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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EASTERN RUPIC: Strandža
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The larger Rupic dialect group covers most of the south of Bulgaria, and the easternmost portion of Rupic includes two major dialect groups, Thracian and Strandža (Bojadžiev 1991: 20-24). The Strandža dialect group, as it name suggests, is located in the Strandža mountain range in the far southeast, but it occupies only the area along the river Veleka (see Gorov 1962: 14 for a map indicating which villages speak the Strandža dialect). Because the region includes a number of other clearly distinct dialects, Bojadžiev prefers to use the term “Malko Tŭrnovo dialect” (Bojadžiev 1996). The name “Strandža dialect” is the most commonly used one, however.
This dialect is represented on the website by four villages, Brŭšljan (B), Izgrev (I), Stoilovo (S), and Zabernovo (Z). The list below summarizes the salient features of the Strandža dialect. It is based on the speech of these four villages as represented by texts on the site, with examples taken from those texts.
Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the location, as noted above (e.g. Z = Zabernovo); the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. B1 = Brŭšljan 1), and the number after the colon identifies the line within the text where the cited form occurs. Note that the website includes two different villages bearing the name Izgrev: they are further identified on the website by abbreviations referring to the administrative region in which they are located. The Izgrev described here is located in the Carovo region; on the website it is labeled Izgrev/Car.
• The historical Slavic vowel “jat” appears in stressed syllables as /’a/ before hard syllables and as /ɛ/ before soft syllables (that is, as in the standard language except for the fact of the open /ɛ/); in word-final position it appears as /’a/. It is unique feature of Strandža that an initial soft syllable in the following word also acts as a trigger for the alternation.
Examples: sn’àk (B1: 85), pəs’àh (B1: 2) // dv’à (B1: 19) // dv’à dərv’ètə (B3: 30), dv’ɛ̀ tri kràvi.
• The historical Slavic vowel “front jer” appears in stressed syllables regularly as /e/.
Example: ž’ènət (B1: 35)
• The historical Slavic vowel “front nasal” appears in stressed syllables as /e/, including after post-alveolar consonants (the phenomenon called “mixing of nasals” is absent).
Examples: p’ètə (Z: 4), ž’ètvə (B3: 14)
• The vowel /i/ is replaced by /’u/ following a post-alveolar or labial consonant, and sometimes by /u/ before a labial consonant.
č’ufč’ìe (B1: 34), ž’uvèjə (Z: 2) // pupèr (B1: 15)
• There is evidence, in the speech of one Brŭšljan informant, of what linguists call a “chain shift”, in which distinctions between vowels are maintained even as the individual vowels shift. The three stages of this shift are: (1) the vowel /ɛ/ (from historical “jat”) was raised to /e/; (2) etymological /e/ was raised to /e̝/; (3) the high vowel /i/ was retracted to /ɨ/. Examples of the three stages:
(1): štèš’e (B2: 1), budèš’e (B2: 7)
(2): gurè̝štu (B2: 1), n’è̝gu (B2: 6)
(3): jedɨ̀n (B2: 7), sɨ̀čkit’e (B2: 4)
• Unstressed vowels are frequently lost.
Examples: fc’ɛ̀ti (B1: 98), kìselcite (B4: 25), ečmìk (B3: 3), žènte (Z: 35)
• The Proto-Slavic sequence /*tj/ appears as /št/ or /šč/.
Examples: kɤ̀štite (S: 3), sr’ɛ̀štəne (B1: 10), sv’ɛ̀šči (S: 6), šč’à: (I: 2)
• The consonant /x/ is replaced by /h/ in all positions; it is sometimes lost, without any apparent systemic rule.
Examples: hòru (I: 17), hrànime (I: 21), izmr’àhə (B1: 52) // òdiš (B4: 45), vɤ̀zduət (Z: 38), ìl’ədi (B4: 43)
• The lengthened soft consonants /n’:/, /l’:/, and /k’:/ appear in masculine plural forms; the first of these also appears in verbal nouns.
