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The complex dialectal variation of Bulgarian is best described within three major categories; the detailed description below follows this outline.

       The rubric Phonology describes the sound system of a dialect. Because the current forms ("reflexes") of historical Slavic vowels divide the region so systematically, they are used as cover symbols for current lexical distribution of these sounds.
       The rubric Accent notes systematic differences in accent placement from the standard language; these are usually associated with grammatically-defined groups.
       The rubric Morphology describes features of nouns, pronouns and verbs that differ from the standard language in particularly noteworthy ways. 
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Dialect Group:
Description of the dialect group: 


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               The village of Tihomir is located in the eastern Rhodopes, in the southernmost part of the Krumovgrad area. Little if anything was known about its dialect before Stajko Kabasanov published his monograph description (Kabasanov 1963). Because of its highly archaic features, it has subsequently attracted a great deal of scholarly attention. 

               Kabasanov’s view is that the dialect is unique and cannot be grouped with those of neighboring dialects into a single system, but that it nevertheless does share a number of phonetic and lexical features with these neighboring villages (Kabasanov 1963: 3). The authors of the dialect map created at the Institute for Bulgarian Language (http://ibl.bas.bg//bulgarian_dialects/) view the group this way, calling it the Tihomir dialect. We describe here together the two villages on the website from this group, that of Tihomir itself (T) and that of Šumnatica (Š). At the same time we recognize the uniqueness of the Tihomir dialect by listing features specific to it alone separately (at the end of the Phonology and Morphology sections, respectively).

            The list below summarizes the salient features representing both Tihomir and the wider Tihomir group. It is based on the speech of the two villages represented on the site, with examples taken from the texts presented on this site.

            Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the village, as noted above; the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. T1 = Tihomir 1, Š2 = Šumnatica 2), and the number after the colon identifies the line within the text where the cited form occurs.



• The historical Slavic vowel “jat” usually appears in stressed syllables as /ɛ/,  but sometimes also as /e/.

               Examples: l’ɛ̀p  (T1: 46), bɛ̀ga  (T1: 72), gr’ɛ̀e  (Š1: 45), bɛ̀lu  (Š3: 226), cɛ̀lu  (Š3: 36) // l’èbate  (T2: 44)

• The historical sequences “ja” and “post-alveolar + a”  appear in stressed syllables as /ɛ/  in Tihomir and as /a/  in Šumnatica.

               Examples: č’ɛkə  (T1: 83), jɛ̀sla  (T3: 12) // jàdene  (Š3: 106), č’àkəš  (Š3: 132)

•  As in other Rhodope dialects, there is a merger of the four classic historical Slavic vowels (both “jers” and both nasals), with the proviso that consonant softening distinguishes the two “front” vowels from the two “back” ones (Miletič 1912: 29). Here, however, the vowel that results is different in the two dialects: it is /ɔ/  in Tihomir, but /a/  in Šumnatica. On occasion, front “jer” can appear as /e/.

               Examples for back “jer”:  dɔ̀ska  (T3: 75), isɔ̀hne  (T2: 92) // svetàt  (Š1: 35)

               Examples for back nasal: gɔ̀bi  (T3: 71), krɔ̀pa  (T1: 178) // kàštata  (Š3: 109)

               Examples for front “jer:  ap’ɔ̀neš  (T1: 246),  tènka  (T1: 189) // l’àsnu  (Š3: 150), zèmeš (Š3: 216) 

               Examples for front nasal: pr’ɔ̀dena  (T1: 190), zat’ɔgneme  (T1: 179) // gl‘àdəj (Š3: 161)

• The early South Slavic syllabic liquids appears as /ɔr/  and /ɔl/  in Tihomir, and as /ar/  and /al/  in Šumnatica.

               Examples: vɔ̀rtneš  (T1: 242), pɔ̀rsten’e  (T1: 24), napɔ̀lni  (T1: 246), vɔ̀lnata  (T1: 245) // pàrskani  (Š3: 46), vàlnətə  (Š3: 218)

• The consonant /x/  is either replaced by /h/,  or lost altogether, without regard to position in the word.  

               Examples: hurkəi  (T1: 202), hàrkmətə  (Š3: 82), drabɛ̀han  (T2: 182), səberàhə  (Š2: 29) // òrə  (Š1: 23), lɛ̀p  (T1: 46), klad’èmen  (T2: 113), izb’agəə  (Š2: 30)

• The sequence /dn/  is either assimilated to /nn/,  or simplified to /n/.

               Examples: spànne  (T1: 171), s’enneš  (Š3: 111) // pònicɔ  (T2: 11)

• The sequence /bn/  is assimilated to /mn/.

               Example: drèmničku  (Š2: 28) [no examples in attested in Tihomir texts]



• Whereas in nearly all other Bulgarian dialects, the historical Slavic vowel “jery”  (Cyrillic ы) merged with /i/,  in Tihomir it retained its original lexical distribution, and appears as a high front unrounded vowel with a centralized on-glide, /əi/.  In unstressed syllables it sometimes appears as /ɤ/.

               Examples: aməìeme  (T2: 35), bəìva  (T2: 159), drùgɤkvəi  (T1: 141), kòrəi  (T2: 60) // dùpkɤ  (T3: 75)

• Like many (but not all) dialects spoken by Bulgarian Muslims, Tihomir is characterized by the phenomenon called “akavism”: the replacement of unstressed /o/  by /a/. What is specific to Tihomir is that this happens not just in pretonic syllables but in all unstressed syllables.

