Friday, 9 November 2012

Bulgar toponyms

Lower land of Ohrid

"During the reign of Anastasius, Bulgars started to conquer this land, they passed to Bъdyne [Vidin] and firstly begun to conquer the Lower land of Ohrid and later all of it."
--Bulgarian translation of the Manasios Chronicle made during the reign of John-Alexander, 14th c.

According to early historical sources, Bulgars settled permanently in Srem and Singindunum (Belgrade) since the 5-6th century AD. Consequently, soon after that, Bulgars settled the territory of old Macedonia – dolna zemya ohridska [the Lower Land of Ohrid]. According to scripts left by the Turnovo kings, Bulgars settled Macedonia at the beginning of the 6th century, at the time of Emperor Anastasios.

Romania and Hungary

Banat, Turnu Mъgurele, Pest ...

Dwelling since 4th century AD on both sides of the Danube, Bulgars left behind many names of fortresses and cities. Their strongholds are recognized by specific endings -shi, -ik, -ich (-ech, -esh) of their names, but also in many other ancient features. North and east of Middle Danube, in the Roman-named region of Panonia, one finds Bulgar-sounding names like Brassó, Krassó, Barca, and Barót [István Bóna]. It is possible that, both in the Tisza region and Transylvania, the Bulgar overlords relied on the remnants of another ethnic group: the Onogur-Bulgars (Wangars), who had moved into the region in the same period as the Danubian Bulgars. In this case, the above Bulgar-type toponyms might well be of Onogur-Bulgar origin [István Bóna]. Transylvania obtains from Bulgars the name Banat, which probably comes from the eastern word ban (mountain), which is found today in the Pamir languages and in the lands of the former Caucasian Bulgars. Banat in Pamirian literally means 'the mountains' and is almost a complete copy of the Latin name of Transylvania and the Slavic name of that district – zagura, which comes from the phrase za guru – 'behind the mountain'. This specifically Bulgar name – Banat – was used throughout the early Middle Ages along with the Slavic name Zagura (Zagora). And to the south and west of Transylvania, on the whole territory between the Danube and the Carpathians, appeared dozens of villages with Bulgar names - Baile, Bъilesht, Voilovo (Boilovo), Balvanesht (from balvan, 'idol'), Turda (salt mine), Turtava (in Slavic slanik, 'salt pad'), Zhupanek, Chukich, Tilva (pointed iron stake), Halъnga, Turnu Mъgurele, Pъunesht

(from paun, 'peacock'), Toyaga (staff), Balsha, Kraguesht (from kraguy, 'hunter falcon'), Telesh (cf. the name of knyaz Telets), Telesh-Birnich, Hъrsesht, Zidone, Zidu, Sibin – from the Bulgar boyar name Sibin (renamed by the Romanians in Sibiu), Gubera, Almъzhiu, Segarcha, Mъndra (probably the same as the Mundraga fortress, in which Simeon took defence in the war with the Magyars), Tamburesht, Tsiguresh, Tsutsulesht, Tъtъran, Botorodzhi, Belchug, Tekuch-Kalinderu, Talpa-Trivalia, Okaba, Petrish, Kuzhmir, Bihar (Biharya), Hust, Bъlgrad (Gyulafehérvár), Beket, and others. Some of these names have their close counterparts further east. For example, the name Halъnga reminds the word Halanga or Halandzh characteristic of Volga Bulgars and Pamir, and the names of Bihar, Hust and Beket remind the Pamir cities Bukhara, Host, and Bakat - the last of which was mentioned as early as 550 AD. The name of the former town Pest (Peshta) – one of the towns that make today Budapest – is also of ancient Eastern origin which in Pamirian literally means 'the slope, the hill'.

Most of those names were found until recently in Romanian and Hungarian maps, and some exist even today. Almost the whole territory of present-day Romania is studded with ancient and medieval Bulgar names. The reason for this is not difficult to explain, since the oldest Bulgarian chronicle – Nominalia of the Bulgar kanas (kniazes), composed around 765, points out that for more than five centuries Bulgars had a country beyond the Danube ("ob onu stranu Dunaia").


Srem, Belgrade, Kragujevac, Morava, Tumba, Nish, Pirot

But these traces are found not only in Romania and Hungary. They are also preserved in the region that was the earliest Bulgar conquest on the south side of the Danube, located in today eastern Serbia.

Knyaz Krum Bulgaria

The first permanently controlled Bulgar land in the Balkans, recognized by Rome, is South-Danubian Panonia, with the major cities of Sirmium, Singindunum and Bononia [Angelov]. The arrival of Bulgars in this area was marked by a whole series of important changes. The city Sirmium got its new name Srem and the rivers Timakus and Margus were renamed in Timok and Morava. The river flowing to the west of Srem (today Serbianized as Mitrovica) got the name Kolubara. Old Singindunum became widely known as Alba Bulgarica ('Bulgarian town'). The Romano-Byzantine castle of Singindunum had white stone ramparts, and the Bulgars named it Belgrad, meaning 'White Castle' which contrastingly corresponds with the present-day Hungarian town Csongrád = cherni grad = 'black castle' [István Bóna]. Near Belgrade, a new fortress was built with the Bulgar name Tetel. All these changes occurred in the fifth-sixth century, when South-Danubian Pannonia was settled by the Bulgars. Even today most of the rivers flowing through eastern Serbia have the names given to them in that ancient Bulgar times.

The changes that Bulgars made in the names of those rivers and towns have their own interesting history. Why, for example, the river, called Margus in Roman times was renamed by Bulgars to Morava? The reason is that in the eastern regions, from which Bulgars arrived, the word murava occurred which means 'a quiet, peaceful river'. Like many other peoples, Bulgars liked to name things in simple words that make sense to them. And that is why they translated in their language most foreign names that they found in the Balkans. They did so not only with the names of rivers, but with the names of towns. In the oldest Bulgar centers of the Balkans – the land between Vidin and Srem – many ancient town names sound even today. Kragujevac received its name from the famous Bulgar hunting falcons – kragui – raised by specially designated people – kraguyari. Even today in Eastern Caucasus in areas once inhabited by Bulgars, the word kraguy means 'falcon'. The village Kutugertsi near Timok received its name from the name of the former Bulgar healers called kutugeri. Later this name became one of the names of the Bulgarian Bogomils. Tumba peak in Timok region also has an old Bulgar name. In one of the inscriptions of Omurtag, the tall mound halfway between the Danube and Pliska was called with the same word Tumba, and today in the old Bulgar territories around Pamir, mounts bear the names Tube and Tyube. Ancient Bulgar language echoes from the names of many peaks and mountains in this region – Vrъshka Chuka, Kom, Svъrlig, Kъrlig, and Viskyar. Echo of these names sounds today also in the Pamir Mountains, where viskyar in some languages means 'a hill' and chuka means 'peak', and in the Bulgar lands in the Caucasus, where Svъrlig literally means 'Sparrow mountain' (from svъrlo, 'sparrow').

As a souvenir left by the ancient Bulgars in Srem and Belgrade regions, an old plaque was found with Bulgar symbols, on which the typical symbol of old Bulgars – IYI – was engraved twice. The village, near which this plaque was discovered also bears a very old name. It is called Shudikovo in honor of some already forgotten Bulgar named Shudik. A similar name – shudik – is found today in the Caucasus among the neighbours of the erstwhile Kubrat Bulgars.

In addition to these ancient Bulgar names in the region between Vidin and Belgrade several other noteworthy names are found such as Murgash village, with the same name as peak Murgash in the Balkan Mountain, and also the villages Madara, Kalubre, Karanovchich, Chikatovo (from chigat, 'sword-bearer') Veli Shatra, Beleg, Chungula, Hubava, Globare, Globoder, Stopanya, Chokotar, Chuchulyaga, Vitosh, Mъrsach, Batush, Bubya, Gъrgure, Lagator, Kokoshine, Tsъrvulevo, Praskovche, Svirtsi, Vitoshevets, Plana, Prъzhdevo, etc. The ancient Bulgar origin of all these names is sealed in the words themselves.

The earliest bridgehead established by the Bulgars in their first migrations in the Balkans is covered even today with typical Bulgar traces. Those are particularly abundant in Timok Region that have been severed from Bulgaria at a relatively late time – during the nineteenth century, after the liberation of Serbia. But in Belgrade and Srem there are still many traces as those were Bulgarian lands for nearly eight centuries – from the late fifth century to the mid-fourteenth century. In old times Belgrade has been best known as the place where Cyril and Methodius' students first set foot on Bulgarian soil. There, according to the hagiography of St. Kliment Ohridski, they were welcomed by the Bulgarian governor – bori-tarkhan, who conveyed them to Boris in Preslav [Reader, p. 297]. Both the title of the governor, and the text of the hagiography leave no doubt that in the ninth century Belgrade was a big Bulgar fortress. At the time of Samuel, Belgrade was still a Bulgarian town and is mentioned among the conquered Bulgarian settlements by Basil II in the chrysobull of 1015 [Reader, p. 145]. The Crusaders who came in 1096 in Belgrade and Nish mentioned those as Bulgarian cities, managed by Bulgarian dukes and principals:

Hic itaque, sine offensione et aliquo adverso incursi, usque ad Belegravum, civitatem Bulgarorum, profectus est, transiens Malevillam, ubi terminatur fines regni Ungarorum. ... Walterus licentiam emendi vitae necessaria requisivit a principe Bulgarorum et magistratu civitatis. ...Walterus, relictis circumquanque sociis, fugitivus silvas Bulgarorum, per dies octo, exsuperans, ad civitatem ditissimam, quae vicatur Nizh, in medio Bulgarorum regno, secessit: ubi duci et principi terrae reperto ... dicto duce Nichita nomine, principe Bulgarorum et praeside civitatis Belegravae ...

"So, passing through Mallevilla [Zemun] where the limits of the Hungarian Kingdom end, he went, without making an offence or enemy attack, as far as the Bulgarian town Belegrava [Belgrade]. ... Walter asked from the Bulgarian governor and the city governance a right to buy vital necessities. ... Walter abandoned his comrades everywhere and, running, passed the Bulgarian forest and retired in the very rich town called Nizh [Nish] in the middle of the Bulgarian Kingdom: there he found the duke and the governor of the land whom he told ... the above duke named Nikita, prince of Bulgaria and governor of Belegrava [Belgrade] ... " [Alberti Aquensis].

The last evidence of Belgrade as a Bulgarian town is from 1259 when it was conquered by the Magyars (PC, II, 76-77). Two centuries later, when the Magyars were pushed by the Turks beyond the Danube, Belgrade fell in the hands of the Serbs, who at that time were vassals of the Ottoman Empire. In strict observance of their vassality, Serbs settled permanently in the conquered with Turkish help town and over time it became their main stronghold.

Bulgar toponyms

If we go down from Srem, Belgrade and Vidin (South-Danubian Panonia) towards Ohrid, the road passes through the ancient fortress Naisos, renamed Nish by Bulgars at the same time when Margus became Morava and Timakus became Timok. This name of the town given by the Bulgars remarkably coincides with the name of one of the most famous towns near Pamir – the capital of the old Partian Empire called Nissan. Close to Nish is Pirot – another town named by Bulgars in their specific Bulgar language. The name of Pirot is similar to the eastern word pirg (stronghold). The Bulgar character of the population of Nish, Pirot, and the Timok River Basin to the north-east has been preserved at least until the beginning of the 20th century, albeit largely Serbianized, as evidenced by the British traveller Mary Edith Durham. She saw a distinctly Bulgar cast of countenance and build in Pirot. Before its annexation to Serbia in 1878, Pirot was an undoubtedly Bulgar district. The population along the frontier and around Zaitchar was Bulgar and Romanian, the flat-faced, heavily built Bulgar with high cheekbones and lank black hair predominating. This is corroborated by local customs. Carpet making was widespread and the carpets were truly Bulgarian in origin. Carpets were not made in any other part of Serbia. And the neighbouring peasants played the bagpipe, the typical Bulgar instrument. Old books of travel call Nish a Bulgar town. Bulgars extend not only into the south of Serbia, but in the east spreads over the Timok. [Durham]


Gostivar, Vardar, Ohrid, Bitola

This important episode in the life of ancient Bulgars can be traced across maps. From Pirot, going through Gostivar, a town named so by the Panonian Bulgars, one reaches the land of Ohrid – the Promised Land that was destined to be Bulgarian as early as the 6th century and where, according to the old Bulgarian chronicles, began the gradual settlement of Bulgarians on the Balkan Peninsula. The early settlement of Bulgars in Ohrid region is marked with the same traces as their settlement in Dacia Panonia to the north of the Danube and in Sirmium between Vidin and Srem. Coming near the Ohrid lake, the Bulgars immediately gave new names to towns. Former Lichnida got its present name Ohrid, the Lichnida Lake became Ohrid Lake, the river Axios was renamed to Vardar, the town of Pelagonia was called Bitola (from the old Bulgar term bitol – 'gathering place'), the town of Selasphor became Devol, new fortresses were built and were called Struga, Prespa and Prilep. All major towns in the region of Macedonia received new names by the Bulgar settlers and this fact is explicitly noted in the old Byzantine sources.

The Byzantine poet John Tsetsas, ridiculing the ignorance of some of his contemporaries who were not aware that Vardar was the new Bulgar name of the River Axios, even wrote a satire on this occasion.

But the Peonians (Panonians) are Bulgars! Do not believe fools who tell you that Peonians are different people. Those fools think that Axios is different from Vardar. [Sources, p. 104].

For Tsetsas, it was funny not to know that the Bulgars came at the shores of Ohrid Lake from Panonia, called Peonia by medieval Greek authors, and that these new settlers renamed Axios to Vardar.

But how exactly the new names Ohrid and Vardar came into being and why the Bulgars were those who brought them in the Balkans? There are indications that in these names the ancient Bulgars put some special sense. In the Pamir and Hindukush, the ancient Bulgar native land, the word var means 'powerful'. And the rivers there most often bear the suffix Dar or Darya: Amu Darya, Sur Darya, Surhan Darya, etc. Therefore, the name Vardar was not only brought by the ancient Bulgars, but it was derived from their own language, and Tsetsas was not only once but twice correct when he scorned those who were not aware of its Bulgar origin. The meaning that the old Bulgars put in this name is quite deep. In their language Vardar meant 'Powerful River, Heroic River'.

Bulgars put a similar fine meaning to the name of the main town of south-western Macedonia – Ohrid. It is most likely associated with the word okhro (gold) that is found to the present day in the area of the old Kubrat Bulgaria. Traces of this old Bulgar word are kept in the term okhra (yellowish paint) preserved in the modern Bulgarian language. Ohrid probably means 'golden' or 'gold-like'. Evidently, this name did not arise accidentally. It bears quite a strong resemblance to the ancient Greek name Lichnidos, which means 'shiny', 'brilliant'. Thus Ohrid, like Vardar, turned out to be an old Bulgar, quite beautiful, name: 'Golden Town'.

Struga, Prespa, Prilep, Devol

Other major towns of Ohrid region also carry ancient Bulgar names. The names Struga, Prespa, Prilep are understood only by someone who knows Bulgarian. The word struga exists till the present day in some Bulgarian dialects to mean 'mountain pass' or 'a narrow corridor to let sheep in the pen' (also called sturga), while prilep (bat) and pryaspa (snowdrift) are words widely used in modern Standard Bulgarian that do not exist in any other Slavic language. The name Devol, incomprehensible today, with which Bulgars renamed the town Selasphor also has a very interesting origin. Similar names of settlements are found only in the region of the Pamir, where devol means everywhere 'high fence'.

In the speech of people from the regions of Ohrid, Prilep, Bitola, southwest Korcha and other Balkan lands we find remnants of the language spoken by the Kuber Bulgars. There is a number of hitherto unexplained words and phrases such as apotinano (and you, mommy) zhimiboga (my god), tugina (abroad), vo gerizon (in the brook), kuchento (the dog), kъshta (house), toynaka, tyanaka, az, mie (that), eve, evo, gyoa (it seems that), kod (with, at), etc. which are found even today in the Orient in the lands, sometime populated with Pamir and Caucasian Bulgars.

The traces left behind by the ancient Bulgars on the map of the low Ohrid land once correctly known as Lower Bulgaria are unusually numerous and extend down to the coast of the Adriatic Sea. On the territory of present Albania the strongholds Kanina, Korcha, Himar, Balshi are now known from very old chronicles. These names have unmistakably old Bulgar origin. One of them, Himar, is similar to the name of the capital of Kubrat Bulgaria, Humar, while the town of Korcha sounds very similar to another large town of Kubrat Bulgaria – Korchev (today Kerch on the Azov Sea). The early presence of Bulgars in these parts is shown by the year 866 inscription found near Balshi which reports the Christianisation of the Bulgars by knyaz Boris. The very name Balshi is found not only in Albania but also in two other places – beyond the Danube, in the present-day village Balshi and near Sofia, where exists a village called Balsha.

Interestingly, during the 9th century some westernmost Bulgarian towns had two names – old Bulgar and Slavic name. For example, Balshi was called also Glavinitsa and Dubrovnik (then a town bordering Bulgaria) was called Raguza. The custom of Bulgars to give their own names to every larger town is evident throughout the regions settled by them. Bulgars named in their language even the capitals of foreign countries. Vienna, for example, was called Bech or Pecs, and Austria was called Bechko. Due to the fact that many old names of towns existed in two or even three forms, it becomes possible to understand their hidden meaning. For example, if one look at the lands of the Orient and in particular in the Pamir and Caucasus, it appears that there the word balsha means literally 'pillow', that is, the same meaning as the old Slavic word glavinitsa. Again in the Pamir one finds the word Pecs, which literally means 'curved, kinked', i.e. the same meaning as the old Slavic word viena ('bent, twisted' from the verb viya 'twist, bend'). Bulgar and Slavic names are often close matches to each other, and the Bulgar and Greek names were sometimes similar in meaning, as evidenced by the names Lichnida and Ohrid.

It is difficult to describe all traces that ancient Bulgars left in near Ohrid and in Albania. Here will be listed only the most important and interesting examples. In South Macedonia we find the settlements Trapshi, Kolshi, Gobeshi, Belshi, Gramshi formed in the same model as the old Bulgar name Glavinitsa – Balshi. The suffix -shi that is characteristic for these names is included in old Bulgar words humshi and tulshi from the Preslav inscription and represents a special old Bulgar nominal suffix. Of old Bulgar origin in that region are the names Chuka, Chuka-borya, Tabahon, Kulumria, Okshtuni (cf. the name Ohsunos), Zhupani, Harusha, Harushasъ, Bulgarets, Turan, Tumba, Tuholyo (cf. OBg, tohol in Avi-tohol), Kutsaka, Shishman, Botun, Sharenik, Kruma, Kosara, Lъoyma, Sukadzhiu (cf. OBg. sokachii, 'chef'), Plana, Munega, Dzibraka and others.

In Central and Eastern Macedonia and Greek Thrace we find Sindel, Isperlik, Zuzula, Tsare (cerris oak), Vinyahi (cf. with knyaz Vineh), peak Presian (above Kavala) peak Chavka (daw), Kishino, Shamak (name of swamp), Kanareto (village in Northern Greece), Mount Harvata and others.

In Albania are preserved names as Kamchishta, Sharan (carp), Sharani (carps), Mostachi, Zhegulya (joke pin), Bilecha, Tsera, Plana, Shevarlie, Tolishe, Mъrtsine, Chukasi (rocky peaks) Gruemira-chesme (fountain of Gruemir) Bukъmira, Bъhot, Brestus (the elm), Tana-i-bulgaritъ (Tana the Bulgarian) Mъniku (midget), Kuchi, Sasani, Kutse, Tsuta-Zhupanatъ, Stani-i-Mizъs (Stan the Moesian), Mushan, Priska, Balsheni, Bardor (cf. OBg Barduar), Veli-Kaliman, Borichi, Bushnish (hemlock), Rabosha, etc. Drach on the Adriatic, identified as a Bulgarian town in the 7th century, also keeps its name.

Eastern Bulgaria

The arrival of Bulgars in Dobrudzha and the Danubian Plain was marked by a series of great changes that were similar to those in the Ohrid region. Two of the largest extant fortresses, Durostorum and Odesos, were renamed by the Bulgars to Drъstъr and Varna. The ancient Dionisopolis (today Balchik), called Kruni by the Thracians, received its new name Karvuna while the subsequently acquired town Beroe was renamed to Boruy. New towns and fortresses, unknown until then, appeared such as the Madara fortress, Tutrakan (close to the former Transmariska), Kebedzhe (near the former Dianopolis – Devnya), Shumen, Shabla, Sindel, Nevsha, Hъrsovo, Cherven, and south of the Balkan – Krъn, Tuthon (former Anhialo) and Chenge, called Tsika by the Greeks.

Some of the towns in Eastern Bulgaria had three names in this period – Bulgar, Slavic, and Greek – e.g. Tuthon–Pomorie–Anhialo (cf. Kefalonia–Glavinitsa–Balshi). Even the newly named capital Pliska seems to have had two names at first – Plъskov and Aboba. The closest village to the ruins of Pliska was called Aboba by the local population.

It is remarkable for the Eastern Bulgarian lands that almost all bigger towns in this period get their names from the Asparuh Bulgars. Their names most often come from the east and have very clear and transparent meaning. In the ancient fatherland of Asparuch Bulgars even today can be found the word drъstъr meaning 'strong, difficult to capture'. Also occuring are the words boruy which means simply 'town', the word tutra – 'steepness' which probably the name of Tutrakan comes from, and also the word aboba – 'big earthen wall' which probably one of the names of Pliska (Aboba) comes from.

The name of the main Bulgar temple of Madara was also brought from the east. Traces of it are found both in Caucasus where the center of the former Kubrat state was located, and close to Pamir. In Caucasus the word madar means even today 'keep, revere' [Chuvash]. In the ancient languages that were spoken near the western borders of Pamir – in Mohenjo-Daro and Harapa, the sacrifications were called mandira, and the priests were called mandira-karan. The Sanskrit term mantra – 'sacred hymn', is also connected to these ancient religious terms. Madara was no doubt the sacred home of Bulgars. This characteristic is sealed in its very name which in ancient Bulgar meant 'the sacred place' or, maybe, 'the blessed place'. In the same way as in later times many settlements were founded with the names Tsъrkva, Manastir, Manastirishte, Bulgars gave the name Madara – 'the temple', 'the sacred place'. And namely because Madara was the most revered place by the Bulgars, in its rocks was cut the pantheon of the founder of the Bulgarian state – knyaz Asparuh.

As a whole, traces left by the Asparuh Bulgars on the map of Eastern Bulgaria are as numerous and distinct as the traces left in the Ohrid region and in Albania. In both places, Bulgars named with their own names all major towns upon arrival. In the Ohrid region these are Ohrid, Bitolya, Struga, Prespa, Prilep, Kukush, Kostur, etc.; in Albania: Drach, Balshi, Devol, Kanina, Korcha, Himar; and in Eastern Bulgaria: Drъstъr, Varna, Karvuna, Madara, Tutrakan, Shumen, Shabla, Kaspichan, Sindel, Chenge, Chirpan, and the newly built capital – Aboba. The handwriting of state construction in Bulgars was the same. So were the names they gave to their towns. They are usually beautiful eastern epithets that are found even today in the lands inhabited by ancient Bulgars before their migration to the Caucasus and the Balkans.

Towns, peaks, rivers, lakes ...

All lands that today surround Bulgaria are colored with the evokative and beautiful names brought long ago by the ancient Bulgars. Such names are found in Romania and Hungary (Biharya, Peshta, Pech), in Eastern Serbia (Srem, Kraguevac, Morava, Pirot, Nish), in whole Macedonia and Albania. These names delineate the living space of Bulgars. They all are branches of the big nest built by them after conquering the Balkans.

But not only towns in the surrounding lands bear Bulgar names. Such names bear most mountains to the west and south. Ancient Bulgar sounding is preserved in two of the most common mountain terms in the Balkans – chuka and chukar. These two words occur in Romania, and also in Eastern Serbia – the first Bulgar beach-head on the Balkans, and also in the Ohrid-Skopie region, Albania, and Northern Greece. In addition to the Balkans, the specific term chuka occurs in only one other region – in Pamir and Hindukush. There, the word chuka is pronounced in the same way as in Bulgaria and means a high, most often bleak, mountain.

The two places in the world where this geographic term occurs have only one thing in common: there lived or live Bulgars. Therefore, this word is undoubtedly a heritage left by the Bulgar forefathers. That Bulgars is the people that brought to the Balkans the word chuka is evident from the derivative term – chukari. It is connected to the word chuka approximately in the same way as the old Bulgar title boila was connected to its derivative word boilar (bolyars). In both word pairs, the specific suffix -ar is found with which in the Bulgar language the plural of nouns was formed. So there can be no doubt that these names are of Bulgar origin. Names as Chukich in Western Romania, Chukaritsa in Eastern Serbia, Chuka and Chuka-Borya in Macedonia, Chukata and Chukara in the Rhodopes, Chukas and Chukasi in Albania today point like huge road signs the scope of the many-century Bulgar presence on the Balkans. And names as Vrъshka chuka, in which one of the words is Slavic, and the other is Bulgar, show that the word chuka was transferred from Bulgars to their neighbouring Slavic people. It is obvious that this combined name arose in a very early period, witnessed by the archaic epithet vrъshka, which, albeit Slavic, is not found today in any living Slavic language.

Of ancient Bulgar origin are also other three specific mountain terms – rъt, rid, and urva. All three are found in the east among the peoples of the Pamir circle. Some of the not so common and isolated names of peaks and ridges like Burel, Viskyar, Ruy, Ruen, Midzhur, Syutkya, Bunay, or of fields and gardens like Zne-pole, Mosko-pole, Bohot also come from the east, from the old homeland of the Asparuh Bulgars. The name Burel comes probably from bur – 'chalk', a widely occuring word in Pamir. Midzhur comes from midzh – 'black', a common word among peoples that populate the lands of the ancient Caucasian Bulgars at the Caspian Gates. Zne-pole comes from the Pamir word zne – 'closed, secretive', Bohot from boh – 'garden', and Syutkya in the Rhodopes from sutk – 'rounded' [Pakhalina].