Examples: klen’:ètu (B4: 35), kəvàl’:e (B4: 50), kòl’:e (B3: 25; Z: 9), prɤ̀k’:e (B3: 33; Z: 9), stuèn’:e (S: 7)
This is one of the quite rare features that is particularly characteristic of the Strandža dialect.
• The voiced affricate /dž/ is replaced by the fricative /ž/.
Examples: čurbəžìite (B3: 13), kəvəlžìjnicə (B4: 51), mežì (I: 10)
• Soft consonants can appear word-finally.
Examples: pɤ̀t’ (B3: 8), ufc’àr’ (B1: 5), kənòpəl’ (I: 2), dərmòn’ (Z: 41)
• The consonant /l/ is palatalized before soft consonants.
Examples: màl’ki (B4: 41), sìl’ni (B1: 86)
• The consonant /j/ is inserted before initial stressed /a/.
Example: jàgnetə (B1: 2)
• The consonant /v/ is lost before a rounded vowel.
Examples: udenìcətə (B3: 9), biul’à (B1: 39)
• Soft /t’/ is replaced by soft /k’/.
Example: prɤ̀k’:e (Z: 9)
• The accent is regularly retracted in disyllabic feminine and neuter nouns.
Examples: lìpətə (B4: 33), r’àkətə (B2: 3), mòmi (B4: 66), kòzi (B1: 82), žènte (Z: 35) // bràšnu (B3: 80), òči (Z: 35)
• The accent is retracted to the initial syllable in the 1st person singular present tense form.
Example: pòl’əm (I: 14)
• Past tense forms of the verb ‘to be’ are unaccented.
Examples: beh (B1: 5), beše (I: 18)
• The plural ending for masculine nouns is /-e/ or /-je/.
Examples: prəmətàre (B4: 53), d’ulbène (S: 25), nihnitìrje (Z: 37)
• The ending of feminine nouns, when stressed, is the same as the result of the historical Slavic “back nasal”, namely /ɤ/.
Examples: gurɤ̀tə (B3: 33), gləvɤ̀tə (S: 32)
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, feminine 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 – which ended in the historical Slavic vowel “back nasal”, and was used for all other meanings. In these dialects, it was this casus generalis that was adopted as the single form of feminine nouns (which elsewhere have adopted the old nominative case in /a/ as their single form.
• The definite article for masculine singular nouns is /-ɤt /when stressed and /-ət/ when unstressed.
Examples: dəždɤ̀t (B1: 83) // g’òlət (B2: 3)
• The definite article for masculine plural nouns is /-to/.
Eamples: kònetu (B3: 20), klen’:ètu (B4: 35), vɛ̀truvetu (B1: 78)
• The forms of the personal pronouns are different. Examples:
1st singular nominative: jà (B4: 7)
3rd plural accusative short form: i (B1: 14)
3rd plural dative short form: hmi (Z: 37)
• The ending for 1st person plural present tense is /-m/ or /-me/. In Brŭšljan the ending /-ne/ is used alongside these two.
Examples: hrànime (I: 8), bàgrime (S: 6), cɛ̀pime (Z: 9), gr’ɛ̀em (B3: 5), udlɤ̀č’ime (B1: 15), duìme (B1: 15) // pràine (B1: 66), kàrəne (B1: 89)
• The passive participles of some verbs are formed with the suffix /-n-/ instead of expected /-t-/.
Example: utrìenə (Z: 28)
• The future in the past is used to indicate habitual action in the past.
Examples: št’a: uvɤ̀ršème (B3: 2), št’a zəs’ɛ̀eme (B3: 4), šč’à sə zberème (I: 2)
This is the most unique feature of the Strandža dialect, and the one which makes it the most immediately recognizable.
Gorov, Goro. 1962. Strandžanskijat govor. Bŭlgarska dijalektologija. Proučvanija i materiali I, 13-164.
Bojadžiev, Todor. 1996. Harakteristika na govorite v Strandža. Strandža. Materialna i duhovna kultura. BAN, Sofia, 432-444.