Selection of Texts

The full amount of material recorded over all of these trips totals some 200 hours. From this material, segments were selected to be transcribed as texts and included in the Bulgarian Dialectology as Living Tradition database. The selection of texts was made primarily by Zhobov, with two basic criteria in mind. First, each text should illustrate as many of the salient features of the local dialect as possible. Second, each text should constitute a well-formed instance of discourse and give some insight into village life. In a few instances the texts are narratives, either a personal experience or a folktale. Most conversations, however, concern the way things were done in “the old days”. As is common in ethnographic work, turning the conversation in this direction is an effective way not only to garner valuable ethnographic information (about holiday customs, agricultural practices, food preparation, and the like), but also functions to direct the speaker’s attention away from the present (and thus minimizes the influence of the standard language).

Most texts concentrate on the speech of a single informant. In some instances, the voices of other speakers can also be heard. Usually they are in the background, although in some cases there are two (and rarely) three speakers in dialogue with one another. In certain instances these segments were chosen deliberately because the topic and the liveliness of the conversation provided especially vivid examples of natural dialectal speech.

In keeping with the project goal of presenting natural speech, there has been minimal editing of the tapes. This means that natural environmental noises such as crowing roosters or bleating goats are sometimes heard, as are sounds of traffic. Although such interference has been kept to a minimum, the overriding criterion has been to choose a text that is “good” in terms of its content and linguistic features, and not to worry about the occasional truck, goat, or rooster. 

Preparation of Texts for Data Entry

Digitization of the original field recordings was done in Sofia. Once the audio files which form the basis of the present compendium were selected, they were transcribed according to principles described below. Recordings made after 1990 purposefully include the entire conversational context, and the transcriptions include everything on the tape – not only speech but also non-verbal cues such as laughter, coughing, and onomatopoetic sounds. Only background conversation which is not relevant to the conversational interaction has been excluded. Recordings made prior to 1990 include only speech by the informant. In these instances, the investigator’s participation in the conversation has been reconstructed and included into the transcriptions: these utterances are always enclosed in brackets to emphasize the fact that they are reconstructions. Each text is named after the location in which it was recorded.

The texts are divided into lines, which are numbered for the purposes of data retrieval. Each new turn in the conversation occupies a separate line. Longer segments by the same speaker occupy continuous stretches of lines; wherever possible line breaks correspond to natural rhythmic or syntactic breaks. Each speaker is identified at the beginning of each line. The identity of informants is kept anonymous; they are identified simply by lower case letters. Investigators are identified by their first and last initials, and their full names are given in the text’s metadata. The English translations of the text aim at a rendering not only of the content but also the style of the original – to the extent possible. Literal translations of most words are given in the interlinear glosses.

Prose commentaries to the texts are in preparation. Each Location page will contain a brief description of the dialect of that village, and each Text page will comment features of particular interest in that text.

Principles of Transcription

Because one of the site’s major goals is to make Bulgarian dialectal data available to the broader public outside Bulgaria, the primary transcription system is based on the Latin alphabet; all texts have also been transcribed in Cyrillic, according to the accepted system used by Bulgarian dialectologists.

The primary transcription system is a combination of symbols adapted to the specific requirements of Bulgarian dialectal data. Certain symbols are taken from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and others from the academic transliteration that is the norm among Slavists. Where phonetic precision is needed in order to render important dialectal distinctions, IPA symbols are used. Elsewhere, simplified forms are used in order to make the transcription more accessible to non-phoneticians. The following symbols are used on the site:






b voiced bilabial stop б
c voiceless alveolar affricate ц
č voiceless postalveolar affricate ч
d voiced alveolar stop д
dz voiced alveolar affricate ѕ звучен алвеодентален африкат
voiced postalveolar affricate џ звучен преднонебен африкат
f voiceless labiodental fricative ф
ɸ voiceless bilabial fricative φ билабиално /ф/
g voiced velar stop г
h laryngeal fricative h ларингално /х/
j palatal approximant й
k voiceless velar stop к
l alveolar lateral л
m bilabial nasal м
n alveolar nasal н
p voiceless bilabial stop п
r alveolar trill р
s voiceless alveolar fricative с
š voiceless postalveolar fricative ш
t voiceless alveolar stop т
v voiced labiodental fricative в
β voiced bilabial fricative w билабиално /в/
w labiovelar approximant ў консонантно /у/
x voiceless velar fricative х
ž voiced postalveolar affricate ж






a central open unrounded a
ɑ back open unrounded а̊ приблизително като лабиално /а/
e front mid-closed unrounded е
ɛ front mid-open unrounded е̂ широко /е/
raised e е̇ тясно /е/
i front closed unrounded e
ɨ central closed unrounded ɨ ери /ы/
y front closed rounded ӥ лабиализувано /и/
о back mid-closed rounded о
ɔ back mid-open rounded о̂ широко /о/
raised o о̇ тясно /о/
u back closed rounded у
ɤ central mid-closed unrounded ъ
ʌ back mid-open unrounded ъ̂ широко /ъ/
ɯ back closed unrounded ъ̴ веларно /ъ/
ə mid-central unrounded ə шваa /ə/
ə̝ above, but fronted е̥ Милетичево /е/

Text copyright © 2011-2016 Ronelle Alexander and Vladimir Zhobov. Texts and other parts of the website may be copied only for non-commercial, research, or educational purposes, provided the source of the material is cited accordingly. Cited material may not include the entire website or substantial portions thereof.
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Recommended Model for Citations

Bulgarian Dialectology as Living Tradition [2016] (, visited on 1 March 2016)
Babjak 1: 13-15. In: Bulgarian Dialectology as Living Tradition [2016] (, visited on 1 March 2016)

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