From very far away come the names of some rivers, swamps, and lakes on the Balkans. Other than Morava, Sava, and Vardar, that were mentioned above, their own eastern counterparts have also the rivers Vъcha, Skъt, Kamchia, Bъta, and Tsibъr while the names Mikre and Shamag (a swamp near Skopie) remind the Caucasus word mikre (swamp) and the old Bulgar name of the Balaton Lake – Shomog.

Contrary to the assumptions that old Bulgars disappeared leaving almost no traces, they spangled the map of the Balkans with tens and hundreds of their own names. Their memory is written on the land itself. And from this indelible and indestructible land memory, it can be best surmised where the old Bulgars lived, what was their occupation, what was their language.

Origin of the definite article

Of special scientific value are the oldest Bulgar names remaining on the territory of today Romania, Hungary, and Serbia, as well as Macedonia and Albania. If we look closer in such ancient names as Biharya, Zidu, Turnu, Stopanya, Kalubre (Kalubrya), Madare (Madarya), Bitolya, Tsera, Linya, Zhegulya (joke pin), Rabosha, Mъniku (the midget), etc., scattered around in the lands neighbouring Bulgaria, we'll see a recurring feature. They very often end with the definite articles -a, -ya, -u (-o) that are characteristic in the Balkans only for Bulgarian language. By this trait, old Bulgar names can be easily recognised among the names of any neighbouring Balkan people. Because only ancient Bulgars had words like Biharya (the bihar, i. e. 'the monastery'), zidu (zido, 'the brickwall'), or Turnu (turno, 'the tower'), Kalubrya (the kolobъr), Stopanya, Chigota (the chigot), Pirgu (pirgo, 'the fortress'), Babuna (the Bogomil), Leskota ('the hazel'), etc.

It is well known that sometime only in Bulgarian one could say zidon ('the brickwall'), or chukava ('the hill') and this trait survived till present time in the folk dialects where at the end of words various definitive suffices are attached – cf, e.g. the variants zhenava, zhenana, zhenasa which in several Bulgarian dialects have only one meaning: 'the woman'. In the ancient Bulgar names scattered widely in the neighbouring countries one can see attached at the end almost all of these archaic definite articles. Side by side one can find zidu and zidone, as well as Turda and Turtava ('the mine'), Orsha (patrol, patrol booth) and Orshava (the patrol).

This feature occurs as early as 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries in the trans-Danubian Bulgar names like Biharya, Orshova, Turnu-Severin, Turnu-Mъgurele, Turda (Turtava). It can be seen in the same early period in the Sirmium region and the Ohrid region. When Bulgars settled in these regions in the sixth century there appeared names such as Madarya, Kolubrya, and Bitolya. Such typical Bulgar names appear very early also in the north-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. Soon after the arrival of Asparuh, the eastern part of the Balkan Mountain acquired the Bulgar name Veregava (ModBg:verigata, 'the chain'), which is mentioned around 830 in the Theophanes chronicle. The suffix -va in this new name is the same as in the old trans-Danubian names Turtava and Orshova, composed from the words turta (turda) and orsha. To the east – in Pamir and Hindukush, female nouns acquire this very same definite article -va in a number of languages. The name Madara, no doubt brought by the Asparuh Bulgars and preserved in Eastern Serbia as Madarya, shows that in the language of Asparuh the definite article -a (-ya) occured, i.e, the same definite article that appears in the trans-Danubian names Biharya and Peshta and in the Timok name Kolubrya.

Asparuh Bulgars brought to Eastern Bulgaria also other names of this type. The names of Madara, Bitola (Bitolya), Veregava, Kolubrya and others show that in the language of Asparukh Bulgars each word had two forms - defined and undefined, something missing in Slavic languages. The definite form was constructed with almost the same articles as in modern Bulgarian. The article for masculine was -a, and for feminine most often -va and was added to the end of the defined word.

That feature of Bulgar names is found in many other strange toponyms. For example, when John of Rila decided to become a hermit, he went first in an area that bore the name Skrino, i.e. ModBg:skrinъt ('the dresser', [Reader, p. 463]). This was around 920, but the name of the area itself was undoubtedly given earlier – in the 8th or 9th century. Around 920, the large port Konopa ('the hemp') was mentioned to be in Bulgaria in today's Northern Dobrudja [Reader, p. 166]. It was one of the two most important ports between the mouth of the Danube and Varna and was located north of Constantia (Kyustendzha). The name Konopa containing the defininitive article -a was clearly given by the Bulgars long before 920, because at that time Konopa was already a big and famous city. Also in the ancient name of Pliska – Plәskova, is apparent a particular definite article. Its closest concept is the Iranian word Plәsko – "center, environment", but at its end is attached the already known definite article -va (as in the words Veregava, Turtava, Orshova etc.). The name of Pliska – Plәskova, which in Bulgar language meant most likely 'the center, the capital', was formed by the same grammatical pattern as Madara – with a postfixed definite article.

Names of a similar type appeared very early in all other parts of the old Bulgaria. For example, when in 1017 Basil II defeated Samuil's Bulgaria, its last defender Ivats retired to an inaccessible mountainous place whose name the Greeks wrote as Vrohot [Reader, p. 273]. In Western Bulgaria the word vrәh ('peak') sounds in many places like vrao, vraot, vrahot, and this shows pretty well what the word marked as vrohot could mean. Before us is a typical Bulgarian name ending with a full definite article (a variant of -әt) used as early as 10 centuries ago. At that time, written Bulgarian used exclusively the Slavic case system. Definite articles started to appear in writing 250 years later. The same suffix -ot occurs in the name Botrot (from botra – 'dairy') recorded again in Samuil's Bulgaria.

Still in this early age – around 1070, in the Eastern Rhodopes near Bachkovo Monastery, names are found written as Velikon (i.e. 'the great') and Lahanara i.e. 'the gardener' (from the Greek word lahana – 'cabbage, vegetable'). The first contains the definite article -on, similar to that in the name Zidone, and the second – the well known definite article -a. Charters of various churches and monasteries from Thessaloniki and Ohrid were found in the same period that list male names and nicknames Buhala (i.e. 'the Owl'), Bardokvata, Bodina, Bryasta; all show that the peculiar Bulgar article forms were used very early, and did not arise in 13-14th century, as was until recently assumed.

With their arrival to the south of Danube ancient Bulgars brought the postfixed article as the most important trait of their language and this is why the names containing postfixed articles occur in 7-10th century in all Bulgar lands – in North and trans-Danubian Bulgaria, in West Bulgaria and Lower Bulgaria (Ohrid Region), in Eastern Rhodopes.

It is notable that all early names that end in Bulgar article forms have roots that are foreign to Slavic languages. The words verega, galat, plъsko, orsha, turda, konop, bihar, madar, kolobъr, butra from which the names Veregava, Plъskova, Orshova, Turtava, Konopa, Biharya, Madara, Kolubrya, Butrot are constructed, do not occur among Slavs while they are very common in Bulgar-inhabited lands before the Bulgar migration to the Balkans. This is a proof that the postfixed article forms in Bulgarian language did not arise on a Slavic basis but are inherited from the language of Asparuh and Kuber Bulgars.

Indeed, looking through the old Bulgar names of towns and mountains, one cannot help noticing that they contain many specific words by which the Bulgarian language differs from the surrounding Balkan languages. To get a better impression about this, let us select from the old Bulgar names dispersed throughout Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia, only those that even today are understood by each Bulgarian.

Here they are:

Zidu, Skrino, Konopa, Stopanya, Globarya, Brъshlyanya, Hubava, Morunesht, Birnich, (Telesh-Birnich), Chungula, Tsiguresht, Tamburesht, Toyaga, Bisercha, Belchug, Gizdъvesh, Murgash, Chukara, Chuchulyaga, Gushtera, Machkata, Sharani, Hralupi, Gъrlitsa, Gurgul, Gъrgur, Gurgulyat, Buhala, Kurilya, Kraguevets, Tъnganu, Gliganu, Kuchi, Mъniku, Pryaspa, Prilep, Gubera, Gъvana, Vъrtopu, Devesel (ModBg: devesil, 'lovage, hogweed'), Bъzъn ('the elder'), Tъntava (ModBg: tintyava, 'gentian'), Chubra, Buren, Praskovche, Kachulats, Kokoshine, Kosheren, Kochine, Tъrlo, Shipot, Balvan, Chukich, Rabosha, Tsъrvulovo, Svirtsi, Obay gora, Bayna basha, etc.

All these names are written in the way they are found in Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia, i.e. with the inavoidable distortions under Romanian and Serbian influence. But even so, they remain markedly Bulgarian and cannot be confused with Serbian and Romanian names. These words are Bulgarian, and not Serbian or Romanian, their grammar is typically Bulgarian and this is why every Bulgarian can understand them without translation while Romanians and Serbs cannot.

But why a Bulgarian can understand these names while for other peoples, including Slavic ones, they are vague and obscure? There are two reasons: first, because Slavs haven't most of the peculiar words contained in these ancient names. Second, because other Slavs haven't the specific article forms that help translate their exact meaning. The only people that had such words and such grammatical forms in the Balkans were the Asparuh Bulgars. Therefore, all the above-listed names are left by them. They are a direct heritage from the Bulgar language.

Not only Bulgarian history but also the map of Bulgaria is to a great extent created and written by the Asparuh Bulgars. But this fact was unknown for a long time. Only discovering the ancient names, dispersed by Bulgars everywhere on the Balkans, helped to understand what a people they were and what they left on both sides of the Danube.

Today there is no doubt that a large part of the names that sound not only under the today's Bulgarian sky but also in the neighbouring Balkan countries, are brought by the Asparuh and Kuber Bulgars.

Serbs use Bulgar words when they pronounce the names of Srem, Kraguevac, Nish, Pirot, and Morava. Romanians wake a sound of the thousand-year old Bulgar language when they pronounce the names of Biharya, Orshova, Turnu-Severin, Turnu-Mъgurele, and Bъalesht. And Bulgarians pronounce Bulgar words when they mention Pliska, Madara, Tutrakan, Shabla, Kavarna and many other Bulgarian towns, and also when they mention Ohrid, Vardar, Drach, Balshi, Korcha, and Raguza.

The fate of every great people seems to be giving something to the neighbouring peoples and then sink into itself, giving away part of its own creations and sometimes even forgetting about them. But even when a people leaves the places that it once inhabited, it leaves behind names of towns, rivers, and mountains. And by these names, every people can see who it was and where it lived.


Die Slavische Manasses-Chronik. Auch der Ausgabe von Jan Bogdan. Muenchen, Wilhelm Fink Verlag 1966, page 115.

Durham, M. E. (Mary Edith), Twenty years of the Balkan tangle, BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2007, ISBN 1434634264, Project Gutenberg e-text # 19669, p. 40.

István Bóna, Southern Transylvania under Bulgar Rule, Chapter II.6 In: History of Transylvania (Béla Köpeczi, Gen. Ed.), Vol. 1, 2001-2002 Social Science Monographs, Boulder, Colorado; Atlantic Research and Publications, Inc. Highland Lakes, New Jersey

Reader in Bulgarian History, Vol. 1, Sofia, 1978

Sources in Bulgarian History, Vol. 22

Dimitar Angelov. Formation of the Bulgarian Nation, Sofia, 1971

T. Pakhalina. Sarikolo-Russian dictionary. Moscow, 1971

Chuvash-Russian dictionary. Moscow, 1980

Alberti Aquensis. Recueil des Historiens des Croisades, publié par les soins de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles lettres, Historiens Occidentaux, IV, Paris 1879, pp. 269-713.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Accent in Bulgarian dialects

Benyo Tsonev

Prof. Benyo Tsonev

Bulgarian dialects are a colourful mosaic with respect to accent, not less so as respecting any other trait. Oddly enough, one finds accent variations that deeply affect the classification basis which are lacking in other Slavic languages. For example, Polish and Czech have well established accents which are the same in all their dialects. Russian dialects, although possessing some accent variety, on the whole are homogenous throughout the Russian dialect area with the exception of dialects adjacent to Polish ones, such as Galician dialects, in which Polish influence dominates [1]. Serbo-Croatian and Slovenian are similar with respect to accent despite the great dissimilarity in other traits. The differences that exist are easily explained with the antagonism of two layers of accent – old (pan-Slavic) and new (Serbian).

It's not so with Bulgarian.

Bulgarian, if analysed according to accent, is not a simple group of dialects with conserved basic accent principle and differing by some variations. On the contrary, Bulgarian is represented by dialect groups that belong to different accent systems. Their large number is striking: they are not 2, not 3 but 5, even 6 systems which are very different from each other. In this labyrinth of accents one have to gain a clear view, to distinguish and systematise them and as well as possible to explain their relationships and genealogy. Because, as many as there are accents in Bulgarian dialects, all of them should have one origin which should be found and linked with the various branches. This is as important problem for Bulgarian linguistics, as the establishment of the language unity in time and space. In addition, Bulgarian accent can help explain some accent properties in other South-eastern Slavic languages knowing that these languages have or had a common accent.

Studying Bulgarian dialects in respect to accent is very difficult not only because the dialects are striking with their varied accentisation but also because sometimes suitable dialect material is lacking. The older Bulgarian collections such as those of Miladinovs, Verković, Bezsonov, Karavelov, Cholakov, Dozon, etc., have no accents. Iliev was the first to put accents but his collection had very awkward and hard to use accent symbols. The dialect materials in the Periodic Journal, although abundant, not always have accents. The Ministerial Collection made a good start putting accents in most materials, although they are not always correct.

Accent is a phonetic trait that can be used for classification of Bulgarian dialects: first, because it is an important dialect trait, and second, in spite of the great variety in Bulgarian dialects with respect to accent, there is no crossover, i.e., dialects with similar accent traits stick together not being crossed by dialects of other accent systems. Of course, here too one can notice a gradual transition between dialects, however, geographically dialects with similar accent are separate from the others and are characteristic for a given region. This is an important condition for a trait that can be used for dialect classification.

The Bulgarian dialect area can be divided in 6 regions, each with a different accent system. In some Bulgarian dialects the accent is indefinite, i.e., it can be on any syllable, and it can be even different in different forms of the same word. Such is the accent in Standard Bulgarian and most Bulgarian dialects and such has been the accent in the other South-eastern Slavic languages: Russian, Slovenian, and Serbo-Croatian. In other Bulgarian dialects the accent is definite, i.e., it falls on the same syllable in a word and shifts only as needed in order to take this syllable. Such is, e. g., the accent in Kostur dialect that always go to the penultimate syllable, or in Prilep-Mariovo dialect where the accent falls on the third syllable counting from the end. There are also dialects in which accent is neither definite nor indefinite because it does not fall on a definite syllable but also cannot be on any syllable; it is linked to two constant syllables in each word so it is defined to some extent; such accent can be called semi-definite. Such accent occurs in Kukush-Voden dialect and falls on the last two syllables. Semi-definite accent occurs in Tikvesh dialect where it falls on the second and third syllables counting from the end.

According to whether accent is definite or not, Bulgarian dialects can be divided in 3 groups:

  1. dialects with indefinite accent
  2. dialects with semi-definite accent
  3. dialects with definite accent

Because the 3 accent types (indefinite, semi-definite, and definite) have 2 varieties each, there are 6 accent types in Bulgarian, or 6 accent systems and accordingly, 6 dialect groups:

  1. dialects with indefinite-shifting heterosyllabic accent (dynamic accent)
  2. dialects with indefinite-fixed three-syllabic accent (Shtip-Strumitsa accent)
  3. dialects with semi-definite two-syllabic first accent (Voden accent)
  4. dialects with semi-definite two-syllabic second accent (Tikvesh-Mariovo accent)
  5. dialects with definite second-syllable accent (Kostur accent)
  6. dialects with definite third-syllable accent (Prilep-Ohrid accent)

Indefinite accent

Shifting (heterosyllabic) accent

This accent occurs in the larger part of the Bulgarian dialect area and is also the accent used in the Standard Bulgarian language. Because this accent existed in the past in all Bulgarian dialects, it can be called dynamic accent. Its charateristics are almost the same as those in the accent of the other south-eastern Slavic languages, i. e. it is variable, shifting, indefinite; however, its innate laws and causes are not yet explained.

There is a discussion about the origin of this accent. Tsonev [2] tried to explain it with a former quantitet which dominated the accent in these languages in the past. According to Tsonev, in the proto-Slavic there was a rule that the accented vowels should be short, and long vowels can occur either before or after an accented syllable (глāвà, рѫкà, крāкà, дèвēр, грèбēн, рèпēй, пèпēл) so that the long syllables were skipped and the accent fell on the short vowel. If accent had to fall on long vowels these vowels were shortened at first, bringing about the accent instability in the south-eastern Slavic languages (Russian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian). This rule explains easily the shifting accents in the above languages not only in declensions but elsewhere, such as: главà, главѝца, нàглава, òглав; ръкà, ръчѝца, ръцè, нàръки, òдръки; крàк, кракъ̀т, кракà, крачèц, нàкраки, òткраки. These shifts occur in words in which the root vowel is long; the above words and others similar to those have long stress in Serbian language: глâва, рŷка, крâк. That's why in Bulgarian we have on one hand: мъж мѝ, син му̀, девер ѝ, and on the other hand: брàт ми, зèт му, etc.; мъж, син, девер have long vowels (Serbian: мŷж, си̂н, дêвēр), and брат, зет have short vowels (Serbian: брäт, зëт).

Kul'bakin [3] opposed Tsonev's view on the ground that if it was accepted, it would make an upheaval in all Slavic accentology. Tsonev, however, continued to support his hypothesis and maintained that no other cause for the shifting south-eastern Slavic accent could be found. Its inconsistence with other hypotheses, or the fact that it was not in harmony with the Lithuanian language is not as important as to refute this hypothesis because Slavic languages differ in many respects from Lithuanian. This concerns also the accent, and there is no need to relate it to Lithuanian accent. In addition, not everything in Lithuanian is old. The Lithuanian accent, like the Slavic one, underwent modifications. Tsonev's hypothesis was not based on Lithuanian because there was not need for this and because even without this comparison the evidence for it was obvious. Whether the accent is similar to other non-Slavic languages or not, is irrelevant. Can we seek congruency with Lithuanian accent when such congruency is lacking among Slavic languages? For example, Polish accent is dissimilar to those in the south-eastern Slavic languages. Czech accent has opposite quantitet characteristics. We cannot require congruency with Lithuanian when Slavic languages are dissimilar with respect to accent.

The most important aspects of Tsonev's hypothesis are:

1. All accented vowels in the south-eastern Slavic languages are short.

2. Long vowels occur only immediately before or after an accented syllable. [4]

3. Accented long vowels become shorter. This can be seen best in the use of ѣ (Yat) in Serbia: when it is not accented, it is pronounced иjе and when accented, it is pronounced ; cf. риjèка (рѣка), but рjëчан; звиjèзда (звѣзда) but звjëздаст; миjèна (мѣна) but смjëна (смѣна).

4. Accented long vowels are secondary in the south-eastern Slavic languages and when it appears, another vowel becomes long: млāдä → млâдā.

Accepting these 4 basic truths about the south-eastern Slavic accent leads to acceptance of the basic principle that at least for the most part long accented vowels are avoided.

There is no need to expound more on this main principle in the Slavic accent because it can be explained only by comparison with other Slavic languages, especially those which has preserved their quantitet. When describing the accent in the modern Bulgarian dialects that lack quantitet and have a shifting accent our task is to group Bulgarian dialects according to accent location, i. e. which dialects preserved the original location and which did not, and how the accent location changed.

First, let's shorten the list of Bulgarian dialects with indefinite or shifting accent to distinguish them from dialects with definite or semi-definite accent and then describe the variations among dialects with indefinite accent.

As mentioned above, dialects with indefinite or dynamic accent occupy the greatest part of the Bulgarian dialect area. Such accent is found not only in all Eastern Bulgarian dialects (according to the Yat border) but in all Northwestern Bulgarian dialects together with the Kosovo-Morava dialect. Additionally, all dialects to the east of Kochani, Radovish, Strumitsa, Doyran, Kukush and Solun have indefinite accent – of course, with some variations but as a whole it is the same shifting accent characteristic for the Eastern dialects. Solun dialect is mixed in respect to accent as it is mixed in respect to other phonetic and morphological traits. Thus, Ayvatovo and Kirechkyoy, although east of Solun, have Kukush-Voden (semi-definite) accent, although they belong to the Eastern Bulgarian dialects. However, further east of Solun, towards Ser and Demir-Hisar, dialects with indefinite accent predominate. The Solun villages Suho, Visoka, Negovan, and Zarovo, famous for their nasalism, have also an indefinite accent, although very degraded: грендѝтьъ, дрангò (дрѫгътъ), дъмбòт, дъмбèту, крънгò (крѫгътъ), грендàта, etc. It is self-evident that the dialects from Demir-Hisar and north to Melnik, Petrich, Maleshevo, and Pianets have indefinite accent.

As can be seen from here, accent does not go together with other phonetic traits because dialects with similar accent can have very different phonetic traits. It is enough to say that dialects with indefinite accent include those with the 3 tj-dj substitutions (щ-жд, ч-дж, and кь-гь). This is not surprising as we know that such accent predominates in other Slavic languages. It shows that indefinite accent was the oldest Bulgarian accent which in the past was common for the whole Bulgarian language.

We call this accent indefinite because it can be on any syllable, and is not linked to given syllables (as in the other Bulgarian dialects, or in Czech or Polish language), and it does not depend on the number of syllables; no matter if the word has 2, 3, 4, or 5 syllables – the accent can be on any of those: водà, главà, търпѝш, градовè, планинà, виделинà, воденичàр, заобиколèн; ливàда, градѝна, желèзо, темену̀га, пристану̀ша, воденичàрче; лòбода, пристàнаха, заповèдаха; я̀ребица, лèстовичка, пàвечерка, да порàботехме; тъ̀рновчаните, пирдòпчанчето, радомѝрчаните, etc. This accent is also called shifting because words with the same root, and even one word in its various forms, can have diferent accent: водà, воденѝца, воденичàр, водехѝр, вòден, вòдеста, вòдестичък; градъ̀т, градовè, гражданè, грàдски, граждàнски, царогрàжданин.

If, looking at these examples, and also by the term shifting accent you think that all words change their accent, you are wrong because words with shifting accent are, in fact, far less (< 10%) than words with fixed accent but they are used more often because they are 2- and 3-syllable words, they define the whole dialect and distinguish it from dialects with fixed accent.

Old Bulgarian and, perhaps, proto-Slavic had many more words with shifting accent compared to modern Bulgarian. The number of such words began to decrease very early, without creating new words, so that now there are very few new or foreign words with shifting accent. While a word like творèц, творцà, творцѝ, has shifting accent, its composite (and newer) words like стихотвòрец, миротвòрец, etc., have a fixed accent: стихотвòрци, миротвòрца, миротвòрци; also: борèц, борцѝ, but: ратобòрец, ратобòрци. It is noticeable that for an accent to become fixed, it should not be on the last syllable, it should shift forward (accent offset): творèц – миротвòрец, борèц – ратобòрец. Probably this is how all old words with fixed accent were made, which by the character of their root vowel should have had a shifting accent; words like крàва, блàто, вя̀ра, врàна which now in the south-eastern Slavic languages have a fixed accent were perhaps a former oxytones, judging by their root vowels that originate from long o and e; before shortening of the vowel in these words, i. e. before it passed under the principle of short-syllable accent, the vowel was pronounced with ascending accent, as we see from the Lithuanian analogues: kárve, báltas, bérzas, várnas. Fortunatova [5] and Leskien [4] show that this is the same accent that have the Serbian words like: глàва, ру̀ка in which the accent offset is the same but newer. This trend of the older language to shift the accent backwards can be seen in all Slavic languages, including Bulgarian, and not only in dialects that with such shift formed new accent system but also in dialects with shifting accent. This is used in the classification of these dialects, looking at how many and which words in which dialect have accent offset. First, we must establish which words have a shifting accent and then compare dialects according to these modifications. It is difficult to find a common basis for such comparison; at present no Bulgarian dialect can be used for such basis, because no dialect has preserved the old accent. Each dialect changed something and it is not easy to restore the old accent because the other Slavic languages that could be used for comparison are in the same situation as Bulgarian: they also did not preserve the old south-eastern Slavic accent. Therefore, we can Standard Bulgarian, because it is known to many people and is in the middle between the old and new Bulgarian accent. Standard Bulgarian is based primarily on the north-eastern Bulgarian dialects: Tărnovo, Sevlievo, Lovech, Gabrovo, Troyan, Svishtov, Kazanlъk, Kalofer, Sliven.

The difference between Bulgarian dialects with indefinite accent can be seen according to the words with shifting accent in individual dialects. As a common rule, none of these dialects have a backwards shift (the accent didn't move towards the end of the word), and all have accent offset (the accent moved towards the beginning of words). This characteristic distinguishes these dialects from the dialects with definite of semi-definite accent which have also backward shift, as we shall see.

Nesting of indefinite-accent dialects according to changes in the old accent can be done using small accent variations in some groups of words. Of these variable-accent dialects, 3 main groups can be formed with somewhat bigger differences: Northern, Southern, and Western. There are many accent differences between these groups but they can be summarised by observing that the Northern and Western dialects are more conservative than Southern dialects, in which we see more words with offset accent. It is noticeable that the further one goes to the south and south-west, the more dialects change the old accent until we see dialects such as Demir-Hisar dialect in which words with offset accent are so many that the dialect appears to belong to the fixed-accent dialects.

The Northern accent group includes all north-eastern dialects (according to Yat), i. e. all dialects north of the Balkans and Middle Mountain north of the Rup-Rhodopa dialects, as well as all north-western щ-жд dialects, excluding the central dialects (with reflex ѫ → а) near Vratsa, Botevgrad, Etropole, and Mezdra, which have the accent characteristics of the Southern group.

The Western accent group includes all dialects that substitute щ-жд with ч-дж in the regions of Trъn, Breznik, Bosilegrad, Belogradchik and beyond the Bulgarin-Serb border around Pirot, Nish, etc., in the whole area of Kosovo-Morava dialect which includes also some Bulgarian кь-гь-у-dialects from Northern Macedonia.

