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.
CENTRAL RUPIC: RHODOPE: Smoljan - Široka Lŭka
The Rhodope dialects occupy the central geographical portion of the Rupic area. Rhodope dialects are also “central Rupic” in that many of the characteristic Rupic features (such as the accent retraction in disyllabic feminine nouns) are most consistently implemented in them. The existence of the Rhodope dialect as a distinct group was first asserted by Ljubomir Miletič (Miletich 1912). Since then, the Rhodope region has become quite well known, and not just for its characteristic dialect. The colorful local folklore, and the imposing mountain scenery have also attracted a great deal of attention.
This site includes villages representing six different subgroups of Rhodope dialects, two of which are characterized by the features outlined below. One is the Smoljan dialect group, which is the most important and widespread Rhodope dialect (Stojkov 1993: 129), and which is represented on the website by the villages Čokmanovo (Č), Mogilica (Mg), and Momčilovci (Mm). The other is the dialect of Široka Lŭka, represented on the website by the villages Gela (G), Široka Lŭka (ŠL), Stikŭl (Sk), and Stojkite (St). This dialect, which constitutes an island within the Smoljan dialect, is invariably mentioned in the literature as a separate dialect. But since the features common to the two groups far outnumber the differences, we group them together here, noting the few differences at the end.
The list below summarizes the salient features of the Smoljan-Široka Lǔka dialect. It is based on the speech of the seven 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 (Mm = Momčilovci); the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. G1 = Gela 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/, with the exception of the word meaning ‘entire’, where it appears as /a/.
Examples: nid’ɛ̀l’ə (Č1: 22), mɛ̀stu (Mg1: 50), c’ɛ̀pət (Mm: 7), l’ɛ̀tnu (G3: 62), dɛ̀du (ŠL: 39), gulɛ̀m (Sk3: 25), tɛ̀stu (St2: 16) // càl’ (Mm: 22), càl’ (G2: 66)
• The results of the historical sequences “ja” and “post-alveolar + a” are the same as those of “jat”, namely /ɛ/ in stressed syllables.
Examples: ž’ɛ̀lku (Č1: 9), kuč’ɛ̀n (Mg3: 63), č’ɛ̀kə (Mm: 14), jɛ̀gn’at (G3: 46), čɛ̀kame (ŠL: 14), tujɛ̀škə (Sk4: 64), šɛ̀fer (St1: 2)
The common result of these two major historical vowels is one of the principal features cited by Miletič as characteristic of Rhodope dialects (Miletich 1912: 29).
• The historical Slavic vowels “back jer” and “back nasal” appear in stressed syllables as a half-open back rounded vowel /ɔ/. See below, however, for the result of back nasal + liquid.
Examples of back “jer”: dɔ̀š (Č2: 1), dɔ̀ski (Mg1: 109), rɔ̀žen (G2: 29), isɔ̀hne (St1: 22)
Examples of back nasal: gɔ̀bi (Č2: 1), kɔ̀šti (Mg1: 54), mɔ̀čət (G1: 35), pɔ̀k’an (St1: 25), putrɔ̀sə (Sk2: 35), skɔ̀pi (Sk2: 26)
• The historical Slavic vowels “front jer” and “front nasal” appear in stressed syllables as a half-open back rounded vowel /’ɔ/ (for the front nasal /jɔ/ word-initially), i.e. with softening of the preceding consonant, though with exceptions in certain frequently used words. The most notable of these are the words for ‘day’ and ‘five’.
Examples of front “jer”: z’ɔ̀meš (Mg6: 6), ž’ɔ̀nehme (Č2: 14), z’ɔ̀me (G2: 7) // d’èn’ə (Č1: 1), dèn’ (G2: 93);
Examples of front nasal: l’ɔ̀štə (Č2: 15), pr’ɔ̀lutu (Mg1: 34), najɔ̀dru (Mg2: 14), gl’ɔ̀dɤm (G3: 50), č’ɔ̀stu (St1: 24) // p’et (Mg1: 13), pèd (G1: 14)
The merger of these 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 – is another of the principal features cited by Miletič as characteristic of Rhodope dialects (Miletič 1912: 29).
Indeed there is another feature distinguishing the reflexes of these specific back and front vowels: their participation in different vowel alternations. In unstressed syllables the result of the two back vowels alternates with reduced a, and the result of the two front vowels alternates with e.
