Bulgarian Language, Status, History

Bulgarian is an Eastern South Slavic language spoken mainly in Bulgaria and Southeast Europe. Bulgarians talk about this official language in Bulgaria. It is a member of the Indo-European language family’s Balkans sprachbund and South Slavic dialect continuum, along with the closely related Macedonian language.

The Bulgarian language, known simply as bulgaro, bulgaron, and Bulgarian, is an attractive language gemstone in Southeastern Europe’s Balkans. In this complete inspection, we will delve into numerous facets of the Bulgarian language, including its status, dialects, sound system, grammar, vocabulary, writing system, intriguing facts, and difficulty level for learners. In addition, we will include essential keywords that will provide a greater understanding of this distinctive Slavic language. This is one of the countries that needs an official language informally.

Language Name: Bulgarian to English

Bulgarian, or ларски eик (blgarski ezik) in its native character, is the official tongue of Bulgaria and is spoken by the majority of the population. It is a South Slavic language closely linked to Serbian, Macedonian, and Russian.

Bulgarian is known by the moniker “ларcки” (pronounced “blgarski”). It is spelled “ларски” in the Cyrillic alphabet, which is used to write Bulgarian. Bulgarian is the country’s official language, spoken by Bulgarian communities in other nations. It belongs to the Indo-European language family and is a South Russian language.


Bulgarian is the country’s official language, demonstrating the importance of the tongue in the nation’s identity and culture. Furthermore, neighboring countries with Bulgarian-speaking communities have recognized it as a minority language due to their appreciation for the Bulgarian language.

Bulgarian is the country’s official language, spoken by around 7 million people. It is a Slavic language that uses the Cyrillic character. Bulgarian has a solid literary legacy that dates back to the 9th century when the Glagolitic alphabet was developed. Over the centuries, it has experienced significant grammatical changes, including influences from Greek, Turkish, and other languages.

Modern Bulgarian language has a more straightforward grammatical structure than other Russian languages. It contains significant phonetic characteristics, such as the absence of cases and the insertion of a definite article to nouns. While regional varieties of Bulgarian do exist, the Sofia dialect-based Standard Bulgarian is widely understood and used in education, media, and government. Despite historical hurdles like Ottoman domination and Soviet influence, Bulgarian has endured and evolved, retaining its distinct character within the Slavic linguistic environment.

History of Bulgarian Language

Bulgarian language history can be divided into three key periods:

  • Old Bulgarian             (from the late ninth to the eleventh centuries)
  • Middle Bulgarian       (from the 12th to the 15th centuries)
  • Modern Bulgarian     (from the 16th century).

Old bulgarian

Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with standardizing the language and translating the Gospels and essential liturgical works into it as part of the Slavic Christianization. It is assumed to have been based mainly on the dialect of 9th-century Byzantine Slavs from the Province of Thessalonica (in modern-day Greece).

Old Church Slavonic was pivotal in the history of the Slavic languages. It served as a foundation and example for subsequent Church Slavonic traditions. Several Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic congregations use this later Church Slavonic as a liturgical language. OCS, as the oldest attested Slavic language, provides critical evidence for the characteristics of Proto-Slavic, the reconstructed common ancestor of all Slavic languages.

The name of the language in Old Church Slavonic writings was simply Slavic (слoвнск к, slovnsk jzyk), derived from the word for Slavs (словн, slovne), the compilers’ self-designation. This name is still used in modern native names in Slovak and Slovene. The language is also known as Old Slavic, which is not to be confused with the unique Proto-Slavic language.

Various nationalist strains have sought to ‘appropriate’ Old Church Slavonic, leading to it being referred to as Old Bulgarian, Old Croatian, Old Macedonian, Old Serbian, and even Old Slovak and Old Slovenian. As the oldest attested Slavic language, OCS offers crucial evidence for understanding Proto-Slavic, the reconstructed common ancestor of all Slavic languages. In contemporary English-language Slavic studies, the terms “Old Church Slavonic” and “Old Church Slavic” are frequently employed.