The Southern accent group includes the western central dialects (ѣ → e, ѫ → а) beginning from Botevgrad and Vratsa through Etropole and Mezdra south to Vakarel, Ihtiman, Samokov, Dupnitsa, Radomir, and Kyustendil, as well as around Blagoevgrad, Razlog, Maleshevo, Pianets, together with all Rhodopa dialects beyond Odrin, and the dialects around Petrich, Drama, Ser, and Demir-Hisar.

This division of indefinite-accent dialects in 3 groups was not made according to some major accent variations because the accent in all these dialects is indefinite shifting but because in these groups the old accent have different offset: in the Northern group there are least words with offset accent, in the Weatern group we have more words, and in the Southern group these words are most. These 3 degrees of offset are expressed best with a particular verb form which is accented differently in different groups, namely the impertive mood for second person in prepositional verbs. In the Northern group they say, e. g., затворѝ, without offset; in the Western group they say затвòри, with an offset accent; in the Southern group the accent is even more offset – зàтвори. Of course, such offset does not occur in all words, but the above verb form is very chracteristic. In addition to it, each group has its own accent characteristics, which are briefly outlined below.

Below are words and forms that exhibit accent differences in the indefinite-accent dialects:

1. In the grown forms of monosyllable masculine and feminine nouns known also in the other south-eastern Slavic languages as words with shifting accent. Below are only those words common for all dialects with indefinite accent:

бод, брод, брѣг, брѣст, бик, бѣг, бѣс, вълк, вол, враг, врат, върх, век, глад, глас, гнѣв, град, грѣх, гърб, дар, ден, дол, дом, дроб, друм, дреб, дрѣн, дух, дим, дѣл, дъб, дъжд, дъх, ек, жлеб, зев, звѣр, зет, зъб, зид, кал, квас, клас, клѣн, кмет, крак, кръг, кръст, кум, кът, лед, лен, луб, лов, лък, лѣк, лист, мед, мир, мор, мост, мраз, мрак, мѣх, мъж, мъх, нос, плач, плет, плод, пот, прах, прът, път, ред, род, рог, ръб, свѣт, смрад, смѣх, смет, снѣг, срам, стан, страх, студ, сън, тел, тор, труд, трън, ум, хак, хлад, хрѣн, цар, цвѣт, цѣр, час, чук, шев, щит. All female monosyllable nouns also belong here.

The differences in the accent of these nouns are expressed in:

A. In the definite article for singular. Most dialects keep the old accent on the vowel in the article whatever it is, ъ, о, а, õ or ẽ (Teteven): градъ̀т, градъ̀, градàт, градõт, градẽ; the only exception is in the Western group (Trъn-Pirot dialects) where this accent falls on the root vowel: грàдът and not градъ̀т.

B. In the plural. For example, instead of the Northern group гласовè, the Southern and Western group used offset accent – глàсове; such accent occurs also in Shumen dialect, and a large part of the monosyllabic nouns have offset accent also in the Middle Mountain dialects (Koprivshtitsa): врàтове, гàдове, глàсове, грèхове, грàдища, гръ̀бове, дàрове, дàбове, дèлове, дàждове, звèрове, зàби, клàсове, крàка, лèдове, ку̀мове, мрàзове, мрàкове, мèхове, мàже, мòстове, плàчове, плòдове, прàхища, снèгове, срàмове, стàнове, стрàхове, сту̀дове, сàдове, у̀мове, цвèтове, чàсове. However, when a definite article is added, many of these nouns restore their old (end) accent: вратовèте, гадовèте, гласовèте, греховèте, градищàта, кракàта, зъбѝте, дъждовèте, зверовèте, меховèте, световèте.

2. The monosyllable adjectives and pronouns are the second group of words with shifting accent:

бос, бѣл, бръз, вехт, врѣл, глух, гол, гъст, див, драг, дърт, жив, жълт, злат, клет, крив, къс, куц, лек, лих, луд, лѣв, мек, млад, нов, нѣм, плах, рус, руд, свет, сив, скъп, слѣп, стар, сур, сух, твърд, тих, тлъст, тъп, цѣл, чест, щърб, щур; мой, твой, свой, кой, чий

To these monosyllable adjectives are added other adjectives which are now two-syllable in masculine, and in feminine and neutral are again two-syllable having lost the suffix vowel (ъ or е):

глàдък, слàдък, гòрък, крòтък, жèден, дèсен, èдър, дрèбен, крèхък, прàзен, прàшен, мъ̀ршав, прèсен, пъ̀стър, рàвен, рòсен, рèдък, смèшен, спòрен, стрàшен, тъ̀нък, у̀мен, хлàдък, хлàден, хѝтър, чèрен, мàзен, млèчен, мòкър, мъ̀дър, мъ̀тен, нòщен, òстър

Adjectives with offset accent are used mostly in the southeastern part of the Northern group, in the regions of Pazardzhik, Plovdiv, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Kazanlъk, Gabrovo, Tryavna, Shumen, Razgrad, and Tъrnovo, while in other parts, especially in the Balkan and Middle Mountain towns (Panagyurishte, Koprivshtitsa, Sopot, Karlovo, Kalofer, Troyan, Lovech, and Kotel) the old accent is still preserved: босà, младà, старà, глухà, etc. This accent goes to the west and south as far as Vidin, Trъn-Pirot and Bosilegrad but it includes progressively less adjectives while it reaches to dialects (Kyustendil and Blagoevgrad) where only 3-4 adjectives remain with end accent: добрà, светà, божя̀, еднà, and каквà. These same adjectives are the ones with old accent also in the Rhodopa dialects and all other southern dialects.

Not only adjectives with a root accent (прàва, здрàва, лѣ̀тно, зѝмно, etc.) gave a contribution to this accent offset; it occured also in the pronoun (definitive) forms of these adjectives in which due to the contracted suffix the accent escaped from the end syllable – therefore the double accent in these adjectives and the antagonism between the 2 accents (младà – млàда).

In the Northwestern ч-дж dialects, and the weastern part of Sofia region, in addition to the two-syllable adjectives, some three-syllable adjectives have also an old (end) accent: зеленà, високò, цървенò, широкò. Here, however, a distinction is made between definitive and indefinitive sense of the adjectives because they say (e.g. in Bosilegrad region): това дърво е високò, тая ньива е зеленà, but they say: висòкото дърво, зелèната ньива. In Northwestern Bulgaria (Lovech) we have only the old accent: дървенȍ-мàсло, планинскȍ-цвèте, ловченскȍ-вѝно, плевенскȍ-грòзде, гражданскѝ приказва, калянà ракия, колчавà.

3. The two-syllable feminine nouns ending in a (я) that have old accent on the end syllable, are accented variously, according to the dialect. Below are listed all these nouns:

брадà, бедà, бранà, бравà, брездà (браздà), борбà, бълхà, бланà, бозà, боя̀, бинà, водà, войскà, враждà, вредà, влакà, върбà, вратà, главà, главня̀, горà, глобà, грозà, гредà, глистя̀, грудà, дъскà, дъгà, душà, дихà, елà, елхà, женà, жарà (ярà), жеглà, зорà, земя̀, злинà, змия̀, заря̀, звездà, зимà, иглà, игрà, ивà, искрà, корà, козà, косà, купà (копà), кръкмя̀, кисцà, кърмà, клещя̀, кулà, колà, липà, лъжà, лулà, лозà, лесà, лъкà, лехà, лугà, лапà, момà, манà, млъзгà, мухà, мъскà, метлà, междà, мъглà, млакà, менà, молбà, мравя̀, осà, полà, пашà, парà, порà, песня̀, пчелà, пахтà, петà, пилà, ръждà, росà, ресà, рекà, рудà, ръкà, смолà, струнà, сая̀, снахà, сълзà, сестрà, скалà, снагà, странà, свилà, сланà, сърнà, стрелà, свиня̀, слугà, средà, стенà, смрекà, съгà, скулà, съдбà, трохà, тъщà, трескà, теслà, тлакà, тишмà, тревà, тъгà, торбà, тръбà, устà, хвалà, хвалбà, хранà, хазнà, ценà, цевà, щетà, юздà

Here again, we have to compare the accents both in the singular and plural forms of these nouns.

In the singular forms, the old accent is preserved in the Northeastern dialects, however to the south when reaching the Middle Mountain we have already an offset in the following (when they are not articled): вòда, трòха, трèска, ѝскра, блъ̀ха, му̀ха, слъ̀за, глòба, свѝла, ку̀ла, and in the central and western dialects to those are added: брàва, лѝпа, смòла, пòра, сàя, бòрба, лèса, дàга, снàга, тàга, тòрба, зèмя, гòра, кòса, рèка, трèва, ду̀ша, глàва, брàда, врàта, у̀ста. In Rhodopa and the southern dialects the accent in almost all these words is offset, and remained only in the following: корà, момà, лъжà, злинà, снахà, ръждà, хранà, сърнà, петà.

In the plural, the offset is even more widespread: if we come out of the narrow circle of the Northeastern dialects, we find an offset wherever we go. For example, as close as the Middle Bulgarian dialects (Koprivshtitsa) they say: трòхи, грàди or гръ̀ди, мòщи, трèски, блъ̀хи, му̀хи, съ̀лзи, ѝгли, дъ̀ски, клèщи, звèзди, свѝне, зъ̀ме, глѝсте, връ̀бе, ръ̀це, and the further we go west and south the more offset nouns until in the south central and Rhodopa dialects the offset is a rule, and the words with end accent (лъжѝ, злинѝ, войскѝ, зорѝ, бинѝ) are exception. It is to be noted that one northeastern dialect – Shumen dialect – is the same as the central and Rhodopa dialects in this respect: in Shumen dialect the offset in the plural of above nouns is complete and is preserved (in addition to the above) in the following: петѝ, парѝ, странѝ, хранѝ, пахтѝ, лулѝ, боѝ, мазѝ, дамгѝ.

Comparing this accent with the accent of the same nouns in Russian and Serbian, it is seen that, e.g., in Russian, some of the above nouns shift their accent in singular or plural in accusative case. Probably this offset in the central dialects began from a similar offset in the other southeastern Slavic languages; however, this analogy took force and included more words than those used in the old language.

4. Two-syllable nouns of neutral gender with end accent are the fourth group of words with shifting accent:

окò, ухò, сърцè, окнò, морè, небò, дървò, полè, блатò, маслò, местò, хлапè, сукнò, хорò, писмò, прелò, цвеклò, духлò, козлè, бичè, кончè, гърчè, момчè, сребрò, челò, перò, селò, свислò, стъклò, седлò, ребрò, ведрò, месò, крилò, червò, гнездò, яйцè, детè, въжè, лицè, бранè, пранè, кланè, мренè, спанè, времè, винò, млекò, рунò, сенò, златò, прасè, телè, тестò, млевò, брашнò, витлò, влакнò, гърнè, греблò, кроснò, ликò, леглò

Here the accent is more variable in singular while in the plural the Standard Bulgarian (Northeastern) accent is preserved. However, in singular, the accent is offset in many of these nouns in many dialects. As close as Lovech where otherwise the old accent in nouns is most conservative, we find: вѝно, млѣ̀ко, мѣ̀сто, ру̀но, лѝко, пèро, сèло, чèло, мàсло, въ̀же, while in Tъrnovo, Shumen we find also: съ̀рце, дèте, гъ̀рне, врèме, гнѣ̀здо, сѣ̀но, злàто, тѣ̀сто, прàсе, брàшно, кàче, крòсно, хлàпе.

In the central and Rhodopa dialects the offset is more widespread, so that the only words with end accent remaining are: седлò, ведрò, гнездò, яйцè, тестò, прасè, валмò, витлò, кроснò, сребрò, духлò, лицè, гърнè. The diminutives ending in -че are not counted because they comprise a special group in the central and western dialects of neutral nouns with definite end accent: гърчè, бичè, звънчè, кончè, etc.

In the plural, an exception are the central dialects. Those prefer an offset accent and not only in nouns that has an offset in singular such as: гъ̀рло – гъ̀рла, зъ̀рно – зъ̀рна, блàто – блàта, бъ̀рда, хòра, чèда, жѝта, ру̀ха, сѝта, шѝла, крѝла, жѝла, мèста, лèта, пèра, сèла, etc., but also in others: седлò – сèдла, ведрò – вèдра, гнездò – гнèзда, яйцè –я̀йца, тестò – тèста, валмò – вàлма, витлò – вѝтла, кроснò – крòсна, греблò – грèбла. This accent reminds very much the Russian accent.

According to the above description of the accent in nouns, it seems that dialects differ very much in this aspect. This is not really so, however, because all the above words with offset accent, occassionally restore the old accent location so that many accent differences disappear. This is so, e.g., in the singular and plural article forms of the above feminine and neutral nouns: глàва – главàта, глàви – главѝте, this often occurs in the plural masculine nouns: грàдове – градовèте. This accent mobilty that distinguish all shifted-accent dialects shows also that this offset is a new phenomenon in nouns, a phenomenon that isn't complete as yet but whose completeion can be foretold even at present.

5. The accent in verbs is also very variable in Bulgarian dialects, but this variation is not so irregular as in nouns; there are some rules that it generally obeys. For example, a common rule is that the accent in present tense is the same as that in the imperfect, past finite (aorist) has the same accent as the aorist participle and the short infinitive. Exceptions from this rule are very rare: a different (offset) accent between imperfect and present tense is found in Bosilegrad dialect: against present tense плетèм, плетèш, etc., we have imperfect плèтê, плèтеше, плèтеше, плèтêмо, плèтесте, плèтеа – Gorna Lisina; клàдê, клàдеше, клàдēме, клàдēте, клàдея – Dolna Lyubata; in the village of Tlъmino there is an elongated vowel in front of the dropped x in first person singular: плèтē, плèтеше, плèтēме, плèтēте, плèтеа. Another common rule is that the accent do not fall at the end vowels in the first and second person plural but in some dialects from the same region (Bosilegrad) we find also an end accent (плетемò or плетемè and плететè), which reminds for a similar accentisation in Slovenian and Serbian (ломѝмо, ломѝте). Such accent is found in Gorna Lyubata, Bozhitsa, Nazъritsa (-мò, -тè), Rayantsi, Gorno and Dolno Uino, Kalotina, Tlъmino, and Dukat (-мè, -тè).

Also, different groups of verbs have more regular accent than nouns. For example, verbs ending in -ам have almost the same accent everywhere, or if it is variable in groups of dialects, it follows certain rules, so that it doesn't seem irregular. The accent is the same in present tense, imperfect, and imperative: пѝтам, пѝташ, пѝта, пѝтаме, пѝтате, пѝтат; пѝтах, пѝташе, пѝтахме, пѝтахте, пѝтаха; пѝтай, пѝтайте. Although the other forms (past finite, infinitive, and aorist participle) are differently accented in different dialects, their accents are the same in the same dialects: питàх, питà, питàл, or пѝтах, пѝта, пѝтал.

Also the same is the accent in verbs ending in -еш and -иш, and those ending in -e.

We find some variation in verbs ending in -и, some of which have an offset accent in the central and western dialect groups:

блàжиш, брàздиш, вàриш, гàсиш, глàвиш, гòриш, грàдиш, дèлиш, дрòбиш, ду̀шиш, кàдиш, клèчиш, кòриш, кòсиш, крѝвиш, лèпиш, лѝчиш, лòвиш, мъ̀рсиш, плàстиш, пòтиш се, рèдиш, сàдиш, сòлиш, тòпиш, рòдиш, рàниш, цàдиш, цъ̀фтиш, благослòвиш, весèлиш, благодàриш, забрàдиш

In the Northern and Rhodopa dialects the old end accent in these verbs is preserved: блажѝш, варѝш, etc.

Leaving aside individual verbs, which may have some variable accent, we turn our attention to the accent in the different verb forms:

A. Present tense. In the Northern group, the end accent is conserved in all verbs which oxytonate in Standard Bulgarian: четà (четъ̀), четèш, четè, четèм, четèте, четъ̀т; държà, държѝш, държѝ, държѝм, държѝте, държàт; such is the accent also in all northwestern dialects in which this form in first person singular ends in -м: плетèм, държѝм, etc. But in the central, and especially the west-central dialects, and in all Rhodopa dialects, the accent is largely offset in the first person present in all oxytone verbs: плèта, чèта, прèда, клàда, òра, дъ̀ржа, тъ̀рпа, гъ̀рма, въ̀рта, etc.

This offset is transmitted from simple to prepositional verbs in which the accent falls on the prefix: да зàплета, да прѝдържа, да ѝзора, etc. Thus, we can establish a common rule for these dialects (Southern accent group) that the accent falls on the first syllable in all finite verbs. Cf. the Serbian accent: ломѝмо, ломѝте but: да слȍми̂мо, да слȍми̂те.

Such accent on the prefix is found also in some Middle Mountain (east-central) dialects, it occurs in some dialects further north (Teteven, Lukovit, etc.) in which otherwise the northern accent dominates but this offset (if can be called so because it is older than the usual northeastern accent in these forms), this offset is limited only in the prefixed monosyllable verbs: да зàспа, да у̀мра, да зàвра, да пòдпра, etc., and is not so general as in the west-central and Rhodopa dialects. Moreover, while an accent like да у̀мра, etc. in the Middle Mountain, etc. dialects occurs in all persons and numbers of present tense, the accent да зàплета, etc., is limited only to the first person singular while the other persons have dynamic accent: да заплетèш, заплетè, заплетèме, заплетèте, заплетàт.

The dialects of Sofia region which are influenced by the southern (central) and northern (Trъn-Pirot) dialects, split in two: some, in which the central form for first person singular present tense -a predominates, offset the accent in this form, and others in which the suffix for first person singular present tense predominates, keep the old dynamic accent: плетèм, да речèм, etc. We have to stress here that there is no such variation in the southern, Rhodopa, etc. dialects where are also 2 forms for the first person singular present (-a and -м) and still in all Rhodopa dialects and in the dialects of Ser, Petrich, and Demir-Hisar where this verb form is with , the accent in it is offset: зàминам, прòвудеам, ѝзвадеам, òднеасам, ѝзлеазам – from Ustovo; òковѫм, пòзлатьѫм – Demir-Hisar.

There are some exclusions from this rule. For at least one Rhodopa dialect (Chòkmanovo) when the accent falls on the first syllable in prpositional verbs, the above form for first person present is pronounced without м: ѝзлеазя, пòзлатя; otherwise, if the form ends in м in prepositional verbs and the accent is not on the first syllable: да излеàзам, да позлàтям.

B. Past finite tense (aorist). We have in mind here the aorist in the vocal verb roots, or better, verbs ending in a and и because the other verbs have almost the same accent in all indefinite-accent dialects. According to the accent in the aorist, Bulgarian indefinite-accent dialects are divided in the following 3 regions:

1) dialects with end (old) accent for this form: дигнàх, задигнàх, молѝх, помолѝх. Such accent predominates in the western and west-central dialects and goes further south as far as Melnik, but Rhodopa dialects remain outside this region.

Some dialects from the Western dialect group keep the old accent in the aorist form but in second and third person they offset it to the prefix in prepositional verbs: прèстану, у̀стану. Such accent in aorist occurs in some Sofia dialects that are closer to the Western accent group: кой те нàреди, пòмами, у̀тече, ѝзбегна. This accent is probably not a new offset, having in mind the Serbian accent in similar forms: у̏̏тече, ȍплете, ȍпрêде, у̏̏краде, etc.

2) dialects with semi-offset accent: дигнàх but задѝгнах, молѝх but помòлих; it is characteristic for the western part of the Northern accent group (Lom, Vidin, Oryahovo, Pleven, Vratsa, Botevgrad) as well as for many Middle Mountain and Balkan towns (Etropole, Teteven, Lukovit, some Lovech villages, Troyan, Pirdop, Koprivshtitsa, Panagyurishte, Sopot, Karlovo, Kalofer, Kazanlъk, Kotel). The accent in the aorist in these dialects depends on whether the verb is simple or prepositional; non-prepositional verbs have end accent: дигнàх, молѝх, while prepositional verbs have end accent: подѝгнах, помòлих. This accent penetrates also in Standard Bulgarian.

3) dialects with offset accent: дѝгнах, подѝгнах, мòлих, помòлих. This accent in aorist is used in the remaining northeastern dialects: Shumen, Razgrad, Tъrnovo, Ruse, Gabrovo, Tryavna, Elena, Sevlievo, Lovech, Svishtov, Sliven, Stara and Nova Zagora, Chirpan as well as all Rhodopa dialects. In these dialects, the accent in past finite depends on the accent in present tense: мòля – мòлих, да пàдна – пàднах, държà – държàх, да горà – горѝх, да подарà – подарѝх, etc.

The same 3 regions are formed according to the accent in the old-time infinitive which is now a defective indefinite form: падна-, моли-, държа-, etc. This form obeys the same accent rules as the aorist: паднàх-паднà-ща, пàднах-пàдна-ща, etc. This gives us additional right to consider the aorist form in Bulgarian as the true substitute of the old infinitive, in the classification of the Bulgarian verb; moreover, since we know that the aorist form at present is very viable verb form while the defective infinitive is disused.

As said, the aorist participle has the same accent as in the aorist.

C. Imperative. Here, the above 3 accent groups are very well delineated, too.

The accent in the imperative is best preserved in the Northern group, while the Southern and Western groups have offset which is distributed in the following way:

The Southern accent group represents dialects which have offset accent in the first person singular present tense, they offset the accent also in the imperative mood second person singular: да плàта – плàти!, да зàплата – зàплати! In some dialects neighbouring the Southern group there is an accent offset only in first person present tense while the imperative keeps the old accent: да зàплата but заплатѝ (Teteven). Now this offset occurs only in singular while in plural the old accent is kept: платèте, заплатèте, etc. Only in some southernmost dialects around Demir-Hisar and Drama this offset is kept also in plural: плàтите, зàплатите, плèтите, òплетите, нàберите, etc. (Gorno Brodi).

There is also offset in the Western group but it is not spread in the whole group nor does it behave in the same way as in the Southern group. As to the direction of this offset, in the most northern central dialects it is not fully established because, if some enclitic comes after the imperative form, the old accent is restored; for example, in Botevgrad where they say: ѝди, мъ̀лчи, òтвори, дѝгни, стàни, пòгледни, зèми, simultaneously say also: научѝ-ме, претрупѝ-ме, запалѝ-ме, задомѝ-се, цафтѝ-ми, etc.

While the accent in the Southern group is offset only in the second person singular, going to the prefix, in the Western group the accent is offset also in plural but does not go to the prefix if the verb is prepositional: плàти, плàтите but also заплàти, заплàтите.

Fixed (three-syllabic) accent

These dialects come into the middle between indefinite-shifting and more definitely accented dialects both in their geographic location and their accent characteristic. They border to the north and east the region of the dynamic indefinite accent, to the west with the third-syllabic (Veles) accent, and to the south-west, around Tikvesh and Doyran, they border two other accent systems. More definitely, this accent is found in the regions of Kratovo, Kochani, Shtip, Radovish, and Strumitsa, and by its properties it is closest to the dynamic accent, especially to the accent of the southmost dialects of the Southern group, e.g. Demir-Hisar and Drama, where the offset in nouns reach its maximum.

Although the reach of this accent is not so great, it comprises 3 types of dialects; Kratovo dialect (part of it) to the north, Shtip dialect in the middle, and Strumitsa dialect to the south. Kratovo-dialect belongs to the Bulgarian dialects in northern Macedonia but has admixtures from those from central Macedonia (кь-гь, ѫ → у and a, ъ → ъ and o, ь → ъ and e); Shtip dialect is Bulgarian dialect from central Macedonia, as are the Veles, Prilep, and Bitola dialects (кь-гь, ѫ → a, ъ → o, ь → e); Strumitsa dialect is also mainly a Bulgarian dialect from central Macedonia, but it is similar to Kukush-Voden dialect with many admixtures from the central Bulgarian щ-жд dialects (щ-жд and кь-гь, ѫ → a, ъ → o and a, ь → e and a).

The main characteristic trait of this accent, called for short Shtip-Strumitsa accent is its accent stability: each word has the same accent in all its forms, there is no offset, there is no backward shift in the sense of that occuring in the shifting-accent dialects. The Shtip-Strumitsa accent brought to the extreme the accent offset occuring to different degrees in the dialects further east. Accordingly, all nouns with offset accent, which in the shift-accent dialects were considered exceptions, here are accented correctly, namely:

1. Monosyllable nouns with shifting accent keep the accent on the root vowel also in the articled form and in plural: грàдо, брèго, мèдо, срàмо, дòжго, врàто, сàдо, нòсо; грàдове, брèгове, пòдове, бèсове, грèхове.

2. Two-syllable feminine nouns known in the indefinite-accent dialects as shifting, here keep one and the same accent on the root vowel both in singular and plural, with article or without: глàва, у̀зда, ѝгла, брàда, вòда, òса, ду̀ша, лàжа, òвца, трàва; глàвата, ѝглата; брàди, брàдите, тòрба, тòрбите, etc. This includes words of Turkish origin such as: чàлма, тòрба, пàша, чèшма, кàвга, etc.

3. Neutral nouns follow the same rule: прòсо, лѝце, òро, кàче, дèте, съ̀рце; прòсото, òра, лѝца, дèца, съ̀рцата, я̀йцата, etc.

4. Monosyllable adjectives and pronouns which in many eastern dialects have established accent.

Accent in verbs is also constant and obeying common rules so that we don't have verb groups with different accents for the same form as we have with the indefininte-accent dialects.

A. Present tense in all verbs has accent on the root vowel: плèтам (Shtip-Strumitsa), плèтат, плèте, плèтеме, плèтете, плèтат; тъ̀рпам, тъ̀рпеш, тъ̀рпе, тъ̀рпаме, тъ̀рпате, тъ̀рпе; глèдам, глèдаш, глèда, глèдаме, глèдате, глèдат; and because the vowel у does not drop in verbs ending in -увам, in order to keep uniform, the accent in these verbs falls on this у so that we have not only: милу̀ам, милу̀аш, сраму̀ам се, цару̀ам, купу̀ам, збору̀ам, etc., but also: веру̀ам, прикажу̀ам, качу̀ам, поклату̀ам, надваксу̀ам, облечу̀ам, никну̀а, кажу̀ам, срекьу̀ам, завиду̀ам, etc. – without exception.

