Thursday, 9 May 2013

Bulgarian dialects

Bulgarian dialect continuum

Bulgarian dialects (гòвори) are part of the South Slavic dialect continuum, linked with Serbian to the west and bordering Albanian, Greek and Turkish to the south, and Romanian to the north. All Slavic dialects spoken in the geographical regions of Macedonia, Thrace, Moesia, and Dobrudzha are dialects of the Bulgarian language. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

Considering the striking individualty of Bulgarian compared with the other Slavic languages, some non-Bulgarian linguists use also the terms: east-southern Slavic dialects; Balkano-Slavic dialects; Macedonian dialects; Slavic dialects in Northern Greece, Albania, and Kosovo, etc. With such descriptions they indicate the dialects of the whole Bulgarian historical and geographic dialect territory. Although they avoid using explicitly the national designation, in fact, they acknowledge the individuality and unity of Bulgarian language.

Bulgarian dialect language today because of changes of extra-linguistic character is found in and outside the state borders of Republic of Bulgaria in the three historical regions: Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. It has a chracteristic individuality: in the ninth century, it is a classic Slavic language, and now it is a Balkan language, characterised by nouns with no cases but with rich articularisation, analytical formation of the degrees of comparison, doubling of the object, etc.; in the verbs - replacing the infinitive with a "to" construct, formation of an analytical future tense with particles and so on. These grammatical features (with minor exceptions) are characteristic of all dialects and the specifics of the Bulgarian language is built on them as an individual and characteristic Slavo-Balkan language. This characteristic is confirmed by hundreds of foreign researchers. In the field of phonetics and vocabulary, however, differences between dialects are essential and the dialect classification is done on them.

Bulgarian dialectology dates to the 1830s and the pioneering work of Neofit Rilski, Bolgarska gramatika, published 1835 in Kragujevac. Other notable researchers in this field include Marin Drinov, Konstantin Josef Jireček, Benyo Tsonev, Yordan Ivanov, Lyubomir Miletich, Aleksandar Teodorov-Balan, Stoyko Stoykov, Stefan Mladenov, Blagoy Shklifov.

An important characteristic of Bulgarian dialectology is that the names of dialects and dialect groups are based exclusively on the geographic principle which helps to classify dialects objectively on the basis of linguistic traits, irrespective of the political conjuncture. This is in sharp contrast to the dialectologies of neighbouring countries which base their dialect classifications on subjective ethnic grouping, e.g., Serbian dialectology – "torlak", "shop", "macedonian (in ethnic sense)" dialects; Greek dialectology – "pomak" dialect, etc. As a rule, ethnic dialectology has resulted in invented nationalities turning dialectology into a weapon for political aspirations.

Dialect area

Bulgarian language area is located in the Eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. To the north, it borders Romanian language, of the Roman language family. The language border goes along Danube from the Timok Estuary to the town of Silistra, then it crosses Dobrudja and ends at the Black Sea coast. In the past, a numerous Bulgarian population lived in Romanian (Northern) Dobrudja but in 1941 according to an agreement between the Bulgarian and Romanian governments, these people were moved to the Bulgarian (Southern) Dobrudja in the place of re-settled Romanian population. Therefore, the northern border of Bulgarian language is clearly delineated as it separates two different languages: Bulgarian and Romanian. The eastern border is the Black Sea. The southern border of Bulgarian is not clearly defined. The Bulgarian population in the southern parts of Thrace and Macedonia lived for many centuries mixed with other ethnicities, primarily Greeks and Turks, speaking languages, very different from Bulgarian. So, instead of language mixing, these ethnicities remained clearly differentiated on the language basis and, indeed, language became the main ethnic characteristic. A large part of Bulgarians (Grecomans) spoke Greek in public and Bulgarian at home. Islamised Bulgarians (Pomaks) spoke a Bulgarian dialect mixed with Turkish words. And yet, a historical border to the south exists that separates Bulgarians from others. It is the old Roman road Via Ignatia that connects the Adriatic with the Black Sea. For a large part, it goes close to the Aegean coast [85]. North of Via Ignatia Bulgarians predominate while south of it they are in the minority.

Bulgaria demographic

A 1865 map of the Balkan Peninsula, showing the track of Via Ignatia [85].

To the west, Bulgarian borders Serbian language. This border, however, is not clearly defined. Bulgarian and Serbian are very similar Slavic languages, and Bulgarians and Serbs have a lot in common in their languages and customs. Because of the specific historical circumstances on the lands around the Bulgarian-Serbian border, the population there lived for many centuries in a single economical, political, and cultural community. Thus, on a dialect basis, the languages are not easily distinguished. Until 15th century, these lands were alternately under Bulgarian and Serbian rule, and then for 5 centuries they were ruled by the Ottomans. The state border was established only in 1878; until then the Serb-Ottoman border went much further to the west [13].

The border to the west and southwest goes along the approximate line established by Stefan Verković – Serbian folk researcher and ethnograph, and Prof. Afanasiy Selishchev – a great Russian Slavist. For the western and southern borders of Bulgarian, Verković writes in detail in his works [82] and [8]:

The border to the south is defined by Bistritsa River from its sources to its estuary, then by Hortach, Vavro, Kolomenta, Kakavo, and Erisovo. Bulgarian language is prevalent to the north of the above rivers ... To the north, starting from the beginning of the mountain range separating Prizren and Shkodra sandzaks, the border between Bulgarian and Serbian tribes consists by the high chains of Shar that reach as far as Kachanik where they connect with the so-called Skopian Montenegro. From Kachanik to Morava River, the border goes along the above-mentioned Skopian Montenegro. The border between Bulgarians and Serbs living in Kosovo plain is Morava River. From Morava River as far as the Danube the vernacular is identical to that of Macedonian and Thracian Bulgarians ... ([8], pp. 43-44).

The studies of Verković which he did for 30 years, are fully confirmed by other Serbian scientists, such as Milovan Vidaković (1833), Dr. Jovan Subotić (1845), Jovan Gavrilović (1863), Tuminski (1868), А. Hadžić (1870), Vasa Pelagić (1879) and others.

It is worth noting that much the same border to the west was drawn by Krste Misirkov in his study [84]:

The border between Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian languages and peoples is the line that begins on the right bank of Sava River, goes to the south along the watershed of Kolubara and Morava, then along the watershed of Serbian Morava and Ibar to Skadar and the Adriatic Sea.

More specific data about the south-western border are found in the comprehensive study of Prof. Selishchev [83], as a part of his work "Slavic-Albanian relations". Below is a short excerpt:

Bulgarian south-western language borderline, starting at the mountain ranges of Gorusha and Gramos and from Belitsa River to the south turns from the village of Slimitsa to the east and further to the north, to the Bulgarian village Lobanitsa and to the Bulgarian-Albanian town Biglishta goes to the north-west ... From the village Podbuche it goes to the south shore of Ohrid Lake, to the Bulgarian monastery "St. Naum". At Struga the borderline goes to the west of Drin. Further to the north-west of the crest of Golo Brdo at the village Torbochani crosses to the other side of Drin River ... along the Drin ... From here, at Kenok Hill, the border turns to the east to the Bulgarian Muslim village Zhernonitsa and further to the Mavrovi Inns ... to Rudoka Mountain, to the Vratsa Pass and to the villages of Prizrenska Gora, situated between Shar Mountain, Rudoka Mountain and Koritnik ... From Gora to the north-east through the Shar Mountain, from its peak Lyubotran and then to the east, north of the Bulgarian village Rogachevo, goes to Dervent in Polog near Vardar and further to the north-east to Skopjan Montenegro (pp. 1-3).

Compared, the three quoted authors agree completely. This shows the precision of their research, although carried out in different years and circumstances. Indeed, in the borders so delineated, there are foreign populations: Albanians, Turks, Greek, as well as Turkified, Hellenised, or Serbianized Bulgarians but as long as there is a language with the traits characteristic for Bulgarian language, it is strictly Bulgarian, different from all other languages.

However, the various geographic, historical, political, and economic factors exerted a powerful influence to generate a great variety of dialects. A number of traits cross in these dialects which are not present in all of them but occur in such combinations that give an individual aspect of each dialect. The dialects are similar or dissimilar to each other but in a way that creates a complex branched chain between them. Thus, Bulgarian dialects are doubly connected: through common traits that make a single language regardless of minor variations, and through local traits characterising dialect groups that also unite dialects into a single language but through a chain-like connection. The strength of this link is felt especially in the similarity of dialects which are distant in geographical sense (e.g., Smolyan dialect in the Rhodopes and the Debar (Miyak-Rekantsi) dialect as far as the Albanian mountains in Macedonia, or the Shop dialect along Iskar and the Moesian dialects towards Danube and the Black Sea.

The dialects along the western Bulgarian border, so-called 'transitional dialects', became an object of the Greater Bulgarian and Greater Serbian jingoism. Bulgarian and Serbian politicians tried through dialectology to prove that the dialects in the border area are pure Bulgarian or pure Serbian. Bulgarian linguists drew the border of Bulgarian language far to the west — from the Timok Estuary through Zaecar, Bolevac, Stalac, Pristina to Prizren. Serbian linguists placed the eastern border of Serbian language at Iskar River or even at the Yat border [14].

In fact, not only along the Bulgarian western border but everywhere, especially among Slavs, in the border areas between close languages there are always transitional dialects and the change from one language to another is very gradual. The transitional dialects can be explained with the instability of political borders between the peoples during their national formation. The population in the border area usually had been ruled alternately by one or another Middle Age state or Empire, and had lived together with close economical, cultural, and political ties. Such transition is seen for Czech and Polish dialects, Polish and Byelo-Russian, Russian and Ukrainian, etc.

Macedonian dialects which possess all the characteristics of the Bulgarian language system and are very similar in grammar and vocabulary had been described as Bulgarian dialects in the large majority of publications before WWII. The similarity of Bulgarian and Macedonian dialects is a result of their common origin and identical development for more than 12 centuries in the Bulgarian national and cultural area [15]. Bulgarian and Macedonian are part of a language continuum which is different from the Serbo-Croatian language continuum. After the codification of Standard Macedonian language in the Republic of Macedonia on the basis of two southwestern Bulgarian dialects (Prilep-Mariovo dialect and Bitola dialect) in 1944-45, some linguists recognised the new standard as a separate language, although Bulgarian (including some members of the codification committee) and many non-Bulgarian linguists do not accept the codification, describing it as a political decision without a solid linguistic basis. [2] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28]

Bulgaria dialect map

Interactive Bulgarian dialect map showing the individual dialects.