Middle Bulgarian

Middle Bulgarian is used from the end of the 12th century to the end of the 17th century. The morphology of this phase of the language differs significantly from that of other periods, most notably in the full removal of the locative, instrumental, and genitive cases. Analytical instruments for adjective and adverb gradation appear. Most dialects changed i to и, but it was still used in monumental inscriptions.

Middle Bulgarian, a language with a rich literary tradition, was the official administration language of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the successor principalities of Walachia and Moldavia (until the 19th century), and the Ottoman Empire (until the 16th century).  Sultan Selim I spoke up and did so effectively.

Modern Bulgarian

Modern Bulgarian dates from the 16th century, with general grammatical and language changes occurring in the 18th and 19th centuries. The modern written Bulgarian language was developed from the 19th-century Bulgarian vernacular. The historical history of the Bulgarian language can be regarded as a transition from a highly synthetic (Old Bulgarian) to a typical analytic (Modern Bulgarian) language, with Middle Bulgarian serving as a halfway.The Codex Zographensis, which dates from the late 10th or early 11th century, is one of the oldest books in the Old Bulgarian language.

Bulgarian was the first Slavic language to be written down. Because Slavic linguistic unity persisted into late antiquity, the earliest writings referred to this language as к словнск, “the Slavic language.” During the Middle Bulgarian period, this appellation was progressively superseded by к ларск, the “Bulgarian language”. In certain situations, people applied this term not only to the copyist’s contemporary Middle Bulgarian language but also to the era of Old Bulgarian. The Service of Saint Cyril from Skopje (коски минe), a 13th-century Middle Bulgarian manuscript from northern Macedonia, claims that St. Cyril preached among the Moravian Slavs using “Bulgarian” literature. 

Bulgarian Term

The term “Bulgarian language” rather than “Slavonic language” first appears in the work of the Greek priests of the Archbishopric of the city of Ohrid in the 11th century, for example, in Theophylact of Ohrid’s Greek hagiography of Clement of Ohrid (late 11th century).

During the Middle Bulgarian period, the language underwent tremendous changes, losing the Slavonic case system but retaining the rich verb system (although the development in other Slavic languages was precisely the opposite) and creating a definite article. It was impacted (primarily lexically) by its non-Slavic Balkan language neighbors (mainly grammatically) and then by Turkish, the official language of the Ottoman Empire, in the form of the Ottoman Turkish language.[Citation required] Damaskin’s writings represent the transition from Middle Bulgarian to New Bulgarian, standardized in the nineteenth century.


Different Dialects

Bulgarian has a diverse dialect of cultures, each with its unique characteristics.These dialects are classified into three major groupings. 


In Eastern dialects (informally called мек овоp/mek govern – “soft speech”), the former yat alternates between “ya” and “e”: it sounds like “ya” when stressed, and the following syllable does not contain a front vowel (e or i) – e.g., млко (mlyàko), л (hlyab), and “e” otherwise – e. Most Eastern foreign languages follow this norm, but others have “ya” or an uncommon “open e” sound everywhere.


In Bulgaria’s western regions, people speak Western languages that bear significant influences from neighboring countries like Serbia and Macedonia. In contrast, Eastern dialects, spoken in the eastern part of Bulgaria, are considered the basis for standard Bulgarian due to their close resemblance to the official language.


The Rhodopean dialects, notable for their unique phonetics and vocabulary, are primarily spoken in the Rhodope Mountains. This language is predominantly categorized into two dialect groups, distinguished by their various reflections of the Proto-Slavic yat vowel. This break, which happened sometime during the Middle Ages, resulted in the formation of Bulgaria’s: The former yat has the sound “e” in all locations in Western accents (informally dubbed тврд овор/tvurd govor – “hard speech”). млeко (mlek) – milk, ле (hleb) – bread, etc.

Sound System of Bulgarian Language


Bulgarian has a relatively simple vowel system, with six vowel sounds. These vowels are pronounced clearly and contribute to the language’s clarity and melody.

The vowels include а (a), е (e), и (i), о (o), у (u), and ъ (ǎ)

Bulgarian, like many other Russian languages, features a vowel system. Bulgarian has six vowel sounds, divided into “hard” and “soft.” Distinguishing harsh and soft vowels is crucial in Bulgarian grammar, and Bulgaria pronounce.  

