Friday, 18 May 2012

Solun dialect

Solun dialect is a Bulgarian dialect spoken in the vicinity of Solun (Greek: Saloniki, Thessaloniki). This dialect is best represented in the villages of Visoka [2], Suho, and Zarovo, [3] near Lagadin, to the north of Solun. In addition to these, Solun dialect mixed with the neighboring Kukush-Voden dialect, is spoken in the villages of Negovan, Gradobor, Ayvatovo, Novo selo, Balevets, Kirechkyoy, Kliseli (Ilinets). [4][1] It is universally accepted that Solun dialect has preserved best the features of the Bulgarian language at the time of Cyril and Methodius. [6][7]


Кралю Марку

Пуйнò врѣмѭ бѝши идѝн чувѣк, гу вѝкаха Крàлю Мàрку. Тòс чувѣк бѝши млòгу гулѣ̀м чувѣк, усиндисѣт òки инà чѣ̀шка вѝну пѝѣши и стò òки инà буздугàна нòсиши; на нузѝ врѣмѭ излѣ̀зи инò млàду дѣтѭ щу на кувѣ̀тю ѝдѣха рàвну със Крàлю Мàрку. Видѣ̀ Крàлю Мàрку, щу ѝма тòлкус кувѣ̀т тòйи дѣтѣ, съ уплàши Крàлю Мàрку и си рѣчи със умò: "Ѣс за гу загубѝм тузѝ дѣтѭ!"

Гу вѝкаха дѣтѭту Катѝнчу и му рѣ̀чи идѝн дѣ̀нь: "Ѣла да пòйми барабàр у Висòка за да съ рашèтами на пѫтьо." Как утѝваха му рѣ̀чи Крàлю Мàрку да пруминè напрѣт Катѝнчу. Катѝнчу му рѣ̀чи: "Ти си пòгулѣ̀м, ѣс тѣ ни стъ̀пнувам тѣ̀бѭ." Крàлю Мàрку му рѣ̀чи пак: "Ѣс ѝмам мерàк ти да пруминèш напрѣт!" Сѣ̀тнѭ му рѣ̀чи: "Дѝлму такà ѝштиш за прумѝна напрѣт!" как тръ̀гна за да пруминè напрѣт извàди калъ̀чката Крàлю Мàрку, гу удрѝ инà калъ̀чка на кръ̀сту и гу заминà шѝчка калъ̀чката, амà дѣтѭту Катѝнчу ни пàна сидѣ рѣ̀чи: "Ох съ̀рциту мѣ забулѣ̀!" Крàлю Мàрку му рѣ̀чи: "Нѝкни, вѣ̀н си мръ̀ва кàлчъ ут таку̀ню за да хàпниш за ти пруминè съ̀рциту"; рѣ̀чи за да нѝкни̥ дѣтѭ Катѝнчу за да вѣ̀ни кàлчъ, съ удѣлѝ ут пулувѝна, пàна на зимѣ̀та.

Как видѣ̀ чъ такà стàна, гу пукълнà Крàлю Мàрку, му рѣ̀чи: "Тузѝ, щу ми гу стòри ни на Бòгу ду̀ша да дадѣ̀ш ни на зѣ̀мѣ кòкал да кладѣ̀ш!" гу устàви Крàлю Мàрку тàму да съ вàли и съ утѝди.

Сѣ̀тнѭ ут мръ̀ва врѣмѭ щу цару̀ваши òщи излѣ̀зи инò михàнима пищòф. Липòн пищòфу гу напълнювàха бару̀т и куршу̀̀м, да сѣ̀тнѭ гу плюснувàха. Дòйди нòс чувѣк, щу гу имàши пищòфу, утпрѣ̀т Крàлю Мàрку и му рѣ̀чи: "За ти гу фъ̀рлѣ тòс куршу̀м, мòжиш да гу фàтиш?" Крàлю Мàрку му рѣ̀чи: "Ѣс фàщам стò окѝ, ми тос куршу̀м нѣ̀ма за гу фàтѣ?" нос гу рѣ̀чи: "Дръш рѫкàта да гу фъ̀рлѣ!" и му плю̀сна, му ѣ удрѝ рѫкàта, устàна рòпка, си пруминà куршу̀м и ни мужà да гу фàти и тугàс си рѣ̀чи Крàлю Мàрку: "Нѣсни вѣ̀йки за живòт!" и пàна съ уклавà и такà му устàнаха кòкалèту на пòртитѣ, да съ бѣ̀сат. На сòлунскитѣ пòрти имàши кòкалъ убѝснѩту. – Да тѣ лѫджам, àку мѣ лѫджаха мѣ̀нѭ и ѣс тѣ лѫджам тѣ̀бѭ.

Once there was a man whose name was Kralyu Marku. This man was very big, he drank from a cup of wine weighing eighty oki [1 oka = 1.2 kg] and carried a mace weighing hundred oki. At that time, there appeared a young boy who was as strong as Kralyu Marku. Kralyu Marku saw that this boy had a great strength. He was frightened and said to himself: "I'll bring down this boy!"

The boy's name was Katinchu and he said to him one day: "Come with me to go together to Visoka to have a walk on the road." When they went on the road, Kralyu Marku told Katinchu to go before him. Katinchu said to him: "You are bigger, and I'd not overstep you." Kralyu Marku told him again: "I wish that you walk first!" After that he said: "If you want so, I'll go first!" and as he passed the boy to go first, Kralyu Marku pulled out his sword, hit the boy's back and the sword cut right through; however, the boy Katinchu did'n fall and just said: "Oh, I feel a pain in my heart!" Kralyu Marku told him: "Kneel, take some soil from your heel, and eat to heal your heart". The boy Katinchu tried to kneel to take soil, but he parted in half and fell to the ground.

As the boy saw what happened, he cursed Kralyu Marku, saying: "For what you did to me, let you not give your soul to our Lord and let you not put your bones to the ground!" and then Kralyu Marku left him to roll on the ground and went away.

After some time, in the same kingdom they made a mechanical gun. First they loaded the gun with powder and a bullet, and then they fired. The man that owned the gun faced Kralyu Marku and told him: "I'll throw this bullet to you, can you catch it?" Kralyu Marku told him: "I catch hundred oki so it is nothing to me to catch this bullet!" and the man told him: "Raise your hand for me to throw the bullet!" and he fired, and the bullet hit his [Kralyu Marku's] hand, made a hole, and passed through his hand and he couldn't catch it, and then Kralyu Marku said to himself: "There is no life for me any more!" and he killed himself and so his bones were left to hang on the gates. There were bones hanging on the Solun gates. – As to lying, if they lied to me, I lied to you. [1], pp. 38-39


The permanent interest of Slavic linguists in Solun dialect stems from the fact that it forms the basis of their languages and contains in a pure form some traits that are modified or extinct in the modern languages. Solun dialect turned out to be a veritable treasure trove in this respect. It must be regretfully said, however, that Solun dialect is understudied and many of its riches are lost, perhaps forever, for political and historic reasons.

Solun dialect is the prototype dialect that formed the basis of the Slavic alphabet created by the Solun-born brothers Cyril and Methodius. The main population in Solun and its environs since 6th century has been Slavic which in the 7th century mixed with Bulgars. By the 9th century Bulgarian language, a blend between the local Slavic and Bulgar, was already well formed and became the main language spoken in Solun neighbourhood. It was this local Solun Bulgarian dialect that was the mother language of Cyril and Methodius. Glagolithic alphabet, the first Slavic alphabet created by the holy brothers, reflected the characteristics of Solun dialect. These characteristics were carried over in its successor, the Cyrillic alphabet, created by their students and followers in the Preslav and Ohrid literary centers. The vast Old Bulgarian literature written during the Golden Century that united Bulgarian language by ironing out the dialect differences, was created on the basis of Solun dialect. Later, in 15-18th centuries, part of this literature formed the national languages of other East and South Slavic countries.

During the First Bulgarian State (9th-10th c.), the language and cultural community of Old Bulgarian, based on Solun dialect, existed on the whole Bulgarian territory, extending to the north far beyond the Balkan Mountains and the Danube, even north of the Carpates into Transylvania, with two cultural and literary centers at the capital Preslav and at Ohrid (Fig. 1).

At the end of 10th and early 11th century, a large part of the northern territories were lost by the incursions of Avars, Kumans, and Pechenegs. The capture of Preslav together with a large region in North-Eastern Bulgaria first by the Byzantines, led by Emperor John Tzimiskes, and later by the Russo-Normans, led by Kniaz Svyatoslav, was a very strong blow to Bulgarian cultural unity. This main cultural center was totally destroyed, and the huge amount of literature that it contained was burned, lost, or stolen by the invaders. Some part of Bulgarian cultural heritage was preserved in monasteries, churches, and the domains of local Bulgarian feudals which were gradually displaced to the south and west under the pressure of invading tribes leaving in the territories north of the Danube only some enclaves of Bulgarian speakers among non-Bulgarians speaking various non-written languages. These insulated islands of Bulgarian culture were unable to spread literacy far outside their localities lacking Bulgarian state and central administration. From the 11th century onwards, Bulgarian culture in the Trans-Danubian territories had to contend with the Latin-based culture, spread by the Roman-Catholic church that encroached from west and north, especially after the foundation of the Magyar Kingdom.