B. Imperfect follows the present tense as in other Bulgarian dialects: плèтê, плèтеше, плèтēме, плèтēте, плèтеа (Shtip); тъ̀рпê, тъ̀рпеше, тъ̀рпēме, etc.

C. Past finite (aorist) form and the aorist participle keeps the old accent, probably by neighbourhood influence from central Bulgarian dialects to the east which, as we saw above, have uniform end accent in this form: станā̀, станà, станā̀ме, станā̀те, станàа; учи̂̀, учѝ, учѝ̄ме, учѝ̄те, учѝа; плетò̂, плетè, плетò̄ме, плетò̄те, плетòа; станàл, учѝл, учѝле; but also and the aorist participle: плетèн, печèн, учèн, писàн, etc.

D. The imperative has also a constant accent which is offset in the same way as in the other central dialect to the east: плèти, нàплети, у̀чи, нàучи; with the only difference that in plural the accent keeps its place: плèтете, у̀чите; additionally, by analogy verbs ending in ам have an accent on the first syllable: ѝзрипай, вѝтосай се.

All words (nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc.), known from eastern Bulgarian as words with fixed accent, in the Shtip-Strumitsa dialects have the accent on the same syllable as in the eastern Bulgarian. Because these words are very much, the accent in Kochani, Shtip, and Strumitsa dialects in many cases is the same as in the dynamic accent group. Exception are the few words which have in dynamic accent group an accent on the fourth syllable from the end; they shift the accent two syllables towards the end. That's why it seems that the Shtip-Strumitsa accent prefers the three last syllables.

According to the relationship with the dynamic heterosyllable accent, words in Shtip-Strumitsa dialect are divided in three categories:

1. Words with the same accent as the dynamic accent system; they are the most because, as said above, here are included all monosyllable, two-syllable and three-syllable nouns which do not shift their accent in the dialects with heterosyllable accent:

1. Words with accent on the last syllable
другàр, офчàр, грънчàр, свиня̀р, пудàр, говедàр, пазàр, кантàр; орàч, селàч, копàч; коня̀к, колàк, мустàк, петàк, жабуня̀к, капàк, калпàк, чардàк; язѝк, топлѝк, божѝк, помокьнѝк, кравàй, разбòй, дармòн, панагòн, човèк, ширòк, висòк, орề, длабòк, пелѝн, туту̀н, пау̀н, сокòл, пишчòл, дикèл, сиромà̂, меу̀р, немту̀р, карау̀л, бършля̀н, родàн, гърклàн, фидàн, тупàн, бостàн; зелèн, цървèн, кърстàт, сакàт, окàт, брадàт, рогàт, страшлѝв, зборлѝв, цървѝв, бодлѝв, дебèл; греотà, срамотà; назàд, напрèд, еднàш, озгòр, оздòл, спротѝ, дурѝ
2. Words with accent on the penultimate syllable
òблак, дèлник, кàтник, перàтник, змия̀рник, пèпел, ѝзвор, гòспод, кòрен, прèшлен, гàрван, дуòмник, калу̀гер, бу̀мбар, вàглен, òбраз, прèкор, прѝсме, прѝкас, пòплак, зàлак, чифу̀тин, лажòвен, прия̀тел, попàра, свекъ̀рва, недèля, кошу̀ля, царѝца, жътѝца, лубенѝца, матнѝца, лесѝца, полѝца, магарѝца, лажѝца, калѝнка, маслѝнка, погàча, годѝна, роднѝна, мешѝна, капѝна, грамàда, ливàда, верѝги, дисàги, петèлка, кобѝлка, кокòшка, пону̀да, невèста, леву̀са, камѝла, секѝра, копрѝва, женѝдба, топòла, вергѝа, попадѝа, ефтинѝа, скапѝа, Софѝа, невòля, опàшка, мотовѝла, кукувѝца, каленѝца, умирàчка, живеня̀чка, велешàнка, тиквешàнка, струмиджàнка, радовишàнка; раковàтка, сировàтка, кираджѝка, дългокòса, краткоу̀мна, добровòльна; вретèно, корѝто, копѝто, огнѝшче, бунѝшче, патѝло, бесѝло, точѝло, говèдо, желèзо, колèно, детèнце, колèнце, вретèнце (Strumitsa: детѝнце, колѝнце, вретѝнце, etc.), кандѝлце, огледàло
3. Words with accent on the third syllable from the end
рàбота, сàбота, мàшчеа, бàница, мàтица, пàзуа, кòшница, я̀годи, нѝшчелки, ку̀ковден, лèтоска, чèтири, кѝсело, бѝтолски, ку̀чешки, тàтковци, кѝлаво, лѝгаво, тèнджере, я̀лова, кàманье, сèкаде, сèкогаш, зàечко, зàлудо, кòпиле, èзеро, Сàмоков, Рàдомир, Цàриград, вèщица, въ̀рбница, кадèлница (Strumitsa: кадѝлница), кàшлица, чу̀брица, владѝчина, цървоя̀дина (Strumitsa: червотòчина), ѝстина, фу̀трина, кòзина, я̀рина, нà-вода, пò-лудо, пò-врат; дебѝ-муа, влачѝ-клашно

Further comparison is difficult because words with more frontal accent are rare, and many are lacking in these dialects: бѝволица, ту̀павица (Strumitsa: тèпавица), Тòдорица, Кòстадиница, Кòстовица. At the same time there is a trend in these dialects to avoid such accent because instead of сѝпаница they say сипанѝца, крàставица → краставѝца, съ̀ботничав → съботнѝчав, which can be interpreted by analogy with other dialects with similar accent.

2. Words with offset accent. These are all words which in the eastern dialects are known as words with shifting accent. The exception, as long as such exist, stems from some accent analogy which is strong in these dialects. The offset occurs in the same words as in the eastern dialects but in the Shtip-Strumitsa dialect the old accent is not restored and the offset occurs in all forms in a given word.

3. Words with accent shifted backwards in comparison with dynamic accent. Most of these are verbs or verb forms (participles and verbal nouns). Accent isn't offset as in the eastern dialects because of quantitet or some other mysterious reasons, but mostly as a result of accent analogy in order to achieve a uniform accent. Such accent is found in:

1. Verbs ending in -увам pronounced -уам in Shtip веру̀ам, уносу̀ам, обвързу̀ам, поклату̀ам, etc. in analogy with цару̀вам, робу̀вам, купу̀вам, etc.
2. Passive participles in -ен, -ан, -ат (-ет) умислèн, издадèн, натоварèн, направèн, пушчèн, исписàн, собирàн, прокопсàн, порачàн, престегнàт, фанàт, поклонèт, неканèт in clear analogy with eastern dialects: градèн, гасèн, спасèн, орàн, ковàн, махнàт, заклèт, etc.
3. Verbal nouns одèнье, гледàнье, продавàнье, according to: градèне, копàне, имàне, махàне. Having in mind that the accent махàне, имàне is older than мàхане, ѝмане it is easily seen that the Shtip-Strumitsa accent in these words is the old not offset accent.
4. Nouns ending in ѝца, ѝна enumerated above and probably supplemented with others.

It is seen from the above that the Shtip-Strumitsa accent is closest to the dynamic accent and yet it constitutes a separate accent system because it lacks the mobility and definiteness that are characteristic for the dynamic accent. By the effect of analogy, here the accent obeys common rules, which make it semi-definitive. To stress this characteristic even more, let's add that these dialects exhibit a clear trend to limit the accent to the last two syllables; an exception are only the imperative forms with accent in the beginning which are inherited from the east and are not local. It is evident that according to accent these dialects approach the accent system of the Kukush-Voden dialect which has limited the accent of all words to the last two syllables and classified as semi-definite accent first stage.

Semi-definite accent

Two-syllabic first stage accent

This accent, which we'll call Voden accent for short, is characteristic for the dialects of Voden, Mъglen, Gevgelia, and Gyumurdzina; in Kukush, Doyran, and the villages north-west of Solun, there is almost the same accent but mixed from the dialects with shifting accent to the east.

The Voden accent is the second stage of Shtip-Strumitsa accent or the third stage of the dynamic accent. It can be derived equally weel from either: all accent analogues, either in nouns or in verbs and participles, which distinguish the Shtip accent from the dynamic accent, are characteristic also for the Voden accent; and all words with penultimate or end accent which are not affected by these analogies, are the same as in the dynamic accent. A Voden-specific property are only cases in which Shtip-Strumitsa dactyls become trochees, and these can be derived from dynamic accent which also has them.

The Voden accent is as fixed as the Shtip-Strumitsa accent: each word keeps its basic accent in all its morphological modifications (number, declension, or person); therefore, the accent is such that when changing the form of the word, it doesn't go behind the penultimate syllable. There are very few words with a dactyl accent.

In the Voden accent, as in the Shtip-Strumitsa accent, there is an accent offset in all words with shifting accent, i. e. in monosyllable nouns and adjectives, in two-syllable female and neutral nouns, verbs are the same but with another (reduced) pronunciation; in the imperative, the accent is not in the beginning but on the root vowel, i.e. it doesn't fall on the prefix as in Shtip-Strumitsa, but on the root vowel as far as it doesn't contradict the common phonetic principles of this dialect. First we'll describe the dialect in the declensed words.

Two- and poly-syllable nouns and adjectives with an accent on the last syllable in Shtip-Strumitsa and dynamic accent, keep this accent also in the Voden dialect:

пау̀н, сокòл, тъпàн, пелѝн, патладжàн, езѝк, меху̀р, фидàн, брадàт, сакàт, сарàй, ширòк, висòк, дибèл, илèн, зелèн, голèм, чувèк, живòт, майму̀н, харèм, манастѝр, тимя̀н, Ивàн, Стуя̀н, сирумàх, загàр, бирбèр, другàр, златàр, уфчàр, кузàр, свинàр, патрѝк, граматѝк, тувàр, кужу̀х, пишàк, мустàк, юнàк, турлàк, мигдàн, кувàч, купàч, лувàч, вампѝр, урмàн, уртàк, амбàр, килàр, парамòн, кумàт, гирдàн, кафèс, кунàк, благусòв, курàб, сеймèн, ибришѝм, шегъ̀рт, аршѝн, Дойчѝн, Пирѝн, ръкàв, аргàт, стройнѝк, пампòр, братучèд

All participles have the same accent as in the Shtip-Strumitsa dialect, and in Voden dialect they are formed in the same way as in Shtip-Strumitsa:

наближѝл, послушàл, излизèл, удèл, фатѝл, плитèн, будèн, глидàн, сия̀н, купувàн, викнàт, дигнàт, стигнàт, тръгнàт

From words with accent on the second syllable in dynamic and Shtip-Strumitsa accents, the same in Voden dialect are only those ending in vowel, i.e. female and neutral nouns:

тимнѝца, царѝца, кушу̀ля, вирѝги, пуну̀да, нивèста, пулувѝна, пугàча, гудѝна, ливàда, кукòшка, тупòла, нивòля, (о)пàшка, килѝа, пупадѝа, вражàрка, баснàрка, вуйвòда, пустèля, калѝнка, кралѝца, пипиру̀га, тимину̀шка, пудлòшка, кулѝба, мутѝка, дивòйка, свитѝца, питàчка, градѝна, лисѝца, нидèля, мастагàрка, икòна, луднѝна, пулàта, кирмѝда, пипилàшка, вудинѝца, къпѝни, чърнѝца, увòйки, итъ̀рва, купрѝва, бунèла, владѝка, нау̀ка, пупàра, кадъ̀на, кукòна, гъркѝна, вичèра, фурту̀на, душѝца, ливàда, парѝчки, накувàлна, систрѝчка, самувѝла, пану̀кла, куру̀ба, самовѝлски; рудѝлу, сулѝлу, съдѝлу, углидàлу, жилèзу, юнàству, партàлче, уфчàрче, сирàче, дървѝче, вустàнче, прегàче, курѝту, гувèду, купѝту, бунѝшче, угнѝшче

Male nouns and adjectives, paroxytones in Shtip-Strumitsa or dynamic accents, are treated ambiguously in Voden dialect: those keeping the same number of syllables when forming vocal forms (female and neutral gender, plural), i.e. they have ъ and ь in the suffix syllable, keep their old accent:

(о)пѝнук → пѝнци, дубѝтук → дубѝци, лàкът → лàхти, нòкът → нòхти, вèтък → вèтка, ѝтър → ѝтра, мъ̀ндър → мъ̀ндру, тòпъл → тòплу, мòкър → мòкра, òстър → òстри, крòтук → крòтка, тъ̀нък → тъ̀нка, стàриц → стàрци, глàдин → глàдни, жèдин, прàзин, лèтин, имòтин, ту̥̀рчин → ту̀рци, съ̀рбин → съ̀рби, etc.

Nouns and adjectives which in their vocal forms get one more syllable, in the Voden dialect has the accent shifted backwards and then we have not гàрван but гаврàн, not гъ̀лъб but гълъ̀б, not шàрен but шарèн, not срèбрен but сребрèн, not лèшник but лешнѝк, and also корèн, йодèр (=òдър), Богдàн, Стамбу̀л, Филѝп, месèц, пуя̀с, баèр, ичмèн (=ечемик), вичèр (пуд вичèри), бисèр, извòр, убàв, ангèли, утклю̀ч, утвòр, пукрòв, еничàр; here come all participles with backwards shifted accent such as: найдèн, дигнàт, флизèл, etc. There are very few exceptions, and those are mostly words that have no plural such as: пèпъл, лю̀буф, кàдиш (кадèж), гòспод (in Voden dialect the final is vocal: гòспу).

All declensed words that have an accent on the third or fourth syllable from the end get penultimate accent in Voden dialect:

рабòта, събòта, банѝца, матѝца, пазу̀ва, пенчèра, заèчко, камèйнъ, футрѝна, истѝна, читу̀ра, облàчно, дървèну (масло), ядèйне, лютèйне, бигàйне, струмнѝчка, муриòфски, брадавѝца, типавѝца, радòсин, ябу̀лка, деспòта, силя̀нче, ипархѝа, майчѝчка, машчèа, фъртòма, грубѝшча, момчѝна, ластовѝца, каменѝца, ноговѝца (Kirechkyoy), пътѝшча, за прикажѝшче, сирèйне, свирèйне, типàйне, силя̀ни, бугàри, пусистрѝма, царшчѝна, стулнѝна, пладнѝна, пулатѝчка, грàда Будѝма, удзгурнѝна, малèчко, пея̀не, Стамбу̀ла, пернѝца, ирибѝца, дивойчѝни двори, Димитрѝва майка, Еленчѝце, гуспудину̀ва, сараèфка, Солунèнче, галèнко; here come also the plurals of male monosyllable nouns which as we saw, are dactyls in Shtip dialect: царòви, ключòви, праòви, димòви, сватòви, пърчòви, грубòви, синòви, миòви (=мехове), либòви (=хлябове), мракòви, лафòви, нужòви, вулòви, etc.

Also, dactyl numerals has shifted their accent: двадèсе, тридèсе, педèсе, дивидèсе, четѝри; also in composite words such as: кълви-òчи, Свита-гòра, добъ̀рден, Стратинòджа (Kirechkyoy). Taking into account that oxytones as: убавѝна, младѝна, страмòта (Kirechkyoy), гулемѝна, пъстъ̀рма, меàна, планѝна, пилèна, лютѝна, чудѝнци (Kirechkyoy), правѝна, кривѝна, etc. have offset their accent on the penultimate syllable, we can very well understand the common rule for the Voden accent, at least for declensed words: all words in Voden accent are either oxytones or paroxytones depending on whether they end in consonant or vowel.

In verbs, the accent is somewhat different. More exactly, there we have the same two-syllabic accent, however in order to understand some apparent exceptions, we must take into account the phonetics of Voden dialect which can help to see here the common accent principle of the Voden accent. First let's see which verb forms comply to the common accent principle and which apparently deviate from it. Deviating are: first and second person present tense plural: плèтиме, плèтите, and then all persons and numbers of past infinite tense (except first person): плèтише, плèтихме, плèтихте, плèтиха; all other verb forms are accented exactly according to the above rule: плèтъм, плèтиш, плèте, плèтът; in aorist: плетèх, плетè, плетèхме, плетèхте, плетèа; викнàх, викнà, викнàхме, викнàхте, викнàха; imperative: плèти, плèтейте, вѝкай, викàйте. Therefore, the above deviations would have been the only exceptions from the common accent law of the Voden accent, exceptions that may have been interpreted as remnants of the old (dynamic) accent which was used in the past in Voden region. These exceptions could be able to violate the common law of Voden accent. However, if we look closer in the pronunciation of these verb forms, we can easily see that here, too, the accent principle is complied to; because forms like плèтиме, плèтите are not pronounced as three-syllable words but the middle vowel is shortened to such extent that it becomes ь: плèтьме, плèтьте. A similar shortening can be seen also in other words: дèтьту, врàтьте, градѝньте, чѝньте. In the same way are interpreted 2 and 3 person singular and 3 person plural of the imperfect: плèтьте, плèтя. Then the only exception would be 1 and 2 person plural: плèтихме, плèтихте. As exceptions from the common accent rule of the Voden dialect could be considered the verbal adverbs which are usually with accent on the 4th syllable from the end: бидèшчимица, одèшчимица, игрàшчимица; here, it seems, the end -ица or -мица has been added later to the former simple participle: бидèшчи, одèшчи, or бидèшчим, одèшчим – hence, this apparent exception from the common rule. Otherwise, as we saw, this rule is very widely obeyed.

Two-syllabic second-stage accent

This accent which we'll call Tikvesh-Moriovo accent is characteristic for the dialects of Tikvesh and Moriovo, two central sub-regions of the Macedonia region, which have almost the same west-central Bulgarian dialect.

The main distinctive characteristic of Tikvesh-Moriovo accent is that it falls on 2 definite syllables, namely penultimate, and the third from the end but it never falls on the last syllable.

First, some characteristics of the dialect.

Tikvesh-Moriovo dialect is west central Bulgarian кь-гь dialect, which by its characteristics stands between central Macedonian and Pianets dialects. The distinctive traits of this dialect, in addition to accent, are:

1. щ-жд reflects in шч-ждж or in кь-гь: пу̀шча, глòждже, кръшчèнье, горешчѝна, нишчèлки, ну̀жджа, срèшчу, пешчèра, овòшче; плèкьи, вèгьи, свèкя, мѝгю, нòкье, ку̀кя, кьерка.

2. ѫ → а: мàка, рàка, желàди, капѝна, мàшко дете, унàтре, etc. with some variations, characteristic also for other west-central Bulgarian dialects: бу̀брек, гу̀ска, желу̀док, ку̀со, пу̀пка, суд, гу̀жва; also: фану̀ло, яну̀ло.

3. ъ → о, ь → е with some exceptions characteristic also for other west-central Bulgarian dialects: лажа, магла, танко, лажѝца, макна.

4. ръ → ръ, лъ → ъ: пръстен, цръвени, прегрънале, връвеле; ябъка, жътица, съзи, въна, вък.

5. 1 person singular in verbs always ends in a: пеа, прата, макна.

6. 3 person singular in verbs of second conjugation has always e instead of и: моле, виде.

7. definite article is -от: пàтот, врàтот.

8. язе instead of я (аз); и instead of ги; му instead of им.

Tikvesh-Mariovo accent is a transition between Shtip-Voden and Kostur accent; its special property is to avoid the last syllable and to limit the accent on the 2 penultimate syllables.

According to this accent, all Shtip-Voden or dynamic accent oxytones become paroxytones: чòвек, ю̀нак, рàкав, èрген, òрел, стòпан, пàзар, тèлар (телалин), бàйрак, сàндък, чèис, пàвун, сту̀ден, òбраз, сѝнджир, шѝник, àбер, боздòган, сирòма; but when the word declenses, the dynamic accent is restored: човèци, юнàци, ракàви, ергèни, стопàни, студèни, юнàче, паву̀ни, синджѝри, обрàзи, сиромàси; also female nouns: рòса, мàгла, сèстра, вèдро, у̀ста, планѝна, срамòта, пелèни, меàна, тамбу̀ра, etc.

Obviously, if a word has a paroxytone accent in the dynamic system, the accent does not change place (remains paroxytone) in Tikvesh-Mariovo:

годѝна, грамàда, капѝна, рачѝца, голèма, чифчѝче, базригя̀ни, шамѝа, ослепèла, онемèла, кралѝца, недèля, горèла, робѝнка, царѝца, каву̀рка, вдовѝца, кадъ̀на, самовѝла, собрàле, сопѝла, фанàле, богàта, незнàйна, свекръ̀ва, девòйка, солèна, рашèто, заòгя, йегу̀мен, капѝа, клису̀ра, темнѝца, темничàрче, бележѝти, ракѝа, црънѝци, кукувѝци, зелèна, висòки, дивàни, замръ̀зне, кобѝлка, петнàйсет, шеснàйсет, белоглàво, напрèла, вретèна, магàре, орàнье, отидòа, топòли, etc.

The dynamic accent proparoxytones are treated variously: some remain pro­paroxy­­tones, and others become par­oxy­tones. Only those proparoxytones remain which are such in the Shtip-Strumitsa accent while all those that transformed in paroxytones in Shtip-Strumitsa, are such also in Tikvesh-Mariovo accent.

Proparoxytones are mostly verb forms: кàжеме, тèрайте, фръ̀лале, помѝнеме, врàтиме, излèземе, ѝдеме. свъ̀ршиме, стòрите, стàните, чѝнете, дъ̀ржеше, шѝеше, гàнуло, фàнуло; regularly in the imperative forms: òстави, нàбери, ѝзнеси, дòнеси, зàмини, etc. In addition, this third syllable accent occurs in many possessive adjectives, as well as in many other words:

Мàрини, пòпова, гя̀кова, Ду̀нава, Прàово, сàбота, свѝлена; лàгънца, у̀бава, свàтови, ку̀мови, Лàзара, фъ̀ртома, нèкоа; also many local toponyms keep the third syllable accent: Сòтница, Мòклишча, Гю̀ргишче, Мèтковец, Гу̀мнишча, Гъ̀рбавец, Клопàтица, Къ̀ртишча, Гръ̀нчишча, Благѝевец, Долèтковец, Мустàкица, Кату̀нишча, Заднà-река, Светà-Петка, Мèлчишча, Лèсковец, Стòлови, Корѝлово, Никовàлнишче, Ковàчево, Кàмново, Бу̀ковец, Пèшчера – villages and localities in Moriovo

It is remarkable that local toponyms keep the old preparoxytone accent even in Kostur dialect which is otherwise a stringently paroxytone dialect.

The other proparoxytones are changed in paroxytones either influenced by the Shtip-Strumitsa accent or by the neighbouring Voden accent; thus we have:

скинàта, опашàна, растурèно, галèна, мамèна, зготфèна, качèна, зидàна, дадòа, облекòа, заведòа; пладнѝна, утрѝна, кладèнче; пазу̀а, Тодòрчо, кралèви, банèви, ябъ̀ка, ядѝца (въдица), здравѝца, шарèни, четѝри, Солу̀на-грàда, жалàди, месèци, побратѝма, девèре (vocative case), Йосѝва, радòсен, радòсна, ефтѝно, кисèло, галàби, Будѝма, будѝмска, бивòли, сватòви, рабòта, цигàни, цигàнка, лазàрка, два облàка

Specific Tikvesh-Moriovo are: носèше, учèше, одèше, учèа, which are not found in Voden. Unique are also: рагя̀ат, отепàат for third person plural present tense.

There are words with accent on the fourth syllable from the end in Tikvesh-Moriovo but they, too, do not violate the accent principle in this group; first, because those are very few, and second, because these words usually have 2 accents: one on the 4th syllable from the end, and other on the penultimate syllable:

мèсечѝна, крàставѝца, чèтворѝца, чòрбаджѝи, бèлогрàтка, рòбинчѝца, прèгрънàла, пàвунòво, прòговòрил, ку̀курѝгу, рòгозѝна, ру̀менлѝа, ду̀кадѝнче, бèлезѝци, мàйсторѝа, мàтенѝца

Such words show that Tikvesh-Moriovo accent prefers the penultimate syllable and the words in the last example can be considered as paroxytones which later acquire one more accent for balance – in order to keep the common accent principle because with these accent the word is split into 2 trochees: мèсе-чѝна, бèло-грàтка, прòго-вòри, etc.

As said above, Tikvesh-Moriovo accent system lacks oxytones. Only in some cases when the word is followed by an enclitic (ми, ти, си, му, го, се), the accent can be attracted on the last syllable of the main word: наружàй-се! заколѝ-си, вратѝ-се, не шетàй-се, не правѝ-ми; and even: прàшайтè-а! Свиретè-си! одетè-си! It seems that such accent shift occurs only in imperative forms and, maybe, maledictions such as: натемà-го, натемà-я!

As a general conclusion for the Tikvesh-Moriovo dialect, it can be said that it does not have the accent stability of Shtip-Strumitsa and Voden accents but it also lacks the accent mobility of the dynamic accent. It also has an additional mobility which attracts the accent on the penultimate syllable: чòвек – човèци, сту̀ден – студèни, òбраз – обрàзи, бàба — бабѝчка, etc. This mobility brings Tikvesh-Moriovo accent very close to the Kostur second-syllable accent.

Definite accent

Second-syllable accent

To the west of the Voden and Tikvesh-Moriovo accent, in the regions of Kaylar, Lerin, Kostur, Korcha, and Dolna Prespa in the southern-most part of Macedonia, are Bulgarian dialects with definite penultimate (paroxytone, second-syllable from the end) accent. These dialects to the west border with Albanian, to the south – with Greek element.

