Administrative Region: 
Date Visited: 

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. 

Dialect Group:
Description of the dialect group: 

WESTERN RUPIC: Razlog - Babjak

               The larger Rupic dialect group covers most of the south of Bulgaria, and the westernmost portion of Rupic includes a number of quite distinct dialect groups, among which is the Razlog-Babjak dialect, which is represented on the BDLT site by two villages, Babjak (Bb) and Dolno Draglište (DD), and the town of Bansko (Bn). 

               Stojkov called Babjak and Razlog two different dialects, providing a separate list of features for each one, but there is considerable overlapping between the two lists (Stojkov 1993: 141-142). Furthermore, a perusal of all 314 maps of the Bulgarian Dialect Atlas, v. 3, yields only minor accentual and morphological differences, plus the fact of a greater degree of vowel reduction in Babjak. We do not consider these differences sufficient to separate the two, and call this dialect rather the Razlog-Babjak dialect. Although the name Razlog covers the region as a whole, the qualifier Babjak is added because the term “Babjak dialect” is a known label within the discipline of Bulgarian dialectology. 

               This is one of the areas in Bulgaria where the local dialect is in very active use, and it is not uncommon to hear from the local educated people a speech variety that differs from the traditional dialect only in the use of learned words. Of course, this is not to say that they do not also have full and active command of the standard language.

            The list below summarizes the salient features of the Razlog-Babjak dialect. It is based on the speech of the three locations mentioned above as represented by texts on the site, with examples taken from those texts.

            Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the location, as noted above (Bn = Bansko); the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. Bb1 = Babjak 1), and the number after the colon identifies the line within the text where the cited form occurs.



• The historical Slavic vowel “jat” appears in stressed syllables as /ɛ/,  though in Dolno Draglište it appears by far more frequently as /e/. 

               Examples: rɛ̀žət  (Bb1: 32), bɛ̀lo  (Bn: 8), pɛ̀eme  (DD1: 35) // vrème (DD2: 3), bèga:  (DD1: 36).

     The difference between Dolno Draglište and the other two locations with respect to this vowel is not so great as it appears. It would be a significant difference if the result of “jat” had merged with the result of etymological /e/,  as it does in nearly all western Bulgarian dialects. But in fact the two remain distinct: the latter vowel was raised to /e̝/  and the opposition was preserved (a phonetic change known as a “chain shift”).

               Examples of raised /e/:  pè̝pel’  (DD1: 22), nè̝gu  (DD1: 22)

• The historical Slavic vowel “ back nasal” appears in stressed syllables as /a/.

               Examples: màže  (Bb2: 8), skàpu  (Bn: 230), sàduvèto  (DD1: 14)

     Note: Contrary to most other Bulgarian dialects, the sequence of /r/ + “back nasal” did not merge with early South Slavic syllabic /ṛ/.

               Examples: kràk  (Bn: 9), tràsa:  (Bb1: 30)

• The historical Slavic vowel “back jer” appears in root vowels as /a/  or /o/,  but only as /o/  in affixes and in the definite article.

               Examples for back jer in root: màx  (Bn: 302), zəlàže  (DD1: 34); tòkmu  (Bn: 168)

               Examples for back jer in affix: sošìeni  (Bn: 302), soberè̝m  (DD3: 34)

               Examples for back jer in article: kràgu  (Bn: 8), lèbu  (DD3: 18)

• The early South Slavic syllabic liquids /ṛ/  and /ḷ/  appear as /rɤ/  and /ɤ/  respectively.

               Example: vrɤšème  (Bb2: 9), brɤ̀kame  (DD3: 24), vrɤvì  (DD1: 5) // vɤ̀na  (Bn: 273), napɤ̀ni  (Bn: 154)

     Note: In Bansko there are also numerous instances of the sequence /ɤr/.

            Examples: kɤ̀rvavìci  (Bn: 183), bɤ̀rdu  (Bn: 269)

• The early South Slavic sequence “/čr/  + front jer” appears as /cɤr/.

            Examples: cɤ̀rva:  (Bn: 152), cɤ̀rni  (Bn: 268), iscɤ̀rvi  (DD3: 40)

• The consonant /x/ is lost in most positions. After the vowel /u/ it is replaced by /v/  and in past tense verbal endings it is either lost, or replaced by /j/. 