Classification

Bulgarian language developed in historical circumstances that contributed to its dialect segmentation and crossover. Therefore, today it is among the the most dialectically segmented Slavic languages. Modern Bulgarian dialects carry remnants from old tribal divisions of the Bulgarian ethnos during its historical development from the First Bulgarian State until the end of the Ottoman rule.

When classifying Bulgarian dialects, the Bulgarian dialectology lays stress on two kinds of traits: traits that distinguish individual dialects, and, on the other hand, traits that are common to two or more dialects and unite them in larger dialect groups. Distinguishing individual dialects in the present state of Bulgarian dialectology is a very difficult, almost impossible, task. Bulgarian dialects are not systematically studied by the methods of linguistic geography to show the territorial distribution of linguistic phenomena. Furthermore, the specific historic fate of Bulgarians resulted in a complicated dialect segmentation of the Bulgarian dialect area which spans at present several countries. [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47] [48]

Classification of Bulgarian dialects in dialect groups is difficult and arbitrary because the ties between local dialects cross in a counter-intuitive way. Indeed, Bulgarian dialectology recognises a classification based on geographical regions but it is only tentative. According to this classification, there are so-called territorial dialects: 1) Eastern dialects, subdivided in Moesian, Balkan, and Rup dialects, each with its subdialects; 2) Western dialects, subdivided in North-western, South-western, and transitional.

These groups are not unique; each of them crosses with the others in various ways, so it would be more instructive to describe dialect similarities and differences on the basis of some ten major traits and several language forms of such nature as to give an impression of a dialect, imparting to it an individual flavour.

Classification by the Yat mutation

The oldest and most widely accepted Bulgarian dialect isogloss is the Yat border. It was established more than 150 years ago and has received strong support throughout. According to the Yat classification (the mutation of the Old Bulgarian vowel ѣ (Yat)), Bulgarian dialects are divided in 2 large groups: Yakavian (Eastern) and Ekavian (Western). Ekavian dialects pronounce ѣ solely as /ɛ/ (/bɛl/, /bɛli/) while Yakavian pronounce it /ʲa/ or /e/ (/bʲal/, /beli/) or solely /ʲa/ (/bʲal/, /bʲali/).

The Yat border

The Yat isogloss ("Yat border")

The Yat border was first defined by Hristodul K. Sichan Nikolov [49] and the Russian Slavist Viktor Grigorovich [50]. It was next described by Petko Slaveykov and Konstantin Jireček and accurately traced by towns and villages by Prof. Benyo Tsonev and Prof. Lyubomir Miletich.[51] [52] [53] [54] [55]

The Yat border (see map opposite) begins from the Vit Estuary and goes to the south in the direction Pirdop — Panagyurishte — Razlog — Gotse Delchev (Nevrokop) — Solun (Thessaloniki), making a sharp turn around Pazardzhik. The border goes through the regions of Nikopol, Pleven, Lukovit, Lovech, Teteven, Pirdop, Panagyurishte, Ihtiman, Peshtera, Chepino, Razlog, Gotse Delchev, Melnik, Petrich, Demir Hissar, Kukush (Kilkis), Ser, and Solun. Thus, it divides in two regions the Bulgarian (including Macedonian) dialects. In the Yakavian area are, e.g., the regions of Ser, Drama, Gotse Delchev, the eastern part of Solun Region as far as Mesta, that is, the whole Eastern Macedonia. [51]

In the Middle Ages, Yakavism was widespread in the whole Bulgarian language area, reaching to the extreme south-west. This is evidenced by the 16. century Bulgarian-Greek dictionary, written in the Kostur dialect (Bogatsko), e.g., хляб (bread), желязо (iron), вядро (bucket), коляно (knee), простряно (spread), невяста (wife), ряка (river), вятер (wind), сячиво (tool), etc.

In the past, Bulgarian dialectology distinguished two groups of Yakavian dialects, also on the basis of the Yat mutation: North-Eastern dialects pronouncing Yat only as я /ʲa/ (/bʲal/, /bʲali/) and South-Western dialects pronouncing it only as /ɛ/ (/bɛl/, /bɛli/). The border between North-Eastern and South-Western dialects started at Pazardzhik and went along the right bank of Maritsa River, or, more accurately, along the northern slopes of the Rhodopes until the village of Skobelevo (Parvomay Region) where it crossed Maritsa and with small turns went to Burgas. This border was also traced by villages by Tsonev. [51]

Therefore, Bulgarian dialects were divided in 3 groups on the basis of Yat mutation:

  1. Western dialects (mutational Yat) which instead of Yat use only e /ɛ/ (/ɡɔlˈɛm/, /ɡɔlˈɛmi/, /ˡlɛtɔ/, /ˡlɛtɛn/, /ˈmlɛkɔ/, /mlɛkˈar/). Such were the dialects on the Danubian Plain west of the Yat border, plains to the north and south of the Balkan Mountain: Botevgrad, Sofia, Ihtiman, Samokov, Radomir, Dupnitsa, Kyustendil, the Western Borderlands, dialects in Central and Western Macedonia and transitional dialects.
  2. Northeastern dialects (semi-mutational Yat) which instead of Yat use я /ʲa/ or e depending on accent and on the next syllable (/ɡɔlˈʲam/, /ɡɔlˈemi/, /ˡlʲatɔ/, /ˡleten/, /ˈmlʲakɔ/, /mlekˈar/). Such were the dialects on the Danubian Plain east of the Yat border, all Balkan and Middle Mountains Region and to the south in the Thracian Plain to the slopes of the Rhodopes.
  3. Southeastern dialects (non-mutational Yat) which instead of Yat use either я /ʲa/ (/ɡɔlˈʲam/, /ɡɔlˈʲami/, /ˡlʲatɔ/, /ˡlʲaten/) or e /ʲe/(/ɡɔlˈʲem/, /ɡɔlˈʲemi/, /ˡlʲetɔ/, /ˡlʲeten/). Such were the dialects in the southern part of Burgas, Elhovo, Topolovgrad, Harmanli, Dimitrovgrad, Haskovo, south of Plovdiv, Asenovgrad, Peshtera, Smolyan, Devin, Chepino, etc.

By 1964, however, after the compilation of the first volume of the Bulgarian Dialect Atlas which encompasses dialects in the South-Eastern Bulgaria to the east of the 25th meridian and south of the Balkan Mountain ridge, it was found that a second Yat border Pazardzhik-Burgas didn't exist. [56] There is a relatively small group of non-mutational Yat dialects (/bʲal/−/bʲali/, /mlʲaku/−/mlʲatʃen/) along Maritsa River while the rest of the southeastern dialect area consists of semi-mutational Yat dialects (/bʲal/−/bʲeli/, /mlʲaku/−/mlʲetʃen/) to the east and non-mutational Yat dialects (/bʲel/−/bʲeli/, /mlʲeku/−/mlʲetʃen/) to the west. It is unclear if the present state of the southeastern Bulgarian dialects is due to changes that happened after 1903 — the time when Prof. Tsonev carried out his field studies — or this is an earlier situation which he did not detect. It is more likely that in his trip, Tsonev determined only partially the northern border of non-mutational Yat dialects (/bʲal/−/bʲali/, /mlʲaku/−/mlʲatʃen/) and incorrectly stated that south of this border, all such non-mutational Yat dialects were located. For this reason, the idea of a second Yat border as a distinguishing isogloss was abandoned and the earlier idea of a single Yat border dividing all Bulgarian dialects in Yakavian (eastern) and Ekavian (western) held sway. [55] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60]

The Yakavian-Ekavian classification of Bulgarian dialects is clear-cut but it has serious flaws. First of all, there are no other isoglosses that coincide with the Yat border. Usually, at both sides of the Yat border there are completely identical dialects which differ only by the Yat pronunciation. Furthermore, a single linguistic trait, whether phonetic, morphological, or lexical, is not sufficient to characterize a dialect or dialect group.

More recent studies, however, showed that the Yat border is not so singular and isolated as thought before. Indeed, there are no other isoglosses that completely coincide with it. However, close to the Yat border, especially in its part to the north of Pazardzik, there are several other isoglosses running in parallel, mainly to the west of the Yat border. Such are some phonetic, accent, morphological and lexical isoglosses like the mutation /ˡʲa/-/ˡɛ/ (/polˈʲani/—/polˈɛni/, /pijˈani/—/piˈɛni/), accent in some verb forms (/tʃˈɛta/—/tʃɛtˈɤ/, /bˈɛri/—/bɛrˈi/, /bˈɛrete/—/berˈɛte/), the suffix for verb conjugation in first person plural present tense (/berˈɛme/—/berˈɛm/, /nˈɔsime/—/nˈɔsim/), some words (/ʲa/—/as/, /ɔn/—/tɔj/, /ʒeʒɔk/—/ɡoreʃt/, /krap/—/kɤs/, /razbɔj/—/stan/), etc. [61] [56]

For this reason the Yat division of Bulgarian dialects is actual and important at present. One must have in mind that the Yat pronunciation, as a very frequent trait, is very characteristic for Bulgarian dialects — it can readily identify colonists from individual regions of the Bulgarian linguistic territory. Furthermore, there is no other linguistic trait that groups so clearly and regularly the Bulgarian dialects. This is evident by the attempts of Prof. Tsonev to classify Bulgarian dialects by other traits like the Big Yus (Big Nasal) substitutes, diphtong /ʃt/-/ʒd/ mutations, Yer substitutes, accent, etc.