Although these dialects are very homogeneous grammatically, they can be split in 2 halves according to some phonetic traits: the eastern half includes the dialects of Kaylar and Lerin and the western half includes Korcha and Dolna Prespa. Dialects in the Kostur region take somewhat intermediate position as those are central for the Kostur accent system. Both halves are outside the central Bulgarian dialects and yet by the tj-dj reflex belong to the major Bulgarian щ-дж dialect area. Other common traits are the substitutions ѫ → ъ, ън in root vowels and ѫ → а in end vowels, ъ → о and ь → е, ръ, лъ → ър, ъл, as well as -o as a common article form for masculine gender.

Along these similarities, one finds the following phonetic and morphological differences between the 2 halves:

Western half
Eastern half
1. Pronunciation of nasals ѫ and ѧ
ъ, а, e, ън, ен
ъ, а, e
2. tj-dj reflex
шч, ждж
щ, жд
3. Suffix in first person singular present tense of the first and second conjugation verbs
-ам, -ъм
4. Suffix in third person plural present tense
5. Suffix in third person plural aorist

ойдѝе, казàе, носѝе

ойдòа, казàа, носѝа

Generally speaking, only the western half preserves completely the Kostur (penultimate) accent in all its regularity while the eastern half is influenced either by Voden or Tikvesh-Moriovo accents. In the Kostur region there is indeed a strong tendency to get to the penultimate by dropping the second last unaccented vowel, but there are still plenty of examples of third-syllable accent, especially in grammatically modified words: пàдниме, стòриме, лю̀дята, пернѝците, плèшчите [9], p. 14-18.

The properties of the Kostur accent are so clear, that it is enough to listen to a Kostur native or read a folk tale from the Kostur region marked with accents to convince yourself that in the Kostur dialect there is an infallible rule according to which the accent always falls on the penultimate syllable in all words:

бабѝчка, борѝна, сучèше, чешлàше, леèше, знаèло, чешлàе (чешлàха), научѝе, месечѝна, конду̀ри, зборвàше, секòа, неженèто, галèно, пътѝшча, четѝри, затворèни, гробѝшча, пазу̀ва, имàше, имàте, фъргàте, сетнѝна, лазàрка, теглèше, пенчу̀ри, дрънгòви, мъртòевц, панàир, съмбòта, зентòви, пендèси, четрѝма, дваèсе, триèсе, горешчѝна, облàчно, пътнѝци; тèмян, Рѝстос, гьèрдан, три месèци, ключòви, вангèлье, отворèни, испея̀но, нафòра, подадèна, за есèна, Митрòвден, пушвàше, покланèтье, ерембѝца, езèро, копринèни, веèше, бегàше, карàше, смеèше, мъглèше, здивàше, пофалю̀ва, надвикну̀ва, Солу̀на, Косту̀ра, надигру̀ва, надфърлю̀ва, зевàйне, посестрѝма, пернѝца, убàва мòма, гърмèви, тътнèви, тъмпàни, Янку̀ла, Янкулѝца, клàди, пелèни, негòви, синòви, печèно, точèно, стребрèна, кацнàла, царòви, прикьосàна, китèна, служèна, плакàно, къпàно, месèни, наднàто, повенàто, триндафѝля, кладèнци, ябъ̀лки, шарèно, борѝна, планѝна, темнѝна, улѝца, девèри, сребрèни, пърстèни, кървàви, малечкòво, кисèла, сирèйне, орàйне, гладàйне, гредèйне, дванадèсе, тринадèсе, Пейовѝца, Груйовѝца, невестѝнски, таткòви, сборòви, Янѝни, момѝни, Пейòви, върòви, язòви, etc.

Fixing the accent on the penultimate syllable is done in 3 ways: (1) most often by direct fixation through shifting accent from other syllables to the penultimate: бабѝчка, печèно, убàва мòма, кладèнци, имàше, Вàсиль, etc., etc.; (2) contraction of the penultimate syllable so that a third-syllable accent slips to the second (penultimate) syllable: Булгàря, Албàня, Гъ̀рця, Астрàля, двàйста, движèнье, etc.; (3) combination of short words in phrases with an overall penultimate accent: нàт-три, нàт-сто, два-пъ̀та, на-тàкво, ка-изгòре, и-зà-то, etc.

An exception are only 2 verb forms – for first and second person plural present tense which are with accent on the third syllable from the end: стàниме, фàтиме, стòрите, дàдите, ѝмате, etc. unlike aorist and imperfect which have an immutable penultimate accent: имàме, имàте, etc. Of course, in spite of these small exceptions, the Kostur accent remains definite second-syllable accent and it is much more regular than every other accent in Bulgarian dialects: without respect to word size or form, the accent necessarily seeks the penultimate syllable and remains there, while the word changes its size and then goes forwards or backwards in order to find its definite place: мòма – момѝчка – момичèнце; Лàзар – Лазàра – Лазарѝца; шаренѝло – шарèно – шàрен.

The influence of the various enclitics on the Kostur accent is minimal. Only the definite articles for the feminine, neutral and plural has some more expressed influence on the accent location while the masculine definite article -o and enclitics have a facultative influence and this only in verses. Thus, in addition to cases like: зетотòму, царотòму, попотòму, are common also: босильòко, азнатàро, дукя̀но, свекòро, патерѝко (a kind of necklace), везѝро, байрактàро, цървèньо, зелèньо, собòро, зелнѝко, аргавàно, стежàро, ветèро, сокàко, поя̀са, зайèко, одъ̀ро. In songs are found: рацѝте, момàта, вратàта, койнѝте, гръндѝте, плешчѝте, полѝте; малàта, лепàта, but in prose a third-syllable accent is preferred in such cases. For example, in the following text from the village Smъrdesh [9], p. 32 to the northwest of Kostur the only regular proparoxytone (third-syllable from the end) is in the words with definite article: сèлото, жàдето, албàнцката, движèньето, гъ̀рците, ту̀рците, половѝната, чèзмите, дру̀гите; all other words including proper names are with penultimate (paroxytone) accent which is typical for the western half of the Kostur accent area:

Сèло Смъ̀рдеш èсти блѝзо до-албàнцката гранѝца, на-жàдето мèжду Албàня и-Гъ̀рця. Имàше и-телонѝо (from Greek, 'customs') тàмо. Кòга дойдòе гъ̀рците двàйста годѝна, направѝе голèмо телонѝо, òти бèше голèмо движèньето мèжду Албàня и-Гъ̀рця. О-ту̀рцко-врèме бèше голèмо сèло, имàше нàт-три иля̀ди ду̀ши, ставàше сèкоа недèля пàзар. Àма ту̀рците го-изгорèе, го-изгорèе два-пъ̀та, зàшчо сèлото бèше комѝцко, булгàрцко. Оттàмо имàше мнòго войвòди – Вàсиль Чекалàров, Пàндо Кля̀шеф и-дру̀ги имàше. Сèлото бèше комѝцко, се-борèше прòтиф ту̀рците и-зà-то го-изгорèе ту̀рците. Имàше мнòго отепàни, нàт-сто ду̀ши. Сèлото èсти построèно на-тàкво мèсто, шчо-половѝната вòда от-чèзмите òди о-Адриатѝческо мòре и-половѝна кàмо Егèйцко мòре. На-тàква височѝна èсти сèлото. Ка-изгòре сèлото, мнòго нàрот избèга. Пòвекето дойдòе ту̀а о-Булгàря со-фамѝлиите. А-дру̀гите избегàе. Нèкой по-Амèрика, Астрàля и-о дру̀ги даржàви.

Over the whole area with Kostur accent which is more or less influenced by neighbouring accents, Shklifov [9] distinguished the following basic accent types:

1. The accent falls on the initial syllable. This is specific for the dialect of the village of Oshchima in Dolna Koreshcha, Lerin region, e.g.: Къ̀рстовден, плàнина – плàнината, кòшница – кòшницата, нòджина – нòджината, чèтирьесе, пъ̀рвиче – пъ̀рвичето, нèделята, пòдароците. [10], p. 50

A variation of the initial accent is frequently found in the dialect of the village of Nivitsi, Dolna Prespa – in words consisting of 3 or more syllables the vowel of the penultimate syllable is elongated (acquires quantitet): вòда – вòдаата, Нѝвиици, гòдина – гòдинаата [11], p. 41. This quantitet gives a melodic character of the Nivitsi microdialect which evokes an ironic attitude towards its carriers by the inhabitants of neighbouring villages. Shklifov asserts that the quantitated vowel is not accented in response to other authors (Bozhidar Vidoeski, Ivan Kochev) who suggest that in the Nivitsi microdialect there are two types of accent – on the first syllable (strong) and on the penultimate syllable (weak). According to Shklifov, the quantitet on the penultimate is not a regular rule but is outside the system and depends on delayed pronunciation. Initial accent is reported also in other villages of Koreshcha (Zhelevo, Rulya, Tъrna, and Besvina) and Dolna Prespa (Grazhdeno) with occasional quantitet of some post-accent vowels because of the delayed speech dynamics compared with the dynamic accent dialects.

2. The accent falls on the proparoxytone (third syllable from the end). This Prilep-Ohrid type accent is characteristic for the Dolna Prespa villages of Pъpli and Orovnik: гòдина – годѝната, нèеста – неèстата, плàнина – планѝната. In the Kostenaria (Ludovo, Ezerets – Lower Kostur) the deviations from Kostur accent are predominantly in the verb forms for past infinite: Слàмата-е-клàвеме на-плèмната за-волòйте. Жѝтото го-товàрвеме на-мòските и-прàво на-òмборут (Ezerets).

3. The accent falls on the penultimate (paroxytone) excluding only the definitive morphemes. This is the typical Kostur accent characteristic for the Kostur and most Lerin villages (excluding Oshchima in Koreshcha): планѝна – планѝната, прèгач – прèгачо, прèгачи – прегàчите, чòрап – чòрапо, чорàпи – чорàпите.

4. The accent falls on the last syllable (oxytone). This is reported with many examples mostly from the eastern half in several villages northeast of Kostur (Chereshnitsa, Zagoricheni, Mokreni) and the Lerin village Zeleniche: нарòт, думазèт, сургу̀ч, каймакàн.

In addition to the regions mentioned above, Kostur accent and Kostur dialect are found in the 2 main colonies from Kostur – in Bratsigovo which was known for a long time, and in Aydemir (Silistra region) which was reported by Miletich [6]. These Kostur colonies give us good clues as to the oldness of Kostur colonies in east Bulgaria. Because, although far from their birthplace, both the Bratsigovo and Aydemir Kosturians kept intact their old accent and dialect. The Bratsigovo Arnaut dialect is the same as Kostur dialect with its accent, forms, and sounds, and the Aydemir Kosturians reduced only the high vowels under the influence of east Bulgarian dialects but the accent was well preserved. Based on the fact, that in the Aydemir Kostur dialect the accent in imperfect is on the third syllable from the end (as in Voden dialect): плèтеше, плèтехме, плèтехте, плèтеха while in the Bratsigovo Kosturians the same form has a penultimate accent (плетèше, плетèхме, плетèхте, плетèха; давàше, давàхме, давàхте, давàха), as in the modern Kostur dialect, we can conclude that the Kostur accent got its modern shape after the emigration of Aydemirans and before the emigration of Bratsigovans. Knowing that the Bratsigovo Kosturians were exiled from their old place about 250 years ago, we can allege with certainty that the Kostur accent was the same as now 250 or 300 years ago.

That's why Miletich is right to allege that the Kostur colony in Aydemir is older than that in Bratsigovo but he has not enough grounds to maintain that it happened in the first century of the Turkish occupation, i.e. in 15th century. [6], p. 628. The time between the 2 emigrations was not so great, otherwise the dialects would not be so similar. We can judge about the antiquity of the Kostur accent from the accent in the Solun villages (Suho, Visoka, Zarovo, Negovan, etc.) famous for their nasal pronunciation of the old nasals. Now these villages, which we can consider as an old continuation of the Kostur dialect, have a heterosyllabic accent. Therefore, before its splitting by the Kukush-Voden dialect, the Kostur dialect hadn't a definite accent as now but in its western part the present second-syllable accent developed while in the eastern part (around Solun) the old heterosyllabic accent remained. These assumptions are valid only if the Kostur accent system is not much older, that is, if the Kosturian didn't come on the Balkan Peninsula with an established second-syllable accent. See the comparison of Bulgarian and Polish.

Third-syllable accent

Third-syllable accent occurs in the south-western part of the Bulgarian dialect area, or more specifically in the region between Bitolya, Prilep, Veles, Skopie, Tetovo, Gostivar, Debъr, Struga, Ohrid, and Resen. There are several Bulgarian dialects in this area and their accent is so similar that it is hard to notice their other differences. Taking as a main difference the pronunciation of the old Bulgarian Big Yus (ѫ) vowel, one can distinguish 4 main dialects in this area:

  1. Ohrid (together with Resen and Struga): ѫ → ъ
  2. Debъr: ѫ → o (but part of Debъr region has ѫ → ъ reflex)
  3. Prilep (together with Veles, Bitolya, Kichevo, and Skopie): ѫ → а
  4. Tetovo: ѫ → у

The southwestern dialects in this group, those in Resen, Ohrid, Struga, and Debъr the reflex of tj-dj is щ-жд while in the rest of the dialects, кь-гь predominate.

This Prilep-Ohrid accent is strictly definite: it always falls on the third syllable from the end, i.e. it is shifted one syllable forward in comparison to the Kostur accent. In two- and three-syllable words the accent falls on the first syllable. Because there are many such words, one can get the impression that this is a first-syllable accent – as in Czech. But in four- and five-syllable words, it can readily be noticed that the accent doesn't go beyond the third syllable from the end.

Enclitics, like article, short personal and reflexive pronouns, auxiliary verbs, when they occur before or between major words in the sentence, are counted as part of the major words and attract the accent: свекъ̀рва му, манàстирот, манастѝрите, чòвекот, човèците, човекàтаго, човекòтому, къде-стè-биле, etc.

Pronouns, attributes, negation, prefixes по- and най- also make an accent whole with the main word and get the accent as one composite word: òт-себе, преку̀-река, голèм-празник, планинскѝ-чоек, оналкàв-биол, не-тè-пушчам, по-шѝроки, най-гòлемо.

This same accent rule applies to whole phrases of 2, 3, or more words that are syntactically closely bound so that the Prilep-Ohrid dialects can be rightly called phraseologic: зашчо-ке-си-я̀-биеш глàата, неми-ти-сà згоди работѝчката (Resen), кога-кьè дойдеш, що-бешè-чекал, що-ми-сè-фалиш (Struga), кой-кьè-му-гò-купит, зашчо-да-не-му-гò-земит (Ohrid). It should be noted at once that this phraseologic accent does not occur everywhere; it is more common in the southwestern dialects (Ohrid, Struga, Resen, Debъr) while in the northeastern (Veles, Skopie) it is not stringently followed. This points to the southwestern dialects as a center of this accent providing that the deviations in the northeastern dialects are not new.

The Veles accent differs from the other third-syllable accents by the following:

1. All imperative forms have initial accent in Veles (as in Shtip): ѝзвади, рàскопчи, ѝстурите, ѝсперете, рàзговори-се, etc. Thus, in some cases the accent goes beyond the third syllable from the end which is not possible in other third-syllable accent dialects.

2. On the contrary, there are cases where the accent occurs more to the end of words, i. e. it is paroxytone or even oxytone: овàа, овѝя, цел-дèн, сто-дèца, за еден чàс, на стрèт, одвай търкавалèс, търкавалèста, оддèка, èден пàт, унèтре, тòва мèсто (Skopsko Novo Selo). There are apparently similar exceptions in Ohrid (as well as in Resen and Struga): годинàава, зимàава, утринàава, летòово, лебàа-ми, кръстàа-ми, богàа-ми, натемàа-го but those can be seen as no exceptions if we consider the long vowel as a double vowel. True exceptions in Ohrid then are only одвàй, потèм (after), колкò and олкò, онолкàв.

3. The phraseologic accent is not strictly followed in Veles: пàзи бòже, кàко-му гòде, нè-сум се я̀вил, сèдум-ду̀ши, цèла-нòкь, врèла вòда, да-не-пàдне, у пу̀за, во пèнеа, на-я̀сье, крòтце-òди, да не се спрèпнеш!, за шеснàйесе-лири, Бàшино сèло, нè те пу̀шчам, нè ми се спѝе, кòго нàйде, вèтрища кога се вѝят, ако се згòди нèкой блѝзу, трèбе сàм да си вѝка крòтко, лу̀к я̀дам, лу̀к мѝрисам.

4. There are traces of quantitet or, better, traces of the former dynamic accent in this dialect; words like баячка, трескалка, велешанка are pronounced with a long a after the stressed syllable: бàяачка, трèскаалка, велèшаанка; perhaps this elongation is a remnant of a former accent: бая̀чка, трескàлка, велешàнка and remained because of the closed syllable in these words.

Searching about the origin of the third-syllable accent the first question to ask is what is its organic link with the above 5 accent systems. This is not an easy question because neither of the neighbouring accent systems can be considered as a direct relative of the Prilep-Ohrid accent. Indeed, to the south in Dolna Prespa, Kostur, and Lerin there are dialects with a definite second-syllable accent which could hardly be considered as a basis for the Prilep-Ohrid accent: these are two separate accent systems having in common only the property that both are definite. There is nothing else to link them and no one can prove that one originates from the other. Going further east we touch the Tikvesh-Moriovo dialects that have the semi-definite accent system with a trend towards a second-syllable accent, therefore, those can't be considered as a basis for the third-syllable accent either; on the contrary, it seemd that the Tikvesh-Moriovo dialects had a third-syllable accent which at present is substituted with a second-syllable accent. To the northeast, the Shtip accent can't be considered a basis of the Prilep-Ohrid accent because it is a fixed accent while it seems that the Prilep-Ohrid accent arose from some very dynamic accent, an accent that was formerly widespread in Bulgarian and the other southeastern Slavic languages: only in such way one can explain the phraseologic accenture which now amazes us but in former times it was common for all Bulgarian language, and also in Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Slovenian.

There is also no basis to assume an influence from the neighbouring foreign languages: Albanian and Greek. Albanian, although it touches Debъr and Ohrid-Struga dialects, is a language that uses a heterosyllabic accent. The Greek accent is somewhat similar to the Prilep-Ohrid accent because it does not go beyond the third syllable from the end; however, Greek is not directly adjacent to the dialects with third-syllabic accent: they are bridged by the Kostur-Lerin dialects with second-syllable accent.

As none of the neighbouring accent systems, Bulgarian or foreign, can be taken as a basis for the Prilep-Ohrid accent, one should skip the layer of dialects with definite and semi-definite accentures and reach to the indefinite dynamic accent; it can serve as a more reliable handle to elucidate the origin of the third-syllable accent. To hop over, because the immediate dialects to the north of Skopie are not very well studied as to accent to make a comparison; true, these also have indefinite dynamic accent, as well as in the northwestern Bulgarian dialects around Pirot, Tsaribrod, Trъn, etc., but no known accent traits that could explain the origin of the Prilep-Ohrid accent. Therefore, its most plausible origin is the indefinite accent in its various stages described above, assuming that it was occuring before in the dialects with third-syllable accent. It is all the same if one compares the third-syllable accent with some dialects along Pchinya and Morava or with the accent used in Tъrnovo. This is to say that the Prilep-Ohrid accent arose directly from a heterosyllable, dynamic and indefinite accent which occurred in this area before not passing through some of the other 4 accent systems.

The evidence about the origin of the Prilep-Ohrid accent is divided into 2 parts: origins in individual words and origins in whole phrases. This arises from the nature of Prilep-Ohrid accent which is 2 kinds: lexical that pertains to individual words and phraseologic that involves syntactic combinations or whole phrases. The explanation should be valid for both cases.

One can easily follow the tracks of the lexical accent taking into account all offsets and accent analogies which occur in the dialects with dynamic accent. There are very few words in Prilep-Ohrid accent which are not matched with the accent in some of the dynamic-accent dialects. For example, the two-syllable feminine and neutral nouns has a semi-offset accent already in the central щ-жд dialects while in the Mъrvak dialects in Ser and Petrich regions they all are with offset accent and the old end accent is restored in some of them only in the article form; in Shtip and Strumitsa this is not the case! No wonder that in Prilep they say: вòда, глàва, брàда, сèно, òко, съ̀рце, etc.

The monosyllable male nouns which shift their accent on the article vowel in the northeastern and southern dialects begin to decrease as close as the Shumen area until they disappear completely in the Pirot area where no noun has the old accent (on the article suffix) but is accented on the root vowel. So it is natural to say in Ohrid: грàдот, брèгот, зъ̀бот, etc. and not: градòт, брегòт, зъбòт.

The plural in the same nouns shift their accent as close as the central dialects in Razlog and Maleshevo shifts the accent on the root vowel: грàдове, брèгове, сѝнове, стòлове, etc.; so it is natural that this root or initial accent in the said nouns occur in Struga. The monosyllable adjectives are used with an offset accent as close as Tъrnovo and Shumen areas: млàда, млàдо, скъ̀па, ру̀са, etc.

Many other nouns offset their end accent on more frontal syllables and make it closer to the Prilep-Ohrid accent; thus in the above dialects the accentures are планинà and плàнина, пещерà and пèщера, хубостѝ and ху̀бости, пакостѝ and пàкости, младостѝ and млàдости, работà and рàбота, разговòр and рàзговор, договòр and дòговор, копилè and кòпиле, лободà and лòбода, пеленѝ and пèлени, яребѝца and я̀ребица, препелѝца and прèпелица, правдинà and прàвдина, обсеченè and обсѝчане, преображенè and преобразя̀ване, селянè and сèляне, гражданè and грàждане, плевненè and плèвнене, ловчанкà and лòвчанка, гражданкà and грàжданка, etc.

The verb accent begins to shift also in the dialects with heterosyllable accent, it is enough to remember examples like: да òтвора, да зàтвора, да нàбера, прѝбера, зàбера, да òпера, ѝспера for present tense and cases like: òтвори, зàтвори, нàбери, òпери, нàплети, etc. for imperative mood. Imperfect and aorist in most verbs are also with third-syllable accent: мѝслеше, мѝслехме, хòдехме, вòдихте, нòсеха, пàднахме, плèтохме, прèдохме, пèкоха, etc.

Taking into account all regular and offset, old and new proparoxytones in the dialects with indefinite accent, one can ascertain that there are not many words left whose third-syllable accent could be due to the third-syllable system itself. Counting shows that the ratio is 5:3, i.e. of 8 polysyllable words in the third-syllable dialects, 5 are with the same accent as in the more eastern dialects, and only 3/8 became proparoxytones later.

For example, in the following song from Struga, taken from the Miladinov brothers collection Bulgarian Folk Songs (with exact accenture by Drimkolov) we find amazingly few words that do not occur in the eastern Bulgarian accent:

Стòйна ми змèя лю̀била
Лю̀била що го лю̀била
За дванàесет гòдини
Нѝкой я Стòйна нè-узна
Дури се сàма кàзала:
Мàйко-ле, мѝла мàйко-ле
ѝзлези нàдвор дà-видиш
Дà-видиш чу̀до гòлемо:
На синè-кукьи вèдрина,
А на нàшава òблачно:
Стòйна ми змèа лю̀била
За дванàесет гòдини;
Нѝкой ме, мàйко, нè-узна,
Дури ѝзлезе майка-йе
Тука си Стòйна нè-найде.
Мàлу шчо ми я дòгледа
Мегю двà тèмни òблака
Шàрен йе гàйтан дзу̀неше;
Пак Стòйна ми се пòврати:
Мàйко-ле, мѝла мàйко-ле,
Ти сега да ме нè-чекаш,
Тук да ме чèкаш и гòдина
Со русò-момче прèд-мене,
Со мъшкò-дете нà-ръце.
Кога ми дòйде и гòдина
Со русò-момче прèд-неа
Со мъшкò-дете нà-ръце
Пèрчето му се вèеше
На ширòките рàмена.

Out of 46 two- and polysyllable words in this song, only 13 deviate in their accent, while all others have the same accent as in the heterosyllabic dialects or 7.6:3 which is higher than the abovementioned 5:3. The interpretation that the Prilep-Ohrid accent has collected the accent offsets of all Bulgarian dialects and increased them states the fact without explaining it. Such explanation would also hold if the Prilep-Ohrid was adjacent to the heterosyllabic accent and not separated by accent systems that are closer to the heterosyllabic. That's why the explanation given below is more acceptable.

The origins of the third-syllable accent stem from the old quantitet which ruled in the dialect in which the third-syllable accent first arose, or better, it is directly related to the old offset whose cause is an old Proto-Slavic accent law: long vowels do not accept accent. To better understand the following, let's remind that in Old Bulgarian as in all south Slavic languages, there were 2 kinds of offset: one-syllable and two-syllable. One-syllable is when the offset is one syllable towards the beginning of the word; one-syllable offset we have in words: глàва, брàда, млàдо, пòпа, врàга, etc. instead of: главà, брадà, младò, попà, врагà, etc.; two-syllable offset we have in cases like: плàнина, грàждане, сèляне, пèщера, нà-глава, нà-ръки, òд-ръки, нà-краки, etc. In fact, both offsets are two-syllable, and only when there is no third syllable the accent hops on the adjacent syllable so it become one-syllable offset. However, according to the above accent law, every offset should be two-syllable if possible because the syllable before the accent is long in most cases so it didn't accept an accent but offset it to the beginning. If the word was three or more syllabic the accent stayed in the word but if the word was two- or one-syllabic the accent offset to other words which stood in close syntactic link with the main word. Thus, examples like: немога да излеза нà-глава, иде ми òд-ръки, завива се прèз-глава, станаха му нà-краки, отивам у̀ град, etc., which arose in very old time because those are in Russian, in Serbo-Croatian, and in Slovenian.

In Serbian, the accusative case is one such old offset: глâву, брâду (accusative) vs. глàва, брàда (nominative); therefore, when this offset arose the accent, seeking a short syllable, hopped on the preposition; but when the word lacked a preposition then the accent stopped on the adjacent syllable in the same word so an old accented length occurred; thus we have: глâву but нȁглâву. In Russian, the vocalisation allows such two-syllable offset so we have: гòлову, бòроду. The principle of two-syllable offset in Serbian is clearly seen in the aorist form second and third person in verbs in which this form is the same as the form for third person singular present tense (after dropping the end т): трêсе vs. трèсох, трèсосмо, трèсосте, трèсоше; when a preposition is put, the accent hops onto it: ѝстрêсе, also: рâсте – пȍрâсте, вêде – прѝвêде, хвâли – пȍхвâли, жу̂ри – пȍжу̂ри, прâвда – ȍпрâвда, etc.