            Examples: lɛ̀p (Bb2: 18), òdim (Bn: 296), òru (DD2: 3) // dùvə  (Bb2: 13), pùvə  (DD1: 23) // ìdea (DD1: 13), rèkua (Bn: 232) // rànəjə (Bb1: 28), bɛ̀jme (Bn: 236),  kazàj (Bn: 209), òdejme (DD2: 10)

      In Babjak only, /x/ is replaced by /h/ (the laryngeal fricative) before consonants in verbal endings.

            Examples: jədɛ̀hme  (Bb2: 15), mèlehme  (Bb2: 19)

• The loss of /x/  before a consonant is compensated for by lengthening of the preceding vowel.

            Examples: kòle:me  (Bn: 217), pečè:me  (DD3: 5)

• Unstressed vowels are frequently lost.

            Examples: žìttò  (Bb2: 10), kùpme  (Bn: 273), raptìlo  (DD2: 3)

• The initial sequence /mn/  is dissimilated to /fn/.    

            Example: fnògu  (Bn: 87)

• The sequence /sr/  is replaced by /str/.

            Examples: stredàtə  (Bb1: 5), stredàta  (Bn: 124)

• Soft /k’/  and /g’/  are replaced by soft /č’/  and /ž’/.

            Examples: č’ùpu  (Bb3: 25), č’ìsalu  (Bn: 87), sedènč’i  (DD1: 33), č’èrž’i  (Bn: 265)    

• Soft consonants can appear in word-final position.

            Examples: sòl’  (Bb1: 8), čekàn’  (Bn: 85), pè̝pel’  (DD1: 23)



• There is frequent occurence of double accent.

            Examples: pruvìncijàtə  (Bb4: 4), bànicìte  (Bn: 16), nèkugàš  (DD3: 10)

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

            Examples: vòda  (Bn: 157), žèni  (Bb2: 8), kòri  (Bn: 57); bràšno  (Bn: 5), mèsu  (Bn: 92), òru  (DD2: 13), jàjca  (Bn: 6), dèca  (DD1: 9)

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

            Example: nàsnuva  (Bn: 10), pèkɤ  (DD3: 3)

• The accent advances to the theme vowel in aorist forms and participles, including those with a syllabic prefix.

            Examples: kažàj  (Bn: 209), stənà  (Bb4: 28), gledàli  (DD1: 21)   upravìl  (Bn: 238), iskisnàl  (Bb1: 13),             

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

            Examples: kàži  (Bn: 238), pòčini  (Bn: 231)



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

            Examples: snòpe  (Bb2: 7), ergène  (DD1: 32)

• The definite article for masculine singular nouns is /-o/ (unstressed /-u/) after a hard consonant, and /-e/ after a soft consonant.

            Examples: mažò  (Bn: 202), lèbu  (DD3: 18); razbòe  (Bn: 277)

• The definite article for masculine plural nouns is /-to/.

            Examples: rəsnàčetu  (Bn: 301), sàduvèto  (DD1: 14), ergènetò  (Bb3: 18)

• The verbal ending for 3rd person plural present tense is /-a/,  which is lengthened when unstressed.  

            Example: nəkovà  (Bb2: 27), jədà  (Bn: 14), suberà  (DD1: 17) // nəčùka:  (Bb2: 27), rèda:  (Bn: 163), bèga:  (DD1: 36)

• The future particle is k’e or č’e (č’ in prevocalic position).

            Examples: k’e sìpe  (Bb1: 7), č’e pumìneš  (Bb4: 26), č’e kažùvam  (Bn: 89) // č’ ìde         (DD1: 15)

• The present stem is used in aorist forms and L-participles in some verb classes.

            Examples kažàj  (Bn: 209)

• The perfective is stem is used to form secondary imperfectives.

            Examples: kažùvam  (Bn: 89), razrɛ̀žuva  (Bn: 188)

• Passive participles are formed with the suffix /-n/.

            Examples: izmìeni  (Bn: 181), sošìeni  (Bn: 302)

Text copyright © 2011-2016 Ronelle Alexander and Vladimir Zhobov. Texts and other parts of the website may be copied only for non-commercial, research, or educational purposes, provided the source of the material is cited accordingly. Cited material may not include the entire website or substantial portions thereof.
Comments and questions may be addressed to

Recommended Model for Citations

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

Location | by Dr. Radut