The Basics of Bulgarian

The Basics of Bulgarian | One Hour Translation
A brief essay cannot cover the many facets of this amazing language, but it can cover some of the more obvious details of the alphabet, grammar, and pronunciation of Bulgarian.

Bulgarian: Alphabet, Pronunciation

Bulgarian is, of course, a Slavic language, spoken primarily in Bulgaria but with 12 million speakers total worldwide. Although Bulgarian first came to be a distinct language in the 9th century when the Glagolitic alphabet, in the modern day it is written using the standard Cyrillic alphabet, which has 30 letters. Many of these letters are pronounced very much as you might assume if you are an English speaker, which makes speaking Bulgarian a little easier than you might assume. For example, the letter Б is pronounced just like the “b” in bird. Some letters do throw English-speakers for a loop, however, like the letter P, which is pronounced like a Scottish “R.” I’ll bet you didn’t expect that!

Diacritics are also commonly used in Bulgarian to designate stress and sometimes to outline homophones – for example, the word пaра can be written па̀ра to mean steam or пара̀ to mean old coin.

Bulgarian: Grammar

We could, of course, write volumes about the grammar of an old and established language like Bulgarian, so I’ll just touch on a few quick points that can help people trying to learn this language. One is that the present tense is very fluid in Bulgarian – there is no real distinction between the simple present tense and the present continuous, so you can translate a phrase like пиша as I go or I am going depending on context.

Another tip is that Bulgarian recognises three genders: Masculine, feminine, and neuter. Every word in Bulgarian has a gender. Most of the neuter words are loanwords from other languages; masculine words tend to end in consonants (with exceptions) and feminine words tend to end in vowels (again, with exceptions). Exceptions, as anyone who has tried to learn English can attest, are the bane of any language student.

I have here barely scratched the surface of Bulgarian, but this information will at least clarify some of the early lessons you might take, or some of the interactions you have with Bulgarian speakers.