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.
WESTERN RUPIC: Goce Delčev
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 dialect of Kovačevo. The administrative affiliation of the village of Kovačevo is with Sandanski, which is located in the Southwestern dialect group; yet the dialect of Kovačevo is undoubtedly an eastern dialect, as seen by its basic vowel features discussed below. There are a very few features which connect it to southwestern dialects (one of these is the future particle), but too few to even call the Kovačevo dialect transitional to the southwestern group. Rather, because it shares so many features of the Goce Delčev dialect as described in the classic work of Kiril Mirčev (1936), to which references are made in this list below), it will be grouped with this dialect.
The list below summarizes the salient features of the Kovačevo dialect. It is based on the speech of that village as represented by texts on the site, with examples taken from those texts, and with references to Mirčev 1936.
Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the village, as noted above; the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. K1 = Kovačevo 1), and the number after the colon identifies the line within the text where the cited form occurs.
• The historical Slavic vowel “jat” appears as in the standard language.
Examples: b’àgəš (K1: 43), gul’am (K1: 86), izmèriš (K1: 66), pèjət (K1: 166)
Exception: n’àštu (K2: 49)
This is a typically eastern feature, quite unlike the basic southwestern dialect.
• Both historical Slavic vowels “back jer” and “ back nasal” appear as /ɤ/.
Examples of “back jer”: dɤ̀žduve (K2: 14), navɤ̀n (K1: 210)
Examples of “back nasal”: kɤ̀štətə (K1: 43), vɤ̀dički (K1: 160)
This too is a typically eastern feature, quite unlike the basic southwestern dialect.
• Unstressed /a/, /o/ and /e/ are frequently replaced by /ə/, /u/ and /i/, respectively. This is what Bulgarian dialectologists call “full vowel reduction”.
Examples: čàkəm (K1: 49), mumìčitu (K1: 20), gribè (K1: 58)
• There is frequent elision of unstressed vowels (Mirčev 1936: 45-46).
Examples: nərdì (K1: 110), mùl’ta (K2: 11)
• Proto-Slavic /*tj/ appears as /k’/ only in the word meaning ‘not want’; elsewhere it appears as /št/ (Mirčev 1936: 49).
Examples: nik’è (K1: 36), nik’ɤ̀t (K2: 19) // kɤ̀šti (K1: 199)
• Soft consonants may appear word-finally (Mirčev 1936: 47).
Examples: mìtrovden’ (K1: 51), kòn’ (K2: 10)
• The consonant /l/ is palatalized before soft consonants (Mirčev 1936: 48).
Examples: càl’ki (K1: 150), l’ùl’kite (K1: 161)
• There is anticipation of softness.
Example: vèjke (K1: 221)
• The sequence /str/ appears as /sr/ (Mirčev 1936: 52).
Example: sèsra (K1: 196)
• There is frequent occurrence of double accent (Mirčev 1936: 65-67).
Examples: cedìlčinkàta (K1: 41), stròjnicìte (K1: 21)
• The accent is retracted in many disyllabic feminine and neuter nouns.
Examples: sèsra (K1: 196), žènite (K1: 185), kòzi (K2: 12), xòru (K1: 214)
• The accent is retracted to the initial syllables of 1st person singular present tense forms.
Examples: dòkara (K1: 205), sèda (K1: 209)
• The accent is retracted to the initial syllable in imperative forms.
Examples: zàdeni (K1: 188), òtkərəj (K1: 198)
• The plural of masculine nouns is /-e/.
Examples: kurdòne (K1: 110), gerdàne (K1: 116)
• The masculine singular definite article is /-ɤ/ after hard consonants and /-e/ after soft consonants (Mirčev 1936: 72).
Examples: gərbɤ̀ (K1: 18), dilàve (K1: 65), tɤ̀pan’e (K1: 208)
• The masculine plural definite article is /-to/ (Mirčev 1936: 69).
Example: svàtuvetu (K1: 84)
• The dialectal form “vrit” in the meaning ‘all’ is frequently found.
Example: frɤ̀t (K1: 135)
• For unprefixed verbs, the 1st person singular present tense ending is /-a/ or /-m/. For all prefixed verbs, including 3rd conjugation verbs, it is /-a/ (Mirčev 1936: 77).
Examples: sèda (K1: 209), pòmn’əm (K1: 127) // dòkara (K1: 205)
• The future particle is k’e, k’i or či.
Examples: k’e otkàrət (K1: 101), k’i i dukàrət (K1: 96), či dòjde (K1: 51)
Mirčev, Kiril. 1936. Nevrokopskijat govor. Godišnik na Sofijskija universitet, istoriko-filologičeski fakultet 32.