Bulgarian vowels can be stressed or unstressed, and their pronunciation varies slightly depending on their position in a word and the consonants around them. Bulgarian also features vowel combinations and diphthongs. However, the vowels indicated above are the core vowel sounds.


Bulgarian sounds are more complicated than the simple vowel system. The language includes consonant sounds, which lend depth and richness to phonetic sounds. Some consonants may necessitate specific tongue locations, such as consonant softening when followed by multiple vowels.

Regarding consonants, the Bulgarian language possesses a distinctive trait known as “not hiding” or “non-reduction.” This phenomenon impacts the pronunciation of some consonant clusters in the language, mainly when a voiced and voiceless consonant comes together. In the context of Bulgarian language consonants, here’s what “not hiding” means:

Stress and Unstressed Sounds

Bulgarian places a high value on word stress. Stress patterns change amongst dialects; however, in standard Bulgarian, the penultimate syllable often gets stressed. This stress pattern provides rhythm and melody to the language, separating it from other Slavic languages.

The placement of stress within words is critical for both pronunciation and meaning in Bulgarian. Bulgarian words often have fixed stress, which falls on the penultimate (second-to-last) syllable. This consistency makes determining where the stress should be depending on the word’s ending easier. For example, the term “маса” (masa), which means “table,” emphasizes the second syllable. In contrast, “стoл” (stol), which means “chair,” highlights the first syllable.

Unstressed vowels in Bulgarian are often pronounced softer or shortened, approximating a schwa sound (), comparable to the English “a” in “sofa.” These unstressed vowels are widespread throughout the language, influencing phrases such as “мaса” (masa) and “стол” (stol), where the vowels in the second syllables produce schwa sounds.

Furthermore, modifying a word’s stress pattern might change its meaning in Bulgarian, especially in verb forms. Stress changes can suggest various tenses or features. For example, “ита” (Chita) means “she reads,” with emphasis on the second syllable, whereas “ита” (Chita) means “she is reading,” with emphasis on the first syllable.

Grammar of Bulgarian Language

In Bulgarian, there are ten types of parts of speech, which are classified into two general categories: versatile and irreversible. The distinction is that mutable details of speech change in terms of grammar, whereas inflexible parts do not change regardless of their use. Nouns, adjectives, numbers, pronouns, and verbs are the five types of mutables. Syntactically, the first four of these constitute the noun or nominal group. Adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, particles, and interjections are examples of immutables. The verbal group, or group of verbs, comprises verbs and adverbs.

Bulgarian has Thirty letters of the Russian alphabet. Nouns have a gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) and a case (nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, vocative), and their ends vary depending on gender, patient, and number. Adjectives in Bulgarian align with nouns in gender, case, and number, while verbs undergo conjugation for tense, mood, person, and number, (past, present, future; indicative, imperative, subjunctive). Gender and case distinctions are also evident in pronouns. Gender, case, and number influence the use of definite and indefinite articles. The word order is typically SVO (subject-verb-object). However, it can be changed for emphasis.


The Bulgarian Empire adopted the Glagolitic alphabet, developed in the 850s by Saints Cyril and Methodius. In the following years, the Cyrillic script gradually replaced the Glagolitic alphabet, emerging in the late 9th century around Bulgaria’s Preslav Literary School.


In Bulgarian, nouns and adjectives have the grammatical gender, number, case (only vocative), and definiteness categories. Adjectives and adjectival pronouns agree in number and gender with nouns. Pronouns contain gender and number and continue to play a more significant role in the case system (as in practically all Indo-European languages).

Nouns in Bulgarian have case, gender, and number inflections. 

The three grammatical lay that play a significant role in noun declension.

      • Genders—masculine
      • feminine
      • neuter

Nouns in Bulgarian have case, gender, and number inflections. The three grammatical genders—masculine, feminine, and neuter—play a significant role in noun declension. Here are classified as nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, or vocative.


Bulgarian verbs undergo heavy inflection, conveying tense, mood, aspect, person, and number. The language features three tenses: past, present, and future, each with its unique set of endings. Verbs can take on perfective or imperfective forms, denoting the completion or ongoing nature of an action. Conjugating verbs in Bulgarian can be difficult, making it an intriguing part of the language for linguists and learners.