               Examples: apìnaš  (T1: 217), kòpeleta  (T1: 72), mnòga  (T1: 179)

• In Tihomir the vowel /e/  is replaced by /o/  in stressed syllables after postalveolar consonants and /j/..

               Examples: jòrš  (T3: 61), varšòme  (T3: 50), ž’òna  (T1: 78)

• The Tihomir dialect has long consonants; they appear in the plural forms of masculine nouns and in verbal nouns.

               Examples: kamiòn:e  (T1: 41), sakùl’:e  (T2: 212), jàden:e  (T3: 57)



• The accent is regularly retracted in disyllabic feminine and neuter nouns.

               Examples: dɔ̀ska  (T3: 75), ž’òna  (T1: 78), žèna  (Š1: 15) // k’ɛsta (T2: 57), dɔ̀rvo  (T3: 39), t’èle  (Š3: 175)

• The accent is retracted to the first syllable in 1st person singular present tense forms.

               Examples: zàpitam  (Š1: 44), klàdəm  (T2: 136)

• The accent is retracted to the initial syllable in imperative forms.

               Examples: vìdi  (Š3: 261), zàkərpi  (Š3: 161)



• The plural ending for masculine nouns is /-e/.

               Examples: pɔ̀rsten’e  (T1: 24), gr’èbene  (T1: 99), džuràpe  (Š3: 209), burkàne  (Š3: 12)

• Like other Rhodope dialects, these too have the tripartite definite article, with different forms indicating whether the speaker focuses on proximity, distance, or chooses not to emphasize either of these options. The Rhodope dialects are the primary locale of this trait in Bulgarian, though it is also found in the Trŭn dialect, where the formant /-v-/  marks the “proximal” form. In the Rhodopes the proximal form is marked by the formant /-s-/. The neutral (= “medial”) and “distal” forms are marked in both regions by /-t-/  and /-n-/, respectively.

            Examples: ajlɔ̀kət  (T1: 47), matavìlkanɔ  (T1: 264), svetàt  (Š1: 45), sičkunu  (Š3: 211)

• The definite article for masculine plural nouns is /-to/  (or /-so/,  /-no/).

            Examples: stàn:eto  (T1: 141), čaìreto  (T2: 16)// [no examples of proximal or distal articles attested in the texts]

• The tripartite article invariably implies a tripartite system of demonstrative pronouns.

            Examples: sɛ̀e  (T1: 201), tòo  (T2: 215), nvà  (T3: 2), svà  (Š1: 45), tàa  (Š1: 15), nvà  (Š3: 236)

• The pronoun kakŭv  and its derivatives are used instead of koj  with adjectival function. In addition, the form nèkva  is used in place of  nèšto ‘something’.

               Examples: n’akəkvi izb’agəə  (Š2: 30), pòsle adème nèkva  (T1: 34)

• The interrogative pronoun “kina” is used in place of “kakvo”.

               Examples: kənà (Š3: 156), kanà (T1: 1)

• The 1st person singular present tense ending for all verbs is /-m/.

               Examples: kàžəm  (T1: 1), tɔ̀čem  (T1: 102), pràm  (Š3: 93)

• Plural past tense endings add a final consonant /n/.

               Examples: bèən  (Š2: 37), zəkrìən  (Š4: 8), drabɛ̀han  (T2: 182), klad’èmen  (T2: 113)

• The aorist theme vowel /o/ is replaced by /a/ (pronounced /ə/ when unstressed).

            Example: dàdəme (Š1: 93)

ª The present stem is used in the aorist form of some verbs.

               Example: səberàhə  (Š2: 29)

• The perfective stem is used in the secondary imperfective of some verbs.

               Examples: kàžuvame  (T1: 219), ràdɤše  (T1: 38), fàte  (Š3: 166)



• Non-nominative forms of feminine nouns are in regular use. The ending is usually the same as the result of the historical Slavic “back nasal”, namely /ɔ/,  and sometimes /o/  or /ɯ/ (a high, back rounded vowel similar to Turkish /ı/).

            Examples: matavìlkɔ  (T1: 227), pònicɔ  (T2: 11) // hùrko  (T1: 201), aràpkɯ (T1: 39)

    These forms represent an interesting result in the history of Bulgarian, which gradually lost all case endings in nouns. At the penultimate stage of this development, such nouns had only two case endings (instead of the inherited seven): the nominative case and the so-called casus generalis, which continued the form of the accusative case (whose ending was the back nasal vowel) and was used for all other meanings.

• The Tihomir dialect is unique in that it preserves non-nominative forms for all masculine nouns (whereas the few other dialects which preserve non-nominative forms only do so for masculine nouns signifying an animate being). The ending for these forms is -/ɤ/  or /-a/. 

               Examples: klìnɤ  (T1: 31) tòka  (T1: 140)

   The definite non-nominative form of masculine nouns ends in /-ate/.

               Examples:  stanàte  (T1: 101), l’èbat’e  (T2: 40)

• The Tihomir dialect uses the relative pronoun “ažit”.

               Examples: ažìt ìma d’uvène  (T2: 182), ažòto znàm  (T1: 1)



Kabasanov, Stajko. 1963. Edin starinen bŭlgarski govor, Tihomirskijat govor. Sofia: Izdatelstvo na BAN.

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Comments and questions may be addressed to bdlt@berkeley.edu.

Recommended Model for Citations

Bulgarian Dialectology as Living Tradition [2016] (http://www.bulgariandialectology.org, visited on 1 March 2016)
Babjak 1: 13-15. In: Bulgarian Dialectology as Living Tradition [2016] (http://www.bulgariandialectology.org, visited on 1 March 2016)

Location | by Dr. Radut