Classification by Big Yus (Big Nasal) substitutes

The Big Yus (Big Nasal) ѫ in Old Bulgarian corresponded to the nasal vowel /*oⁿ/. In standard Bulgarian it existed until the spelling reform of 1945 when it was replaced with ъ as it had long before lost its original phonemic equivalent in most dialects. There is a variety of Big Yus mutations and substitutions (see map opposite) in Bulgarian dialects (shown below on the example of Old Bulgarian рѫкa /r*oⁿk'a/ hand, зѫбъ /ˡz*oⁿb/ tooth, зѫби /z*oⁿbˈi/ teeth):

Big Yus isogloss

The Big Yus isoglosses

  1. ъ-dialects (ръкà /rɘk'a/, зъп /ˡzɤp/, зъби /zɘbˈi/). These are the majority of Bulgarian dialects and the standard Bulgarian. These dialects are located mostly in the North-Eastern and North-Western Bulgaria, the eastern part of South-Eastern Bulgaria, large part of Macedonia (Drama, Ser, Kukush, Doiran, Gevgelia, northern Kostur, Dolna Prespa, southeastern Lerin, Ohrid, Resen, Struga, Gostivar, north of Debar), Gora [62], Thrace (Aegean Thrace, European part of Turkey), and small areas in Asia Minor.
  2. а-dialects (ракà /rаk'a/, зап /ˡzap/, заби /zˈabi/). These dialects are also widespread. They are located mostly in Western Bulgaria — Vratsa, Botevgrad, Eastern Sofia Region, Pernik, Radomir, Kyustendil, Ihtiman, Samokov, Dupnitsa, large part of Vardar Macedonia (Veles, Kichevo, Bitola). In this group are included also some Yakavian (Eastern) dialects: Pirdop, Koprivshtitsa, Klisura, and some parts of Rhodopes. These dialects are called "central dialects" because geographically they take a central position in the Bulgarian dialect area. [51]
  3. у-dialects (рука /rˈuka/, зуб /ˡzub/, зубе /zˈubɛ/). These dialects are the transitional dialects located around the Bulgarian-Serbian border (Belogradchik, Tsaribrod, Tran, Breznik, Bosilegrad) and northern Macedonia (north of Kumanovo, Kratovo, Skopie).
  4. о, ô-dialects (рòка /rˈɔka/, зоп /ˡzɔp/; рồка /rˈɐka/, зôп /ˡzɐp/). These dialects have isolated character and are found in the Central and Eastern Rhodopes and around Debar in Macedonia (ô-dialects also in Western Rhodopes).
  5. ê-dialects (рềка /rˈæka/, зêп /ˡzæp/). These are found only in Teteven Region, two villages in eastern Bulgaria (Kozichino (Erkech), Pomorie Municipality and Gulitsa, Varna Municipality), three villages in the southwestern corner of Vardar Macedonia around Struga (Radozhda, Vevchani and Mali Vlay), and the village Lin in Albania.

Eastern Bulgarian dialects

Moesian dialects

Shumen dialect
Razgrad dialect

Balkan dialects

Central Balkan dialect
Kotel-Elena-Dryanovo dialect
Panagyurishte dialect
Pirdop dialect
Teteven dialect
Erkech dialect
Subbalkan dialect
Transitional Balkan dialects
Galata dialect
Dragichevo dialect
Varbitsa dialect

Rup dialects

Eastern Rup dialects
Strandzha dialect
Thracian dialect
Rhodopa (Middle Rup) dialects
Smolyan dialect
Shiroka laka dialect
Hvoyna dialect
Batak dialect
Chepino dialect
Paulician dialect
Zlatograd dialect
Chech dialect
Western Rup dialects
Babyak dialect
Razlog dialect
Gotse Delchev dialect
Drama-Ser dialect
Solun dialect

Western Bulgarian dialects

Northwestern Bulgarian dialects

Byala Slatina-Pleven dialect
Vidin-Lom dialect

Transitional Bulgarian dialects


Tran dialect
Breznik dialect
Belogradchik dialect
Godech dialect
Bosilegrad dialect
Tsaribrod dialect
Skopie-Kumanovo-Kratovo dialect
Tetovo dialect
Kosovo-Morava (nashinski) dialect
Timok-Morava dialect

Southwestern Bulgarian dialects

Botevgrad dialect
Vratsa dialect
Sofia dialect
Elin Pelin dialect
Ihtiman dialect
Samokov dialect
Dupnitsa dialect
Kyustendil dialect
Blagoevgrad dialect
Petrich dialect
Pianec-Kamenitsa-Kraishte dialect
Malashevo dialect
Middle Vardar dialects
Bitola dialect
Veles dialect
Prilep-Mariovo dialect
Southwestern border Bulgarian dialects
Doyran dialect
Kukush-Voden dialect
Gevgelia dialect
Enidzhe-Vardar dialect
Kostur dialect
Lerin dialect
Ohrid-Struga dialect
Prespa dialect
Debar (Miyak-Rekantsi) dialect
Korcha dialect

Among the traditional diaspora

Banat Bulgarian dialect
Wallachian Bulgarian dialects
Transylvanian Bulgarian dialects
Bulgarian dialects in the former Soviet Union
Anatolian Bulgarian dialects

The above dialects have lost the old nasalism of ѫ. The next 3 groups have preserved the nasalism in a slightly modified form. Modifications include increased articulation of the nasal vowel to the extent of separating the nasalism in a consonant − н /ŋ/ in front of voiceless consonants or м /ɱ/ in front of voiced consonants − and dialect-specific substitution of the nasal vowel. This trait defines the nasal dialects as very ancient.

  1. ън/ъм-dialects (рънка /rɘŋkˈa/, зъмб /ˡzɤɱb/) – Solun dialect, Kostur dialect, and most of Dolna Prespa dialect.
  2. ан/ам-dialects (ранка /rɑŋkˈa/, замб /ˡzɑɱb/) – extinct trait of Korcha dialect.
  3. ôн/ôм-dialects (рôнка /rɐŋkˈa/, зôмб /ˡzɐɱb/) – existed in the Kostenariya and Nestram in the southernmost Kostur dialect area. Probably, ôн/ôм-dialects are the oldest because in them ѫ is closest to its original pronunciation.

A serious flaw of this classification is that it, too, is isolated with no other confirming isogloss. Moreover, unlike the Yat border, it does not divide Bulgarian dialects in a regular manner. [63]

Classification by *tj, *dj mutations

By the *tj, *dj mutations, there are 5 dialect groups: [64]

  1. шт/жд-dialects (нош(т) /nɔʃ(t)/, леща /leʃta/, среща /sreʃta/; прежда /preʒda/, вежди /veʒdi/, межда /meʒda/) take the major part of the Bulgarian dialect area being exclusive in all Eastern and Northwestern Bulgaria, prevalent in Samokov, Sofia, Ihtiman, Ohrid, Struga, pocket close to Lerin (Banitsa, Pətele, Ekshi Su, Zeleniche, Prekopana), Dolna Prespa, Solun [65], Drama, Ser, Dupnitsa, Kyustendil, Petrich and mixed with other *tj, *dj mutations in the rest of the dialect area.
  2. ч/дж-dialects (ноч /nɔtʃ/, лeча /lɛtʃa/, среча /sretʃa/; преджа /prɛdʒa/, веджи /vɛdʒi/, меджа /medʒa/) in which the palatal affricates ћ /cç/ and ђ /ɟj/ that were borrowed from the Serbian language since the 16-17th century were hardened (de-palatinized) to become ч /tʃ/ and дж /dʒ/. These are the transitional dialects around the Bulgarian-Serbian border in the regions of Belogradchik, Tsaribrod, Tran, Breznik, Bosilegrad [66], and some regions in Eastern Serbia (Pirot, Surdulica), Kosovo (Gora), and Northern Macedonia (north of Skopje and Kumanovo).
  3. к/г(кь/гь)-dialects (нокь /nɔc/, лекя /leca/, срекя /sreca/; прегя /preɟа/, вегьи /veɟi/, мегя /meɟа/) are spoken to the west and north-west of Kyustendil (Kyustendil Kraishte and Kamenitsa), northern Macedonia (Gorni Polog, Skopska Crna Gora, Kumanovo, Ovče Pole, Kratovo, Kriva Palanka), Tetovo, Veles, Prilep, Mariovo, Bitola and north of it; and partly (mixed with other шт/жд mutations) in the regions of Debar, Prespa, Kastoria (Kostur) (very rare), Doyran, Florina (Lerin), Kilkis (Kukush), Edessa (Voden), Pianec. The plosive consonants /c/ and /ɟ/ are pronounced usually without frication with different degree of plosion (dorsal to frontal) and palatization. A variation of this mutation, шт → йкь(jкь) /ʲc/ and/or жд → йгь(jгь) /ʲɟ/, occurs in some villages around Kukush, Voden, and Lerin. The area of mutation of the future tense forming particle (ще /ʃte/ → ке /kɛ/, кье /ce/) is much wider and includes also southern Sofia region, Ihtiman, Samokov, Pazardzhik, and some Eastern Rup dialects (Thrace and Strandzha dialects, e.g., Elhovo, Svilengrad, etc.).
  4. шч/ждж-dialects (ношч /nɔʃtʃ/, лешча /leʃtʃa/, срешча /sreʃtʃa/; прежджа /preʒdʒа/, вежджи /veʒdʒi/, межджа /meʒdʒа/) are found in a relatively pure state in Korcha, Kostur, Doyran, and Ohrid town; mixed with кь/гь and/or шт/жд mutations in Maleševo, south of Bitola, Debar, Struga, Dolna Prespa, Lerin; mixed with ч/дж mutations in Samokov (Shishmanovo) and Breznik. Variants of the жд → ждж mutation occur in Kostur (жд → ж /ʒ/) and Doyran (жд → йдж /ʲdʒ/).
  5. шкь/жгь-dialects (ношкь /nɔʃc/, лешкя /leʃca/, срешкя /sreʃca/; прежгя /preʒɟа/, вежгьи /veʒɟi/, межгьа /meʒɟа/) are limited to very small area south of Bitola (also variant шьк /ʃʲk/) and Eastern Rup around Strandzha (variant жьгь /ʒʲɟ/ as in вежьгьи /veʒʲɟi/).

As repeatedly mentioned, *tj, *dj reflexes are an important phonological trait, characteristic for each individual Slavic language, and used for language differentiation. Bulgarian language is characterized with the шт(щ)/жд mutation on which the Standard Bulgarian is based. The presence of numerous *tj, *dj variants on the Bulgarian linguistic territory indicates outside linguistic influences and/or spontaneous modifications due to linguistic isolation of peripheral areas. Alternatively, this variability may be (and has been) explained with coexistence of fundamentally different dialect systems. This latter case would be indicated by an approximately simultaneous separation of two or more reflexes from the primitive Proto-Slavic *tj, *dj.

This issue became actual and received an added importance, with political overtones, in connection with the Bulgarian vs. Macedonian controversy. Historically, as in other border regions, this started as Bulgarian vs. Serbian controversy. Stojan Novaković, Serbian politician and diplomat, charged by the Serbian government with the mission to organize the assimilation campaign in Macedonia in accordance with the Serbian national (Garašanin) doctrine, propagated the idea that Slavs in Macedonia were Serbs because they spoke a dialect of Serbian language with the typical Serbian ћ,ђ reflex of Proto-Slavic *tj, *dj. Aleksandar Belić, a Serbian linguist, was more careful in making some distinction between Serbian affricates ћ,ђ and Macedonian plosives кь,гь; however, he considered the latter as a very close variant which is evident by the symbols that he used for those − ћК and ђГ. According to Belić, Macedonian dialects were divided into Southern (Solun, Kostur, Korcha to Bitola, Resen, Ohrid and Debar) and Northern ("true Macedonian dialect", Tetovo and Štip). In the Southern dialects *tj reflects in шт(шч), and *dj reflects in жд(ждж), while in the Northern the reflexes are ћ(ћК) and ђ(ђГ) [67].

The most detailed and comprehensive study of the *tj, *dj reflexes in Macedonia and Albania was carried out by the Russian linguist Afanasy Selishchev [68] [69]. He studied this phonetic trait in all aspects: not only the territorial distribution of dialect variants but also occurrence in different words, in different grammatical positions with a clear idea of all acustic and physiological specifics in relation to the neighboring Slav languages using data not only from written documents but also from toponymy. Selishchev stressed the fact that unlike the Serbian ћ and ђ, the Macedonian кь and гь are pronounced without frication. A fricative element was found very rarely to the north of Tetovo but even there, кь and гь were not identical to the Serbian affricates. Selishchev also noted the reduced palatization of кь and гь, which varies in different Bulgarian dialects from Macedonia.

On the basis of his study of the territorial distribution of шт/жд, шч/ждж, and кь/гь, Selishchev found that the basic reflex of the Proto-Slavic *tj, *dj in dialects from Macedonia is шт/жд or its more ancient stage шч/ждж. Using a huge amount of dialectological material, he found that this pronunciation was fixed on a large part of the territory of Macedonia: Debar, Struga, Ohrid, Resen, Kostur, Lerin, Solun, Kukush, Doyran, Maleševo. The шч/ждж is archaic and gives way to шт/жд. For this conclusion, Selishchev used the studies of V. Oblak and B. Tsonev who noted that in some dialects the old people spoke шч/ждж while the young knew only шт/жд. It was notable that the archaic шч was more resistant to the newer шт than ждж to жд. Thus, in some Debar, Resen and Kostur dialects the archaic шч was found along with жд.

Palatal кь, гь in a limited number of words and forms (e.g., кукя, кье, векье) are found also far to the east of Macedonia. Thus, the particle кье is found in many Eastern Bulgarian dialects. Nevertheless, through deeper analysis, Selishchev came to the conclusion that кь, гь are not innate to dialects in Macedonia but were calqued from the imported Serbian analogs together with the whole word. For example, the word кукя (house) is found throughout Macedonia. The process of borrowing is confirmed by the root vowel: here in the place of the dorsal nasal vowel one finds the vowel у /ʊ/ (compare bg:къща /kɤʃta/ with sr:кућа /kʊcça/). Even in Northern Macedonia, in Lešok, Selishchev heard both кукя and къща [70].

Toponymy provided very valuable data for study of кь and гь. Selishchev showed with toponyms that in the dialects of central Macedonia шт, жд are more ancient than кь and гь. For example, while in the vernacular from Prilep region the word for trousers is гакьи, diphthong шт is still preserved in the names of villages around Prilep − Кривогаштани /krivɔgaʃtani/ ("Crook-trousers") [68]. Later, he used toponyms to solve very difficult and baffling problems from the history of Macedonian dialects. Supported by many sources, Selishchev showed that the process of replacement of шч (шт) - ждж (жд) by кь, гь had been long and, by WWII, yet unfinished in many parts of Macedonia. Selishchev showed convincingly that this process goes from north to south. In the southeastern and southwestern corners, a very limited number of words were spoken with кь, гь.

There was one serious flaw in this analysis. Since the time of Gilferding (1850-60) toponyms in Albania and Greece that end in -kaki were thought to originate from the Proto-Slavic *tj. If this was true, one had to agree not only that кь is a specific Macedonian reflex of *tj but, what is more, that it existed in the language of those Slavs that in the 6-7th centuries flooded in great numbers not only in Epirus and Thessaly but also in Peloppones. Selishchev either had to explain the origin of these toponyms or disavow his views on the origin of кь, гь in the modern Macedonian dialects. He solved this problem in a special chapter in his book Slavic population in Albania (1931). [69]

The suffix -kaki interpreted as a reflex of the Proto-Slavic *ko,tja is a composition of heterogeneous elements that are never found in Macedonia. In dialects from Macedonia occur either къшта (къшча) or кукя. There are no examples of кушта (кушча) or къкя (какя). If such were found, they would contain both Bulgarian and Serbian reflexes of the Big Yus and *tj. The toponym Gardikaki, for example, is unique in this respect. Selishchev pointed out that these toponyms can end in -i but also without it. In Epirus and Albania they less often end in -u. These comparisons showed that the second element of the toponym was not related to the Proto-Slavic *ko,tja. The thorough research was successfully completed after taking into account the geologic and soil science publications on Albania and North Greece. From Albanian language, it was seen that the suffix -kuкь can be interpreted as "red"; it is often found on territory with Albanian settlements and specifically in places where the soil has reddish hue. In the region of Upper Shqumba the mountain peaks in Lurje are called Gurikuкь which means "red stone". North of Argirocastro one finds Hundokuкь or Hundёkuкь which means "red nose". In his book, Selishchev described many more examples [69].

This comprehensive analysis of dialects and toponymic data in Macedonia and Albania showed convincingly that кь, гь in place of the Proto-Slavic *tj, *dj is a late phenomenon arising under the influence of the Serbian phonetic system introduced (sometimes sporadically) by the Serbian administration, rulers, settlers, and teachers [71]. This analysis has wider significance beyond the narrow frame of classification of Slavic dialects in Macedonia and Albania. It bears direct relationship to the origin of Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) language. Before the publication of this analysis, in the Slavistic literature was current the hypothesis of N.S. Trubetskoy, N.N. Durnova and some other Slavists, according to which кь, гь arose directly from the Proto-Slavic *tj, *dj and were present in the language of Cyril and Methodius. The studies of Selishchev disproved this hypothesis [72]. Most linguists accepted Selishchev's conclusions [73], including most Bulgarian linguists [74] [75]. Some of the latter (Blagoj Shklifov, V. Georgiev) disagreed on the issue of whether кь, гь are internal or borrowed and in 1981-82 hypothesized that these reflexes arose as a result of specific processes, innate for the dialects in Macedonia [76] [75]. However, this new point of view was not supported by argumentation [72].

Some leading linguists from Republic of Macedonia (e.g., Acad. Božidar Vidoeski) appraised the study of Selishchev and used his classification and data in their works [77]; others implicitly acknowledged Selishchev's conclusions. For example, Blaže Koneski in his A Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language (book 1, 1952) in which he stipulated the norms of the Macedonian Standard, listed the кь, гь reflex only as a second, supporting distinctive trait in Macedonian language after the ъ → o reflex; the latter is, indeed, a very early trait.

Classification by the ъ − о isogloss

The Dutch Slavist Nicolaas van Wijk proposed a classification of Bulgarian dialects by the reflex of OBg. ъ /*ɘ/ in o /ɔ/, that is, by the isogloss ъ − о: сън, дъш → сон, дош instead of OBg. сънъ, дъждь [78].

This reflex is known for its antiquity and since the time of Old Bulgarian divided the Bulgarian language area in two main dialect groups — Eastern and Western. However, the isogloss о—ъ is not very clearly distinguished and exhibits a great variability. Thus, о instead of OBg. ъ is found in the Western dialects and Pirdop dialect but in some dialects it is only in prepositions and prefixes (воф, воздàхна, сос, собỳе), in others − in prefixes and suffixes (воф, сос, пèток, песòк), and in third − in all closed syllables (вос, сос, пèток, бòчва, дош). Only in some Bulgarian dialects in Macedonia (Malashevo, Veles, Prilep-Mariovo, Debar, Kostur, Doyran, Kukush, Voden) vowel o completely substitutes ъ. Complete reflex ъ → о is found in some Rup dialects but there it is a result of a specific late process replacing a secondary Yer when two Yers/Nasals (Big or Small) occur in the same word: дош from дъждь (Big and Small Yers), мòгла from мьглѫ (Small Yer and Big Nasal), зоп from зѫбъ (Big Nasal and Big Yer), кльòтва from клѧтвѫ (Small and Big Nasals). In the Moesian dialects of Northern Bulgaria there is a reflex (vocalisation) of OBg. ъ in о in the article form for masculine (гърбò, нусò) and in the suffix -ък (добѝтọк, пèтọк). Therefore, this trait does not allow for a clear-cut classification of Bulgarian dialects [79].

In order to improve this classification, Prof. Tsonev proposed to classify Bulgarian dialects by both ъ (Big Yer) and ь (Small Yer) reflexes [80], thus dividing Bulgarian in 4 dialect groups:

  • Rup-Rhodopes with OBg. ъ reflecting in o and OBg. ь reflecting in йъ /ʲɘ/
  • South-Western with OBg. ъ reflecting in o and OBg. ь reflecting in ъ or e
  • North-Eastern with OBg. ъ reflecting in ъ and OBg. ь reflecting in ъ or e
  • North-Western with OBg. ъ reflecting in ъ and OBg. ь reflecting in ъ

This classification, too, has serious flaws in that it does not divide regularly the Bulgarian dialect area and the 4 groups do not include all variations. For instance, in the Moesian dialects of the North-Eastern group there is a reflex ъ > о, in the East Rup dialects of the Rup-Rhodopes group there is a reflex ь > е, etc. Taking into account only the reflexes of the OBg. ь, Bulgarian dialects have been classified in 3 groups [81]:

  • Dialects with soft reflexes on ь comprising Rup-Rhodopes with the soft reflexes е or йъ /ʲɘ/
  • Dialects with hard reflexes on ь represented by the transitional dialects: ь > ъ
  • Dialects with hard and soft reflexes comprising North-Eastern, South-Western, and the Eastern half of the North-Western dialects:ь > ъ (а) and е.

This classification is also not very clear-cut and does not divide the Bulgarian dialect area in approximately equal parts.

Classification by morphological and lexical traits

In the Bulgarian dialect area, several morphological and lexical boundaries can be drawn that approximately coincide and form a band of isoglosses. Such isoglosses are, e.g.:

  • The suffix for plural in polysyllable masculine nouns that end in a consonant. In the North-Western Bulgaria (except part of Moesian dialects), this suffix is -и /ɪ/, in Western and South-Eastern Bulgaria it is -е /ɛ/: пръстени, ръкàви, гълъби — пръстене, ръкàве, гълъбе.
  • The suffix for first person plural present tense for first and second conjugation verbs. In North-Eastern Bulgaria it is -м /m/, in Western and South-Eastern Bulgaria it is -ме /mɛ/: берèм, четèм, вървѝм — берèме, четèме, вървѝме.
  • The words: аз/я, недей/немòй, крак/ногà, рѝза/кошỳля, стан/разбòй, горèщ/жèжък, къс/крап, etc. The first word of these pairs occurs in North-Eastern Bulgaria, the second — in Western and South-Eastern Bulgaria.
  • Morphonological isoglosses in the accent of disyllabic neutral singular nouns and in the form for the imperative mood second person singular in the verbs of first and second conjugation. In North-Eastern Bulgaria the accent is on the suffix, in Western and South-Eastern Bulgaria — on the root: месò, кроснò — мèсо, крòсно; берѝ, носѝ, метѝ — бèри, нòси, мèти.

Interestingly, the band of morphological and lexical isoglosses goes along the Yat borders: both the primary, accepted one (Vit estuary to Vardar delta) and the secondary, apparent one (Pazardzhik to Burgas). Thus, they define a central (middle) region comprising North-Eastern and Central Bulgaria, and a lateral (peripheral) region comprising North-Western, South-Western, and South-Eastern Bulgaria which envelops the central region of the Bulgarian dialect continuum.

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45. Ivanov, J. N. Zur Frage der Klassifizierung der bulgarischen Dialekte in Mazedonien. Linguistique balkanique. 1982, No 4, 43-51.

46. Pomianowska, W. Ugrupowanie gwar południowoslowiańskich w śwеtlе faktów lеksykalnych i słowotwоrzczych. Z polskich studiów sławistycznych (Warszawa), 1978, z. I, 95-100.

47. Saur, V. Jak klasifikovat bulharská nářeči? In: Sborník prací filoz. fak. Brněnské univ. Ř. Jazykovědná, 1982. roč. 31, č. 30, 155-167.

48. Vakarelski, Hr. Bemerkungen zum Verhältnis von Sprach- und Kulturgrenze auf Grund bulgarischen Materials. In: Festschrift Mathias Zender. Bonn; 1972, 99-105.

49. Христодул К. Сичан Николов. Болгарска аритметика (Bulgarian arithmetic), Букурещ (Bucharest), 1845.

50. Григорович В.И. Очерк путешествия по Европейской Турции (Travelogue of European Turkey), Казань, 1848.

51. Цонев, Б. Разпределение на българските говори според ѣ (Distribution of Bulgarian dialects according to ѣ). In: История на българския език (History of Bulgarian language). Vol. 1. Sofia, 1940, 303-334.

52. Mladenov, St. Geschichte der bulgarischen Sprache. Berlin und Leipzig, 1929, 13, 92-96, 317-318.

53. Василев, Ст. П. Граници между източните и западните български говори (Borders between eastern and western Bulgarian dialects). Родна Реч, 1934, No. 3, 179-181.

54. Георгиев, Вл. Пред­славянският произход на ятовата граница (The pre-Slavic origin of the Yat border). In: Въпроси на българската етимология (Problems in Bulgarian etymology). Sofia, 1959, 114-119.

55. Стойков, Ст. Ятовият преглас в български език (The Yat reflex in Bulgarian language). Бълг. ез., 1963, No. 4-5, 326-332.

56. Младенов, М. Сл. Ятовата граница в светлината на нови данни. (Към въпроса за диалектното разчленение на българския език.) (The Yat border in the light of new data: On the dialect differentiation of Bulgarian language). In: Славистичен сборник (Slavistic compendium). Sofia, 1973, 241-256.

57. Шаур, Вл. За произхода на ятовата граница в българския език (On the origin of the Yat border in Bulgarian language). In: Исторически развой на българския език (Historical development of Bulgarian language). Vol. 3. Сравнително езикознание. Диалектология. Превод. (Comparative linguistics, dialectology, translation), Sofia, 1983, 255-271.

58. Кочев, Ив. Фонетични и фонологични промени на ê < ѣ в говори около ятовата граница (Phonetic and phonological ê < ѣ reflexes around the Yat border. Изв. Инст. бълг. ез., 16, 1968, 437-445.

59. Генчев, Ст. Етнографски аспекти на ятовата граница (Ethnographic aspects of the Yat border). In: Първи конгрес на Бълг. историческо дружество (First congress of the Bulgarian historical society), 27-30 Jan. 1970, Vol. 2. Sofia, 1972, 145-148.

60. Генчев, Ст. Към проучването на различията между обичаите при погребение от страни на ятовата граница в Северна България (On the study of funeral rites varieties on the two sides of the Yat border). Изв. на Етнографския институт с музей, 11, 1968, 169-200.

61. Младенов, М. Сл. Ятов изоглосен пояс!? (Yat isogloss belt!?, Съпост. езикознание (Comparative linguistics), 1990. No. 4-5, 223-227.

62. Hristova, E. 2008. The modern substitutes of the Old Bulgarian nasal vowels ѫ and ѧ in the Gorani dialect in Albania. Macedonian Review, 2:97-102 (Доц. д-р Евдокия Христова. 2008. Съвременните застъпници на старобългарските назални гласни ѫ и ѧ в горанския говор в Албания. Македонски преглед, 2:97-102).

63. Mladenov, St. Geschichte der bulgarischen Sprache. Berlin, 1929, 119-121.

64. Цонев, Б. Разпределение на българските говори tj, dj (Distribution of Bulgarian tj, dj dialects). In: История на българский език (History of Bulgarian language). Vol. 1. Sofia, 1940, 344-350.

65. Кочев, Ив. Съчетанията ш’т, жд в солунския диалект (Diphthongs ш’т, жд in Solun dialect). Бълг. ез., 1986, 5:426-428.

66. Бoжков, Р. Континуатите на праславянските съчетания tj, dj в босилиградския говор (Continua of proto-Slavic phthongs tj, dj in Bosilegrad dialect). Бълг. ез., 1987, 1-2:123-127.

67. Белић А. Галички диjалекат. Београд, 1935.

68. Селищев, А. Очерки по македонской диалектологии (Essays in Macedonian dialectology). Казань, 1918. Vol. 1.

69. Selischtscheff, A. Die slawische Bevölkerung in Albanien. Nachdruck besorgt von Reinhold Olesch. Koeln-Wien: Boehlau Verlag, 1978.

70. Selishchev, A. 1935. Macedonian dialectology and Serbian linguists. Macedonian Review (Селищев, А. 1935. Македонская диалектология и сербские лингвисты. Македонски преглед), 9(3-4), pp. 56-97.

71. Bernstein, Samuel B. A.M. Selishchev: Slavist-Balkanist (Бернштейн, С.Б. А.М. Селищев — славист-балканист, Наука, Москва, 1987).

72. Šaur, V. Bulharské št, žd < *tj, *dj. Slavia (Praha), 1985, 2:128-140.

73. Ивaнчев, Св. Развоят на *tj, *dj в шт, жд и етногенетичният процес на Балканите (Evolution of *tj, *dj into шт, жд and the ethnogenetic process in the Balkans). Старобългаристика (Old Bulgarian studies), 1981, 1:27-47.

74. Тотоманова, А. М. Още веднъж за меките к и г на мястото на праславянските tj и dj в югозападните български говори (Once again on the soft k and g at the place of the proto-Slavic tj and dj in the south-western Bulgarian dialects. Старобългаристика (Old Bulgarian studies), 1990, 3:57-59.

75. Шклифов, Б. Развойният процес на шт, жд в българския език (The process of шт, жд development in Bulgarian language). In: Първа национална младежка школа по езикознание (First national youth school in linguistics). Sofia, 1981, 24-26.

76. Георгиев, В. И. Възникване на палаталните съгласни к’ и г’ от ш’т’, ж’д’ в югозападните български говори (Development of the palatal consonants к’ and г’ from ш’т’, ж’д’ in the south-western Bulgarian dialects). — Бълг. ез., 1982, 5:398-404.

77. Видоески Б. Основни диjалектни групи во Македониjа (Major south-western Bulgarian dialect groups). Македонски jазик (Bulgarian language in Macedonia), 1960-1961, 11-12:13-31.

78. Van Wijk, N. Zur Grenze zwischen dem Ost- und Westbulgarischen. Archiv für slav. Philologie, 1925, 39(3-4):212-216.

79. Романски, Ст. Македонски преглед (Macedonian review), 1925, 5-6:169-172.

80. Цонев, Б. 1906. Добрейшово четвероевангелие. Предговор (The Dobreysha quadri-gospel. Introduction). Sofia, pp. 30-31.

81. Кочев Ив. 1959. Застъпници на меката ерова гласна в български език (Substitutes of the soft Yer vowel in Bulgarian language). In:Статьи и материалы по болгарской диалектологии (Articles and materials in Bulgarian dialectology), 9:70-82, Moscow, 1959.

82. Stefan Verković. Народне песме македонских бугара (Folk songs of Macedonian Bulgarians), Belgrade, 1860.

83. Афанасий Селищев. Днешната югозападна граница на българската говорна област (Present south-western border of the Bulgarian dialect area), Македонски преглед (Macedonian Review), 7:1, 1930

84. Кръсте Мисирков. Към въпроса за пограничната линия между българския и сърбо-хърватския езици (On the borderline between Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian languages), Българска сбирка (Bulgarian collection), 17: 1-2, 1910/11, p. 100

85. The Turks, the Greeks and the Slavons. Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe. By G. Muir Mackenzie and A. P. Irby, London, 1867. With Maps etc.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Borders of Bulgarian language

Bulgarian dialect continuum

The distribution of Slavic languages may be visualized by a chain of circles that cross and intermingle so that many transitive dialects arise. In this Slavic chain, Bulgarian is the south-most link which is located between Serbian and Russian. Because the interactions between Bulgarian and Serbian, on one hand, and between Bulgarian and Russian, on the other, are not equivalent, the similarities of Bulgarian to Russian and Serbian are not the same. While Bulgarians and Serbs lived very close to each other for a very long time on a long borderline, the connection between Bulgarian and Russian took place on a narrow strip along Dobrudzha which was populated with other foreign peoples and was interrupted by the wide and scarcely populated Danube delta. The relatively large similarity between Bulgarian and Russian can be explained by the former Russian-Bulgarian neighbourship in the old homeland of Bulgars and Bulgarian Slavs and with subsequent loans between Bulgarian and Russian.

Bulgaria demographic

A 1865 map of the Balkan Peninsula, showing the track of Via Ignatia [1].

On the basis of linguistic similarities and differences between Slavic languages, one can see that Serbs were not neighbours to Bulgarians in their old abode. Furthermore, comparing the today southern Slavic languages, one can see that even on the Balkan Peninsula, Serbs were not always neighbours to Bulgarians; this is seen by the many phonetic similarities that are found between Bulgarian and Sloveno-Croatian and which are lacking in Serbian. This shows that Serbs came later, penetrated between Bulgarians and Sloveno-Croats and thus interrupted the dialect continuity between southern Slavs.

Territorial borders

In its present state, the Bulgarian language area takes the most important parts of the Balkan Peninsula and for the most part it borders foreign people, and not Slavic ones: Romanians to the north, Turks to the east, Greeks to the south, Albanians to the south-west, and because every one of these peoples defends its state and political doctrines, the ethnographic issues on the Balkans are very complicated. On Bulgarian side, when at issue is distinguishing the Bulgarian language and nationality from others, there isn't and cannot be any controversy, because the difference between Bulgarian and other languages is evident. Every unbiased ethnographer or diplomate will draw the border of the Bulgarian nation to the limit where Bulgarian is spoken. There can be some controversy only about some mixed border villages but this controversy could be easily decided on the basis of an accurate statistic taking into account the majority of the respective population.

It is a different situation with the ethnographic border between Serbs and Bulgarians whereby two similar people of the same tribe touch and interact. Basically, here too, if there is no bias by the two sides, an agreement could be easily reached taking into account the grammatical differences between the two languages; because even though they are very similar and the transitive Bulgarian-Serb dialects are very close, there are scientific criteria that could help clearly distinguish these dialects if there was such good will from the Serbian side as it is from Bulgarian, if Serbian ethnographers and linguists didn't put in this controversy more politics then a true light of science, more animosity than a neighbourly conciliation. Because the claims of the Bulgarian western Slavic neighbours concern not only some controversial border villages as it is usually between neighbours, they concern whole regions that are purely Bulgarian, which the Greater Serb politicians and ethnographers, with pseudoscientific distortions, proclaim for Serbian in order to put a scientific basis for their illegitimate claims. This is why, when delineating the borders of Bulgarian language and nation against the other Balkan peoples, we'll give more detail on the Serbian-Bulgarian language border in order to define it and establish it on a scientific, linguistic, basis.

Map of Bulgarian dialects

The ethnography of the Balkan Peninsula is tightly connected to the always hot Macedonian question: everything written about Macedonia concerns directly or indirectly its neighbouring regions and peoples. And because this question is still on the agenda for almost 150 years, the literature about it and about Balkan ethnography comprises numerous papers, books, brochures, maps, and statistics in all languages, and together with them – diplomatic agreements, police measures, occupations, and also four bloody, ruinous wars – always this ominous Macedonian question without a favourable decision; it hangs as a threatening sword over all Balkan peoples and will be a scare until the moment it is fairly decided on the basis of the national principle which was so triumphantly proclaimed but unfortunately often ignored by everybody.

As most directly affected by the Macedonian question, Bulgarians contributed most to its elucidation; during the wars Bulgarian scientists had the opportunity to study directly in the field the western limits of the Bulgarian homeland and to fill their data and evidence for the ethnography of Macedonia and the Morava region. These studies confirmed everything that was before known by Bulgarian scientists about the ethnography of the Balkans and the distinguishing of Bulgarian nationality.

Regardless of the present or future Bulgarian state borders, the borders of the Bulgarian speech and ethnicity are defined as follows.

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The eastern border is the Black Sea.

To the north, the language has as a natural border the river Danube that spans the larger part of the Bulgarian-Romanian border. The smaller (land) part of the border starts at the town of Silistra on the Danube and ends at the village of Durankulak on the Black Sea, passing through the region of Dobrudzha and dividing the latter in 2 parts: Northern (Romanian) Dobrudzha and Southern (Bulgarian) Dobrudzha. In the past, a numerous Bulgarian population lived in Romanian (Northern) Dobrudzha but in 1941 according to an agreement between the Bulgarian and Romanian governments, these people were moved to the Bulgarian (Southern) Dobrudzha in the place of re-settled Romanian population. Therefore, the northern border of Bulgarian language is clearly delineated as it separates two different languages: Bulgarian and Romanian.

The southern border of Bulgarian is not clearly defined. The Bulgarian population in the southern parts of Thrace and Macedonia lived for many centuries mixed with other ethnicities, primarily Greeks and Turks, speaking languages, very different from Bulgarian. So, instead of language mixing, these ethnicities remained clearly differentiated on the language basis and, indeed, language became the main ethnic characteristic. A large part of Bulgarians (Grecomans) spoke Greek in public and Bulgarian at home. Islamised Bulgarians (Pomaks) spoke a Bulgarian dialect mixed with Turkish words. And yet, a historical border to the south exists that separates Bulgarians from others. It is the old Roman road Via Ignatia that connects the Adriatic with the Black Sea. For a large part, it goes close to the Aegean coast [1]. North of Via Ignatia Bulgarians predominate while south of it they are in the minority.

In Thrace, the territories on the two sides of Via Ignatia very often changed hands between Bulgarians, Greeks, and Turks but north of it they have been predominantly Bulgarian most of the time, mixed with Greeks, or Turks. Therefore, the border goes from the environs of Istanbul (Tsarigrad) through Chataldzha and Silivria, and then along Via Ignatia goes close to the Aegean (Byalo more) coast to the Struma Estuary and Orphano Bay. Then it crosses the Bogdan Mountain (Beshik-Dag) and through the Lagadina Field (Hortach, Vavro, Kolomenta, Kakavo, and Erisovo [2], pp. 43-44) goes to Solun. From the Solun Bay the border goes upstream along Bistritsa River which it leaves to pass near Kozhani and Shatishta; then again along Bistritsa to Hrupishta.

The border to the west and southwest goes along the approximate line established by Stefan Verković – Serbian folk researcher and ethnograph, and Prof. Afanasiy Selishchev – a great Russian Slavist. Until 15th century, these lands were alternately under Bulgarian and Serbian rule, and then for 5 centuries they were ruled by the Ottomans. The state border was established only in 1878; until then the Serb-Ottoman border went much further to the west [4]. For the western and southern borders of Bulgarian, Verković writes in detail in his works [3] and [2]. The studies of Verković which he did for 30 years, are fully confirmed by other Serbian scientists, such as Milovan Vidaković (1833), Dr. Jovan Subotić (1845), Jovan Gavrilović (1863), Tuminski (1868), А. Hadžić (1870), Vasa Pelagić (1879), Alexandar Belić (1906) and others. More specific data about the south-western border are found in the comprehensive study of Prof. Selishchev [5]. It is worth noting that much the same border to the west was drawn by Krste Misirkov in his study [6].

The southwestern border goes south of the region of Kostur (Kostenaria), along the mountain ranges Gorusha and Gramos and then turns to the east from the village Slimitsa (Slimnitsa) and further to the north to the Bulgarian village Lobanitsa towards the Bulgaro-Albanian settlement Biglishta. Therefrom the border goes to the northwest which leaves to the east the Bulgarian villages Rakitska, Zərnovsko, Leska, Pustets, Glombochitsa, Podbuche, along the south shore of the Ohrid Lake, to the Bulgarian monastery "St. Naum" and the village of Lin.

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To the west of this line are Albanian settlements except two neighbouring villages, Drenovo and Boboshchitsa, that are Bulgarian. Some Bulgarian families lived at the turn of 19th c. in other Korcha villages: Sovyani, Sinitsa, Pirg, Rambets, Bulgarets, Hotishta, Bratovitsa. In the town of Korcha itself, there was a Bulgarian population in 2 neighbourhoods. Old men in several now Albanian villages still remember the former Bulgarian language. The population to the west of Ohrid lake is Albanian. Bulgarian population at the beginning of 20th c. lived only in some northwestern villages: Lin, Raytsa, Radozhda, Vlahtsi, Kalishta, Radolishta.

From Struga, the border goes near the west shore of Ohrid Lake through Yablanitsa Mountain, passes through the Bulgarian Muslim villages to the west of Drin: Steblevo, Borovo, Sebishte, Kosovets, Tərnovo. West of this line are the Albanian village Zaradchani and the Bulgarian villages Upper and Lower Belitsa [7], p. 48. Veleshta became primarily Albanian village by 1920s. The Bulgarian villages Vranishta, Oktisi, Vehchani (Vevchani), Podgortsi, Borovets, Yablanitsa (some Albanians) are to the east of the border. Here is the northern part of Yablanitsa ridge. The border then goes to the northwest along the Golobrdo ridge. At the turn of 19th c. here Bulgarian border villages were Borova, Sebishte, Tərnovo, Leshnichan, Torbachi. [8] Borovo, as well as Kosovets and Torbachi north of it are mentioned as Albanian, and Sebishte – as mixed Bulgarian-Albanian in 1916. [9]

At the village Torbachi the border crosses to the other side of Drin River, leaving to the east the Bulgarian-Albanian town Debər and the Bulgarian village of Sushitsa and goes along Drin to the north. A number of villages on Drin are Albanian: Konyari, Solokiki, Spas, Rashani, Blato, Maytar, Chernene, Voynik, Chanka, Kovachitsa. The next village to the north on the Drin – Deolani (Dovolani) – is Bulgarian-Albanian. From here, at Kenok Hill, the border turns to the east to the Bulgarian Muslim village Zhernonitsa and further to the Mavrovi Inns (in the region of the village Mavrovo). In one village to the northwest of the border – Brizhdan (Brzhdan) on Drin – there were 4 Bulgarians (9 Walachians, 40 Gypsies, and 1008 Albanians) in 1916-1918 [10] and a quarter of this village bears the Slavic name Domazetay. In 1860s, in another village close by – Melan / Melia north of Deolani – there was a Bulgarian population. [7], II, p. 37-38 Villages ustream along Radika (Gorna Reka) were Albanian by the beginning of 20th c.

From Mavrovi Inns, the western border of the Bulgarian linguistic area goes to Rudoka Mountain, to the Vratsa Pass and to the villages of Prizrenska Gora, situated between Shar Mountain, Rudoka Mountain and Koritnik. The Slavic population of Gora was forced to change its religion from Christianity to Islam but the traditional Bulgarian language was preserved in many villages and their population. The traits in this language is similar to those in the southwestern Bulgarian dialects spoken in western Macedonia. The common religion asserted a strong Albanian influence on the Gora Bulgarians which, like other Bulgarians in western Macedonia, do not object to being called Albanians. They were registered as Albanians at the time of the Austrian occupation in 1916-1918. [9], p. 54-56 In some families and villages in Gora, the Slavic speech was completely disused and was replaced by Albanian. The attempts of the Serbian government to open schools in some villages in Gorna Reka were unsuccessful; by 1929 no teacher remained there. [11]

From Gora the border goes to the north-east through the Shar Mountain, from its peak Lyuboten and then to the east, north of the Bulgarian village Rogachevo, north of Rogach ridge to Dervent in Polog near Vardar and further to the north-east to Skopian Montenegro. In this region, the Albanian ethnicity predominates, and the Bulgarian element is preserved in islands of Bulgarian Muslim (torbesh) villages. The villages of the Prizren Opolya are all Albanian. There are many Albanian villages in other Prizren zhups (districts). Only the following villages near Prizren are Slavic: Vrbichane, Novoselyane, Seltse (Sevtse), Vrbeshtitsa, Yazhintse, Shtrptse, Berevtse, Gotovusha, Sredska, Zhivinyane; the other villages are either mixed or completely Albano-Muslim. In the Bulgarian Muslim dialects, *tj, *dj is reflexed in кь, гь but ѫ is reflexed in ъ, ъ and ь are reflexed in o and e, there is a triple definite article, etc., which are the typical Bulgarian dialects of Shar and Koritnik Mountains. The Slavic langauge of the population in the Prizren zhups Sredska and Sirinich incorporates elements of 2 Slavic languages: Bulgarian and Serbian. Bulgarian elements come from Slavs who in old times lived north and north-west of Prizren: Slavic toponyms are evidence for this. Thus, there are words with zhd, sht instead of Proto-Slavic *dj, *tj, *-kt' (Grazhdenik, Obrazhda, Lyubizhda, Selograzhde, Chrpyoglazhde, Torazhda, Spənozheshtani, Nebregoshte, Dobrushta), words with -ets instead of earlier -ьць (Nashets, Tupets, etc.).

In addition to these linguistic data, we can note the ethnographic observations of A. Haberlandt in the Prizren area. The houses around Prizren have clearly eastern aspect (brick buildings); village houses are situated terrace-like on the hill slopes; many of them are surrounded by huge stone walls. Gardens have very Bulgarian character, and field-guarding is in south-eastern manner. Folk costumes are different in colour, decorations, and partly in their elements. On this basis, without doubt the bulk of population in the direction Mitrovitsa-Pech originates from newer settlers with ethnicity different from that in southern Metochia. The first belongs to Serbian nationality while the second has older character which is close to the Bulgarians from Macedonia [12].

To the west of the above southwestern limits of the Bulgarian linguistic area there were no Bulgarian settlements in the 20th c. except those mentioned above in the Korcha region and 4 Bulgarians in the village of Brizhdan in Lower Debar, near Peshkopia. But to the east of the border line, in western Macedonia, there are many Albanian settlements. Here, the Albanians do not inhabit compact terrritory: either their villages are on Bulgarian territory or Albanians take part of a Bulgarian village. Statistical data of 1912-1913 show that there were 194 195 Albanians in Macedonia (1 103 111 Bulgarians, 548 225 Turks, 267 862 Greeks, 79 401 Walachians, 43 370 Gypsies, 106 360 others). Most Albanians were settled in the western and northern Macedonia: 43 230 near Polog (Tetovo and Gostivar regions), 33 375 near Debar, 14 400 near Bitolya, 13 240 near Skopie, 20 000 near Preshevo [13].

From Prizren district the border goes in a generally northern direction through Kopaonik and Yastrebəts Mountains to Krushevəts and Morava River. Along the western shore of Morava the border goes as far north as the rivers Sava and Danube where it closes the Bulgarian linguistic territory.

In the borders so delineated, there are foreign populations: Albanians, Turks, Greek, as well as Turkified, Hellenised, or Serbianized Bulgarians but as long as there is a language with the traits characteristic for Bulgarian language, it is strictly Bulgarian, different from all other languages.

Bulgaro-Serbian linguistic borders

Phonetic

  1. The Old Bulgarian ѫ gives in Bulgarian ъ while in Serbian it gives y:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    дъб
    зъб
    мъка
    ръка
    тъга
    дуб
    зуб
    мука
    рука
    туга
    oak
    tooth
    sadness
    hand
    sorrow


  2. The Old Bulgarian *tj, *dj combinations give in Bulgarian щ and жд, and in Serbian – ћ and ђ:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    среща
    плащам
    плещи
    межда
    раждам
    срећа
    плаћам
    плеће
    међа
    рађам
    meeting
    to pay
    shoulders
    border
    to bear (child)


  3. The Old Bulgarian ъ and ь in Bulgarian are assimilated only in root syllables into a dark ъ, but in suffix syllables are separated and are pronounced as ъ and е while in Serbian they are pronounced only as а:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    бъз
    бъчва
    тънък
    тъмен
    остен
    баз
    бачва
    танак
    таман
    остан
    elder
    barrel
    thin
    dark
    goad


  4. The Old Bulgarian лъ in the middle of syllables in Bulgarian remains unchanged as -лъ- or becomes its metathesis -ъл-, while in Serbian it mutates into -у-:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    тлъсто
    сълза
    вълк
    бълха
    вълна
    тусто
    суза
    вук
    бува
    вуна
    fatty
    tear
    wolf
    flea
    wool


  5. The consonant л at the end of syllables is present in Bulgarian as the sound /l/ while in Serbian it changes to the vowel o:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    крилце
    пепел
    бил
    смял се
    работилница
    криоце
    пепео
    био
    смео се
    радионица
    winglet
    ashes
    been
    laughed
    workshop


  6. The palatal (soft) љ (ль) is not found in Bulgarian while in Serbian it is present:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    избавен
    купен
    снопи
    коноп
    Скопие
    избављен
    купљен
    снопље
    конопље
    Скопље
    saved
    bought
    sheaves
    hemp
    Skopie


  1. Voiced consonants at the end of words in Bulgarian change to the respective voiceless consonants while in Serbian they remain voiced:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    боп
    дъп
    рок
    бряк
    рет
    боб
    дъб
    рог
    брег
    ред
    beans
    oak
    horn
    shore
    order


  2. Vowel reduction is found often in Bulgarian, especially in Bulgarian dialects while in Serbian there is no vowel reduction:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    тъка
    селу
    малку
    чите
    тъ
    тако
    село
    мало
    чете
    те
    so
    village
    little
    he reads
    you


  3. The Old Bulgarian sound дз /ʣ/ is retained in Bulgarian, especially in Bulgarian dialects while in Serbian it is replaced by з /z/:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    дзвизка
    дзифт
    дзвезда (dial)
    дзид (dial)
    дзвон (dial)
    звиска
    зифт
    звезда
    зид
    зван
    ewe
    bitumen
    star
    wall
    ringing


  4. The stress in Bulgarian is retained at the same place as in Old Bulgarian while in Serbian it is shifted:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    водà
    завòд
    парѝ
    благодаря̀
    не знàм
    вòда
    зàвод
    пàра
    благòдарим
    нè знам
    water
    institute
    money
    to thank
    I don't know


  5. The stress in Bulgarian does not change the length of the stressed vowel while in Serbian stress prolongs or shortens the vowel:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    полèка
    предприя̀тие
    интерèсен
    фантастѝчно
    рождèн дèн
    полāко
    предузēће
    интересāнтан
    фантāстично
    рòђендāн
    easy
    enterprise
    interesting
    fantastic
    birthday

Morphological

The main differences between Bulgarian and Serbian are morphological. The first three points refer to the main characteristic traits of Bulgarian while the first five points make Bulgarian analytic language compared to Serbian (and other Slavic languages) which is synthetic language.

  1. Bulgarian lost the old case forms in nouns, adjectives, and adverbs (some cases retained only in pronouns) while Serbian retained all cases:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    мъжа
    мъжа
    мъжа
    мъжа
    мъжа
    мужу (accusat.)
    мужа (genitive)
    мужи (dative)
    мужом (instr.)
    муже (prepos.)
    man
    man
    man
    man
    man


  2. Bulgarian developed a postfixed article form while Serbian does not use articles:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    снегът
    реката
    морето
    човека
    книгата
    снег
    реке
    мора
    човек
    књиге
    the show
    the river
    the sea
    the man
    the book


  3. Bulgarian does not have an infinitive form while Serbian has retained the old infinitive form:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    да работя
    да дойда
    да донеса
    да отида
    да прочета
    радити
    дођи
    донети
    пођи
    прочитати
    to work
    to come
    to bring
    to go
    to read


  4. The comparative degree in Bulgarian is formed with the particles по- and най- while in Serbian it is formed by suffixes or by words with different roots (synthetic):

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    по-слаб
    по-добър
    по-лек
    най-красив
    най-щастлив
    слабиjи
    бољи
    лакши
    наjлепши
    наjсрећниjи
    weaker
    better
    lighter
    the most beautiful
    the happiest


  5. The future tense in Bulgarian is formed analytically with the auxilliary particle ще which does not change while in Serbian it is done either with a conjugated auxilliary particle or with a sufficial construction (synthetically):

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    ще чета
    ще четеш
    ще чете
    ще четем
    ще четете
    ћу читати, читаћу
    ћеш читати, читаћеш
    ће читати, читаће
    ћемо читати, читаћемо
    ћете читати, читаћете
    I'll read
    you'll read
    he'll read
    we'll read
    you'll read


  6. The plural in some masculine nouns is formed with suffix -ове or in Bulgarian and with suffix -ови, -еви in Serbian:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    домове
    снегове
    брегове
    коне
    царе
    станови
    снегови
    брегови
    коњи
    цареви
    homes
    snows
    shores
    horses
    kings


  7. The plural adjectives do not have a gender suffix in Bulgarian while in Serbian these have gender suffix:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    добри хора
    добри жени
    добри села
    стари книги
    стари другари
    добри људи
    добре жене
    добра села
    старе књиге
    стари другови
    good people
    good women
    good villages
    old books
    old friends


  1. Verbs in first person plural end in or -ме in Bulgarian and in -мо in Serbian:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    плетем
    питаме
    ходим
    мием
    четем
    плетемо
    питамо
    идемо
    перемо
    читамо
    we knit
    we ask
    we go
    we wash
    we read


  2. Verbs in third person plural end in the old suffix in Bulgarian while in Serbian this suffix is lacking:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    плетат
    питат
    ходят
    мият
    четат
    плету
    пита
    иду
    перу
    чита
    they knit
    they ask
    they go
    they wash
    they read


  3. Verbs in second person plural past tense end in the suffix -хте in Bulgarian while in Serbian this suffix is -сте:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    плетохте
    питахте
    ходихте
    миехте
    четохте
    плетосте
    питасте
    идосте
    перасте
    читасте
    you knitted
    you asked
    you went
    you washed
    you read


  4. Verbs in third person plural past finite tense end in the suffix -ха in Bulgarian while in Serbian this suffix is -ше:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    плетоха
    питаха
    ходиха
    миеха
    четоха
    плетоше
    питаше
    идоше
    пераше
    читаше
    they knitted
    they asked
    they went
    they washed
    they read


  5. In verbs that in Old Bulgarian ended in -оватн the letter о changed to у in Bulgarian while in Serbian this suffix retained its о:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    купувах
    купуван
    купуване
    пътувах
    пътуване
    куповах
    купован
    куповање
    путовах
    путовање
    I bought
    bought
    buying
    I travelled
    travel


  6. Imperative mood is equalised by the hard base in Bulgarian and by the soft base in Serbian:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    плетете
    молете
    перете
    бъдете
    идете
    плетите
    молите
    перите
    будите
    одите
    knit
    ask
    wash
    be
    go


  7. Generative case in pronouns in Bulgarian ends in -го while in Serbian ends in -га:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    кого
    никого
    някого
    всекиго
    го
    кога
    никога
    некога
    свакога
    га
    whom
    nobody
    somebody
    everybody
    him


  8. Dative and accusative cases plural in pronouns ни, ви are the same in Bulgarian while in Serbian they have different forms: нама, вама (dative); нас, вас (accusative)


  9. Bulgarian uses abbreviated personal pronouns мен, теб while Serbian lacks them


  10. Vocative case in female personal nouns ending in -ка in Bulgarian has the suffix -ке while in Serbian they have suffix -ко: bg: Боянке – sr: Боjанко


Sintactic

  1. Bulgarian has analytic relational expressions while Serbian has syntetic expressions – case forms:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    Казах на жената
    Бeше с куче
    Влиза в морето
    Гледа земя
    Даде го на майка
    Рекао сам жени
    Био jе са псом
    Улази у море
    Гледа земљу
    Дао je маjци
    I told the woman
    He was with a dog
    Goes into the sea
    Looks at land
    Gave to mother


  2. In Bulgarian there is doubling of personal pronouns while in Serbian there is no such doubling:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    мене ме
    тебе те
    него го
    нея я
    нас ни
    мени
    теби
    њега
    њoj
    нама
    me
    you
    him
    her
    us


  3. In comparisons Bulgarian uses accusative case when it is possible (in pronouns) while Serbian uses nominative case; also, in comparisons Bulgarian uses the preposition от, while Serbian uses the preposition него:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    голям като мене
    висок като него
    по-нисък от нея
    по-силен от мен
    по-голям от теб
    велики како jа
    висок колико он
    нижи него она
    снажниjи него jа
    већи него ти
    as big as me
    as tall as you
    shorter than her
    stronger than me
    bigger than you


  4. Bulgarian uses very often the definitive forms of past tense (past finite and past infinite) while in Serbian past definitive forms are used very infrequently and they are replaced by past indefinite:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    потъна
    потъваше
    работих
    четох
    четях
    утонуо je
    тонуо jе
    радио сам
    чео сам
    читао сам
    he sank
    he was sinking
    I worked
    I read /red/
    I was reading


  1. Bulgarian very often omits the conjunction да either in futture tense constructions or elsewhere while Serbian keeps this conjunction:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    той ще дойде
    аз ще кажа
    ще следи
    бих казал
    не щях
    он ће да дође
    jа ћу да кажем
    ће да прати
    хоћу да кажем
    ни да сам знао
    he'll come
    I'll say
    it'll rain/snow
    I'd say
    I wouldn't know


  2. Bulgarian often omits the singular and plural auxiliary verb for third person (e and са) while in Serbian omission of this verb is very rare:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    било (e) късно
    не (e) наред
    колко (е) важно?
    щели (са) да
    какво (са) чели?
    било ϳе касно
    ниϳе у реду
    колико ϳе важно?
    хтели су да
    шта су читали?
    it was late
    it's not ok
    how important?
    they'd ...
    what'd they read?


  3. Bulgarian uses the past finite form of the verb бъда (to be) – бе/беше (was/were), while in Serbian there is no such use:

    BulgarianSerbianEnglish
    той си бе дошъл
    тя не бе казала
    беше късно
    не беше лошо
    що беше това?
    био jе дошао
    ниϳе била рекла
    било ϳе касно
    ниϳе било лоше
    шта ϳе било ово?
    he had come
    she hadn't said
    it was late
    it wasn't bad
    what was this?

References

1. The Turks, the Greeks and the Slavons. Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe. By G. Muir Mackenzie and A. P. Irby, London, 1867. With Maps etc.

2. Stefan Verković, Описание быта македонских болгар; Топографическо-этнографический очерк Македонии (Description of the life of Macedonian Bulgarians. Topographic and ethnographic essay of Macedonia), St. Petersburg, 1889.

3. Stefan Verković. Народне песме македонских бугара (Folk songs of Macedonian Bulgarians), Belgrade, 1860.

4. Младенов, Ст. Граници на българската реч и държава в миналото и днес (Borders of Bulgarian language and state in the past and today). Родна реч, 1927, Issue 1, 16-23.

5. Афанасий Селищев. Днешната югозападна граница на българската говорна област (Present south-western border of the Bulgarian dialect area), Македонски преглед (Macedonian Review), 7:1, 1930

6. Кръсте Мисирков. Към въпроса за пограничната линия между българския и сърбо-хърватския езици (On the borderline between Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian languages), Българска сбирка (Bulgarian collection), 17: 1-2, 1910/11, p. 100

7. Hahn, Reіse durch dіe Gebіete des Drіn und Wardar. II. 1863. Denkschr. d. Ak. d. Wissensch. Phіl.-hіst. Cl., Bd. 16, Wіen. 1869

8. проф. Йорд. Иванов, Българо-албанската етнична граница (Bulgaro-Albanian ethnic border), Македонски преглед (Macedonian Review) I, 4:46, 1925

9. St. Mladenov, Bemerkungen über dіe albaner und das Albanіsche іn Nordmakedonіen und Altserbіen. Balkan-Archіv, I, 1925, p. 66.

10. Fr. Seіner, Ergebnіsse der Volkszählung іn Albanіen іn dem von den oesterr.-ungar. Truppen 1916-1918 besetzen Gebіete. Schrіften der balkankommіssіon. Lіnguіst. Abteіlung. XIII. 1922, р. 50.

11. С. Милосављевић, Просветне прилике Горње Реке. Jужни преглед, IV, № 2. Скопље. 1929, р. 70.

12. Arthur Haberlandt, Kulturwіssenschaftlіsche Beіträge zur Volkskunde von Montenegro, Albanіen und Serbіen, Wіen, 1917, р. 157.

13. J. Ivanoff, La Questіon macedonіenne. Parіs. 1920, р. 187; Й. Иванов. Българетѣ въ Македония. София. 1915, р. CII-CIV.