Bulgarian dialectology recognises it as a separate dialect (govor). Solun dialect and Drama-Ser dialect are combined in the Western Rup group of dialects which are transitory between the Western and Eastern Bulgarian dialects. [6] The dialect spoken to the west of Solun, around Kukush and Voden, as well as in the region of Lower Vardar, is classified as Kukush-Voden dialect or Lower Vardar dialect, a separate South-Western Bulgarian dialect. [6]

Solun dialect has several archaic idiosyncratic characteristics that are used for its classification. The most important are the nasalism, Yery reflex, Yat reflex, and the retention of archaic questional and relative pronouns. Its western neighbour, Kukush-Voden dialect, lacks these archaic traits and has acquired some more recent (17th-18th century) features such as vowel reduction, end consonant palatisation, variable *tj, *dj reflex, etc. It is important to note that Solun dialect belongs to the Rup group while Kukush-Voden dialect belongs to the South-western border dialects group. Moreover, the Yat border, the most important Bulgarian isogloss that splits the language in Eastern and Western parts, passes along the Vardar River, dividing Kukush-Voden dialect and Solun dialect. Therefore, lumping these two dialects into one is linguistically incorrect. Such lumping is often tendentiously done for obvious reasons by authors from Republic of Macedonia who refer to this mixed entity as Solun-Voden dialect, or simply, as Solun dialect.

It is well-known that the Yat reflex (Yat split) is the most important phonetic classification trait that divides the Bulgarian dialects in two approximately equal in territory and number of speakers groups: Eastern (Yakavian) and Western (Ekavian). In Solun dialect, the Yat vowel has largely preserved its original pronunciation. Therefore, Solun dialect is neither Yakavian, nor Ekavian. It is more accurate to call it Eakavian which befits its transitional position on the Yat border between Eastern and Western Bulgarian dialects.

The original Yat /ea/ has been preserved not only in Solun dialect but also in a few other Bulgarian dialects, especially those from the Rup dialect group such as Zlatograd dialect, although the bulk of the dialects exhibit modern Yat reflexes. Traces of Yat are seen also in Romanian and Russian, languages that have based their written form on Old Bulgarian. The two Yat reflexes occur with approximately equal frequencies in both languages; however, in Russian they have no significance for dialect classification while in Bulgarian they are the cause for a major dialect split.


Map of the Balkan Peninsula in the 9th century.

Solunska kaza villages

Map of Solunska kaza (Solun District) around 1900. [19]

Lagadinska kaza villages

Map of Lagadinska kaza (Lagadina District) around 1900. [19]

Solun dialect map

Мap of Bulgarian villages near Solun speaking Solun dialect. The map is adapted from [1], 1934.


In this archaic trait of Solun dialect, the old nasal vowels ѫ (Big Yus) and ѧ (Little Yus) which do not exist in modern Cyrillic alphabets, are retained in a large number of words. The nasalism is articulated in separate consonants – н /ŋ/ in front of г, д, ж, з, к, т, ч, and м /ɱ/ in front of б, п. This trait marks Solun dialect apart from the other Bulgarian dialects, and in modern languages has its analogue only in the Polish nasals ǫ (coming from Big Yus) and ę (coming from Little Yus). In modern Bulgarian, Big Yus is replaced by ъ (Big Yer), Little Yus is replaced by е and there are no nasals. The strong articulation of the nasal consonant is very unusual for other Bulgarian speakers as it masks the meaning of nasalised words to a degree that they are no longer recognisable and traceable to words in literary Bulgarian. In Solun dialect texts, the Big Yus is usually written as ън (or ѫн in older texts) and the Little Yus is written as ен which is convenient for typesetting, as nasals were eliminated from modern Bulgarian alphabet; however, it makes it hard to distinguish the nasals from many other vowels with ен and ън that do not originate from nasals.

The term nasalism comes from nas, the Latin word for 'nose'. Sometimes this phenomenon is denoted by the Greek-Latin term rhinesm which comes from rhinos, the Greek word for 'nose'. References to the nose come from the fact that when pronouncing the nasal vowel the tongue is raised to press the upper palate, forming a tight seal that obstructs passage of air through the mouth. The exhaled air passes above the tongue through the nasal cavity and comes out through the nose. The tongue movement toward the next sound forms a barely heard consonant resembling /n/ or /m/ depending on the consonant following the nasal (in case of no such consonant, at the end of words, it resembles /n/). These nasal consonants have special phonetic markings as /ŋ/ and /ɱ/, respectively. Nasalism (rhinesm) is widespread in many languages, e.g. in English: English /'iŋliʃ/, -ing /iŋ/ suffix; in French: bon /bɔŋ/, etc.

Solun dialect is known for its decomposed nasalism. This means that the consonants н and м, that have been part of the respective nasals, are so clearly articulated that they separate and are no longer part of the nasal. Instead, one hears the vowels ъ /ə/ or e and after them a clearly separated and strongly pronounced н /n/ or м /m/. This is achieved by raising the tongue in a more forward position so that it does not seal so tightly the passage through the mouth. Thus the end consonant is more oral (mouth-pronounced) than nasal. The pronunciation of the latter consonants is so strong, especially in stessed nasals, that they predominate over the consonant following the nasal and it becomes weak and transient, e.g. рѫ̀Нка; in the case of some end Yat-derived nasals in plural nouns this weak consonant is completely replaced by that derived from the nasal (see below). In general, consonants around the nasal vowels are destabilized and mutate easily. This occurs more often with the consonant after the nasal vowel: мѫ̀жь – мѫж – мѫч – мѫдж; ѭзл – ѭдзл, ѭ̀дзил; ѩзъ̀ıк – ѩдзъ̀ıк; мѧ̀со – мѧ̀цу; мѧ̀гък – мѧ̀ък – мѧк – мѧ̀ук.

On the basis of origin, Stoilov [8] distinguishes two kinds of nasal vowels in Solun dialect: organic and non-organic.

Organic nasals are those, originating from Old Bulgarian Big Yus (ѫ) or Little Yus (ѧ).

Non-organic nasals are derived from Big Yer (ъ) or Yat (ѣ) which are replaced by Big Yus (ѫ) or Little Yus (ѧ), respectively. Some examples of organic and non-organic nasals are given at the end of this section: [8]

The iotified forms of Big Yus (ѭ) and Little Yus (ѩ) are either pronounced in the same way as the respective non-iotified nasals or have some peculiarities:

The iotified Big nasal ѭ is usually a syllable former: it makes a syllable of more than one sound by adding the semi-vowel й /j/ or the consonant в /v/ in front: ѭ̀̀же – йѫ̀же – вѫ̀же, вѫ̀жи; ѭ̀зл – вѫ̀зил – вѫ̀дзил;

The iota in the iotified Little Yus ѩ is usually lost so that it is pronounced like Little Yus ѧ:

Nouns that end in Yat are especially prone to generate a non-organic ѧ in their plural forms: телѣ – телѧта (calves), кучѣ – кучѧта (dogs), жребѣ – жребѧта (colts), копчѣ – копчѧта (buttons), пилѣ – пилѧта (chicken), дървѣ (дърво) – дървѧта (trees), and many others. Some of the plural forms of nouns that ended in -емѣ, -амѣ and had the stress on the first syllable underwent reduction of т while н from the decomposed nasal became dominant, masking the original plural form and fixed itself in the modern language: сèмѣ – сèмѧта – сèмента – семена̀ (seeds), зна̀мѣ – зна̀мѧта – зна̀мента – знамена̀ (flags), плèмѣ – плèмѧта – плèмента – племена̀ (tribes), врèмѣ – врèмѧта – врèмента – времена̀ (times), стрèмѣ – стрèмѧта – стрèмента – стремена̀ (stirrups). In these last nouns the stress jumps from the first to the last syllable which underlines the dominance of the consonant н that appears in these words suddenly from the decomposition of the nasal and undermines and eventually displaces the consonant т following the decomposed non-organic nasal to become a part of another (the last) syllable.

In Russian, a language much influenced by Old Bulgarian, the end Yat-derived non-organic ѧ nasal decomposition went in a similar way in these words. The end Yat here mutated in я /ja/ unlike Bulgarian which has ѣ → e mutation (Russian: сèмѣ → сèмя vs. Bulgarian: сèмѣ → сèме). This end Yat in the respective Russian plurals gave rise to the nasal ëн /jɔŋ/. The non-organic nasal underwent decomposition /jɔŋ/ → /jɔn/, and the dominant н replaced т in the same way and in the same words as in Bulgarian: сèмѣ – сèмя – семëна (seeds), зна̀мѣ – зна̀мя – знамëна (flags), плèмѣ – плèмя – племëна (tribes), врèмѣ – врèмя – времëна (times), стрèмѣ – стрèмя – стремëна (stirrups). The stress shifted from the first to the second syllable, onto the decomposed nasal (on ë) while н became a part of a different syllable.