Examples of back vowels: istəkàta (G2: 17), dəšterì (Mm: 4); məž’uvète (Č1: 33), mažɔ̀n (G2: 11), kragɔ̀n (St2: 15)
Examples of front vowels: zemàhə (Mg3: 91); nared’ɔ̀t (G2: 37), ispredèš (Mg1: 34)
• The early South Slavic syllabic liquids appear as /ɔr/ and /ɔl/.
Examples: tɔ̀rnəhə (Č1: 33), sɔ̀rp (Mg3: 27), vɔ̀rhlə (Mm: 6), pɔ̀lnumàlu (Č1: 13), izmɔ̀rznət (G2: 13), pɔ̀rs (Sk2: 78)
Here it should be noted that the sequence of liquid and back nasal did not merge with the syllabic liquids.
Examples: putrɔ̀sə (Sk2: 35), kragɔ̀n (St2: 15)
• The vowel /i/ is replaced by /’u/ before a labial consonant; this occurs especially frequently after post-alveolar consonants.
Examples: l’uvàtkite (Č1: 1), žuvèeme (G3: 54), sèt’uf (Sk4: 3)
• Unstressed vowel are frequently lost.
Examples: ràptətə (Č1: 5), tvàr (Mm: 16), zvɛ̀hme (G2: 36), zdɛ̀nki (ŠL: 17), z’ɔ̀mte (Sk2: 56)
• The consonant /x/ is replaced by /h/ in all positions, with very few exceptions.
Examples: hòru (Č1: 1), hòd’əm (Sk2: 35) // sèt’uf (Sk4: 3)
• The voiced affricate /dž/ is replaced by /ž/.
Examples: bəžɛ̀ (Č1: 29), bəžɛ̀ci (Mg1: 47)
• Soft consonants can appear word-finally.
Examples: wògən’ (Č1: 29), živòt’ (Mm: 12), dèn’ (G2: 93), kòn’ (ŠL: 23)
• The consonant /l/ is palatalized before soft consonants.
Examples: šìkəl’ki (Č1: 19), šušùl’ki (G1: 62)
• There is frequent occurrence of double accent, especially in the Široka Lŭka group.
Examples: càrevìcə (Č1: 25), drùgučɛ̀šen (G2: 3), sàdɤmè gu (ŠL: 13), mòmčencètu ( Sk3: 89), bàbicìse (St1: 24)
• The accent is regularly retracted in disyllabic feminine and neuter nouns.
Examples: vòda (ŠL: 25), žènise (G2: 1), dɔ̀ski (Mg1: 101), rɔ̀ki (Mg3: 112); bràšnu (G2: 36), tɛ̀stu (St2: 16), m’ɔ̀su (Č2: 8), dɛ̀te (Mg1: 81)
• The accent is retracted to the initial syllable in 1st person singular present tense forms.
Examples: prèdəm (Mg1: 8), ìzdujəm (Mg3: 105), ràbut’əm (Mm: 20), pòvn’am (G1: 16), òčist’ə (Sk2: 70)
• The accent is retracted to the initial syllable in imperative forms.
Examples: kàzite (G3: 4), z’ɔ̀mte (Sk2: 56)
• The past tense forms of the verb ‘be’ are unaccented.
Examples: be jɛ̀ce trùdno (Č2: 14), beše tɛ̀sen (Mg6: 71), be dušlà (G2: 94), be letɛ̀lu (Sk2: 38)
• The plural ending for masculine nouns is /-e/.
Examples: suhàrje (Č1: 28), čuvàl:e (Mg3: 30), gajtàne (G2: 21), ufč’ɛ̀re (Sk3: 150)
• The ending of feminine nouns, when stressed, is the same as the result of the historical Slavic “back nasal”, namely /ɔ/.
Examples: zem’ɔ̀nə (Č2: 5), zimɔ̀tə (Mm: 23), gulik’ɔ̀ (G2: 21), serɔ̀ (Sk2: 127)
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.
• Feminine nouns ending in consonant have shifted to the masculine gender.
Examples: pepelɔ̀n (Mg6: 27), žərɔ̀n (Mg6: 22), večerɔ̀s (Sk1: 95)
• There are separate dative plural forms for adjectives and pronouns.
Examples: čùzdim (Mm: 6), vrìtem (Mg4: 25), stàr:tem (Sk1: 31)
This, the preservation of old case forms, is the third of four traits upon which Miletič based his original definition of the Rhodope dialect.
