-, e.g. B. срещ н a се (meet), по търся (search), на пиша (write, write down).
  • As mentioned above, (almost) every verb can then be assigned two aspect forms, even in all tenses. Usually only the imperfect form is used in the present tense; at other times, too, certain pairs of aspect and tense are highly uncommon. Even after certain preceding verb forms which introduce the beginning, continuation or end of an action, the verb form always follows in the imperfective aspect, e.g. B. започвам да (begin to) ... + imperfect aspect. E.g .: започвам да пиша - start to write. There is also a perfective form of the verb започвам itself: започ н а. The following verb (in our case "пиша" - to write) is always given in the imperfective aspect mode.

Examples of aspect pairs:

unfinished accomplished
пиша ("pischa") , German '(often) to write' на пиша ("napischa") , German 'to write (once)'
срещам се ("sreschtam se") , German ' to meet (often)' срещ н а се ("sreschtna se") , German ' to meet (once)'
идвам ("idwam") , German ' to come' дойда ("doida") , German ' to come'

The formation of the aspect pairs in Bulgarian is very diverse and complex (in contrast to Russian). In order to generate perfect forms from imperfect verbs, around 18 possible prefixes and suffixes can be identified.

The division of the verbs into perfect and imperfect is also continued in the tenses and has to be adapted to the corresponding form of the individual tenses, which leads to an almost unmanageable abundance of different forms of formation of conjugation classes and conjugation subclasses. In addition, with some verbs only one of the two doublet forms exists (these forms are then called imperfectives tantum or perfective tantum ). Furthermore, perfective verbs can often be secondary imperfect, which can lead to form triplets, e.g. B. пиша (imperfect) → на пиша (perfective) → напис ва м (secondary imperfect). In German, most of the perfective tenses (here the term has nothing to do with the tense “perfect”!) - like the aorist - due to the lack of an aspect paradigm in the Germanic language groups, can usually only be rendered meaninglessly (provided that they can be translated with additional words such as once or often does not work).

The verbal aspects generally prove to be extremely difficult for the non-native speaker when learning a Slavic language and lead, among other things, to the fact that Slavic languages ​​are generally considered to be relatively difficult to learn.

Further verb forms

The variety of participles is also typical for Slavic languages : present participle active, active participle of the past tense, active participle of the aorist, passive participle of the present, passive participle of the aorist, passive participle praeteriti, adverbial participle, as well as the so-called "residual infinitive", which is rarely encountered.

Interestingly, as with Modern Greek ,  there is no infinitive in Bulgarian - also in contrast to other Slavic and most of the other Indo-European languages . In word lists such as dictionaries, the first person singular present indicative active is normally used in its place (which is then referred to as the “nominal form” of the verb). In sentence constructions such as "Would you like to eat ?" ("Essen" in German in the infinitive), the second verb in conjugated form is added instead with the word да (da): "Искаш ли да ядеш ?" ("Iskasch li da jadesch?" "; Literally translated roughly:" Would you like you to eat ? ").

Verb modes

In addition to the indicative , imperative and conditional (which roughly assumes the function of the subjunctive in German ), there are also verb modes , the conclusive (indicates that one situation can be logically deduced from another), the renarative (indicates that the speaker is not aware of a situation himself, but rather that he passes on the description of a third party, comparable to indirect speech in German) as well as the dubitative renarative (like renarative; however, the speaker doubts the truth content).


For decision-making questions (i.e. sentences to which a yes / no answer is expected) the particle ли  (li) is almost always used. It occurs only for decision-making questions, but not for other questions, and is typically placed after the verb or a part of the question that is particularly emphasized by it. Examples:

  • Do you want to eat? - "[Ти] искаш ли да ядеш?" ("[Ti] Iskasch li da jadesch?")
  • Do you want to eat? - "Ти ли искаш да ядеш?" ("Ti li iskasch da jadesch?") - the "you" is highlighted. Omitting ли in this example is admissible, the sentence but would give a different meaning: "Ти искаш да ядеш?" - the goal is the amazement of the question grantor to express. A suitable translation of this sentence in German would be: "So you want to eat?"
  • Compare with this: Where are you? - "Къде си [ти]?" ("Kăde si [ti]?") - no decision-making question, therefore without ли . That this is a question is also evident from the word къде (where). This makes the use of ли superfluous - but this would not be wrong and can give the question a different nuance. For example:
"Къде ли си ти?" (Kade ni si ti) - "Where could you be now?"
"Накъде отива той?" (Nakade otiwa toj) - "Where is he going?"
"Накъде ли отива той?" (Nakade li otiwa toj) - "Where could he want to go now?"
"? Накъде пък се отправи този" (Nakade pak se otprawi tosi) - "Where will also these now go?" (Emphasis on this : amazement that even this somewhere, wants although one example, has said that all stick around. to like)
"Накъде ли пък се отправи този?" (Nakade li pak se otprawi tosi) - "Where does he want to go?" (Emphasis on the goal)
"Кога ли и мен ще ме трясне някой гръм?" (Koga li i men schte me trjasne njakoj gram) - "When will I be struck by lightning?"
While the translations (right) are not accurate, they do reflect the nuances in meaning created by using ли .

Some Bulgarian words and phrases

First, a few short pronunciation notes for the following table:

  • ə denotes the Bulgarian “Murmelvowal” ( unrounded, semi-closed back tongue vowel ) ъ , which is pronounced roughly like the e in murm e ln .
  • The syllable to be emphasized is highlighted with an accent mark.
  • e is always pronounced like ä , even in an unstressed position (otherwise it would be confused with ъ !)
  • s is always pronounced voiced, as in s humming
  • ß is always pronounced unvoiced, as in ha ss s
  • sh is a voiced sh , i.e. the same sound as the g in Gara g e
  • ll is a dark l , similar to we ll in English
German Bulgarian pronunciation
Day ден the
night нощ noscht
child дете deté
school училище uchílischte
Fire огън ógən
I work аз работя as rabótja
Good day. Добър ден. Dóbər den.
Good Morning. Добро утро. Dobró útro.
Hello! Здравей! Sdrawéj!
How are you? Как си / сте? Kak ßi / ßte?
I am fine. Добре съм. Dobré ßəm.
Yes да there
No не no
maybe (can be) може би moshe bi
thank you благодаря bllagodarjà
Sorry моля mólja
What's this? Какво е това? Kakwó e towá?

Language example

Universal Declaration of Human Rights , Article 1:

Член 1: Всички хора се раждат свободни и равни по достойнство и права. Tе са надарени с разум и съвест и следва да се отнасят помежду си в дух на братство.
Chlen parwi: Vsitschki chora se raschdat swobodim i rawin po dostojnstwo i prawa. Te sa nadareni s rasum i sawest i sledwa da se otnasjat pomeschdu si w duch na bratstwo.
Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should meet one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

German words adopted into the Bulgarian language

The consonants are pronounced harder, long vowels are short (see drill) and the individual syllables are often stressed differently.

  • Paragraph (абзац)
  • (Sports) suit (анцуг)
  • Exhaust (ауспух, Auspuch)
  • Mobile crane (Автокран, Awtokran)
  • Whiskers (бакенбард, Bakenbart)
  • Baking powder (бакпулвер, Bakpulwer)
  • Excavator (Багер, Bager)
  • Drill (бормашина, Bormaschina)
  • Diesel (Дизел, Disel)
  • Edelweiss (еделвайс, Edelwajs)
  • Endgame (ендшпил, Endschpil)
  • (Screw) socket (фасунга, socketa)
  • Shuttlecock (федербал, feather ball)
  • Fireworks (фойерверк, Fojerwerk)
  • Feldscher (Фелдшер)
  • (lazy) business (гешефт, business)
  • Insulating tape (изолирбанд, insulating tape)
  • Health resort (курорт)
  • Landscape (ландшафт)
  • Leitmotiv (лайтмотив, Lajtmotiv)
  • Liver sausage (лебервурст)
  • Mouthpiece (мундщук, Mundschtuk)
  • Muesli (мюсли, Mjusli)
  • (Practice) place (плац)
  • Point (пункт)
  • Disc (шайба, Schajba)
  • Sunroof (шибидах, Schibidach)
  • loops (шлайфам, Schlajfam)
  • Shot (ride) (шус)
  • Plug (щекер, Schteker)
  • Stopper (щепсел, peg)
  • (Apple) strudel (щрудел)
  • Joke (виц, Wiz)
  • Child prodigy (вундеркинд)
  • Sausage (Вурст)
  • Zeitnot (цайтнот, Zajtnot)
  • Cement (цимент, Ziment)
  • Dial (циферблат, Ziferblat)
  • Zugzwang (цугцванг)

Comparison with the Russian language

Bulgarian shows numerous linguistic differences to Russian and most other Slavic languages, which result from its membership in the Balkan language federation, such as the almost complete loss of the case (case syncretism) or the existence of subsequent (postponed) articles. Furthermore, there are many more tenses in Bulgarian than in Russian.

When it comes to the alphabet, there are some small differences from Russian.

  • The most important difference is that the ъ sign is not a hard sign, but a vowel specific to Bulgarian . Therefore, it is both small ъ and large Ъ , and words can with ъ start ( ъгъл , angle 'and derived words). Its sound value corresponds to ă in Romanian, i.e. roughly a mute e in German, e.g. B. in murm e ln , or the sound value of the first vowel of the word Y psilon. The sound is therefore significantly darker than the Russian ы . Conversely, ы does not appear in the Bulgarian script.
  • щ is pronounced “ шт ” (ʃt).
  • In general, the unjoted vowels are usually pronounced clearly, i.e. not joted or diphthonged as in Russian. For example, Bulgarian е is pronounced like Russian э ; the sign э does not exist in Bulgarian. A palatalization of consonants occurs much less frequently than in the other Slavic languages, namely only before я , ю and ь (о) ; regional sometimes also before е and и . Furthermore, the palatalization never occurs at the end of the word.

The spelling is much easier:

  • The soft sign ь occurs (almost) exclusively in the middle of the word before о as ьо ; this combination corresponds to the Russian ё . The combinations ьи and ье are extremely rare and can only occur with the Cyrillic transcription of foreign names, e.g. B. in "Вал ье хо" (Wal'echo)
  • There is no hardship mark (see above)
  • No decision whether и or ы (since there is no ы )
  • No decision whether e or э (since there is no э )
  • When reading a text, no decision on whether a е possibly a non-tendered ё (since it takes ё always ьо writes, s. O.)
  • Almost no doubling of letters (especially doubling of consonants is mostly purely morphological , e.g. от + тамоттам or singular лекция → plural лекции , and thus easier to remember; an exception is the formation of feminine, neuter and Plural forms of adjectives that end in -нен : временен (m, provisional) → временна (f, provisional) not to be confused with времена - the plural form of време (time); however, почтен (m, decent)) → почтен ( m, decent)) f, decent).
  • A specialty is the spelling of с (with) and в (in). Before words that begin with the letters c or з , the long form със is written instead of с , e.g. E.g .: със сила (with strength), със задача (with the task). Likewise, instead of в, the long form във is written in front of words that begin with в or ф e.g. E.g .: във Венеция (Waw Wenezija (in Venice)), във Франкфурт (Waw Frankfurt (in Frankfurt)). This can bsw. can be compared with English, where it is not an apple but an apple .


  • Vassilka Radeva, Hilmar Walter, Jordan Pencev, Sigrun Comati: Bulgarian grammar - basic morphological and syntactic features . Ed .: Vassilka Radeva. Helmut Buske, 2003, ISBN 978-3-87548-321-5 .
  • Hildegard Ehrismann-Klinger, Prof. Dr. Rumjana Pavlova: Pons: Power course for beginners, Bulgarian . Ernst-Klett, 2005, ISBN 3-12-561190-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ethnologue
  2. ^ Dalby: Dictionary of Languages. 2007.
  3. europa.eu
  4. ^ Günter Prinzing : Ohrid . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 6, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1993, ISBN 3-7608-8906-9 , Sp. 1376-1380. (here Sp. 1377: "... The Ohrid school produced a large part of the (old) Bulgarian literature.")
  5. ^ Nina Janich, Albrecht Greule : Language cultures in Europe: an international handbook. Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002, p. 28.
  6. ^ Nina Janich, Albrecht Greule: Language cultures in Europe: an international handbook. Gunter Narr Verlag, 2002, p. 29.
  7. Lexicon on the History of Southeastern Europe , p. 141
  8. Claudia Weber : In Search of the Nation: Culture of Remembrance in Bulgaria from 1878-1944. LIT Verlag, Berlin / Hamburg / Münster 2006, ISBN 3-8258-7736-1 , pp. 39–46.
  9. Ivan Duridanov: The role of palaeobalkan studies for Southeastern European linguistics in: The Southeastern European Sciences in the New Century: Files from the conference from 16. – 19. October 1999 at the University of Leipzig, edited by Uwe Hinrichs and Uwe Büttner, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag , 2000, pp. 26/27 books.google.de