Just such two-syllable offset served as a base of the Prilep-Ohrid accent; at the start this offset was there in principle and the dialects with third-syllable accent gave it only an impetus, transformed it into accent law which became so powerful that not only unified all words in respect to accent but acted in all other cases where it hasn't been used before. Another phenomenon enhanced this two-syllable offset whose reasons are not known today but which could be assumed in the third-syllable accent dialects because it is found in the neighbouring dialects (Kostur-Lerin and Tikvesh-Moriovo); it is the avoidance of the end syllable by the accent, which is characteristic in some other Slavic languages (Serbian and Polish) and other languages, such as English and German. It is hard to tell whether this avoidance appeared originally in the third-syllable accent dialects or came from the neighbouring dialects located as a long belt to the south-east in Kostur-Lerin and Tikvesh-Moriovo areas; but when this avoidance began to rule, the old accent-quantitet law acted in full force: short vowels are accented, and long vowels are immediately before or after accented syllable. Therefore, when in the Prilep-Ohrid accent the avoidance appeared, the accent did not pass from the last to the penultimate syllable, as e.g. in Kostur, Tikvesh-Moriovo, and Polish, but was offset at once by two syllables by dint of the old two-syllable offset which should have been already very influential because it included many phraseologic accent offsets.

So we accept 2 reasons for the origins of the Prilep-Ohrid accent, 2 reasons that explain well both kinds of accent: lexical and phraseologic. Because the first reason – the two-syllable quantitet offset – historically goes before the end syllable avoidance, one has to assume that in the Prilep-Ohrid third-syllable accent system, the phraseologic offset – together with the phraseologic accent – arose before the lexical offset; in other words, before the pronunciation: плàнина, грàдове, дòнеси, ѝскопай instead of: планинà, градовè, донесѝ, ископàй, there were already many examples like: нà-глава, пò-врага, двà-гроша, пèт-пари, голò-глава, белò-гърло, etc. Therefore, it is better to start the study with the phraseologic Prilep-Ohrid accent. This is also necessary because the phraseologic accent in the Bulgarian dialects in Macedonia stays closer than the lexical accent to the old dynamic accent, as paradoxical as it may seem; true, it is enveloped in many later analogies but the traces of the old dynamic accent which served as a basis for the third-syllable accent, still show through. Thus, the prepositional composites which in Ohrid, Prilep, etc. make an accent whole, match similar composites with identical accents in the dialects with hetero-syllable accent system; cf.:

не се излиза нà-глава, дойде ми нà-ръки, претупаха го нà-две-нà-три, изгледа ме нà-криво, иде му òдръки, умира òт-глади, зàлудо работи зàлудо не стой, да се ражда нàд-брег и пòд-брег, нàд-път и пòд-път; хванах го зà-ръка, имам прѝ-сърце, ела нàдвечер или прѝвечер, тръгнаха прѝ-зори, каза си го още прѝ-живе, завивам се прèз-глава, отиде прèз-море, прèз-гора, прèзарце (прèз-ръце, Razlog); осучи го ò-две; погледна у̀-земи, накарах го в дъ̀н-земе, това млèко е у̀-жлътно, тука е местото у̀-стръмно, изгули се бèз-трага, дойде ò-време, ела пò-час, видех го нà-съне, отивам нà-гости, дò-пъти, дò-реда; наядох се дò-сита, говори на не у̀-свест, нà-мерки; излезе до нà-двор; нà-едно, нà-преки or нàпреку, нà-близу, нà-вода, нà-десно, нà-лево, нà-ново, нà-окол, зà-едно, зà-нога, зà-душа, пò-глава, пò-врат, зà-вчера, у̀-град, у̀-несвест (Dupnitsa), пò-буга (пò-Бога); вол се връзва зà-рог (Pirot), гледай нà-бога, проси зà-бога, пò-дину, пò-нъщу (village Plevne, Drama), средè-зима, средè-лято (Tъrnovo), нà-греда (Sofia region), падна от-бога, удри пò-нога, викна дò-бога (Sofia region), пò-поле скача òт-море дò-море пòд-бога сеница (Sofia region); прекò-море, нà-шилу (Tsaribrod), надѝ-море, у̀-ръка (Sofia region), шие нà-мито (askew), играла нà-место, нà-зима, òт-пладне, пòд-гуша, пò-грей (пò-грехи) помана, до дòвечер, ò-близо (Botevgrad), нà-небо, нà-земи

Such old accent was used in equal measure in Lovech, Tъrnovo, and Sofia regions just as in Prilep and Ohrid regions. Indeed, in the northern and eastern Bulgarian dialects its use became less frequent because the analytic nature of language put again its stamp there, so alongside: излизам нà-глава we have излизам на главà, alongside отивам нà-гости we have на гòсти, alongside станаха му нà-краки we have на кракà. From the parallel use of these composites we can conclude that the former are old remnants and the latter are new substitutes; we can also conclude that such prepositional prefixes with offset accent (old offset) were at old times much more common than today. Exactly because they arose in very old time, these prepositional composites making one accent whole in the Prilep-Ohrid proparoxytone dialects are much more that in the dialects with indefinite accent – first, because they were inherited in greater quantity, and second, they were later multiplied by accent analogy. We can conclude that these prefixes with prepositional accent originate from an old source together with the dynamic accent by the fact that they obey the same conditions in both types of accent: only nouns without article, or nouns which do not possess a logical accent and make together with the preposition an indefinite, phraseologic composite, have a prepositional accent; otherwise the noun conserves its accent both in the definite and indefinite accent systems: мечката завързват зàнос but: го ватив за нòсот not зà-носот; стигнав до въ̀рвот not дò-вървот; седна нà-стол (no logical accent: on a chair) but: сèдна на стòл (emphasis is on the chair). Exactly the same distinction is made in the dialects with heterosyllable accent: иде ми òд-ръце but: зè ми го от-ръцè (or от ръцèте), удари го пò-глава but: помилва го по главàта, etc.

The analytical development of the preposition as a separate part of speech before the main word is evident not only from the fact that the prepositional prefixes with accent tend to decrease in dialects but also many composite words (with preposition) which before had an accent on the preposition now are spoken with accent on the main word. There is no doubt that the word Загòра formerly had an initial accent: Зàгора where the Turkish name of this town came from Зàгра → Зàара. But the analytic spirit of New Bulgarian created the accent Загòра which spread everywhere, and the old name is not used anymore. Now there are many such prepositional words with alternate accent – prepositional (old) and root (new); thus we have:

прѝказ → прикàз
прѝсад → присàд
рàссад → рассàд
рàзлика → разлѝка
òтлика → отлѝка
òмара → омàра
òпала → опàла
òправа → опрàва
пòпара → попàра
пòтера → потèра
пòклон → поклòн
пòздрав → поздрàв
пòдлог → подлòг
прèглед → преглèд
пòгон → погòн
прèврат → преврàт
пòклади → поклàди
въ̀здух → възду̀х
зàвой → завòй
пòвой → повòй
зàграда → загрàда
зàдруга → задру̀га
зàдуха → заду̀ха
ѝсполица → испòлица
дòхват → дохвàт
пòхват → похвàт
нàбожна → набòжна
зàвера → завèра
зàлудо → залу̀до
нàпусто → напу̀сто
зàлог → залòг
зàклон → заклòн
ѝзвод → извòд
нàбор → набòр
нàлог → налòг
нàрод → нарòд
нèмар → немàр
нèхар → нехàр
нàтур → нату̀р
òбраз → обрàз
òброк → обрòк
òбед → обèд
òтпор → отпòр
òтвор → отвòр
òтвод → отвòд
òтбив → отбѝв
òток → отòк
пòкров → покрòв
пòлет → полèт
пòрой → порòй
прèслап → преслàп
прèвес → превèс
прòстор → простòр
прѝход → прихòд
прèнос → пренòс
рàзвод → развòд
рàссол → рассòл
рàзрез → разрèз
рàзбой → разбòй
рàсказ → раскàз
съ̀бор → събòр
у̀роки → урòки

In many such words the alternate accent hides a double meaning which arises from dialectic or historical differences in the meaning of the main word: прѝказ – Bulgarian dialectal word that arose from приказвам, to talk (за чудо и прѝказ!) while прикàз comes from the Russian word приказать, to order; прѝсад, an old Bulgarian word, means grafted pear while присàд means more general grafted tree or grafting; прèврат means 'changed, spoiled wine' while преврàт, a newer word means 'a coup, changed, upturned politics'; има пòхват means 'has "long fingers", steals' while има похвàт (again a new word) means 'he is deft'; òтвод means 'corridor' while отвòд means 'non-joinder'; нàрод means 'multitude, throng' while нарòд means 'people, nation'; òбраз means 'image, figure' while обрàз, обрàзи means 'face, cheeks'; у̀рок, у̀роки means 'bad luck from looking at' while урòк means 'lesson'. Comparing the meaning and the accent in such words, one can see at once that the newer, more modern words have a root accent and not a prepositional accent. This is a very convincing proof that the old accent is due to phonetic (quantitet) reasons and the new accent is due to syntactic logic.

If the prepositional accents arose recently, then we'd have cases with accents on conjunctions as in other cases on enclitics (ми, ти, са, му, etc.) when they occur in front of verbs. But what do we see? Of the conjunctions, only и sometimes accepts a logical accent (ѝ-яс, ѝ-ти, ѝ-така, ѝ-него, ѝ-неа), and these reminds the Serbian accenture on this conjunction: ѝ-бог, ѝ-бога, ѝ-вук, ѝ-грâд, etc. The prefixed enclitic pronouns (му-рèков, я-кàзав, го-вѝкнав, etc.) do not accept accent because their location does not date of the time when the accent moved onto prepositions; it is newer.

Therefore, all cases with prepositional accent in the proparoxytone dialects originate by the former common dynamic accent which has been characteristic for all Bulgarian dialects including those in Macedonia.

A second large group of phraseologic accent are cases in which the major tone falls on the adjective: рудò-ягне, тонкà-става, студнà-вода, целò-лето, лютà-змия, крефкò-месо, etc. Here, analogies with the dynamic accent dialects are also common, especially with the dialects which accent their adjectives in the old way: белà, белò, белѝ, тънкà, тънкò, чернà, сивà, живà, целà, крехкà, etc. There, too, the composites of such adjectives with two-syllable nouns are pronounced with the same third-syllabic accent as in Ohrid or Resen; with the only difference, perhaps, that the noun still preserves its accent in half – demoted to a secondary accent, while the primary accent falls on the adjective: тънкȁ-снагà, крехкȍ-месò, сивȁ-змия̀, белȍ-книжè, живȁ-душà, целȍ-лèто, студнȁ-водà, добрȁ-душà, светȁ-горà, новȁ-къщà, вехтȁ-дрèха, сухȍ-мокрò; жи̃в-умрèл, бȅл-червèн, си̃н-зелèн, гола-пъ̀лтена, синя-кòтлена, ножче черно-чèренче, etc.

Subsequently, the logical accent on the adjective began to dominate so much in the third-syllable accent system that it completely engulfed the noun accent, and when the third-syllable accent held sway, such composites were considered one word however much syllables it might contain; thus, accents like: Лазарò-поле, Кадинò-село, здрави-вòлои, големи-прàзници, сирна-нèделя, etc. It is evident that these are cases of logical accent not only from examples like: койè-дете, каквѝ-овци, кòй-стопан, чия̀-тетка, but also from the accent on the noun when the latter is emphasized: злà су̀праа – гòтоа щèта; мàла рàбота, гòлема стрàмота; забилò ми-се синоно мòре. This occurs especially when the adjective is put after the noun: рòса прòлетна, чòек плàнински.

It is notable that that in composites of adjectives with monosyllable nouns the accent doesn't reach further than the adjacent syllable: свинскà-мас (not: свѝнска-мас), белà-сол, непечèн-леп, шарèн-пес, по-голèм-брат, далечнѝ-дни, etc. In these exceptions from the third-syllable accent, a strong link with the dynamic accent is also seen: these exceptions have their beginnings at the time when the third-syllable accent was indefinite-dynamic and their former basis were composites like свѝнска-маст, бèла-сол, горо-цвèт, добрѝ-дни, etc., i.e. cases in which in front of the monosyllable noun stands a word with a vowel ending. This is apparently a monosyllable offset but in fact it is two-syllable offset if it is presented as a continuation of the time when the end Ers were actually pronounced; then белà-сол corresponds to an older accent белȁ-солъ̀, i.e. just as у̀-град corresponds to the older у грȁдъ̀. In a while, by analogy accents arose like: непечèн-леп, празничèн-ден, even шарениòт-вол. Of course, the logical accent on the adjectives played a role here, too, especially when it coincides with the phonetic accent. It is possible that the definite form of the adjectives also played a role, i.e., accent белà-сол came from белàа-сол.

Particles по and най and the negative не attract the accent both in the dynamic and in the proparoxytone dialects: пȍ-добъ̀р, пȍ-младà, пȍ-рàно, нȁй-ху̀бав, нȁй-старà; не-мѝли и нȅ-драгѝ, децà нèвръсни, дойдè у нè-време, отидè у нè-врат. Here the difference is also that in the northern and eastern Bulgaria there are also traces from the old accent: пȍ-младà while in the third-syllable dialects the secondary accent vanishes without trace.

Accents like: попàтого, волàтого, ратая̀того, попòтому, човекòтому, etc. are also characteristic for dynamic-accent dialects where such forms still remain (Trъn, Pirot, Bosilegrad, Tsaribrod).

Interrogative pronouns which make an accent whole together with the verb in third-syllable dialects, carry the main accent also in the dynamic dialects: кȍй-дойдè? кому̃-казà? когȍ-удрѝ? когȁ-влèзе? коȅ-бèше? щȍ-чèкаш? чи̃й-бил кòньът? каквȁ-пèсен? когȁ-дойдè? къдȅ-бèше? къдȅ-ходѝ? каквȍ-сторѝ? щȍ-стòиш? защȍ-плакà? Here, the relationships between the two accent types is the same as above.

The imperative forms comprise together with the noun and the pronoun an accent whole in the dynamic accent system, too: дàй-ми-го! отворèте-ми, живèйте-си, земѝ-си-ги! отвържѝ-ми-ги! вехтȍ-кърпѝ – конци̃-хабѝ, старȍ-либѝ – денȅ-губѝ! The same is true for the composite words in which the first part is an imperative verb: влечи̃-клашнѝк, лапни̃-глътнѝ, бори̃-мèчка, дери̃-козà, лȁй-ку̀чка, сполȁй-бòгу.

Many other cases with third-syllable phraseologic accenture are represented in the dynamic accent system; especially in typical sentences, proverbs, puzzles, etc. the similarity is obvious:

Самȍ-мèсо домȁ-дошлò
Кроткȍ-àгне от двȅ-мàйки цѝца
Бели̏-парѝ за черни̏-днѝ
Беснȁ-ку̀чка по горȁ-лае
Бели̏-прàсци в горȁ-пасàт
Червȅн-козèл в пещерȁ лежѝ
Полови̏н-блю̀до на стенȁ вѝси
Двȁш-мерѝ, веднъ̏ш-крой
Белȁ-гъ̀ска на еди̏н-крак
Еднȁ-женà с чȅтири пòяса
Висȍк-Тòдор без кòкали
Самȁр-нòси кȍн-не-е,
рогȁ-ѝма вȍл-не-е
Русȍ-прасè просȍ-пасè
Късȍ-прасè по ръ̏т-пасè
Бързȁ-ку̀чка слепи̏-рàжда
Смȍк-свѝри пȍт-плèт
По-сȅ-полè свещи̏-горàт
Сȅ-тъкàт, сȅ-предàт
и сȅ-голѝ пȁк-голѝ
От ту̏к-брèк от тȁм-брèк,
посредàта гȍл-човèк
Пèтър плȅт-плетè,
подри̏-Пèтре плетъ̀,
паднȁ-Пèтре плетъ̀
Дрȅн-трещѝ, козȁ-врещѝ,
самси̏н-гòспод кȍн-държѝ

With so many examples of two-syllable offset based on the old Slavic accent law, it is easy for the accent analogy to pass to separate words, to become lexical. First, the analogy passed through three-syllable oxytones with a tonal pattern ٹ _ ں and there are very many such words (овчāрè, ковāчè, юнāцѝ, граждāнè, селя̄нè, граждāнкà, тетӣвà, etc.). The offset by this formula is closest to the similar old Slavic offset either in propositional composites or in individual words.

Those were followed by all three- and poly-syllable oxytones which offset their accent by one syllable: пèщера, грàдове, дàрове, срàмота, видèлина, плàнина, мàскара, да нàправа, òстави – and there were so many dactylic words that they bacame the main principle in the Prilep-Ohrid accent. This principle or this multitude of proparoxytone words regulates the accent of the remaining words, i.e. the paroxytone words offset their accent on the third syllable from the end (лѝвада, мòтика, тòпола, влàдика), while the comparatively few words with fourth-syllable accent shift the accent towards the end to the third syllable: я̀ребица → ярèбица, я̀ворово → явòрово, крàставица → крастàвица, лàстовица → ластòвица, грèбените → гребèните, etc.

The accent offset in the two-syllable vocal oxytones (водà, сърцè, светà, добрò, идѝ, станà, etc.) can be interpreted differently depending on whether they are a result of the common accent principle in Prilep-Ohrid accent system or are individual offset such as exist in many Bulgarian dialects. Both interpretations assume an accent offset from the last syllable in the Prilep-Ohrid system and does not contradict the common accent principle in the third-syllable accent system.

This brief outline of the development of the Prilep-Ohrid accent gives only the main stages. A more detailed study would make its origin even more obvious. For such fuller study, one has to take an account the 2 neighbouring accent systems: Tikvesh-Moriovo to the south-east and Kumanovo-Vranja to the north which can give some more insight on this interesting accent and would complement what was told here without changing it.

Bulgarian, Slavic, and Balkan accent

After all said about the different kinds of accent in Bulgarian dialects, an overview of the whole Bulgarian dialect area follows with respect to the area, taken by the various accent systems. The biggest area, about 85%, is taken by the indefinite, heterosyllable or shifting accent which is to the north-east of the line Solun-Shtip-Kumanovo. This accent, which has in old time ruled in all south-eastern Slavic languages, connects through Tetovo, Kumanovo, Kratovo, Bosilegrad, Trъn, Breznik, and Tsaribrod with the accent in the Kosovo-Morava dialect which is also indefinite and heterosyllabic.

The area of heterosyllabic dynamic accent is bordered by a band of dialects in Strumitsa, Radovish, Shtip, and Kratovo where the accent is still heterosyllabic but it is not as dynamic as in the east. This band or belt in its continuation to the north through Kumanovo and Vranja fuses with the southwestern Morava dialect whose accent is more similar to Shtip accent than to the dynamic accent.

Behind this belt to the south and turning to the west one finds dialects with semi-definite or fully definite accent systems, all of which comprise about 15% of the Bulgarian dialect. The third-syllable accent takes about half of this latter area – almost as much as the other 3 accent systems. There is a gradual geographic transition between these: the Voden accent to the south is a continuation of Shtip-Strumitsa accent if we take into account that in Shtip-Strumitsa there are relatively few words with accent on the third-syllable from the end; these words take to the south a second-syllable instead of third-syllable accent to give the Voden accent system. The Tikvesh-Moriovo accent –on the 2 last syllables – is a transitional accent towards the Prilep and the Kostur accent: dactyl words assimilate it to Prilep accent while trochee words assimilate it to the Kostur accent. Whether Tikvesh-Moriovo has been or it is going to be a Prilep accent, is another matter; the fact is that there is a gradual transition between those.

Stating this transition does not mean that, i.e., Ohrid accent passed through this multitude of accent systems in order to fix itself on the third-syllable because we saw how similar it is to the common dynamic accent; no, this gradual transition is a result of neighbouring influences, and this variety of accent systems between the dynamic and third-syllable accent came later. Additional variety is brought by the кь-гь dialects which come from north to south and divide the Ohrid-Debar щ-жд dialects from the rest of the щ-жд dialects to the east. There is no doubt that in the region of Ohrid, Debar, etc., where now the third-syllable accent dominates, was formerly an area of the dynamic heterosyllabic accent which is now characteristic for more eastern dialects. Otherwise, one cannot explain so many Bulgarian words in Albanian language in which the accent is not third-syllable; these words could have come into Albanian only from today Bulgarian dialects with third-syllable or second-syllable accent, cf.: bigòr (with the same meaning as in Bulgarian: 'travertine'), bugàt, bul'àr and bujàr, haračnik, kъrčàg, kokòš, kotèc (OBg: котьць – 'chicken-coop'), kovàč, pokròv, ostèn, obòr, opèt (cf. Russian 'опя̀ть'), pelìn, potòk, topàn, vešnìk, rogòs, nemèc, uròk, zabèl, zokòn, zastòj, tъrnokòp, etc. There are also many words from Bulgarian origin with end accent such as: g'obàr (глобарь), rotàr (ратар, ратай), štrastàr (стражар), kurvàr, etc., including many verbs like: rešìt (решити), vozìt, zbavìt, trondìt (трѫтити), vertìt, vervìt, točìt, etc. It is possible, however, that in the verbs the accent was changed by Albanian analogy.

These Bulgarian words in Albanian which came for sure from Ohrid-Debar can serve as evidence that in these dialects there were before words with end accent and therefore the third-syllable system in these dialects was a later development.

There is no basis whatsoever to resort to the Latin accent, as Masing [7] did because the Prilep-Ohrid accent historically is impossible to date from such early time. Somewhat more plausible is the suggestion of the Romanian Professor Haşdeu [8] that the second-syllable accent (Kostur-Lerin) accent has an organic link with the Polish accent. As unplausible as such opinion might seem, it has much more support that the simple assumption for a possible Roman influence on the Slavic inhabitants of South-western Bulgaria. According to Prof. Haşdeu, the several phonetic similarities between Polish and Bulgarian are not coincidental: today there are nasals only in Polish and Bulgarian; ѣ is pronounced as я only in these 2 languages; second-syllable accent occurs only in Polish and in one Bulgarian dialect, namely in Kostur dialect. An additional evidence about the antiquity of the Kostur dialect is the fact the oldest Bulgarian monuments were written without accent signs although in Greek manuscripts such signs were always present. The reason for this may be that in the Bulgarian dialect serving as a literary basis (Kostur-Solun dialect) there was a definite second-syllable accent as early as 9th century. There is an analogous relationship between Greek and Latin: the Latin writing arose from Greek but it is lacking accent signs; these are lacking because the Latin accent is definite so accent signs are not needed. All this supports the antiquity of the Kostur accent much more convincingly then to suppose one or another influence. However, this suggestion cannot be immediately accepted without a support by specific historical data. Unfortunately, this is the biggest problem in Bulgarian accent, because Bulgarian books were written without accents until the second half of 14th century; and since then in the small number of books that were preserved there is no trace of the definite accent systems. Only at the end of 18th century when the popular damaskins were transcribed in the south-western Bulgaria, the third-syllable accent appeared in a complete form as it is today so it cannot explain the origin of this curious accent. In the lack of specific data either of neighbouring influence or relationship with other Slavic languages, one has to explain the facts by properties of the present dialects. Such explanation for the third-syllable accent system was given above and it was found that it has a long-standing relationship with the dynamic heterosyllabic accent existing on most of the Bulgarian linguistic area.

Double Accent

History and genesis

This section is based on material in [29]
There is a phenomenon which has long been well-known as an inherent characteristic of certain Bulgarian dialects. This phenomenon is the appearance of a second accent and sometimes (though rarely) more accents in polysyllabic lexical or prosodic words (lexical word + clitic).

Double accent, known in Bulgarian dialectology as двойно ударение, is for some dialects (for example, West Rup dialects) considered to be so indisputable that it is often included in university textbooks ([12] and references therein). This phenomenon has been under observation by Bulgarian dialectology for some time; hence the dialect area characterized by double accent is now well-known and covers a relatively compact area in southwestern Bulgaria and neighboring regions of Macedonia and Greece [13], map 153; [14], maps 51, 52, 55, 76; [15], map 68; [16]. Throughout this area, double accent occurs on alternating syllables on the lexical or the prosodic word.

It is also known that as of the 16th century those dialectal accent shifts which might have been connected with double accent had either been completed or were already in progress (for examples, see [17]: 45-56), and that the contemporary form of double accent had been completely established by the middle of the 19th century (proof of this can be found in the Tъrlinski Gospel [18]; [19]). Today we can state with certainty that at that time the area of the phenomenon was broader than it is today, and might have affected all dialects in the Rhodopes as well as dialects in the western part of Southern Thrace [20]:72; [21]:63-64; [13]; [22]: 289. This conclusion is based on certain manuscripts which have recently been made available to the scholarly community [23] who is now also familiar with the syllabic peculiarities of accentual units that provoke the occurrence of a second accent; those are syllabic structures in which the occurrence of double accent can be expected or can be predicted with some degree of certainty. When this syllabic structure is connected with dialects in the south of Bulgaria, the prediction is so reliable that the absence of double accent in such instances causes surprise (see, for example, [24]:178-182; [19]). In spite of all this, however, we have almost no knowledge of the acoustic and perceptual characteristics of the second accent, nor even of its origin. Nor do we know how the second accent is connected with the “first” accent, nor to what extent it is etymological. Although the additional accent is usually referred to as secondary, published sources rarely indicate whether this additional accent is in fact a phonetically measurable secondary stress. The implication is that the second accent is simply an additional accent and that the two accents are usually of equal strength. Indeed, the fact that most treatments of double accent usually make reference to etymology, at least obliquely, suggests that the term secondary may have more of a historical meaning (referring to an accent which is presumably not the original, inherited one), in addition to (or in place of) a possible phonetic meaning. For example, there are words like нèвестàта ‘the bride’, in which neither of the two accented syllables is “etymologically” accented. It is largely because of this complex of unsolved questions that most scholars have chosen to use the term double rather than the term secondary. On a more general level, there is a lack of clarity with respect to a very basic problem: given that this syllable structure causes (or is considered to cause) a second stress in some dialects, why does it not do so in others? Why, in these other dialects, do the same phonetic entities obey different tonic laws (for example: fixed antepenultimate stress, fixed penultimate stress, free stress, fixed initial stress, fixed final stress, or varieties and combinations of different accentual types)?