Common Daily Words

To truly understand the heart of Bulgarian culture and daily life, one must become acquainted with popular everyday terms. Here are some vital bulgarian words and expressions:

  • “Dobar den” (Добър ден) – Good day
  • “Dobro utro” (Добро утро) – Good morning
  • “Dobro veche” (Добро вече) – Good evening
  • “Blagodarya” (Благодаря) – Thank you in bulgarian
  • “Molja” (Моля) – Please
  • “Kak si?” (Как си?) – How are you in bulgarian
  • “Leka nosht” (Лека нощ) – good night in bulgarian
  • “Az te obicham” (Аз те обичам) – i love you in bulgarian

Famous Phrases or Sentences

Many famous phrases and sentences have originated in Bulgarian literature and history. Bulgaria’s national motto is “Edin Narod, Edin Tsar, Edin ezik” (дин народ, дин ар, дин eик), which translates to “One People, One King, One Language.” This slogan represents the Bulgarian people’s togetherness and cultural identity.

Bulgarian language instruction

Bulgaria is a little-known country in Canada, except as a Soviet satellite. During a three-week trip to Bulgaria last summer, I had the opportunity to observe the stunning countryside and significant historical landmarks while interviewing language teachers and academics. From June 5 to 10, I attended a psychology and teaching methods conference on the Black Sea and in Bulgaria’s capital. The Institute of Suggestology in Sofia arranged the meeting, which included visits to experimental language classes. Individual differences were significant. The development of lexical and grammatical knowledge was found to be highly connected.

Writing System of Bulgarian language

Bulgarian writing uses the Russian alphabet with various alterations to accommodate its unique sounds and characters. The brothers Cyril and Methodius, critical in Christianizing the Slavic peoples, introduced the Cyrillic script to Bulgaria in the 9th century. Throughout history, the alphabet has evolved, and the current Bulgarian Cyrillic is known for its grace and simplicity.

Do You Know? (Something Interesting about Bulgarian Language)

Bulgarian is known for its rich literary past, with significant authors such as Ivan Vazov and Hristo Botev contributing to the country’s thriving literary tradition. Furthermore, Bulgaria is home to the Codex Suprasliensis, one of the world’s earliest written manuscripts dating back to the 10th century. This antique document demonstrates the origins of the Bulgarian Cyrillic character.

Learning Difficulty Level of Bulgarian Language

Bulgarian presents both challenges and benefits for language aficionados and learners. Its complicated verb conjugations and noun declensions can be intimidating, yet the phonetic constancy and simple vowel system make pronunciation relatively simple. Furthermore, the beauty of the language and the cultural diversity of Bulgaria enrich the learning experience.


The Bulgarian language is a testament to Bulgaria’s cultural heritage and identity. With its diverse dialects, rich phonetics, and intricate grammar, it offers a captivating linguistic adventure for those willing to explore its depths. Whether you wish to express affection with “Az te obicham” or greet someone with “Dobar den,” delving into Bulgarian language and culture is rewarding.

Frequently Ask Questions

Is the Bulgarian similar to Russian?

Bulgarian and Russian are Slavic languages, which means they share similarities due to their common linguistic ancestry. However, they are not highly similar and have significant grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation differences.

What is the language of Bulgaria?

Bulgarian is a South Slavic language and is written using the Cyrillic alphabet. The majority of the population in Bulgaria speaks it as their native language, and Bulgarian communities in other countries also use it.

Where to learn Bulgarian?

To learn Bulgarian further, you can use various resources, including:

  • Language Learning Apps
  • Online Courses
  • Language Learning Websites
  • Travel or Immersion

What language is Bulgarian similar to?

Bulgarian is the most closely related language to Macedonian, but it also has some connections with other Slavic languages such as Russian and Serbian.

How to learn Bulgarian?

To effectively learn the Bulgarian language, you can combine various methods, including attending classes and online lessons, using language apps, practicing speaking daily, studying grammar and vocabulary, and immersing yourself in Bulgarian culture through movies, novels, and books.

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