In Serbian, another language influenced by Old Bulgarian, the end Yat-derived nasal decomposition went in the same way as in Bulgarian: ѣ → e → ѧ mutation, н replaced т, stress shift. The only difference of Serbian with Bulgarian is that the stress shifts from first to second syllable instead of from first to third syllable. The set of words affected by decomposed nasalism in Serbian is more limited than in Bulgarian and Russian: плèмѣ – плèме – племèна (tribes), врèмѣ – врèме – времèна (times), because of the more divergent Serbian vocabulary.

It should be noted in this respect, that in all cases of nasalism, both organic and non-organic, Solun dialect is richer in nasals than the respective modern languages, derived from it: Bulgarian, Russian, and Serbian.

Organic nasals

ѫ, ън /əŋ/
блъ̀ндити (roam or clamour) – Гдè си заблъндèл? Щу й таз блъ̀ндва? (Where do you roam? What is this uproar?)
бъ̀ндъ (to be) – да бъ̀нда жиф и здраф (to be safe and sound)
(вь)сèкънде (everywhere) – сèкънде се нава̀ (is found everywhere)
гръ̀нд (breast) – гръндѝте ме буля̀т (my breasts hurt)
жèлънд (acorn) – дъмбèту да̀ват мло̀гу жèлънди (the oaks give many acorns)
кръ̀нг (circle, wheel) – на крънго̀ то̀чими (we whet [knives] on the wheel)
къндè (where) – къндèде утѝваш? - нѝкънде; за излèга дèгънде пу въ̀нка (where do you go? - nowhere; I will go somewhere outside)
къндèла (distaff-ful of wool) – къндèлата се здрубѝ (the wool broke on the distaff)
къ̀нкъл (corncockle) – жѝтуту ѝма къ̀нкъл (the grain contains corncockle)
кънт (nook) – къ̀нту и пра̀зин (the nook is empty)
лънг, лънка̀ (meadow) – кра̀въте паса̀т пу лънкъ̀те (the cows graze on the meadows)
лънк (bow) – крѝф като лънк (bent like a bow)
мъ̀ндър (wise) – мъ̀ндър чувèк (a wise man)
мънж (man) – мънджèту рабо̀тят; идѝн мънч (the men work; one man)
мъ̀нка (strife, difficulty) – мъ̀нката и у Го̀спуда; се мъ̀нчиха (strife is in Lord; they strove)
мъ̀нтити, мъ̀нтан (to muddle, turbid) – да те èзми мъ̀нтата; ним мъ̀нтиш уда̀та; мъ̀нту вѝну (let the muddy water take you; you muddle the water; turbid wine)
нѝкънде (nowhere) – нѝкънде ни утѝвам (I am going nowhere)
о̀брънч (hoop) – пра̀ят о̀брънч за бън̀чва (they make a hoop for a barrel)
поръ̀нчати (to order) – пуръ̀нчах да ми ку̀пят тютю̀н; влъко̀ пуръ̀нчину ни ядè (I ordered them to buy me tobacco; the wolf does not order his meal)
прънт (stick) – пръ̀нтиту исъ̀хнаха; пръ̀нчкъте са дибèлъ (the sticks dried; the sticks are thick)
пъ̀ндити (to chase) – пъ̀ндя кра̀въте (I chase the cows)
пънт (way, time) – пра̀ву пу пънтьо̀ у Су̀лун; два̀ пъ̀нтя (right on the way to Solun; two times)
ръ̀нка (hand) – сас ръ̀нка ми гу да̀й (give it to me with your hand)
рънка̀в (sleeve) – ми се урва̀ рънка̀ву (my sleeve was torn)
рънкавѝца (glove) – рънкавѝца се но̀си зѝми (gloves are worn in winter)
съсъ̀нд (vessel) – ничѝсти съ̀ндуви (dirty dishes)
съ̀ндити, съндба̀ (to judge, fate) – яс те съ̀ндя; ни ми глèнда съндба̀та; съ̀ндник бèла Я̀на (I judge you; he doesn't reckon my fate; white Yana is the judge)
сънк (stem, branch) – ръшта̀ си пу̀сна сънко̀ (the rye grew stems)
тъ̀нга (sorrow) – тъ̀нга ми и падна̀лу за тèбе (I miss you)
тъ̀нжити (to be sad) – тъ̀нджа за тèбе (I am sad about you)
фръ̀нгър (worm) – тус ол ѝма фръ̀нгъръц (this ox has a worm)

ѫ, ъм /əɱ/
глъмбо̀к (deep) – глъмбо̀ка рèка (deep river)
гъмба (mushroom) – мъ̀нгла за гъ̀мбъ (fog for mushrooms)
гъ̀лъмб (dove) – гъ̀лъмби хра̀ними (we feed doves)
дъмб (oak) – дъмбèту развѝха (the oaks took leaf)
зъмб (tooth) – зъмбъте са рèдкъ; ста̀ра ба̀ба биззъ̀мба (the teeth are far between; old toothless woman)
клъ̀мбо (ball) – дай ми нèкулку клъ̀мба прèлу (give me a few balls of yarn)
къ̀мпати се (to bathe) – дèтету се укъмпѝ (the child bathed)
къмпѝна (blackberry) – зака̀ча като̀ къмпѝна (hooks like a blackberry)
пъмп (navel) – пъ̀мпу ме булѝ (my navel hurts)
ръмб (edge) – кушу̀ля ръ̀мбя (І hem a shirt)
скъмп (dear, expensive) – мèнсуту и скъ̀мпу (meat is expensive)
стъмп (rung, step) – стъмпа̀льката се пукрѝ ут снèгу; стъмпа̀луту ме булѝ (the step was covered with snow;my foot hurts)
съ̀мбута (Saturday) – у съ̀мбута жèнъте утѝват на пиранè (on Saturday women go washing)
тъ̀мпан (drum) – тъ̀мпан бѝй пу сèлуту (a drum beats in the village)

ѧ, ен /eŋ/
братоучèнд (cousin) – нъй сми два̀мата братучèнди (we two are cousins)
възèнти (to take) – ѝмам зèнту паръ̀ за жèнтва (I took money for harvest)
глèндати (to look) – глèндам те у учѝте; дуглèндувам; заглèндувам; углèнжувам се; приглèндувам; проглèндувам (I look you in the eyes; look through; take a look; look around; browse; gain sight)
говенда̀р (cowboy) – гувенда̀ру дунèси кра̀въте (the cowboy brought the cows)
грèнда (beam) – грèндъте са расѝпанъ (the beams are scattered)
дèвент (nine) – ба̀бини дивентѝни; разда̀духа му дивентѝнъ (old womens' tales; they gave him a ninth part)
дèсент (ten) – дèсен паръ̀; дисентѝна ду̀ши (ten coins; some ten people)
жèнтва (harvest) – жèнтва и сига̀ (it is harvest time)
жентва̀р (reaper) – жентва̀рка; жентва̀рска пèсна (woman reaper; reaper's song)
зент (son-in-law) – избрѝчин като̀ зèнт (shaven like son-in-law)
клèнтва (curse) – клèнтва ни ме фа̀ща; пруклентѝя (curses don't catch me; cursed thing)
ко̀ленда (Christmas) – дèцата кулендо̀ват на ко̀ленда (children go caroling on Christmas)
мèсенц (month, moon) – гудѝната ѝма двана̀йси мèсенци (an year has twelve months)
мèсенчина (moon) – угрè мeсенчѝната (the moon has risen)
мèнгък (soft) – мèнук лèп (soft bread)
мèнсо (meat) – о̀фчу мèнцу (mutton)
нарèндити (to dress, to order) – на̀ренди сe мума̀та; нарèндба (the maiden dressed up; ordinance)
огленда̀ло (mirror) – угленда̀луту ни глèнда ху̀баву (the mirror looks at us nicely)
посвентѝти (to devote) – сe пусвентѝл (devoted himself)
проклèнти (to curse) – уклèнтил гу Го̀спут (Lord cursed him)
прèнда (to spin yarn) – прèнда бумба̀йк (I spin cotton)
прèнжда (yarn) – прèндинуту и ту̀к (the yarn is here)
пèндя (palm: a measure of distance) – пент пèндъ и уда̀ята длъ̀нга (the room is five palms long)
пент (five) – пент паръ̀ (five coins)
пèнта (heel) – на пèнтата си хо̀ди (he walks on his heel)
пèнтък (Friday) – сèкуй пèнтук на паза̀р (shopping every Friday)
ренд (row, turn) – утѝвам пу рендо̀ (to go by my turn)
рèндити (to order) – яс рèндя (I order)
свентèц (saint) – свенцèту са напѝсанъı на ико̀нътe (the saints are painted on the icons)
тенжѝти (is heavy) – ту̀с тува̀р тенжѝ (this load is heavy)
чендѝти (to bear a child) – тас нивèста нè-и чендѝла; мънч хич ни чèнди (this wife hasn't born; a man cannot bear children)
чèндо (child) – мѝлуту чèнду на ма̀йка (my dear child)
ѧ, ем /eɱ/
шèнпа (handful) – идна̀ шèнпа жѝту ми да̀й (give me a handful of grain)
я̀(е,и)ренб (partridge) – хѝтур като̀ иренбѝца (cunning as a partridge)
ѭ, вън /vəŋ/, йън /jəŋ/
въ̀нже, йъ̀нже (rope) – длъ̀ну като̀ въ̀нже (long as a rope)
въ̀нзл (knot) – як като̀ вънзл (strong as a knot)
въ̀нтък (weft) – въ̀нтуку се припльèва (the weft is interwoven)
ѩ, ен /eŋ/
за̀енц, за̀йц (rabbit, hare) – за̀енциту припу̀щат; за̀енц фатѝх; за̀йц ско̀рнах; мло̀гу за̀йци (the rabbits grow bigger; I caught a hare; I jumped a hare; many rabbits)
заенча̀р (harrier eagle) – тус пѝли и зенча̀р (this chicken is a harrier eagle)
èндър (large) – èндур фасу̀л; èндръıю дубѝтук (large beans; the cattle)
ензѝк (tongue) – ендзѝку ко̀кали нèма пък ко̀кали дро̀би (the tongue has no bones but it can break bones)
ентръ̀ва (sister-in-law) – ентръ̀витѣ се ка̀рат (sisters-in-law quarrel)

