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.
The dialect of Belogradčik is located in the far northwest near the border with Serbia and is represented on the website by the villages Repljana (R), Stakevci (S), and Vŭrbovo (V). Together with the Trŭn dialect, it is part of larger group of dialects which share traits with the neighboring far eastern Serbian dialects. For this reason, the dialects in the larger group are sometimes called “transitional dialects” or “border dialects”. They are also known as “u-dialects” or “č-dž” dialects, with each of these names referring to major dialect traits shared with these neighboring Serbian dialects.
Whichever name is used for this larger dialect group, it is striking that there is so little internal variation, especially given the fact that speakers in this northern portion of the area (the Belogradčik dialect group, represented here by Repljana, Stakevci and Vŭrbovo) and the speakers in the southern portion (called the Trŭn dialect group and represented on this site by the village of Nasalevci) are rarely in contact with one another due to both to considerable physical distance and the fact of a mountain range separating them. Because the differences that do exist are noteworthy, the two groups are here described separately.
The list below summarizes the salient features of the Belogradčik 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. All three villages display the same traits, with the exception of the form of 3rd plural endings in the present tense (see the last point below for details).
Abbreviations: the capital letter refers to the village, as noted above; the following number identifies the text from that village (e.g. R1 = Repljana 1, R2 = Repljana 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: valèlo (R1: 67), lèp (R1: 87)
• The historical sequence “ja” (including the sequence “post-alveolar + a”) is preserved with very few exceptions.
Examples: jàgn’e (R 2: 7), običàli (R2: 87) // čèkaj (R2: 100), jèdene (R1: 88)
• The historical Slavic “back nasal” always appears as /u/.
Examples: pùt (R1: 20), bùdu (R3: 2)
• The historical Slavic “front nasal” always appears as /e/, including after post-alveolar consonants. Thus, the historical phenomenon known as “mixing of the nasals” does not occur here.
Example: često (V3: 1)
• The historical Slavic “back jer” appears as /ɤ/, as in many other Bulgarian dialects. It is only in the “transitional” dialects, however, that the historical Slavic “front jer” also appears always as /ɤ/.
Examples: dɤ̀n (R1: 29), venɤ̀cɤt (R4: 40)
• The early South Slavic syllabic liquids remain unchanged.
Examples: kṛ̀v (R1: 23), skḷ̀če (R1: 42), vḷ̀nu (R3: 4)
• The Proto-Slavic sequences /*tj/ and /*dj/ appear as /č/ and /dž/, respectively.
Examples: pràčam (R1: 43), razgledžuvà (S1: 49)
• The early South Slavic sequence “/čr/ + front jer” appears as /cṛ/.
Example: cṛvèni (R2: 40)
• Early South Slavic “epenthetic /l/” is not lost, as it is in most other Bulgarian dialects.
Example: zeml’ùtu (V1: 34)
• Soft consonants occur rarely, and never in masculine definite forms or in verbal endings (contrary to most other Bulgarian dialects).
Examples: dɤ̀nɤt (R2: 13), bolù (R1: 103), opòvnu (V3: 23)
In fact, only /k/, /g/, /l/, and /n/ have soft correlates at all.
• The consonant /x/ is lost everywhere, though it is replaced by /j/ when it occurs after /e/, and by /v/ when it occurs after /u/.
Examples: rèko (R1: 18), zavanùla (S3: 51); drèju (R3: 24), dùva (R3:30)
• The consonant /f / is always replaced by /v/.
Example: vamìlija (R1: 11)
In fact /f/ does not occur even as the voiceless allophone of /v/.
Example: òvce (R1: 80)
• Intervocalic /j/ is replaced by /v/ after /o/.
Example: stovà (S2: 16)
• The sequence /mn/ is dissimilated to /ml/ in word-initial position, and to /vn/ in other positions.
Examples: mlògo (R1: 42), opòvnu (V3: 25)
• Before a vowel, the sequence /jk/ is replaced by /k’/.
Example: devòk’u (V3: 13)
• The accent in monosyllabic masculine nouns hardly ever shifts to the definite article.
Example: dɤ̀nɤt (R2: 13)
• The accent in the non-nominative form of disyllabic feminine nouns is shifted from the ending to the root syllable.
Example: gòru (S1: 60)
• The accent advances to the theme vowel in L-participles, regardless of whether there is a syllabic prefix or not.
