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Bulgarian Language

Ancient Bulgarians belonged to the Indo-Iranian (East European) group of peoples; as a race type they are defined as Caucasus people as well (according to the West European scientific terminology). Their language was in a written form and the runic script was used.

The language of the Bulgarians inhabited Danubian Bulgaria was formed in respect to the need of accession to Christianity on the basis of the Old Bulgarian language and the language of the Slav tribes from the Bulgarian group. It was the third language besides Latin, Greek and Hebrew, which was officially acknowledged by the church.

In historical aspect, the language of the Bulgarians contained few Thracian lexical elements, which had penetrated into the language through Old Greek sources. Many words from Old Greek and Latin have become part of many European languages as terms in various branches of science, culture and politics. Bulgarian vocabulary by the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century was full of Turkish words, which later gradually came out of use and today only add colour to the language. Some Russian words entered the Bulgarian language after the liberation of the country from the Ottoman rule.

At the beginning of the 20th century a campaign for the purifying the language from foreign borrowings began but still many of them were preserved in specialised vocabularies. Science, medicine, law, political and social science traditionally use words of Latin origin. French words and terms are used in arts, German in technical sciences, Italian in musical terminology. The English language also provided a lot of borrowings for Bulgarian vocabulary. Alongside with the computer terminology, music, politics, business and culture, many other English words and terms are considered fashionable and are widely used by the younger generation. This is a linguistic problem that will have to be solved in the years to come the uniqueness of the Bulgarian language to be preserved.

Modern Bulgarian literary language was formed during the Revival Period. Some of the characteristic features included dropping out of the case forms, post-noun position of the definite article, nine verb tenses, etc. Today there are many local dialects in Bulgaria that can be divided in two big groups eastern and western tongues. The difference in the vocabulary is negligible about 20% different words, mainly in the words used in everyday life. More significant feature of the dialect and even of the literary language is pronunciation. Western tongues are specific for their harder pronunciation, few vowels and similarity to the Serbian-Croatian and Czeck languages. The eastern tongues have soft pronunciation, accent on the vowels, specific singing pronunciation of the words and are akin with the Russian, Ukranian and Belarus languages.

The Bulgarians use the Cyrillic alphabet. In the middle of the 9th century Konstantin-Cyril the Philosopher with the help of his brother Methodius created the first Bulgarian alphabet the Glagolitic alphabet. They translated many liturgical service books and in fact created literature in the Bulgarian language. At the end of the 9th century the other Bulgarian alphabet was created the Cyrilic alphabet, which was a prototype of the alphabet used by today by Bulgarians, Serbians, Russians, Ukranians, etc. The first language reform was implemented as a natural process in the 19th century along with the development of Revival ideas. About ten obsolete letters and combinations were dropped out. A second reform was carried out after the liberation from the Ottoman rules, the changes being mainly in the word order and syntax. There was a third reform after 1945, when several more letters were dropped out and the alphabet was reduced to 30 letters.

Most of the classics and modern writers are translated into Bulgarian, there are numerous scientific and specialised publications, as well as publications on science, culture, sports, religion and travel. The richest fund of books in Bulgaria is kept in the St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library.

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