Non-organic nasals

ѫ, ън (Big Yus) from ъ (Big Yer)
бъ̀нчва (barrel) – пра̀ят о̀брънч за бъ̀нчва (they make a hoop for a barrel)
длъ̀нго (long) – длъ̀нгу като̀ въ̀нжи (long as a rope)
лъ̀нгати, лънжа̀ (to lie, a lie) – ним вèрваш, те лъ̀нджа; лънджа̀та и ло̀шу нèщу (you believe those who lie; a lie is a bad thing)
лънжѝца (spoon) – лънджѝцата и уд дръ̀ву; лънджича̀рник (the spoon is made of wood; spoon-stand, spoon-box)
лънжлѝв (false) – лънджѝф чувèк (dishonest man)
мънгла̀ (fog) – мъ̀нгла па̀дна; мънглѝчаву врьèми (a fog fell; foggy weather)
стъ̀нкло (glass) – стъ̀нклуту се здрубѝ (the glass broke)

ѧ, ен (Little Yus) from ѣ (Yat)

пентèл (rooster) – пентèл на бунѝщи пèй (a rooster crows on a dunghill)

The remnants of old nasalism are common for Solun, Kostur, and Korcha dialects. The area of this phenomenon includes regions located at the fringes of the Bulgarian linguistic territory where the southwestern-most Bulgarian dialects are spoken [20]. It is natural to find in the neighbouring dialect regions many traces of nasal reflexes. Dialects with traces of nasalism reach as far as Middle Macedonia that comprise the central Bulgarian a-dialects. As all language phenomena, the decomposed nasalism wanes outside its typical area. In Prilep-Mariovo dialect, K. Mirchev points to nasal remnants in 3 words: йèнза (from OBg: ѩза disease, wound), гънглѝф (from OBg: гѫгънивъ smb. who mumbles through the nose) and тенгàло (from OBg: тѧгнѧтн to pull) [21]. He defines the word йенза as archaism because it is used exclusively in some idioms and expletives. It is found also in Solun, Ohrid, and Veles dialects.

The second word гънглѝф links the Prilep-Mariovo and Kostur dialects. In Kostur dialect, the phonetic variant of this word is гънгльѝф [25]. With the same phonetic variant this word is recirded among the patterns with decomposed nasalism in Solun dialect – in Suho, Visoka, and Zarovo [26].

The distribution of the third word тенгàло (meaning 'sling') reaches far to the west: to Korcha dialect in the region of Devol in today Albania. It occurs in Prilep-Mariovo, Bitola, and Resen dialects. The word is also found in Solun and Kostur dialects. The derivative тенгешка which is a term for a part of a loom (iron belt that stretches the fabric when weaving) is also found in the above dialects.

This overview of nasalism (rhinesm) shows once again the unity of dialects that preserve archaic traits. As a geographical center of this trait serves the Kostur region. To the northwest it reaches to the Solun villages Suho, Visoka, and Zarovo, and has sporadic occurence in Lerin dialect. The northern-most point of rhinesm is the village of Chereshnitsa, in which this trait is regularly found in definite positions and quantity [27]. To the north it is dispersed in some appearances in the neighbouring Prilep dialect. To north-west it continiues to the Kostur villages Drenovyane and Boboshtitsa. In this area, an additional point, Vrəbnik, was described [28]. Thus the isogloss of the rhinesm, passing from Kostur through the villages Smərdesh and Vəmbel, crosses the state borders between Greece and Albania, passes to the west through Vrəbnik and reaches northwest as far as Korcha.

Yery reflex

The Old Bulgarian vowel Yery (ъı or ꙑ), rendered later in Russian as ы, which was often used as a suffix for plural and as a root vowel, is pronounced as the sound schwa /ə/ or /ɤ/ in Solun dialect. In Standard Bulgarian, Yery is written and pronounced as и /ı/. Listeners who are not used to Yery pronounced as schwa subconsciously reconstruct its pronunciation as that of the Russian ы: /əı/ or /ɨ/. [9][10] In the texts and examples, ъı is written only to mark the place of the Yery vowel; it is pronounced as ъ /ɤ or ə/.

The vowel ъı (ы) is known in Old Bulgarian as a hard variant of the vowel н /ı/. There is no consensus about its sounding. In both Old Bulgarian alphabets the vowel ы is written with a combination of two letter symbols: ⱐⰹ in Glagolithic and ъи (ъı) in Cyrillic. More common and frequent is the combination ъ+ı, i. e. ы, but in a number of Old Bulgarian manuscripts Yery is written with the combination ъ+и, i. e. ъи. On the basis of this graphical representation in Old Bulgarian, some scientists suppose that it was pronounced as a diphthong. Most of the Slavists, justifiably taking into account the fact that old diphthongs became monophthongs as early as in Proto-Slavic language, assume that the vowel ы was a monophthong and has sounded similarly to thе vowel ы in the present Russian language. By its origin, the vowel ы is an ancestor of the long Indo-European vowel ū. In the end of words ы developed specifically for Slavic languages as well from prototype suffixes -uns, -ons, -on. In Old Bulgarian ы occurs in suffices and before consonants, e. g. ты, ѩтры "sister-in-law", сынъ, мышлѭ. In front of vowels, ы becomes ъв, which is an old trait that occured in Proto-Slavic by a reflex of the long pre-language ū in ъв in front of vowel. In such a way in Old Bulgarian were formed series like the following: рыти — ръвати, мыти — омывенъ (Past Passive Participle of the verb), быти — забъвенъ (Past Passive Participle). In the Old Bulgarian manuscripts there are some vestiges of the typical Bulgarian reflex of ы in и. This reflex is found only in the combination ры, e. g. ривѣ instead of рывѣ (Zograf Gospel), отъригнѫти instead of отърыгнѫти (Enina Apostolic).

Yery is found very often in front of article suffix in words with definite article or in plural nouns and adjectives with or without definite article; in these cases, ъı is the plural morpheme:

Root vowel
бъ̀ıти, бъıл (to be, been) – що и бъıл? (who was?)
бъ̀ıлье (herbs) – мло̀гу бъ̀ıли бирѣ̀х (I used to pick a lot of herbs)
бръ̀ıсати, бръ̀ıша (to wipe) – яс бръ̀ıша (I wipe)
въıй (you) – въıй ни пѝтати (you ask us)
въ̀ıме (udder) – кра̀въıтѣ ѝмат чèтръı въ̀ıмента (cows have four udders)
въ̀ıти (to howl) – влъко̀ въıй (the wolf howls)
гъ̀ıбнѫти (to fold) – загъ̀ıнувам; загъ̀ıнах (to wrap; I wrapped)
истъ̀ıнѫти (to get cold) – истъ̀ıналу млѣ̀ку (cold milk)
кръ̀ıти (to hide) – сѣ и скръ̀ıлу мѣ̀стуту; яс сѣ кръ̀ıя (the place was hidden; I hide)
къ̀ıсал (sour) – къ̀ıсал уцèт; къ̀ıсалу гро̀зди (sour vinegar; sour grapes)
къ̀ıснѫти (to get spoilt) – лѣ̀бу сѣ скъ̀ıсна (the bread spoiled)
къ̀ıтка (bunch or pot of flowers) – къ̀ıткъıтѣ на̀вади (she watered the flowers)
лъıс (bald) – лъıс като̀ лъ̀ıсу тèли (bald as a hairless calf)
мъ̀ıти (to wash) – мъ̀ıя сѫ̀дувиту (I wash up)
мъ̀ıшка (mouse) – мъ̀ıшкъıтѣ бѣ̀гат (the mice run)
мъ̀ıшница (armpit) – мъ̀ıшницата мѣ булѝ (my armpit hurts)
нъıй (we) – нъıй ни бѣхми ту̀к (we weren't here)
плъıва̀ти (to swim) – рѝбъıтѣ плъıва̀т (fish swim)
пъ̀ıтати (to ask) – яс пъ̀ıтам; пъ̀ıтай ста̀ритѣ (I ask; ask the old people)
ръ̀ıдати (to sob) – нèка пузаръ̀ıда (let her/him sob)
ръ̀ıтати (to kick) – ко̀нют ръ̀ıта; да̀й му идна̀ ръıтанѝца (this horse kicks; give him a kick)
ръ̀ıти (to dig) – заръ̀ıха гу з гръ̀цкъıю поп; яс ръ̀ıя (they digged him in with the Greek priest; I dig)
скъ̀ıтати сѣ (to roam) – кой пъ̀ıта, ни скъ̀ıта (one who asks doesn't roam)
съıн (son) – ко̀лку съ̀ıнуви ѝма по̀пу? (how many sons has the priest?)
съıт (sated) – съ̀ıтъıю гла̀днъıю ни вѣрва (the sated doesn't believe the hungry)
съ̀ıтост (satiation) – мèнциту мло̀гу съ̀ıтус дръжѝ (meat keeps you sated)
насъ̀ıщам сѣ (to have enough) – сѣ насъ̀ıтах на тоз живо̀т (I had enough of this life)
тръ̀ıти (to rub, to grind) – яс тръ̀ıя; тръ̀ıйна сол (I rub; ground salt)
тъ̀ıл (back) – куга̀ си вѝдя тъıло̀ (when I see my back)
хъı (them) – за-хъı èзма (I'll take them)
чèтъıри (four) – четръıна̀йси (fourteen)
Before article
гръ̀цкъıю поп умрѣ̀ (the Greek priest died)
вилѝдинскъıю пост и, да и друк (it is the Easter lent, and other, too)
нèйнъıю мѫч (her husband)
бѣ̀лъıю кон (the white horse)
ха̀рнъıю чувѣ̀к (the good man)
го̀рнъıю мост (the upper bridge)
крѝвъıю ста̀риц (the stooped old man)

Plural morpheme
булга̀рскъı и гръ̀цкъı пент по̀пуви сѣ сто̀риха (the five Bulgarian and Greek priests met)
да до̀йди на ста̀ръıтѣ ми гудѝнъı (let it come in my old years)
ма̀лкъıтѣ ни си уста̀вям (I don't leave the small ones)
кла̀нанъı на сѝчкъıтѣ мо̀мъı (avowed to all maidens)
да ти пѝши ду̀мъıтѣ (to have your words written)
как врьѣ̀виш (how are you)
купѝх митлъ̀ıтѣ (I bought the brooms)
ту̀рскъıтѣ паръ̀ı ни са кат ту̀кашнъıтѣ (Turkish money are not like the local ones)
ха̀рнъı са на султа̀ (the salt is just right)
дрèбнъıтѣ рѝбъı (the small fish)
ха̀зната з бѣ̀лъıтѣ паръ̀ı (the coffer with the white money)
ца̀рскъıтѣ люди (the king's men)
на гро̀бищата ѝма мно̀гу жèнъı (there are many women at the cemetery)
сѝчкъıтѣ, що бъ̀ıли, сѣ упла̀шили (all who were there got scared)

ѣ (Yat) reflexes

The Old Bulgarian vowels Yat (ѣ) and, sometimes, Little Yus (ѧ) are pronounced as wide e /ê,еа/ after a hissing consonant. [11] This is an archaic feature of the dialect.

The Yat vowel has always attracted the interest of many researchers of Old Slavic and Old Bulgarian language. Despite the many papers on this peculiar vowel, the development of ѣ in Bulgarian keeps attracting interest. New theories for its phonetic value and distinguishing features in the language of the South Slavs on the Balkans are promoted that are controversial and differ from the present ones.

The mistery about the phonetic and phonological value of this vowel grows deeper with the use of a large number of graphemes by linguists from different periods and different schools when describing ѣ. This tradition began already with the creation of the two Old Bulgarian alphabets. The Glagolithic alphabet has only one grapheme ꙗ for both ѣ and the a vowel after palatal consonants. This indicates that probably the two sounds were prononced in the same or in a similar way. The Cyrillic alphabet has two graphemes which makes us conclude that the two vowels had different phonetic values. The contradictions get deeper by the differences in writing the phonetic equivalent of ѣ in the Bulgaro-Slavic loans in Greek, Romanian, and Albanian as well as in the Slavic toponymic material from Greece and Albania. In these sources for the language of the first Slavs on the Balkan Peninsula the vowel ѣ is designated by the diphthongs йа and еа: Λιασκοβέτσι but also Ρεάχοβον.

All researchers of the Rup dialects note the reflexes of this specific Old Bulgarian vowel; however, they use too many symbols for writing it whose phonetic value is unclear.

The two textbooks of Bulgarian dialectology – those by Stoyko Stoykov and Yordan Ivanov – give controversial and incorrect data about the reflexes of Old Bulgarian ѣ. Stoyko Stoykov wrote about the Zlatograd dialect:

"Wide e /ề/ instead of OBg. ѣ under stress and before soft syllable, which sometimes transits to 'a: бềли, белềшка, врềме, дềте, but also вр'àме, д'àте. In front of hard syllable there is only vowel a with a preceding soft consonant: б'àла, д'àдо, мл'àко, пл'àва, хл'àп." [6], p. 139.

The same statement is given by Yordan Ivanov:

"Yat reflex ѣ > ề under stress and in front of hard syllable (дềте, рềки, голềми, врềме, сềме, дубрề, хлềп), but also vowel ’à, although less often (д’àли, умр’àли, б’àли) and only vowel ’à in front of hard syllable (р’àка, л’àту, пл’àвъ, с’àдбъ, гол’àму)" [29], p. 88

In Zlatograd dialect, and the Rup dialects as whole, the sounds and ’à occur as continuants of the OBg. ѣ but they do not depend on the following syllable or consonants and there is no transition "sometimes" or "although less often" from to ’à. The variants and ’à from ѣ in the Rup dialects are not interchangeable but are characteristic for the dialects of individual settlements and are mutually incompatible.

The confusion becomes bigger by the fact that in writing the phonetic equivalents of the OBg. ѣ in Rup dialects, researchers use many differents symbols. Most often occurs the symbol , sometimes è, ’à, while Miletich uses the graphemes ä, еа and also the symbol, letter, grapheme ù (mind that this is a letter for some sound, a symbol proposed by L. Miletich, and not the vowel ù, as we are apt to understand it) [30], p. 213; also the sound e̥ [е with dot/circle below], the so called Miletich е, which he used for the pronunciation of е close to the vowel ъ in unstressed end position.

In the published literature for Rup dialects there are 7 symbols for writing the variants of the OBg. ѣ and this naturally leads to contradictions and errors.

The experimental study on the acoustic values of the ѣ reflexes in the Rup dialects showed that there is indeed distinction in the allophones ề, è, ’à, ä, еа, ù, e̥ but in fact these are individual variants for pronunciation of different informers who articulate these sounds in a specific way.

Commonly, is specified as the main reflex of the OBg. ѣ. But there are no examples in which the variants ề, è, ’à, ä, еа, ù, e̥ distinguish words or word variants.

These are examples for the lexical distribution of :

авдавề, апустềлạ, бềло, бềгате, бил’ề, б’ề, бềхъ, будалềвạ, вề, вềйки, венчềвạ, вềтер, вềра, вềравам, врềме, въврềлạ, гол’ềм, горềла, грềй°eм, д’ềрт’ъ, дрềбън, дềте, ейсề, заблề, излềзе, имềло, изгорề, йề, йềла, йềли, йетềвạ, кулềносо, лề, лềй, лềп, лềпъс, лềте, лềф, мềсецът, млềко, н’ề, налềйеш, нев’ềста, недềл’°e, нềкъф, нềма, пềй, пейề, плềни, пусềлạ, сề, седề, сềкак, сềтих, сềф, смềн’ът, смềнạ, спрềли, срềшкạте, тề, тềх, трềвạ, убềлева, уважềвạй, умрềлънъ, чềй, ч’елềкън

This pronunciation of vowel is close to the state defined by V. Zhobov as a Western Bulgarian pronunciation.

The wide is pronounced in the place of the stressed Yat vowel irrespective of the type of the following syllable also in a number of villages in Western Bulgaria along the Yat border. It is notable that the vowel is pronounced by the common Bulgarian way – between K2 and K3 which "almost fuse" according to Labov ([31], pp. 354-355). Although very close, the vowels keep well their lexical distribution ([32], p. 18).

In the Rup dialects the sound , which is pronounced at the place of ѣ is not an individual phoneme but a historical variant of the phoneme è with a partially preserved lexical distribution. After the loss of its phonological value the sound gradually loses also part of its articulation and acoustic characteristics and and now is "almost fused" [31], pp. 354-355 with the vowel è. The reflex of OBg. ѣ – is found only under stress and does not depend on the following syllable or consonant in the word. In unstressed position, the vowel e is pronounced.