Examples: čuvàl (R1: 42), doodìli (R2: 26).
The same advancement occurs in aorist forms, except that the accent is retracted to the initial syllable in 2nd and 3rd singular forms. Examples:
1st singular aorist ukačì (R1: 6)
2nd singular aorist pràti (S2: 21)
3rd singular aorist kìmnu (R1: 5), prèmi (R1: 49)
• The accent is retracted from the theme vowel in the present of many second conjugation verbs.
Example: svàri (R1: 83)
• The accent is frequently advanced to the ending in polysyllabic masculine nouns.
Example: ovčarè (S4: 9)
• In some adjectives the stress is on the ending.
Example: golemà (R1: 14)
• The plural ending for both masculine and feminine nouns is /-e/.
Examples: ovčarè (S4: 9), livàdete (R1: 97)
• Plural forms of both adjectives and L-participles distinguish feminine from masculine gender.
Examples: stàrete (R3: 14), vadìle (R3: 15)
• Non-nominative forms of feminine nouns, feminine singular adjectives, and masculine nouns signifying animate beings, are in regular use.
Examples: cṛ̀kvu (R2: 6), cèlu (S3: 28), volà (R1: 41)
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, such 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 (“animate accusative” in the instance of the masculine nouns) and was used for all other meanings
• A particularly interesting corollary of the above is the fact that the definite article attached to these forms also shows inherited cases endings (/-tu/ for feminine and /-toga/ for animate masculine).
Example: livàdutu (R1: 4), kon’àtoga (V1: 45)
• The masculine singular definite article ends in the consonant /-t/.
Example: vòlɤt (R1: 15)
• The forms of personal pronouns are different. Examples:
1st singular nominative jà (R1: 4)
3rd singular nominative òn (R1: 5), onà (R1: 16), onò (R2: 34)
3rd singular feminine accusative short form g’u (R2: 63)
1st plural nominative mì (R1: 20)
3rd plural nominative onì (not attested in these texts)
3rd plural accusative n’ì (R2: 19)
3rd plural dative n’ìm (R2: 19)
• The demonstrative pronouns distinguish a third degree of deixis, marking the idea “near” with the formant /-ov-/, in addition to the expected “neutral” and “distant”, marked with the formants /-t-/ and /-on-/, respectively.
Example: ovàj (R4: 6)
• The ending in all 1st person singular present tense forms is /-m/.
Example: pasèm (R1: 4)
• The ending in all 1st person plural tense forms (present, aorist and imperfect) is /-mo/.
Examples: ìdemo (R1: 20) // oràmo (V2: 1), manùmo (R2 116) // òdejmo (S4: 43)
• The 3rd plural ending of the present tense lacks the final /-t/ present in most other Bulgarian dialects. For more commentary on 3rd plural present forms, see the final section.
Example: živèju (R1: 51)
• The 3rd plural ending of the aorist tense is /-še/; the ending /-u/ also appears in Vŭrbovo.
Examples: razvalìše (R2: 8), izèdou (V2: 51)
• The suffix /-na/ is normally dropped from aorist and L-participle forms, though some verbs allow variation.
Examples: sèdo (S1: 37), pàdla (R4: 13) // svikɤl (S2: 37), sviknùli (S2: 38)
• The stem of the imperfect forms contains the extender morpheme /-še-/.
Example: ìmašemo (R1: 3)
• All passive participles are formed with the suffix /-n/.
Example: svìena (R2: 30)
• Verbal nouns end in /-n’e/.
Example: tùpan’e (R3: 21)
• The future particle is če, frequently followed by the conjunction da.
Example: če da putùe (S1: 32)
NON-CONGRUENCE between dialects
The only significant difference between the three villages represented here concerns the endings of the 3rd person plural present tense forms. In Repljana and Stakevci, second conjugation verbs take the ending /-e/, whereas in Vŭrbovo they take the ending /-u/.
Examples: ulòve (R1: 113), nadùpče (S4: 47) // sètu (V3: 28)
In addition, there is a vowel contraction in the ending of third conjugation verbs in Repljana and Stakevci, but no such contraction in Vŭrbovo.
Examples: iskàru (R1: 96), dùmu (S4: 18) // sàkaju (V3: 13)
Todorov, Cvetan. 1936. Severozapadni bŭlgarski govori. Sbornik za narodni umotvorenija i narodopis 41.