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.
NORTHWESTERN: Vidin - Lom
Within the larger region of Northwest Bulgarian dialects, the Vidin-Lom dialect group is a recognized category. On this website, the Vidin-Lom group is represented by three villages: Arčar (A), Gradec (G), and Vladimirovo (V). Maxim Mladenov (1993: 60-61) made a subsequent division within this group, citing the form of the future particle as the isogloss dividing them. He called only the western group (with the future particle če) by the name Vidin-Lom, and termed the eastern group (with the future particle šeor ša) the Cibrica-Ogosta group. According to this division then, Arčar and Gradec belong to the Vidin-Lom group, while Vladimirovo belongs to the Cibrica-Ogosta group.
Dialect speech from the Vidin-Lom dialect group (in either the narrower or the broader interpretation) is very similar to the colloquial register of the capital city of Sofia – that register associated with less educated Sofia residents. It is so close, in fact, that migrants to Sofia from the Vidin-Lom region find it so easy to blend in linguistically to their new habitat that they usually fail to notice what still distinguishes their speech. One such feature is the advancement of accent to the theme vowel in the aorist form of verbs. The difference is that Sofia speech advances the accent in all verb classes, while the Vidim-Lom dialect advances it only in verbs with no prefix (or with a non-syllabic prefix).
The list below summarizes the salient features of the Vidin-Lom dialect group. It is based on the speech of the three villages represented on the site, with examples taken from the texts presented on this site. While not all these features can be found in urban speech with the Vidin-Lom region, few can be totally excluded, at least as variables.
Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the village, as noted above; the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. A1 = Arčar 1, A2 = Arčar 2), and the number after the colon identifies the line within the text where the cited form occurs.
- The historical Slavic vowel “jat” always appears as /e/.
Examples: izbèga (A1: 29), pèsɤk (A1: 38), umrèla (G1: 8)
- Etymological “ja” is preserved with very few exceptions.
Examples: jàla (G 1:43), jàjca(V2: 111) // čèkaj (A1: 6), edèš (G1: 70)
- Unstressed /o/ is occasionally replaced by /a/.
Example: vadìci (G1: 47), tavà (G1: 33)
- There are frequent vowel assimilations.
Examples: bàam (G1: 7), koto (G1: 57), mòo (V1,104), ko o čùš (V2: 75)
Note: the form tavà (GI: 33) may be a result of this as well.
- The early South Slavic syllabic liquids remain unchanged:
Examples: gṛkl’àna (G1: 53), tṛbì (A1: 4), sḷ̀nčička (G1: 50);
- The consonant /x/ is lost in all positions. After a front vowel it may go to /j/.
Examples: otidème (A1: 7), meùre (G1: 53); mèj (V2: 95).
- Epenthetic /l/ is preserved in the word for “earth”.
Example: zeml’àta (G2: 25);
- Soft consonants are relatively rare. Only /k/,/g/,/l/,and /n/ have soft correlates, but they are not used in masculine definite forms and verbal endings.
Example: žènat (V2: 18)
- Alveolar consonants become postalveolar before palatals.
Example: bàšn’a (G1: 3)
- Soft /t’/and /d’/are replaced by /k’/and /g’/.
Examples: gòsk’e (V1: 43), gròzg’e (V1: 72).
- The accent is retracted in disyllabic feminine and neuter nouns
Examples: vòda (V2: 42), rɤ̀ce (G1: 112), ùsta (G1: 35), dṛ̀va (A1: 29), jàjca (V2: 111)
This is not completely consistent, however.
Examples: rekà (G2: 7), detè (G2: 13)
- The accent shifts to the end in some adjectives.
Example: mutà (G1: 33)
- The accent advances to the theme vowel in aorist forms and participles.
Examples: stignà (A1: 50), padnàle (A1: 4)
This shift does not occur if the verb form has a syllabic prefix.
Examples: isìpa (A1: 49), obèsila (G1: 18)
- The accent is retracted from the theme vowel in the present of many 2d conjugation verbs.
Examples: svàri( A2: 29), ròdim (G1: 75)
- The forms of personal pronouns are frequently different. Examples:
1st singular nominative jà (G1: 7)
3rd singular nominative òn (A1: 12), onà (G1: 18, onò (A1: 36)
3rd plural nominative onì (G2: 6)
3rd plural accusative n’ì (A1: 13)
3rd plural dative short form ngi (V1: 102), gim (A1: 2)
- The plural of masculine (and occasionally feminine) nouns is /-e/.
Examples: masculine meùre (G1: 53), feminine kèle (G1: 49)
- The masculine singular definite article in nouns is /-ɤ/ if stressed and /-a/ (or /-ɤ/) if not.
Examples: gṛdɤ̀ (G1: 51), džàma (G1: 51)
In adjectives the articles is /-ea/, found most consistently in Gradec.
Example: màlkea (G2: 2)
(Note: the lowering of /i/ to /e/ seems restricted to these forms, but is also recorded in the verb napràvea (G1: 65).
- The ending in all 1st person singular present tense forms is /-m/.
Example: mèrim (A1: 6)
- The ending in all 1st person plural present tense forms is /-me/.
Example: donesème (A2: 25).
- The future particle is either če or še/ša.
Examples: če se svàri (A2: 29) // še mi kùpite (G1: 23)
- In western regions the imperfect tense incorporates the morpheme /-še-/ in all forms.
Example: ìmašeme (A2: 38)
- The plural ending for the L-participle is /-e/.
Example: istṛ̀pnale (G1 126)
- Verbal nouns end in /-n’e/.
Example:kòpan’e (V1: 67).
SPECIFIC COMMENTARY on the dialect of Vladimirovo, from the Cibrica-Ogosta group.
In addition to the future particle, mentioned above, this dialect is further distinguished by:
- Compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel after the loss of /x/.
Example: òde:me (V2: 20)
- The replacement of soft /l’/ by /j/.
Example: trevojàci (V2: 121)
- Inconsistent use of the count plural.
Examples trì pràznici (V1: 104), but also trì dèna (V2: 9).
Mladenov, Maksim. 1993. Bŭlgarskite govori v Rumŭnija. Sofia: Izdatelstvo na BAN.
For further information, see
Todorov, Cvetan. 1936. Severozapadni bũlgarski govori. Sbornik za narodni umotvorenija i narodopis 41.