Some examples in this context are:

бềла сạм бềлạ йонàче, цềла сạм свềта йогрềла
изпềвạ му из’èн’ън на жен*нạ
тугàвạ уважềвạй дъ тъ уважềвạ
тò утùде // зạ нềкъф дèн’ и йề ше дạ ùдъм
тò и тèле имềше (Златоград)
нев’ềста съм нев’ềста съм (Старцево)
немề хлềп / пестèн ни бе хлềбът
трềбава да ùмаме вềрạ / вềрạ дъ испълнềвạме (Аламовце)
г’увềнạ рàбати в холàндийạ (Бенковски)
лềгạмe̥ да пạспùмe̥ да сạбàлạй. Аг* са рạзговềвạме̥ ạф шêпчềкạ зèмạме̥ вóду (Тихомир [33], p. 96)
бубàйко сùн убùвạ за ейнак*въ невềстạ
нùйде немềло ишширèт’ / кутрù ги йе укрàло (Ерма река).

The distribution of the vowel from OBg. ѣ in the Rup dialects, actually in those, in which it occurs, is not very different from the Tihomir dialect described by St. Kabasanov:

"It is found stressed and unstressed, in the middle, in the beginning, and in the end of words. The consonant in front is usually moderately soft ... is primarily a substitute of OBg. ѣ. The wide occurs also in the place of every а after й and in most cases after ж, ч, ш." ([33], p. 21).

As to the reflex of the ѣ vowel in unstressed position, it reduces in the direction of dark Yer vowel.

There are two clear trends in the development of ѣ reflexes.

The first trend makes ѣ phonetically equivalent to ’à – in the phonologic system of the language this is the phoneme à. Consonants in front of the à reflex are soft and their softness in clearly seen. It can be said that in this position the soft consonants decompose to a group of a consonant and the glide й /j/ which as a trend is alos observed in the western dialects ([34], pp. 12, 53, 55, [32], p. 108). In the settlements where the ѣ reflex is ’à, vowel ê does not occur.

The second trend is towards reflex or è from ѣ – in the dialect vowel system this is a variant of phoneme è, seen as variation of the sounds ề and è in the same position:

йềрмạ – йèрмạ, убềлева – бèл’ът, тề – тè, чувềкъ – чувèкъ, нề (we) – нè (we), врềме – врè-ме, бềх – бèх, имềло – имèло, лềвạ – лèвạ, мềсецът – мèсецạ, etc.

Many examples can be given for the variation of the allophones ề and è even in the speech of a single informant. There is no logical contradiction in any minimal pair. For example the words рèкạ (from OBg. peщи, peкѫ 'кажа') and рềкạ from OBg. pѣка 'рекà' function as omonyms.

It is not clear which of the reflexes ’à or is more archaic. On a phonological level in the modern state of the Rup dialects, these are variants of different phonemes – à and è, respectively. These allophones occur in the dialects of various settlements and one variant always excludes the other. We must emphasize that the two variants ’à or are very different in their sounding, these are two very different sounds, and phonologically are different phonemes. Probably both pronunciations ’à or are new, while the archaic pronunciation is the diphthong ea described by L. Miletich in the beginning of 20th century, e.g., it is neither б’ало nor б’äло but беало ([30], p. 213), that is ea from ѣ. According to Kiril Mirchev such was the pronunciation of ѣ in the Old Bulgarian and the Middle Bulgarian period:

"According to the evidence of Konstantin Kostenechki (end of 14 and the first half of 15 c.) the sound that was written with ѣ in the old Bulgarian literature was wide e which was close to the sound of ea in the Greek word крѣсь, i.e. κρεάς ― 'meat', in the Turkish pronoun áhíü ― 'I', in the Romanian verb form áh, i.e. bea ― 'drink'. Therefore, it is supposed that the old sounding of ѣ as wide has dominated in Bulgarian up till 15 c. Even today this old sounding is widespread in Bulgarian dialects, especially in the South-Eastern dialect area. ([20], p. 119). The pronunciation ea from ѣ described by L. Miletich has certainly been of longer duration."

Both developments of ѣ are perfectly normal for the historical grammar of Bulgarian:

"These developments went in two directions … In the first case the Yat vowel became vowel a with retained softness of the preceding consonant. In front of syllables that contained a frontal vowel, ѣ might change to e ([20], p. 119)."

Since, as we saw above, the development of the Yat vowel in the Rup dialects does not depend on the following syllable or consonant, the statement of K. Mirchev that ѣ did not undergo a spontaneous change, can be discussed. The Yat vowel changed in relation to its phonetic environment. We see that in neighbouring settlements, in the same phonetic environment, in the same lexical units one finds ’à и continuants of ѣ.

The OBg. ѣ is most often substituted by ề but other allophones are also regularly found – also occur the vowel è with different softness of the preceding consonant; in the end of words it is most often a variant with glide й (or softness of the preceding consonant) and е̥. The closest to the standard pronunciation is the reflex è. The lack of phonological opposition between the allophones ề, ’è, ’е̥, è, е gradually assimilates their sounding to that of phoneme è, as it is in standard Bulgarian.

The vowel in the Zlatograd dialect has formant values that indeed defines it as wide . The values of the first formant from the spectrogram are 732 Hz. Comparison with the F1 for standard Bulgarian – 450 Hz (Tilkov, 1983) – corresponds very clearly to the witdth of the vowel ề. Most important are especially the values of F1 because they define the width of the vowel.

We can find a distinct spectrum of F2 in the zone between 2200-2400 Hz.

In the modern Rup dialects the specific way to pronounce the sound that originated from the OBg. vowel ѣ is a sporadic trait in the speech of individual informators. The carriers of the local dialect pronounce sounds that on phonological level are variants of the phoneme е. The sounds that are pronounced have some acoustic differences which can be heard with unaided ear by an experienced observer, and by several computer programs for speech analysis. These differences are not felt by the carriers of the local dialect and do not carry a linguistic information. Maybe they carry only a socio-linguistic information. This is why the informers pronounce the wide vowel even in Turkish words and also in the place of the OBg. vowels ѣ, ѥ, ѧ, ѩ, and ꙗ. Since the width of the pronounced sound does not carry semantic information for the dialect carriers, it was gradually lost. At the present stage the variant occurs only sporadically.

Data about the structure of the formant vowel in the word бềло confirms the assumption that in the speech the width of vowel does not depend only by whether the sound is a reflex of OBg. ѣ.

In one specific case the reported data about F1 (the spectrum is very clear and there is no doubt) of sound are 409 Hz. These values of the first formant do not give grounds to assume that in this case it is a pronunciation of a wide vowel , although by tradition in Bulgarian dialectology when transcribing in this position all researchers without exception put the symbol , at least when they describe a Rup dialect. In the research of D. Tilkov the values for the vowel è for female voice are respectively for F1 – 450 Hz and for F2 – 2319 Hz. That is, the data for the vowel in the word form бềло in fact are an evidence for a relatively completed process in which the phonetic values of the vowel are close to the values of the vowel è in the standard language.

On the basis of experimental results one can conclude that in the present Rup dialects the pronunciation of vowel as a really wide vowel is not regular but is an individual trait in the speech of different informers. That is, the pronunciation of the vowel è in Zlatograd dialect as wider or narrower does not depend on which Old Bulgarian vowel it is a substitute but it is an individual sporadic trait in the speech of individual informers. On the phonological level, the sounds and è are variants of the same phoneme.

Yat (ѣ) begins with the tongue in a frontal position starting to pronounce the vowel /e/. In the course of pronouncing Yat, the tongue moves backwards and the vowel ends with a sound similar to /a/. Therefore, Yat is a diphthong vowel /eª/ in which /e/ and /a/ are more or less fused together. For example, in Solun dialect: Сѣр /s'eªr/ (Serres); тѣ /teª/ (they, the); сѣ̀кѫдѣ /s'eªkəŋdeª/ (everywhere). A similar diphthong vowel, /æ/, exists in some Western European languages, such as English and German. For example, in English: bad /bæd/; man /mæn/; mad /mæd/; back /bæk/; sack /sæk/, etc. However, when pronouncing /æ/ the tongue moves in a direction opposite to that in Yat: from back to front, from /a/ to /e/. This is evident in the shape of the Old Latin letter æ itself (a fusion between the vowels /a/ and /e/) from where it was borrowed in the IPA phonetic transcription.

Solun dialectLiterary BulgarianEnglish
съ усѣ̀кнувам
секна се
the tea
blow my nose

In its writing, Romanian preserves Yat in its original form as the diphthong ea, for example, Steaua (name of football team), dragostea (love), munteanu (highlander). When pronounced, however, Yat in Romanian always exhibits one of the modern Yat reflexes, я /ja/. Therefore, in all of the above examples, ea is read as /ja/.

Similar to modern Bulgarian, in Russian Yat has mutated in two reflexes: я /ja/ and е /je/ that, in general, do not coincide in individual analogous words,

Old BulgarianRussianModern BulgarianEnglish
left, adj.
run, n.

Other traits

Soft consonants

Bulgarian alphabet has a special letter for palatinization of consonants – Little Yer, ь/j/.

Solun dialectStandard BulgarianEnglish

Retention of diphthongs шт (щ), жд as in Standard Bulgarian, as opposed to more recent mutations in кь, гь in some Bulgarian dialects from Macedonia:

Solun dialectStandard BulgarianEnglish
to pay
the night

Relatively unpredictable stress. Often the stress is on the penult, but there are words that have stress placed on different syllables; [6] this results in double-accented words:

Solun dialectStandard BulgarianEnglish
the queen
the basket
the orache
the voices
they said

Morphological traits

  1. Variable definite article -о (-у,ю) in Suho dialect and -от (-ут, -ют) in Visoka dialect: мѣ̀сницу (the Meat Sunday: 8 weeks before Lent), кръ̀сту (the cross), чарда̀ку (the veranda), ко̀ню (the horse), кана̀пю (the string), каза̀ню (the cauldron), капа̀йкю (the lid), тютю̀ню (the tobacco), диньо̀ (the day), курин’ò; врахòт, вит’арòт, казан’ут, òгнут, сама̀p’ут, лѣбут, каѝшут.
  2. Definite article -ту for masculine plural: брѣгувèту, бỳтувèт̂у, гла̀сувèту, д’èвир’èту, кòжувèту, кòкалèту, òблац’èту, пòйасèту, сфа̀тувèту.
  3. Personal pronoun for 3d person: той, т’а, тузѝ, тус, т’е.
  4. Questional pronouns: кутрѝ, кутра̀, кутрò, кутрè (Suho); кутръ̀й (Visoka).
  5. Particle за forms future tense: за ка̀жа, за ста̀ни, за ти дам òште парѝ; за йа̀м и йа̀с лѣп.
  6. Suffix -м for 1st person singular present tense for verbs of 1st and 2nd conjugation: ба̀йам, кфа̀с’ам, п’èрам, п’èчам и п’èкам, хòд’ам, хра̀н’ам, цѣп’ам. Also used suffix -а: гòст’а, дèр’а, къ̀лн’а, кòс’а, крòйа, м’èт’а, пр’èнд’а, с’èча, хòд’а.

Historical overview

Two villages in the Thessaloniki (Solun) Region – Suho (bg:Сухо, gr:Σωχὀς) and Visoka (bg:Висока, gr:Ὂσσα,Βερτισκος) – drew the attention of Slavists a long time ago; [12] the speech of Suho, through the works of the Slovenian linguist Vatroslav Oblak [7], came in the Slavistic literature as the best preserved relic of the original Old Bulgarian language. Oblak became aware of Solun dialect after reading a local report written in the original dialect from Visoka, [2] printed first in the local newspaper [13] and re-printed 2 years later by the Croatian linguist Martin Hattala in a Zagreb newspaper. [14]

Driven by his interest in Solun dialect, in the winter of 1891-92 Oblak visited Solun and some villages in its vicinity. In Solun, interviewing peasants from the Solun villages Suho, Novo selo, Gradobor, Bugarievo, Vatilak, and Vardarovski, he studied Suho dialect. There, Oblak also studied Debar dialect, a Bulgarian dialect from the western part of Macedonia, interviewing peasants from the Debar villages Galichnik, Klenje, and Oboki. These two dialects are described in the post-humous work of Oblak [7], published in 1896 by the Vienna Academy of Sciences under the editorship of the Croatian linguist Vatroslav Jagić. In this work, Oblak described the remnants of ѫ and ѧ in Suho but not ъı reflexes which were really non-existent in this village.

The phonological trait of interest in Solun dialect is the preservation of the ancient pronunciation of the Proto-Slavic nasal vowels ѫ (Big Yus) /əⁿ(ŋ)/ and ѧ (Small Yus) /eⁿ(ŋ)/, which resembles the pronunciation of the Polish vowels ǫ and ę, respectively. [15] In the above mentioned report [2] these words are: with ѫ − Лѫнгадина, Мѫнкедонія, мѫнчеше, разбѫнденіе-то, рѫнка, рѫнци, рѫнководство, лѫнжливо, пѫнть, пѫнтъ-тъ, пѫнтовощемъ, таѫнъ and тѫнъ (from таѫ and тѫ, now these words are not pronounced nasally); with ѧ − глѧнда се, глѧндатъ, глѧндащемъ, чѧнда-та, грѧндѣлъ, ѧнзикъ, посвѧнщеніе-то, ѧнвиха, изѧнвуваме, обѧнвуваме, напрѧндваха, напрѧндватъ. Solun dialect became the second linguistically described Bulgarian dialect from Macedonia after Kostur dialect to exhibit nasalism ("rhinism") as its most striking phonetic trait. [16] Out of these two nuclei of the Old Church Slavonic, Solun and Kostur, Solun dialect was the more interesting because Solun (Greek:Saloniki, Thessaloniki) was the birthplace of Cyril and Methodius, the creators of Slavic alphabet. [6]

The interest towards the nasalism in Kostur and Visoka dialects spurred the study of nasal traces in other near or more distant villages, as well as study of other ancient pronunciations of some phonemes. Several years earlier than Oblak, the Bulgarian linguist and historian A. Shopov (pen name 'Ofeykov') wrote that the inhabitants of Visoko, Suho, and Zarovo, in addition to the /əⁿ(ŋ)/ and /eⁿ(ŋ)/ nasalism, had another old trait in their language: in plurals and other words, in which the Old Church Slavonic letter ъı was used, Bulgarian peasants from Solun villages did not use и /i/ as in Standard Bulgarian, but used ѫ(ъ) /ɤ/ instead. The pronunciation of this sound is subconsciously heard as that of the letter ы in Russian language. However, instead of ы /ɨ/, this vowel was pronounced as ъ /ɤ/ or schwa /ə/. [10] A year later, the ъı to ъ reflex was confirmed by the Bulgarian ethnographer and writer Kuzman Shapkarev who, after pointing to nasalism traces in Kostur and Solun dialects, and in the Ohrid town dialect, wrote that Bulgarians in Visoka, Zarovo, Suho and Negovan pronounce ъı as ъ (and not as и). [9]

Another Bulgarian ethographer, Anton Popstoilov, became interested in the Solun dialect since 1890 when he was a teacher in Prilep. He learned about it from his colleague, Nikola Arnaudov who had been a teacher in Zarovo for 2 years. Arnaudov often talked about the archaic features of the dialect spoken in Zarovo so Popstoilov became eager to visit the villages near Solun and to hear himself how their inhabitants spoke. He visited Zarovo and Visoka in 1900 [22].

Because of this visit Popstoilov was arrested by the Turkish government in 1903 after the April coup commited by Bulgarian insurgents. They found in him a letter by Arnaudov with information on Solun dialect and put him in solitary confinement in Solun. In the letter, found by the police among Popstoilov's books, Arnaudov, after enumerating the words with Yery (ъı) reflex, paid attention to the remnants of nasalism in this dialect, listing the words: рънка, мънка, крънг, пент, ерембица, etc. According to the Turkish police, in these innocent words were hidden big rebellious secrets. The police conducted a painful interrogation before six people. When Popstoilov was escorted with handcuffs before them, the interrogators read the letter and immediately asked what insurgent's secrets are hidden behind the words рънка, мънка, крънг, etc. Popstoilov tried to explain the meaning of these words. When he described with gestures the word крънг (circle), the commander of gendarmerie and member of the interrogation committee Haireddin Pustinya, interrupted him with the words: "Крънг means talim (military training)! Now I understand why you went to Zarovo 3 years ago to teach peasants talim!" Not waiting for explanation, he ordered the wardens to incarcerate Popstoilov. On the following day, they escorted him with hands tied behind to the Solun tower and turned him over to military court. He waited there for 40 days in preliminary prison before appearing in court. There a deserter from the Bulgarian Army, the pomak officer Tefikov, gave a true explanation to these words, and the case was turned over to a civil court. After 84 days in jail, Popstoilov was released after giving a bribe of 25 Turkish Lira.

In 1908, A. Popstoilov visited a third village in the Lagadina Region, namely Kliseli (Ilinets) [23]. This visit was necessary because, on the one hand, the former studies were controversial in that nasalism and ъı reflex in addition to Zarovo, Visoka, and Suho were also indicated for Negovan, and on the other hand, it had to be established whether there was nasalism in some other Lagadina village, as was indeed shown for Ilinets. In addition, the field work had to estabish on site, e.g. the pronunciation of ѣ, the reduction of vowels a, e, o, and other research.

During the Balkan Wars 1912-1913, Prof. Jordan Ivanov, as a soldier in the Bulgarian 7th Rila Division, stayed some time in Zarovo, Visoka, and Suho, and studied there dialects. His paper [4]consists in 3 parts. In the first part he gives historical notes for Bogdan Mountain and its population, in the second part he describes some sounds of the Zarovo-Visoka-Suho dialect and a list of words and phrases with nasalism of ѫ and ѧ in Zarovo, Visoka, and Suho, and in the third part gives examples from the speech of the 3 villages. In addition to the already established traits of nasalism and Yery reflex, Ivanov noted a retained end Yer (ъ) in adjectives and participles which end with 2 or 3 consonants and are found mostly in groups composed of adjective and noun. However, later it became clear that in cases where Ivanov indicated end Yer, it was not ъ but a remnant of complex adjective contracted form [24].

In the first day of the Second Balkan war, on 16 June 1913, the Greek artillery shelled Zarovo aiming to destroy it, as there were no Bulgarian troops in the village. Shells and grenades killed 2 chidren and wounded 2 adults, destroyed severals houses, and set others on fire. The scared population of Zarovo ran to and fro in panic, not finding any salvation, and on the following day left their homes leaving behind their belongings and old people who could not walk. After running a week on foot, the whole village reached the old borders of Bulgaria and most of it was temporarily accomodated in the town of Samokov.

The Greek troops entered Zarovo, pillaged all food and furniture, killed the 5 old people that were left behind, and then burned everything except the church. So the beautiful village Zarovo turned to ashes. After the war no family returned to the village and it remained empty. Later, in 1922, after the defeat of the Greek Army in Asia Minor and the expulsion of the Greek population there, part of it was settled in Zarovo; not on the same place but a little to the side so instead of the old village Zarovo there is a new village but with Greek settlers under the name Nikopoli (gr:Νικοπολη). The only Bulgarian family that was left was that of the Grecoman priest. The destruction of Zarovo as Bulgarian village is a loss but the loss for dialectology is greater: the pillar that supported the old forms and constructions in Bulgarian language fell down beyond retrieve.

Visoka and Suho were almost untouched by the Balkan wars but as Grecoman villages under Greek rule it was forbidden to speak Bulgarian and gradually it was replaced by Greek language. It is a pity that the villages of the oldest Bulgarian population with their archaic language which is closest to the language of Sst Cyril and Methodius are today populated with the progeny of the wonderful mid-nineteen century Bulgarian patriots but all speak Greek language, have Greek folk songs, customs, beliefs, etc.


1. Mieczysław Małecki (1934) Dwie gwary macedońskie (Suhe i Wysoka w Soluńskiem) – Teksty, vol. I, Krakòw, Gebethner and Wolff Publishers, Printed at Jagiellon University, Editor J. Filipowski, map on page XV (in Polish); Map redrawn from copy of this work stored in the library of Macedonian State University, Skopje, Philosophy Department, Cat. No. 3767, 09.04.1959;
For verification: The legend on the map in the original is: Legenda: (•) wsie (językowo) bułgarskie, (o) miejscowosci greckie, Uwaga: Wsie bułgarskie wylicsono wszystkie, miejscowosci greckie podano tylko niektòre dla orjentacji.

2. A report from the village of Visoka (in Bulgarian and English)

3. Stoilov, A.P. (Anton Popstoilov). Zarovo (near Solun): Historical, ethnographic, and linguistic study. (editor K. Dinchev), Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Publishers, 1979 (in Bulgarian)

4. J. Ivanov. 1922. Un parler bulgare archaique. Revue des études Slaves Tome II, fascicules 1 et 2, Paris, 86-103. (in French)

6. Stoykov, Stoyko (2002) [1962] Bulgarian dialectology, Sofia, Prof. Marin Drinov Academic Publishing House (in Bulgarian). ISBN 9544308466. OCLC 53429452. Book in electronic format

7. Oblak, W. Macedonische Studien, In: Sitzungsberichte der Kais. Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien. Philosophische-historische Classe. Band CXXXIV. Wien, 1896. (in German)

8. Stoilov, A.P. Remnants of nasalism in the Solun villages Zarovo and Visoka. J. Orphogr., 1901, 61:703-712 (in Bulgarian)

9. Shapkarev, K. Periodic Journal, 1886, Sofia, 19-20:257 (in Bulgarian).
Quote: "Bulgarians in Visoka, Zarovo, Suho [and not Zarva and Soho − K.Sh.] and Negovan pronounce ъ as ѫ, and not и, so, e.g., бъх, бъл, сън, въй, нъй, etc. are pronounced: бъх, бъл, сън, въй, нъй, etc. Thus, plurals of овца, пара, жена, риба: овцъ = овцѫ, or овцъ, паръ = парѫ or паръ, женъ = женѫ, женъ, ръбъ = рѫбѫ - ръбъ, etc."


Solun dialect


10. Ofeykov. Periodic Journal, 1885, Sofia, 17:321-322 (in Bulgarian).
Quote: "Along the road from Solun to Syar, in the Solun Prefecture, there are the Bulgarian villages Visoka, Soho [correct: Suho] and Zareva or Zarva [later:Zarovo], whose dialect and pronuciation differ from the language of all neighboring and more distant Bulgarian villages. I wrote down many words and phrases of their inhabitants, of which you will allow me to publish some, in which occur ѫ and ѧ with nasal pronunciation and others which are important in another respect, namely, that in them in the place of every ъı in plural as well as in words containing ъı in the Old Slavic language, the inhabitants of the villages Suho, Visoko, and Zarevo use not и but ъ (ѫ). When one listens to this ъ (ѫ), the ear tries to hear the pronunciation of the Russian letter ы. Indeed, where Russians write ы, the inhabitants of the above three Solun villages say ъ (ѫ). Russians say, e.g., вы (вий), in Visoka, Soho and Zarevo say въй; Russians say который, in the respective villages they say котръй; Russians say сын, − in the villages: сън; Russians say мыш, − in the villages: мъшка (мишка), etc., etc."

11. Stoilov, A.P. Yat pronunciation in the Zarovo-Visoka speech (near Lagadin). J. Bulg. Acad. Sci., 1914, 8:159-164 (in Bulgarian).

12. Kochev, Ivan. (1987) Old Bulgarian dialectal phenomena and the term Solun dialect. Bulgarian language, 3:167-178 (in Bulgarian)

13. Savetnik, October 7, 1863, issue 29 (in Bulgarian)

14. Kniževnik, Zagreb, 1865, 2:471-474 (in Bulgarian and Croatian)

15. Małecki, vol. 1, Introduction, p. III

16. Grigorovich, Viktor I. Travel essays from European Turkey. Kazan, 1848, pp. 165,167 (in Russian).
Quote: "Bulgarians south of Bitola and the Ohrid Lake, in Korca, Boboshitse [correct: Bobishta − Stoilov: Zarovo, p.56] preserved in some words a full rhinism; thus, in the word мъндръ and the greeting да бъндеть живъ I heard this sound myself"

17. Shklifov, Blagoy and Ekaterina Shklifova. Bulgarian dialect texts from Aegean Macedonia, Sofia, 2003, p. 18 (in Bulgarian)

18. S. Keremidchieva. 2004. The fate of the Bulgarian dialect nucleus in the Salonik region (in Russian). Languages and dialects of small Balkan ethnic groups. International scientific conference Sanct-Peterburg, 11-12 June 2004. Summaries, p. 18-19

19. V. Kanchoff. 1900. Macedonia: ethnography and statistics (in Bulgarian). Bulgarian Book Association, Sofia.

20. K. Mirchev. 1978. Historical grammar of Bulgarian language (in Bulgarian). Sofia, p. 115.

21. K. Mirchev. 1932. On some traces of nasalism in the central Bulgarian dialects (in Bulgarian). Macedonian Review 4:91-101.

22. A. Popstoilov. 1900. A visit to Zarovo and Visoka (in Bulgarian). Bulgarian Collection 7:632-649.

23. A. Popstoilov. 1910. A field trip in Bulgarian dialectology (in Bulgarian). Bulgarian Collection 17:217-224.

24. This issue was addressed by St. Romanski. Alleged remnants of end Yer in a Bulgarian dialect in Macedonia (in Bulgarian). Macedonian Review. 3(1):23-32.

25 B. Shklifov. 1973. The Kostur dialect (in Bulgarian). In: Compendium of Bulgarian dialectology, Sofia, 8:31.

26. B. Tsonev. 1984. History of Bulgarian languge (in Bulgarian), Sofia, Vol. 2, p. 417

27. B. Shklifov. 1995. Problems of Bulgarian dialectal and historical phonetics with a view to the Macedonian dialects (in Bulgarian). Sofia, p. 67

28. E. Hristova. 1999. Remnants of decomposed nasalism in a remote south-western Bulgarian dialect in Albania. (in Bulgarian). Macedonian Review. 1:61-66

29. Y. Ivanov. 1997. Bulgarian dialectology, Plovdiv (in Bulgarian)

30. L. Miletich. 1906. Phonetic traits of Pomak dialects around Chepino. Periodical Journal. 66 (6) (in Bulgarian)

31. Labov,W. Principles of Linguistic Change. Blackwell, 1994

32. Vl. Zhobov. 2004. The sounds of Bulgarian language, Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of Science (in Bulgarian)

33. St. Kabasanov. 1963. One ancient Bulgarian dialect: the Tihomir dialect, Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of Science (in Bulgarian)

34. Bl. Shklifov. 1995. Problems of the Bulgarian dialectal and historical phonetics with respect to the Macedonian dialects, Sofia (in Bulgarian)