Many authors have been concerned with the reasons for the appearance of a second accent in polysyllabic words and accentual entities in Bulgarian dialects. Mieczysław Małecki attempted to prove that the occurrence of a second accent in Bulgarian dialects is due to positional restrictions of accent that were valid for Balkan languages, and relates the second accent of Bulgarian dialects to a similar accent in Greek dialects, which since ancient times has restricted the occurrence of word accent to the last three syllables of the word. Because clitics following a word are reckoned together with it for purposes of accent assignment, it sometimes occurs that the larger prosodic unit thus created is accented on the fourth syllable from the end. In such instances, Greek obligatorily assigns a second accent to the penultimate syllable of this unit. The rule in Greek is more restrictive than that in Bulgarian, as Greek adds a second accent only when clitics are post-posed. Subsequently it was also admitted that there was a possibility that contact with Greek or Albanian dialects had supported or influenced accent changes in Bulgarian [22]: 286. Although not everyone agreed with this idea, it was nevertheless quite productive. Kiril Mirchev [25]: 64, however, rejected this idea. Mirchev was the first Bulgarian linguist whose opinion was accepted as an authoritative explanation of the phenomenon. Noting that the alternation of accented and unaccented syllables in polysyllabic paradigmatic forms and syntagms (for example, мòмчетàта ‘the boys’ or ку̀пи мѝ го ‘buy it for me') creates a particular rhythm, Mirchev concluded that the appearance of a second accent is due to a particular accentual rhythm which arose in the dialects in which it exists today [25]: 65. According to this statement (or explanation), double accent is simultaneously a reason (a source), and a consequence (a result). It is evident that Mirchev views a particular accentual rhythm as a precondition for the appearance of a second accent. The question Mirchev does not answer, however, is this: what creates this special accentual rhythm if not the second stress? Logically interpreted, his explanation runs as follows: There is a particular accent rhythm that arises from the presence of a second accent, the appearance of which (the second accent) is caused by this accentual rhythm.

The term rhythmic accent, introduced by Mirchev to characterize double accent in Bulgarian dialects, explains neither the reasons for the occurrence of a second accent nor the nature of the phenomenon itself. Therefore, this term is devoid of linguistic content. It is related to perception, or rather, to the result of the perception of double accent, but it has no connection with the rule for the occurrence of double stress, nor does it explain the reasons for its existence in Bulgarian dialects today.

The occurrence of a second stress is not due to a striving of the language towards a rhythmic organization of polysyllabic words, lexical groups, or phrases. The rhythm in a sentence can also occur as the chance result of combinations of words in the sentence. For example : ку̀пи бèло вѝно ‘buy white wine’ or зèм' си бя̀ла дрòпка ‘take the liver’, кажѝ на мàйка ‘tell mother’, видя̀ха бащà ти ‘they saw your father’, женà добрà и у̀мна ‘a good and smart woman’. Such rhythm can occur in dialects with different accent systems, in which the phenomenon of double accent may be unknown. Of more recent authors, J.N. Ivanov accepted both Mirchev’s term and explanation without reservations [19]: 213; [26]: 142. Ivanov attempted to give additional explanations of the phenomenon and to specify more precisely the reasons for its occurrence appearance by focusing on the acoustic peculiarities of the stressed vowels in dialects with double accent. According to Ivanov, the stressed vowels in doubly accented words tend to be longer; the second stress also tends to be longer than the first stress [19]: 213,n.4, that is, some kind of principle of increasing quantity would have to operate as one moves from the initial to the final syllable. Thus, he thinks that the reason for the occurrence of a second stress lies in prolonging the stressed vowel in the local dialects of the area of where polysyllabic words are characterized by double accent [19]: 213-214. He also holds the opinion that

the slowing of the speech rhythm caused by the lengthening of the stressed vowel cannot last more than one syllable, so that the following syllable needs a second accent [19]: 214.
Ivanov uses the terms speech rhythm and accent rhythm inconsistently. At one point he claims that speech rhythm causes the occurrence of a second stress (see his statement quoted above), but later in the same work he states the cause is the accent rhythm:
Accent rhythm as a factor, as an original cause for the occurrence of the double accent, can be seen best in polysyllabic words with three accents, as well as in individual phrases and lexical forms [19]: 216.

Apart from this terminological confusion (speech rhythm and accent rhythm are different phenomena after all), there remain several other unclear points in Ivanov's explanation:
  1. Why is it that the lengthened stressed syllable which slows down the speech rhythm, cannot last more than one [unstressed] syllable?
  2. If Ivanov’s assertion is true, why does a final (oxytonic) second accent occur only exceptionally, as in forms like фтòрийъ̀ ‘the second’, любенѝцатà ‘the watermelon’ [19]: 203, and not regularly? (J. N. Ivanov himself points out that the oxytonic second accent is the least frequently appearing double accent type, and that it does not occur in any position or word category with any regularity. He believes that oxytonic accents must have arisen in the context of paroxytonic ones [...] (word + enclitic), for example фтòрийъ̀ (му) ‘(his) second’, любенѝцатà (си) ‘(one’s) watermelon’. He regards such examples as a later development of paroxytonic [accents] [19]: 202-203. Molerov however, who undoubtedly knew his native Razlog dialect better than did Ivanov, points out that every trisyllabic word whose usual stress falls on the first syllable has two accents if the word ends with a consonant [24]: 179.
  3. Why does the same rhythmic principle not cause a third rhythmic accent in lexical forms like вòзлавнѝцата ‘the pillow’, нàтовàрени ‘loaded down’ and others, in which the last (second) accent is in antepenultimate position? The vowel carrying this accent is longer than the two preceding accented ones, and should cause accent-rhythmic forms like вòзлавнѝицатàа, нàтовàаренѝи and others.
  4. Why in such words is there not a second oxytonic model reduplicated as a further development of the penultimate model – for example въ̀злавнѝцатà ‘pillow’ from въ̀злавнѝцатà хи ‘their pillow’, or пòкашнѝнатà ‘furnishings’ from пòкашнѝнатà си ‘one’s furnishings’?

Suppose that one were to formulate Ivanov’s explanation so as to postulate that the slow speech rhythm caused by the lengthening of the stressed vowel cannot last more than two unstressed syllables (which is the norm in forms like пàтика ‘path’, грàждане ‘townpeople’, бъ̀рборе ‘(I) speak’, сèлото ‘the village’, and others). Even so, this would not give a satisfactory explanation of regular instances like тòледжя̀ф ‘so [large], so [small]’, клàденèц ‘well’ (but клàденци ‘wells’), нàшенèц ‘fellow townsman/villager’ (but нàшенци ‘fellow villagers’), пия̀вичя̀ф ‘pertaining to a leech’, валя̀вичèн ‘pertaining to the fulling-mill’, and other examples reported by Molerov [24]: 180. Already in 1904 Molerov described the phenomenon with greater precision than Ivanov:

After the stressed syllable there may occur [...] two unstressed syllables only at the end of the word, and only when the word ends in a vowel [24]: 180.

Ivan Kochev has also dealt with the phenomenon of “second accent” in Bulgarian dialects [22]. He includes the occurrence of a second stress in the broader context of a specific rhythm not only as concerns entire sentences (such as я̀ че òжнем òн додèка дòйде ‘I will harvest until he comes’) but also as concerns phonological and tonic words (such as от Бàнско лè си? ‘are you from Bansko?’ крàставѝца ‘cucumber’, and others). Kochev sees the second stress as related to the following two tendencies: 1) the tendency towards stabilization of the accent on a fixed non-final syllable in the forms of certain grammatical categories [22]:283 2) the tendency towards the stabilization of the accent in particular rhythmic-intonational groups [22]:286. According to Kochev, the above two tendencies are a result of the more general, typologizing tendency toward stabilization of the accent on a fixed non-final syllable of the word in Bulgarian dialectal speech. For him the nonfinal syllable is in fact the penultimate one. He claims that in most Bulgarian dialects there is a tendency towards a penultimate-accent organization of words, and consequently, of phrases. In contrast to other authors, Kochev thinks that accent shifts in words and word forms are related to accent rhythm in a more complex way. On the one hand, he states clearly that

the designation of the pre-final syllable (more rarely the pre-pre-final syllable) as a special position with respect to accent, and also the alternation at regular intervals of penultimate [accent] (and sometimes antepenultimate) in the sentence, is the primary reason for the formation of rhythmic groups in the southwestern dialects [22]:288.
On the other hand, he claims that
the tendency towards stabilization of the accent on a syllable further to the front, except in instances of a functioning accent shift between forms of different morphological categories, is … also supported by the appearance of particular rhythmic intonational groups at the boundaries of the phonological word (word, combination) or even phrase (sentence) [22]:282.
Thus, Kochev is not able to avoid the vicious circle of the links between accent shifts and accentual rhythm, asserting in his conclusion that
the tendency towards the stabilization of accent on a fixed syllable in the word appears consistently in numerous forms, at the basis of which lie different sorts of rhythmic-melodic laws [22]:291.
What can be considered rational in Kochev’s theory is the idea that the occurrence of a second fixed and obligatory accent on the pre-final syllable in tetrasyllabic (and polysyllabic) words with initial accent is a special case of the tendency toward stabilization of the accent on the penultimate syllable [22]:289. In this theory it is claimed that the occurrence of a second fixed penultimate accent, obligatory in polysyllabic words, is of great importance for the stabilization of paroxytonic rhythm in southwestern Bulgarian dialects [22]:290.

Double accent as a prosodic phenomenon in Bulgarian dialects has not only been discussed from different points of view: it has also been rejected by some linguists. According to Blagoj Shklifov, there are no words or lexical combinations with double accent. What is usually considered to be double accent is for Shklifov in fact

the length or prolonging of a vowel, which some authors perceive as an additional accent [27]:27-28.
One wonders why Shklifov is the only one who always hears a long vowel and thinks that the combination stress + vowel sound (which depends on the vowel’s position in the syllabic structure), is a phenomenon basically characteristic of the southern and southwestern dialects. It is also not clear why the existence of this combination in the Kostur region should be a reason for the absence of double accent in the Razlog region or in the Rhodopes, where it is also heard. In support of his assertion, Shklifov also cites examples from the Jambol-area villages Irechekovo and Nedyalsko: грòбищаата ‘the graveyards’, печàтницаата ‘the printing press’, and others. Insofar as it concerns the Bulgarian south, these forms are admissible, but as Shklifov does not mention anything about his source, these forms remain to be confirmed. He even discovers accentual-rhythmic units of up to seven syllables in which there is only one stress and one syllable in which the vowel is lengthened or long [27]:19-27. Shklifov defines its position counting from the initial syllable.

It is curious that no modern author writing on this topic has cited Stefan Mladenov’s opinion about the connection between dialectal accent shifts in the Bulgarian linguistic region and the occurrence of a second accent [28]:184-186. In commenting on southern Bulgarian dialect systems, he distinguishes two accent types in polysyllabic words: two-syllable accent, and three-syllable accent. Mladenov made a distinction between bisyllabic and trisyllabic accent on the one hand, and two-syllable and three-syllable accent on the other. By the first, he meant stress fixed on the second or third syllable from the end of the words, and by the second he meant stress no further from the end of the word than the second or third syllable. Three-syllable accent is defined as an accent that shifts from the final syllable to the third syllable from the end: this is the system of three-syllable stress (pattern ― ― ' ― ' ― '). There are two kinds of two-syllable accent. In one, the last two syllables are accented preferentially (pattern ― ― ― ' ― ' ―), and in the other the stress is carried by the second and third syllables from the end (pattern ― ― ' ― ' ― ―) [28]:185-186. Mladenov’s observation on these types, and their connection with accent shifts, can be summarized in the following quotation:

The paroxytones remain while the oxytones have to become paroxytones. But words which are accented on the fourth syllable from the end rarely become proparoxytones, but rather decompose into two paroxytones. Thus instead of general Bulgarian мèсечина ‘moon’, крàставица ‘cucumber’ and the like, they say мèсечѝна, крàставѝца and so forth (and not месèчина, крастà(в)ица, as in the regions with the ‘ante­pen­ultimate’ accent [28]:186.
Mladenov concludes that in the Bulgarian dialectal southwest there are speech regions which preferentially accent the pre-final syllable (pattern ― ― ― ' ― ―), and those which are distinguished by the tendency to accent the third syllable from the end of the word or the lexical group [28]:186. These observations of Mladenov suggest the solution to the mystery of the phe­no­menon of double accent in Bulgarian dialects. Double accent is not only connected with more recent accent shifts, but it is also linked to rest­rictions and pro­hibitions with respect to the position of accent. Mladenov is the only author whose analysis of the phenomenon of double accent does not depend on rhythmic reasons. I believe that the accentual diversity presently found in Bulgarian dialects is due to two tendencies active in the realization of two basic accent types: 1) free stress, characterizing northern Bulgarian dialects 2) limited (non-free) stress, characterizing southern Bulgarian dialects.

The term limited stress should be interpreted as a relatively free stress within the framework of the last three syllables (final, pen­ultimate and ante­pen­ultimate), i.e. three-syllable and two-syllable in Mladenov’s terminology. As a rule, stress in initial position is not excluded in trisyllabic words in any Bulgarian dialect (there is one exception to this rule: the dialect of Boboshtica). Most accent differences in Bulgarian dialects are connected according to the place of stress in words of three syllables or more. In most Bulgarian dialects, stress is permitted in final position: exceptions are dialects with the so-called fixed penul­timate stress (disyllabic), fixed ante­penul­timate stress (trisyllabic), and fixed initial stress. The area covered by these dialects is quite small. In the dialects with non-free stress, there is a tendency towards non-final stress; this tendency has been fully implemented only in certain south­western regions. In dialects with regular penul­timate or ante­penul­timate stress, there must have been a tendency towards an internal (non-final and non-initial) stress in words or word forms of three, four and more syllables. Thus, the tendency towards non-final stress has been realized due to positional restrictions such as no further from the end of the word than the ante­penultima and no further from the beginning of the words than the penultima. According to this tendency, oxytones become paroyxtone or proparoxytone through a stress retraction, and words of four or more syllables with original initial stress become paro­xytone or pro­paro­xytone through a stress advance­ment. We may say for these dialects that the process of retraction (movement of stress towards the beginning of the word) is no longer relevant as a means for attaining a particular accentual organi­zation of the poly­syllabic word (syntagm). The process of advancement, however (movement of stress towards the end of the word), is still relevant, given the restriction not further than pen­ultima or ante­penultima. The so-called fixed accent is in essence a mobile accent which falls on different syllables in different forms of the same word (i.e. which differ only in terms of the number of syllables): however, it always falls on either the pen­ul­timate or ante­pen­ul­timate syllable. For example: стàрец – старèцо – старцатòго – старцѝтим ‘old man’ [indefinite, definite, accusative, plural definite oblique]; крастà(в)ичар – краста(в)ѝчарот – краста(в)ичàрите ‘cucumber vendor’ [singular indefinite, singular definite, plural definite].

The only truly fixed accent is found in the extreme south­western region – an initial stress which never shifts from the initial syllable. The accentual organization of words (syntagms) with penul­timate and ante­penul­timate stress is based on the principle first out, last in. That is, the final syllable is the one which is important, not the initial syllable or the number of syllables that follow it. Compare Molerov’s statement:

In the Razlog dialect many unstressed syllables are tolerated before the stressed syllable in a word. For example, говедару̀вам ‘be a cowherd’, воденичару̀вам ‘be a miller’, воденичару̀вали ‘were millers’ [past active participle] [28]:179.
Thus, the prefinal and the pre-prefinal syllable seem to be the most important structurally for marking the boundaries of accentual (phonetic) units (word forms, syntagms); and it is constant contrast between the accented syllable (penultimate or antepenultimate) and the end of the word which signals this boundary.

Kochev also speaks about the special position of the prefinal syllable with respect to accent [22]:289. However, the boundaries of the accentual unit are marked differently in those southern Bulgarian dialects with fixed initial stress and in the dialects with the occurrence of a second accent. In these dialects there is a clear restriction against advancement of stress (shift towards the end of the word) from antepenultimate or preantepenultimate syllables. Since antepenultimate stress does not break the rule not further than the third syllable from the end, dialects with double accent frequently exhibit forms like глàсове ‘voices’, рèдове ‘rows’, грàдуве ‘towns’, снòпиту ‘the sheaves’, купѝтуту ‘ the hoof’, ѝмету ‘the name’, пàтика ‘pathway’ бу̀бенѝцата ‘the watermelon’, ря̀жеме ‘(we) cut’, бъ̀рборе ‘(I) speak’, and others: such forms are quite regular there. Forms and syntagms which are irregular in these dialects, however, are those such as рèдувету ‘the rows’, грàдувету ‘the towns’, ку̀четата ‘the dogs’, пàтиката ‘the pathway’, ря̀жеме я кря̀хчината ‘(we) cut the lean meat’, зàбърборе ‘(I) begin to speak’, and others. In these forms the contrastive syllable is the fourth from the end. Perhaps the occurrence of a second accent on the penultimate syllable in such forms is due to compensatory restoration of the contrast between the final syllable and the penultimate or antepenultimate. This explains the consistence and the regularity in these dialects of forms such as рèдувету, грàдувету, ку̀четата, пàтиката, ря̀жеме я кря̀хчината ‘(we) cut the lean meat’, зàбърборе and others.

Dialects with a fixed initial stress are at first glance sharply differentiated from other southwestern dialects. In actuality they correspond to the Boboshtica dialect and more generally to the tendency to maintain the contrast between penultimate and final syllables. In these dialects it is the penultimate syllable which is the contrasting one, although in this case the means of contrast is not stress but vowel lengthening. For example: пр̀с ‘finger’ - пр̀сти ‘fingers’, but пр̀стиите ‘the fingers’; similarly я̀ръмбиица ‘partridge’, тèнджеринаата ‘the cooking pot’. From the Golobъrdo Bulgarian villages in Albania, where the stress is fixed on the third syllable from the end, we may cite examples like плàниина ‘mountain’, голèмаата ‘the large’ [feminine noun follows or is understood], and others. As these examples show, there is no correlation between the number of syllables and the position of the initially stressed syllable in relation to the penultima. The signalizing of the contrast is not acoustically equivalent (or adequate). It seems that acoustic signals are perceived differently by speakers of different dialect groups. In some dialects the contrast is a second stress which marks a phonetic [phonological] word, while in others this will not be the case: for their speakers, other acoustic (phonetic) signals are more important for marking the boundaries of a phonetic-semantic unit. Generally speaking, the signals of contrast are connected with differences in perception: it can be a second accent, a long vowel (which some also hear as accented), a voiceless vowel, or a rise in intonation. This assertion, of course, is subject to experimental proof.

It is possible that the second accent seen in the phenomenon of “double accent” in southern Bulgarian dialects could have developed on the basis of an originally lengthened vowel in the penul­timate syllable. Thus it seems that both the occurrence of a second accent and vowel lengthening in the penul­timate unstressed syllable of poly­syllabic words (and forms) are connected with the prohibition against stress advancement from initial syllables whenever the syllable structure of a word increases. This restriction prevents the initial stress from becoming a pre-ante­penul­timate stress (on the fourth syllable from the end of the word), which would break the contrast between the final syllable and the ante­penul­timate / penul­ti­mate one. However, there is still no answer to the important question of why it is exactly these two syllables that are so important for the accentual organization of the word (syntagm). Rhythm is only a consequence of the occurrence of a second stress in different phonetic entities: it is not the reason for its occurrence. In this sense the rhythmic melody at the sentence level [22]:289 could in no way have supported (and did not support) either the stabilization of accent on non-final syllables or the appearance of a second accent in polysyllabic words and syntagms. Тhe occurrence of this second accent (either within a single word or within a syntagmatic phrase) in southern Bulgarian dialects) is connected with two factors: recent shifts in word accent, and positional limitations on the occurrence of word accent.

Types and occurence

This section is based on material in [30]

Canonic double accent

As a rule, double accent falls on alternate syllables which gives a highly striking, metrically regular rhythm to the speech pattern. Indeed, this rhythm is so memorable to anyone who has heard it in the field, and seems to pervade the speech chain so thoroughly, that it has apparently seemed natural for it to predict double accent occurence. Thus, most accounts of double accent state that whenever a word of the requisite num­ber of syllables occurs, double accent will necessarily also be present. Further­more, because double accent appears to occur solely at the word level, it is relatively easy to give lists of sample occur­rences (catego­rized either according to met­rical shape or to morpho­syntactic category). The simila­rity of the lists of words attested in different dialects has led to the tacit conclusion that double accent is a unified pheno­menon, capable of an abstrac­ted descrip­tion. The existence of this genera­lized description, and the frequency of its mention in works devoted to dialectal accentua­tion, have produced a sort of evaluatory metric, which has allowed dialecto­logists to decide whether or not a particular dialect is charac­terized by double accent.

As a result, the discipline of Bulgarian dialectology now includes a perception of what one might call canonical double accent according to which double accent is identified either with a particular abstractly-defined word frame, the vivid acoustic memory of a particular singing speech rhythm, or a pre-defined region on a dialect map. Usually, the term canonical double accent connotes a con­ca­tenation of all three of these factors.

Because the word frame which supports double accent must contain at least three syllables (and usually four or more), the morpho­syntactic contexts of its occur­rence are relatively cir­cum­scribed. The examples below were drawn from the south­west Bulgarian dialect of Bansko, situated in the center of the area of strongest double accent within Bulgaria proper.

Prosodic words Lexical words
вѝкамè го
we call him
прàзнувàло сè е
it was celebrated
да сà измѝенѝ
that they are washed
thus, so much
the skein
we say
the blood sausages

These examples represent a typical (but by no means ex­haus­tive) listing. Double accent can occur on lexical tri­syl­lables but occurs much more frequently in prosodic tri­syl­lables, however, when a clitic follows. Although the above examples suggests that double accent occurs freely on lexical tri­syllables, in actual fact it is quite rare in such words unless there is a clitic following, or unless the final syllable is a definite article. Examples such as клàденèц, in which double accent appears on a final closed syllable, are particular­ly rare (partly because accented final closed syllables are in general infrequent in the lexicon). The additional accent assigned by double accent can occur on clitics, but only if another clitic-like form follows (as in прàзнувàло сè е) or precedes (as in да сà измѝенѝ).

Additional / secondary accent

There are also numerous other instances, scattered throughout the broader Bulgarian dialectal landscape, where additional accents appear within the prosodic word (more rarely, also within the lexical word). No particular term is used to describe these instances, and no consistent study has been made of them. Apparently because the term double accent is so thoroughly identified with the well-circumscribed phenomenon described above, and because that particular phenomenon is so very striking, other possibly similar accentual phenomena have paled in comparison. Such general interpretation has been questioned by recent research which propose that a broader view be taken: it presents two other instances of additional accents within Bulgarian dialects, and poses a series of questions. The term additional accent was provisionally adopted to denote this phenomenon of additional accents; indeed, for now, one may view double accent as a particular sort of additional accent.

Another, especially widespread, type of additional accent occurs in a particular sort of prosodic word:

не гò познàвам don’t know him
не я̀ вѝжда he doesn’t see her
не смè го намèрили we haven’t found it
не му̀ я е покàзала she hasn’t shown it to him
не стè му го подарѝли you haven't presented him with it

That is, when one or more pre-verbal clitics follow the negative particle, the resulting prosodic word receives a second accent on the first clitic following the negation. The effect of this pattern on speech rhythms is striking, in that the clitic element immediately following the negative often bears not only dynamic stress but also very high tone, giving this syllable seemingly even greater prominence than that which bears the lexical accent.

What is absent, however, is the metrically regular pattern of alternating accents found in canonical double accent. The two relevant features which govern the accentuation seen in these examples are that (a) although several clitics may be present in the string, only the first can be accented; indeed, this one must be accented; and (b) the lexical place of accent in the verb form is not altered. Thus, although it is possible to hear a pattern of alternating accents, as in не гò познàвам, one can also find both successive accents, as in не я̀ вѝжда, and instances of two, three, or as many as four syllables separating the two accents (as in не смè го намèрили, не му̀ я е покàзала and не стè му го подарѝли, respectively). This accentuation is accepted (indeed, now prescribed) in the literary standard; it is also attested in a wide range of Bulgarian dialects, and is mentioned in many dialect descriptions.

Another type of additional accent has been reported in the eastern Bulgarian dialect of Erkech. In the particular sort of prosodic word composed of noun plus postposed definite article, a second accent often appears on the article morpheme itself. Although such accentuation is heard sporadically in all nouns, it is heard with by far the greatest regularity in plural nouns with the post-posed article -те:

мàжи-тè the men
дòктори-тè the doctors
фрàскавици-тè [крàставици-тè] the cucumbers
сѝнов'-тè the sons
кòн'-тè the horses

The rhythm is striking in these examples as well, and functions to draw special attention to the end of the word. Indeed, the final syllable in this sort of additional accent bears such strong accent that the preceding syllable, the plural marker, is often lost. For instance, the indefinite forms of сѝнов'-тè and кòн'-тè are сѝнове and кòни, respectively. As in the first instance of additional accent (in negative verb phrases), here too it is possible to encounter the charac­teristic alternating rhythm of canonical double accent.

Here too, however, many other rhythms are also present. That is, if the indefinite form in question happens to bear penultimate accent, then the presence of an additional accent on the definite article will yield the rhythmic pattern expected for double accent, as in мàжи-тè. If the indefinite form bears ante­penul­timate stress, however (or, more rarely, pre­ante­penul­timate stress), there will be two or even three syllables separating the two accents (as in дòктори-тè and фрàскавици-тè, respectively). Conversely, accents can appear on succeeding syllables, as in кòн'-тè.

The existence of these various different types of accentuation, found at various points throughout the Bulgarian dialectal landscape, poses many interesting questions either descriptive or such concerning its description:

  1. Should the term double accent apply only to the canonical form as exemplified by the first set of examples? Or should the general concept be expanded to include other instances of additional accent, including but not limited to those exemplified in all examples above? That is, can we describe all forms of additional accent (double accent included) as in essence the same throughout their geographical spread? Do the attested differences (a) simply amount to a matter of greater or less frequency or occurrence; (b) represent different basic types of double accent; or (c) constitute two clear categories (double accent and additional accent) which are sufficiently different to exclude all possibility of generalization?
  2. What is the phonetic nature of double accent? Is the additional accent a phonetically measurable secondary stress? Are the phonetic features implementing it the same as for the main word accent? If not, what is it that characterizes them? Are the phonetic features of double accent distinguishable from those of additional accent?
  3. What conditions the occurrence of double accent? Is it the number of syllables, the shape of the syllables, or the lexical or grammatical characteristics of the word or syntactic string? Can the occurrence of double accent be predicted? Are the answers to these questions different, in any significant manner, for additional accent?
  4. What is the rhythmic and prosodic relationship between double accent and/or additional accent (a word level prosodic phenomenon) and intonation (a phrase- and sentence-level prosodic phenomenon)?
  5. Which descriptive model most successfully captures the nature of double accent? Should one speak in metrical terms (trochee, iamb, etc.) of the spoken chain, or should one focus upon the types of words, and especially the types of clitic strings, which seem to evince it most? Or is there another possible model which combines both these factors? Can the same questions be formulated for additional accent?
or historical origin:
  1. What is the causal relationship between double accent in Bulgarian and the typologically similar phenomenon in Greek? What is the relevance, to any supposed causal relationship, of the fact that the Greek phenomenon (whereby a second accent is assigned to the penultimate syllable whenever the addition of post-posed clitics creates a unit bearing accent on the fourth syllable from the end) is more limited in scope than the Bulgarian one?
  2. Does double accent provide historical evidence for morphologically conditioned stress shift within Slavic? For instance, does a form such as нàберèте (imperative plural) represent an intermediate stage between inherited наберèте and the retracted stress in the innovative нàберете? Conversely, does грàдовèте (definite plural of the noun grad) represent an intermediate stage between inherited грàдове and the innovative stress pattern градовè, thought to have arisen by analogy to the definite form градовèте? Do other instances of double accent represent relics of less transparent stress shifts (also presumed to be morphologically conditioned)? Is the complex of such evidence proof that double accent is internally motivated (i.e. purely a Slavic development)?
  3. Does double accent represent an intermediate stage in the development of fixed antepenultimate stress in southwestern Bulgarian dialects? If so, what are the other stages of development?
  4. What is the relationship between double accent and certain syntactic changes known to be due to convergence phenomena related to the Balkan Sprachbund? Do innovations such as the affixing of the definite article, the rise of possessive constructions expressed by a post-posed pronominal clitic, or word order changes affecting clitics, give rise to the presence of additional accents? Conversely, could a prosodic structure containing these additional accents have contributed to the development of these morphosyntactic phenomena associated with the Balkan convergence area?
  5. Are either double accent or additional accent currently productive, or is either (or both) but a remnant of earlier processes, however these may be defined? Is there a difference between double accent and additional accent in this regard?

These and other questions have intrigued scholars since the discovery of the extent of double accent in Bulgarian dialects. Some of them are well known in the literature, and some are posed here for the first time, especially those concerning the possible connections between double accent and additional accent. A unified account offering unequivocal (and satisfactory) answers to all of them is perhaps not possible; indeed, the possibility that both double accent and additional accent as presently defined could be part of the same historical development is remote. However, it is clearly time for a fresh approach to the data, and it is almost certain that such an approach will yield greater understanding of these questions than has been possible until now, given the force of the prevailing interpretations of double accent within Bulgarian dialectology.

Collaborative work towards a new interpretation of double accent began in the early 1990s. A key element in this work has been the joint perceptions of a native speaker and of a non-native speaker, both of whom have worked for many years in Bulgarian dialectology. Extensive fieldwork, spread out over seven years, was undertaken in which long stretches of narrative were recorded from many different areas of Bulgarian, including but not limited to areas with canonical double accent. Detailed analyses are being prepared of representative discourse samples from each dialect, without prejudgment as to the nature of double accent or expectations of its occurrence. It is intended that the resulting comparison of these analyses, made with attention paid both to each dialectal system as a self-contained whole and to the principles of linguistic geography, will give a better understanding both of the present scope and the historical development of Bulgarian accent. The present contribution concludes with a brief summary of two of the six regions, and makes certain tentative suggestions.

These two areas are Bansko, in southwestern Bulgaria; and the Erkech dialect, in northeastern Bulgaria. The Bansko dialect is one of the traditional exemplars of double accent: everyone agrees that it has canonical double accent, and expects a description of it to accord with the well-known facts. The Erkech dialect has long been known for certain remarkable prosodic features, including the presence of noticeable length in stressed syllables (stressed quantitet). Several decades ago, a secondary accent was noted sporadically in word-final position in this dialect. The term double accent was explicitly avoided in the description of this secondary accent.

The collaborative team began its field investigation of this question in the region of Bansko. Upon first listening, it appeared that the Bansko dialect did indeed assign additional accents to all prosodic words with the requisite shape. Close analysis of the recordings, however, showed that the situation was much more complex.

First, the phonetic nature of the additional accent varied considerably, such that it was in several cases impossible to tell whether there actually was an additional accent or not. Sometimes the putative second accent sounded like a slightly elongated vowel, sometimes like a phrase-penultimate high tone. It would be interesting to examine this material spectro­graphically; but without a constant frame against which to judge, it would be very difficult to make any significant mea­sure­ments. At this point, one can only make the very general statement that first-run spectrographic re­presen­ta­tions of amplitude and frequency often contradicted the ear’s intuition.

Second, although double accent was found frequently in both lexical and prosodic words of the requisite number of syllables, it was by no means present in all of them. The speaker added a second accent here, and did not add it there; and there was no immediately obvious motivation for her choices – some seemed due to elements of discourse rhythm, some to syntactic constituency of the particular phrase, while others appeared simply arbitrary.

The concatenation of these two observations – the phonetic variability of acoustic impressions and the unexpectedly facultative nature of second stress assignment – demonstrates clearly that canonical double accent is nowhere near as systematic as has been suggested in the literature. Yet it is markedly and vividly present, even in the speech of young children and of educated bidialectal speakers. Furthermore, it does appear to be primarily connected with rhythmic factors: all the clearest and most unambiguous instances of double accent fit the metrical model of alternating stresses within a well-defined lexical or prosodic word. Examples above of the canonic double accent are drawn from Bansko; similar examples abound.

Complementiser accent shifts

This section is based on material in [31]
The Erkech dialect, by contrast, does not fit the above rhyth­mic model. And yet two clear types of secondary / additional accents were heard there with great frequency. The first of these is the additional accent on the definite article, as exemplified above. Fieldwork in 1996 not only verified the frequent presence of this type of accentuation, but also dis­covered a new context for additional accents. In this second instance, prosodic words in which clitic elements occurred after certain conjunctions were frequently heard with a second accent on the first of these clitics. Two conjunctions (ако ‘if’, often heard in a shortened form, ко; and кат ‘when, as’, a contracted form of като) regularly occasioned this second accent. So also – although less frequently – did the sub­ordina­ting conjunction да ‘that’, and the coordinating conjunction и ‘and’. This accentuation is exemplified below.

кат гѝ изведè when she takes them out
ко стè гу вѝждали if you saw her
кат сè пенсионѝрат when they retire
ко вѝ е безсòлно if it isn’t salty enough for you
и сè оду̀мили and they agreed
да гò тъ̀рси that she look for him

The data from Erkech provide evidence which may help to shed light on one of the more puzzling issues in Bulgarian prosody, namely the behavior of the negative particle не. Though itself unstressed, it has the property within verb phrases of inducing stress on an immediately following pronominal (не сѝ ме видя̀л you haven’t seen me) or verbal (не мè е видя̀л (he) hasn’t seen me) clitic. If the following syllable is instead part of a stressed verb form, не has no prosodic effect (не видя̀л (he) hasn’t seen (apparently)).

Two analyses of this have been proposed. The majority view appears to be that не is inherently stressed, but is lexically specified as post-stressing, i.e. its stress is manifested on a following element [33] [34] [32]. A precondition for this is that the following element has no lexical stress of its own, so only clitics are affected. An alternative view was proposed by Halpern [36], whereby не is likewise inherently unstressed. However, whereas the pronominal and verbal clitics are specified as enclitics, не is specified as a proclitic. When the two come together, the proclitic and enclitic fuse to form a viable prosodic word, which by default phonological rules is assigned stress (though its position must still be specified).

The issue remains unresolved, because the arguments for or against either approach must be based on principle, or on theory-internal considerations. Не is the only word in Stan­dard Bulgarian to behave this way, so there is nothing to compare it to. Nor is anything known of its prosodic history. The data from Erkech redress some of these empirical lacunae. There, не behaves just as in Standard Bulgarian. The surprise comes in the behavior of the com­ple­mentizers кат ‘when’ and ку ‘if’, cor­respon­ding to Standard Bulgarian катò and акò, respectively. In Erkech they exhibit the same prosodic behavior as не, i.e. they are unstressed, but induce stress on immediately following pronominal and verbal clitics.

кат ку
Сèтне кат гу̀ свършèм, зберèм гу
Later, when we finish it, we'll gather it
Ку гу̀ харèсват или ку йè от пò-ху̀баву симèйство ...
If they like him or if he's from a better family…
На вѝш кът я̀ пусрèшниш къквò стàвъ
Just look what happens when you meet her
Àс ку мѝ ... ку мѝ бя̀ше едѝн сѝн жу̀ф...
If I… if I had one son left alive…
Пèйът игрàйът додè се опекъ̀т, кат сè опекъ̀т ...
They sing and dance while they’re baking; when they’ve baked…
Ку му̀ дадъ̀т дрèй то се облечè.
If they give him any clothes, he'll get dressed.
И кат сѝ сидѝм ...
And while we're sitting around…
Тѝ ку сѝ тъдàшен...
If you're from here…
Пък кът è мàлку тò стувѝ.
And when he's small, he stands.
Дугудѝна пàк ше дòдете ку стѝ жѝву-здрàву.
You'll come back next year if you're in good health.

It seems reasonable to suppose that the forms кат and ку are reduced versions of forms which were similar to, if not identical with, the катò and акò of Standard Bulgarian. That is, they are descended from words which were lexically stressed. The most economical way to account for the loss of stress on кат and ку, and the concomitant appearance of stress on following clitics, is to assume that a shift of stress occurred diachronically. This may help to fill in the missing link in the history of не: since it displays the same prosodic behavior, perhaps it too is descended from an originally stressed ancestor (cf. Baerman [35] for further evidence for this from western Bulgarian dialects). Translated into synchronic terms, this favors the first of the interpretations outlined above, namely that не is underlyingly stressed, but stress is realized on a following element. An interpretation along the lines of Halpern [36] would entail a more extreme restructuring of the system, for which there is no positive evidence.

There is one further pheno­menon that warrants being noted in this context. The system in Erkech makes it possible for multiple post-stressing clitics to occur in sequence, something which of course cannot occur in Standard Bulgarian. How do they interact? Unfortunately, the data are limited to two examples: Кът не бèха… ‘When they weren’t…’; Кът ни ту̀риш крàй… ‘When you don't put a stop to it…’

Since a stressed verb form is not an appropriate host, не does not assign stress. Не in turn does not receive stress from кат (кът), though it is not clear exactly why. Perhaps it simply falls out of the range of possible hosts (by being underlyingly stressed?). A perhaps more pleasing solution is to suppose that where не precedes a stressed verb form – not an appropriate host for its stress – it pro­cliticizes to it, become part of a single prosodic word. The same process would then apply to кат: since не is construed as part of the stressed word, it finds no host for its stress, and likewise becomes proclitic.


To summarize, additional accents occur over a broad range of the Bulgarian dialectal landscape. In a certain limited area to the southwest the phenomenon is well catalogued, under the name of double accent, and is described in an abstracted, almost canonical form. Although additional/secondary accents occur in other areas of Bulgaria, both in the same form as found in the southwest and in other forms, the only systematic mention of such accents found in dialect descriptions from these areas refers to the secondary accent on the clitic following the negative particle (a pattern also found in the standard language). It is here proposed to refer to all instances of additional / secondary accents found in Bulgarian dialects by the general term additional accent; the examples given herein have been taken specifically from the Erkech dialect. This term is still provisional. It could be taken in the most inclusive sense (there is another accent somewhere in the prosodic word) or it could be taken in a more specific, exclusionary sense (there is another accent in the prosodic word, but the conditions of its occurrence are not those found in canonical double accent).

Alternatively, one could view the use of additional accent simply as an intermediate stage in a process that would eventually allow a much broader understanding of the idea of double accent. Here two points are to be noted: first, the double accent of Bansko is nowhere near so regular and easily describable as has been thought until now; and second, the accentuation of Erkech admits of additional accents in a much more regular fashion than has been thought until now. There seem to be noticeable differences between the two systems, but more detailed analysis is needed before these differences can be adequately characterized. Stress assignment in the Bansko dialect seems to follow a primarily rhythmic pattern, and that in Erkech seems to be more syntactically determined.

Complementiser accent shifts can be described according to a single model. In each case a monosyllabic particle heading a verb phrase composed of proclitic(s) plus verb causes an additional accent to occur on the first clitic after the accented particle. It is necessary only to specify which particles are included in this statement for which dialect.

One might even utilize the distinction between syllable-time and stress-time languages in speaking of these two different dialectal centers. Since both are clearly part of the same language continuum, however, it is desirable to seek a description that unifies rather than separates. In both areas one finds doubly accented prosodic words, some of which involve additional accents on clitics and some of which implement a rhythmic pattern of alternating accents. The question of whether these similarities should be viewed on the one hand as superficial and random, or as part of a unified underlying process on the other, remains to be solved.


Quantitet is an accent-related change in the length of a vowel. The sequence of stressed and unstressed long and short vowels gives a language-specific intonation. Quantitet is a primordial Slavic trait that is well preserved and even further developed in Serbian language. It should be immediately said that no Bulgarian dialect has preserved the old quantitet and so this trait cannot be used for dialect grouping. Indeed, there are some dialects in which long and short vowels are apparent but that is not the old Slavic quantitet because these cases do not coincide with the Serbian quantitet and the vowel length was changed in recent times often by well-known reasons. Yet, it cannot be definitely concluded that all traces of the old quantitet have been obliterated in Bulgarian dialects judging from the published dialect materials as those lack length or accent markings.

The usual Bulgarian accent best corresponds to the Serbian gravis ` (grave accent) in its quantitative and qualitative characteristics. Although the Bulgarian accent is usually put at the place of the Serbian double gravis ``, it is not as brief and strong. Along with this usual semi-short accent there are elongated vowels both in Standard Bulgarian and in Bulgarian dialects. Those have no relation with the old quantitet but are due either to logical reasons or to phonetic changes, or to dialect-specific characteristics but in each case they are unrelated to the old Slavic quantitet.

Long vowels are due to logical reasons in cases when some word must be emphasised to mean some multitude, magnitude, strength or duration. Below are some examples from the northeastern dialects:

For multitude. If someone narrates to have been shopping and have seen many cabbages (зеле) and people (хора), he could tell these words: то зеели, зеели — купища, а пък хоора, хоора — мравунак! In one fairy-tale telling about a brother and sister running away from their parents who wanted to kill them, the sister tells her brother: батьо, фърлѝ хумникът да стани каал, каал — буба и мама да ни моят да ни стигнат; after a while she says again: батьо, фърлѝ гребенът, да стани тръъни, тръъни! And then again: батьо, фърлѝ бръсначът, да станат нужоови, нужоови. It is possible that the length of the generative case in Serbian comes from such lengthened pronunciation of the suffix vowel.

For magnitude. Една беше, ама гуляяма! Е тоолкова! Седнахми пуд идно висооку дърво; утсекух иннъ̀ дибеела туяга; навлекъл иннѝ широоки убуща.

For strength. Удари мъ, тъ мъ заабуля; Чакъх, чакъх да йъдем, пъ то ми приимъля ут глад; стуях, стуях, па ми съ дууспа и аз си легнъх.

For duration. Я виш Колю, по-малък ут тебйъ, пък си круутува! Стууй си нъ йно мясту, пък ти хойкъш! Млоогу щи мъ пумйънуваш! Нйъкъ си дръънка, пък ти си мълчи!

These examples may be supplemented with the vocative case whose suffix is pronounced with an elongated о or е vowel so it is clearly pronounced without reduction even in the eastern parts: Петрее, Иванее, Петкоо, малее, сестроо etc. Length in vocative case is especially apparent when the name is pronounced loudly.

Leaving aside the vocative case where the length is always in the suffix vowel (о or е), in the other given above and similar examples the long vowel can be either with or without accent as well as before or after an accented syllable; one can say круутỳва си or крутỳува си; стууѝ си and стуѝи си; along with гуля̀яма, дибèела, ширòоки etc. one can say also: гууля̀ма, диибèла, шиирòки, etc. It is hard to say which is primordial in such cases but having in mind the old quantitet according to which long vowels are preserved only before accented syllables, it is more likely that the primordial pronunciation is диибèла, гууля̀ма because those do not oppose to the old quantitet supposing that the logical continuation of vowels is something old in the Bulgarian language.

The length is optional in all examples above, i.e. a word can have a long or short vowel depending on whether it is emphasised or not. There are other cases, however, where again logical reasons generate or preserve constant lengths. Such is, for example, the long or double vowel in third person plural in the present tense in some dialects; thus in the Prilep dialect it is: глèдаат, пѝтаат, unlike глèдат, пѝтат in Standard Bulgarian. It can be concluded that the reason for preservation of this long vowel is logical because in the other verb forms (гледам, гледаш, гледа, гледаме, гледате), which were formed in the same way – through contraction – there is no such length.

Long vowel in the same verb form is also found in the central dialects in which the sound т is omitted and thus it coincides with 1st or 3rd singular; e.g. in Razlog 1st singular is да вѝкна, but 3rd plural is да вѝкнаа; also: да мèла and да мèлаа; да вида and да видаа; гледа — глèдаа; пита — пѝтаа, etc. Here the logical reason is even more obvious because when the accent differs in these forms, the long vowel disappears: e.g., in verbs like: плèта, òра, пèа, стрѝга, etc., 3rd person plural present tense is: плетà, орà, пеà, стригà – therefore, with a short vowel. In the Samokov dialect which obeys the same rule there is an accent offset in 3rd person plural present as is in 1st person; then again only the length in 3rd person plural is the only difference between the 2 forms: рàста, гòра, бèра, гàса (1st person singular present) and рàстаа, гòраа, бèраа, гàсаа (3rd person plural present). It is interesting to investigate if the accent offset was a result of the lengthened suffix.

Along with these obviously logical elongations, there are many contracted vowels, although not all contractions are preserved in their original forms as long vowels. As a role, older contractions, with rare exceptions, have already lost their originals while younger contractions are still felt like lengths. For example, definite adjective forms such as млада, младо originating from младаѩ, младоѥ are no longer pronounced with a long end vowel, as on Serbian; such pronunciation still occurs here and there as an archaism, and only in vocative case: клèтаа дъще; чèрнаа чумо! An interesting archaism from Ohrid is: о кутрàаго, also from Tәrnovo: гиди чумо умразнъйъ, свиньо селкъйъ, ургè ургисънъйъ, вещице старъйъ, but these forms look like renewed or clerical. Verbs ending in -ам keep their long suffix vowel to a degree only in some southwestern dialects. However, some new fusions are pronounced as long vowels: нее край! instead of не e край, слаа боже instead of слава боже, ху̀буу instead of хубаво, кучътъ, пильътъ instead of кучетата, пилетата (Lovech). In Troyan, where vowel assimilation and contraction is very widespread, the following occur: рèкоо, плèтоо instead of рекоха, плетоха, тяан (техен), видет го, чут го (го е), добро, зло (зло е), вѝкном (викнувам), Иванò майка (Иванова), etc. Lengths such as: гляат (гледат), бя (бяха), кя (кьеха), плèтаа (плетоха) from Resen; петнàас, двàас (15, 20) — in the Rhodopas and Ser (Gorno Brodi village); то свет, Razlog and Malko Tәrnovo; зимаава, годинаава, килоо, блудкоо, блоослов (килаво, блудкаво, благослов) in Prilep and Bitola regions; пàзуутъ, нèгуутъ, прàскуутъ, etc. instead of пазухата etc. It can be understood without further examples that vowel elision between consonants is a new phenomenon in Bulgarian dialects and therefore the long vowel in such cases is very obvious, in some such contractions one wonders if 1 or 2 vowels are heard.

In addition, long vowels substitute the old vowels ѣ, ѫ, and ѧ in some dialects. For example, the substitution of ѣ in Rhodopa and Razlog dialects is rather long than short vowel; ѣ is also long in Kirechkyoy. The sound that substitutes the Standard Bulgarian ъ in Rhodopa, Debar, and Teteven dialects can be quantitatively classified as a long vowel, although it is not as long as in Serbian, which is marked with the 2 long accents ^ (long falling) and ´ (long rising). Such length is probably heard for ъ in Erkech dialect (Burgas region) according to Miletich. It seems that in Erkech dialect all accented vowels are pronounced as long although the Miletich examples only confirm the length of ъ, ѣ, and а. Mirchev mentioned long а and е in Pozharevo north-west of Voden but gave only 3 words (дааде, меече, донеесе). Long vowels or, in general, drawled speech occurs in many Bulgarian dialects but those are new lengths which coincide with old long vowels. For example, in the villages Bozhitsa, Dragotintsi, Topli dol and Treklyano (Bosilegrad region) all monosyllable nouns ending in voiced consonants (б, в, г, д, ж, etc.) are pronounced with long root vowel: глоог, дрооб, роод, граад, ноож, роог, зиид, etc. – obviously, to better clarify the end consonant which in these dialects is voiced and does not turn into voiceless as in most Bulgarian dialects (глок, дроп, рот, etc.). In Bosilegrad region, many personal names are pronounced with long root vowel: Геeле, Тооле, Вееле, Гьооре, Йооца, Мииле, Коока, Ниика, Рааде, Миито. Long vowel аа in words like: лебаа-ми, кърстаами, натемааго, зимаава, etc. in Ohrid dialect were mentioned above; лаани can be added to these examples for all southwestern dialects.

Long accented vowels are reported for Strumitsa only before palatised open syllables: цвеекье, браакя, люугье, треекьи, бааня, веегьи, свеекя, вреекя, доваагям, раагям, плаакям, крадеенье, шетаанье, даваанье, гледаанье, ораанье, одеенье, цричеенье, умираанье, кучииня, пилииня, мачииня, качииня, телииня, etc. Long е also comes from ѧ: меесо, меека, пеета, рееса, грееда, пееда, треесам, шеетам, чеедо.

Almost the same length is seen in Pehchevo (Maleshevo region) in accented e in open vowels; it is prolonged and tightened so it is pronounced similar to и: прѝида въ̀на, мѝита двòро, плѝита чорапè, трѝиса я̀бука, пѝича пипèр, пèера дрèии, вчѝира плѝитох цал ден, два орѝила (but: орèл!), два остѝина (but: остèн!). Probably, the substitution е → и in open syllables in some Rhodopa dialects comes from such tightened pronunciation: нѝбу, прѝла, дѝня, тѝбеа (тебе), мѝнеа, вчѝра; главѝна ли си, жѝнеана ли си, та си гу мѝтна, той мѝнеа пьорстеан срѝбаран, нѝгу, сѝди, сѝлу, приз три я реки преанѝсах. Perhaps this accented и was sometime a long vowel.

These examples show that long vowels occur in many Bulgarian dialects but one cannot speak about a Bulgarian quantitet in the usual sense of this term in Slavic science. There are, however, some northwestern dialects, namely around Tsaribrod and Pirot, where the old quantitet is partially preserved. For example, in the Tsaribrod village Komshtitsa there is a clear quantitet length in nouns and adjectives with offset accent: врèеме, прàасе, лѝипа, брàава, клу̀убе, злàато, крѝило, пàафте, врàатът, брèегът, глàасът, дàарът, цèела, жѝива, ску̀упа, мèека, крѝива, дрàаго, слèепа. These lengths occur also in Pirot with some more: тъ̀ънко, сѝиво (but сивàа), ту̀упо (but тупàа), лу̀уда, лèева, су̀уво, глу̀ува, тъ̀ъвно, лъ̀ъко, брàашно, лѝика (ликàа), сѝина, му̀ужа, ку̀ума. These are examples of real quantitet remnants, because they correspond to the similar Serbian accents both quantitatively and qualitatively.

But why did the old quantitet disappear completely in Bulgarian language? It did so because the accent offset in Bulgarian dialects happenned after the contraction before accented syllables while the old accented syllables have always been short according to the above mentioned accent law and, therefore, because: (1) the old accented vowels have always been short (2) the accent offset in Bulgarian happened later than in Serbian and this process hasn't yet finished (3) at the same time the long vowels before accented syllables were not pronounced – exactly as is now the situation in Serbian, which necessarily leads to the loss of old quantitet in Bulgarian. The same reason causes the loss of quantitet in Russian and Slovenian – two other southeastern Slavic languages. Quantitet still remains in the Croatian Chakavian dialect although destroyed to a large degree.


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2. Benyo Tsonev. Ministerial Collection, VI, 1-82.

3. S. Kul'bakin. A study on the Ohrid Apostle, Bulgarian Antiquities, III, 64-67.

4. A. Leskien. Untersuchungen über Quantität und Betonung in den slavische Sprachen.

5. Fortunatova. Zur vergleichenden Betonungslehre der lituslavischen Sprachen, Archiv IV, 575-589.

6. Miletich Lyubomir. The Arnauts in Silistra region and traces of nasals in their language, Periodic Journal XLI, 622.

7. Masing. Zur Laut-und Accentlehre der bulgarischen Dialekte, 131.

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