• The final of the four traits upon which Miletič’s claim of the specificity of Rhodope dialects rests is the existence of 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: bàbise (Č1: 4), dɔ̀skise (Mg1: 105), zem’ɔ̀nə (Č2: 5), ledùnkisɤ (G1: 52), kràvɤte (G1: 38), garbɔ̀n (G2: 6)
• The definite article for masculine plural nouns is /-to/ (with proximal and distal forms in /-so/ and /-no/, respectively.
Examples: baìretu (G3: 42), snòpenu (St2: 7)
• The tripartite article invariably implies a tripartite system of demonstrative pronouns.
Examples: s’ɛ̀ə (Mm: 9), tvà (Mg1: 105), nàa (Mm: 40), svà (G1: 52), tuvà (G1: 26), nvà (G2: 71)
• The forms of the personal pronouns are different. Examples:
1st singular nominative: jɛ̀ (Mg4: 26, G2: 4)
3rd singular dative feminine short form: hi (Mg3: 110)
3rd singular accusative masculine short form: ga (G2: 13)
3rd plural dative short form hmi (Mm: 7), (G3: 41)
• The 1st singular present tense ending is /-m/ for unprefixed verbs, and either /-a/ or /-ə/ for prefixed verbs (except for Mogilica, where all verbs have the ending /-m/).
Examples: ràbut’əm (Mm: 20), pòvn’am (G1: 16), hòd’əm (Sk2: 35); nàmaža (St2: 14), òčist’ə (Sk2: 70) // prèdəm (Mg1: 8), ìzdujəm (Mg3: 105).
• The ending for 3rd person plural present tense can appear with or without the final /-t./
Examples: plət’ɔ̀t (Mm: 14), vərhɔ̀t (Mg3: 3), jədɔ̀t (Sk2: 64) // dədɔ̀ (Mm: 14), vərv’ɔ̀ (Sk2: 22), svər’ɔ̀ (Sk3:78)
• The plural imperative ending is /-ite/.
Example: kàžite (G3: 4)
• The future particle is žə or že.
Examples: žə gu prumenɤ̀ (G1: 4), žə ìštət (Sk4: 21), že rukɔ̀t (Č1: 10)
• The interrogative pronoun “kutri” and its derivatives are used in place of “koji”.
Example: kutrì (Sk2: 114))
• The dialectal form “vrit” in the meaning ‘all’ is frequently found.
Examples: vrìt (Mg3: 47, Mg4: 6), vrìtem (Mg4: 25)
• The interrogative pronoun “kina” is used in place of “kakvo”.
Example: kənà (Mg2: 7)
• There is reduplication of the morpheme /-l/ in L-participles with stressed endings.
Example: bəlìli (Sk 3: 161)
• Passive participles are formed with the suffix /-t/.
Examples: umrɛ̀ti (Mg4: 4), istəkàta (G2: 17), kupàtu (Sk3: 6)
• The perfective stem is used in the secondary imperfectives of some verbs.
Examples: zəfàtə (Mg3: 2), nəhòdəhme (Č2: 1), ràdat (G3: 43), plàta (Sk4: 34)
The dialect of Široka Lŭka is characterized by three additional traits:
• Unstressed /e/ and /i/ are replaced by /ə/ and /ɤ/ respectively.
Examples: urɛ̀hmə (G1: 48), zəfàtəmə ( G1: 36); kràvɤ (G1: 62), gɔ̀bɤte (G2: 25)
• Soft /t’/ and /d’/ are replaced by soft /k’/ and /d’/.
Examples: pɔ̀k’an (St1: 25), pèk’ (Sk4: 46), duvègena (ŠL: 44), dàg’ena (Sk4: 37)
• As opposed to other Rupic dialects, where the aorist theme vowel /o/ is replaced by /a/, this replacement fails to occur.
Examples: rèku (G1: 54), dàduhə (Sk1: 66), izlɛ̀zuhə (Sk3: 27), utìduh (St1: 12) // flèzəhme (Mg3: 114).
• Finally, the dialect of Mogilica, inhabited entirely by Bulgarian Muslims, is additionally characterized by the phenomenon called “akavism”: the replacement of unstressed /o/ by underlying /a/ (pronounced as [ə]).
Examples: gəlɛ̀mi (Mg2: 6), dəjɛ̀čkə (Mg3: 113)
Miletich, Ljubomir. 1912. Die Rhodopenmundarten der bulgarischen Sprache. Schriften der Balkancomission, Linguistische Abteilung. Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften