Wiktionary:About Bulgarian

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Bulgarian is an Eastern South Slavic language, along with Macedonian and Old Church Slavonic. It is spoken primarily in Bulgaria, as well as in significant historical communities in Banat and Bessarabia, and by members of the diaspora. Bulgarian is an official language of the European Union.

This page is trying to provide a comprehensive guideline for any issues that arise in connection with the Bulgarian language, in particular Bulgarian words, in Wiktionary. It is mainly an instruction on how to format articles on Bulgarian words (more precisely, how to format the Bulgarian section of an entry).

Brief Overview[edit]

The Cyrillic script was developed in the 9th century at the Preslav Literary School of the First Bulgarian Empire. A large share of surviving Old Church Slavonic manuscripts were written in Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian recension of Old Church Slavonic represents the Old Bulgarian stage of the language, lasting from the 9th c. to the end of the 11th c.

Modern Bulgarian was codified in the decades immediately before and after Bulgaria's liberation from Ottoman rule. It is mostly based on the Central Balkan dialect (an Eastern dialect), with certain phonological and grammatical features from Western dialects. The 1945 and latest spelling reform defines the current Bulgarian alphabet and orthography. The Institute for Bulgarian Language at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences is the language regulator for Bulgarian, and the source of normative dictionaries and grammars.

Bulgarian is phonologically and grammatically closest to Macedonian, and shares with it certain features that are absent from all other Slavic languages - such as the near-complete loss of noun cases, the development of a post-positive definite article, and the loss of the infinitive. Bulgarian shares a lot of vocabulary with Russian - Old Church Slavonic in its Bulgarian recension (and later as Church Slavonic) was an influence on literary Russian, and Russian in turn was a source of massive borrowing into the emerging post-Liberation Bulgarian literary standard. In many cases, those borrowings re-introduced OCS words and even morphemes into Bulgarian that had fallen out of use in everyday speech.

Modern Bulgarian is a dynamic, evolving language, and relatively unaffected by linguistic purism. English has been an important source of loanwords and neologisms, particularly since the late 1980s.

Creating Bulgarian entries[edit]

The essentials[edit]

  1. Language header lets you know the language of the word in question (==Bulgarian==). It is a level two heading (See Wiktionary:How to edit a page for some basic terminology we use). When there is more than one language header on a page, the language headers should appear in alphabetical order with Translingual and English given priority.
  2. Part of Speech header is the key descriptor for the grammatical function of the term in question (such as 'noun', 'verb', etc). The definitions themselves come within its scope. This heading is most frequently in a level three heading, and a page may have more than one for a single language.
  3. Part of Speech line is the line immediately following the part of speech header. It consists of the entry name in bold, the transliteration of the word, followed by the gender and number (for nouns and adjectives) or lexical aspect (for verbs).
  4. Definitions or Translations of the word appear as a numbered list in the part of speech section immediately following the headword line, though it is a good idea to include a blank line in between for ease of editing.

A very simple example[edit]

This is a simple entry for the word лекар, and shows the most fundamental elements of an article:

  1. the word’s language (as a level 2 heading),
  2. the word's pronunciation, including hyphenation (as a level 3 heading),
  3. its part of speech or "type" (as a level 3 heading),
  4. the inflection word itself (using the correct Part of Speech template and the transliteration of the word),
  5. a definition (preceded by "#", which causes automatic numbering),
  6. links in the definition or translation for key words,
  7. the word's inflection (declension or conjugation) (as a level 4 header),
  8. and at least one dictionary reference, ideally using a reference template. If a word is not in dictionaries, quotations are needed.

This example can be copied and used to start an article or section of an article.


* {{bg-IPA|ле́кар|m}}
* {{bg-hyph}}


# [[physician]], [[doctor]]


* {{R:bg:RBE}}

Formatting Bulgarian entries[edit]

You are advised to read Wiktionary:Entry layout explained first. It sets forth the general formatting rules for pages, as well as those specific to the English language.

Dictionary forms[edit]

By convention, Bulgarian dictionaries provide:

  • Nouns: (old) nominative case, singular number.
  • Adjectives: (old) masculine nominative case, singular number.
  • Verbs: first person singular form of present tense.

Modern Bulgarian has reanalyzed proto-Slavic infinitives which serve as dictionary forms in other Slavic languages. One could restore the correspondence either by comparing the conjugation of the aorist or, when available, by re-attaching the old infinitive ending Proto-Slavic *-ti to the "truncated" infinitive form in Modern Bulgarian (equivalent to the stem of the original infinitive).

Preferred order of sections[edit]

The part of speech section will often include simple translation(s) into English in place of definitions, but there may be subsections.

Following is the preferred sequence for these standard sections:

===Alternative forms===
# definition 1
#* quotation
# definition 2
#* quotation
====Usage notes====
====Declension==== (Note: Or Conjugation for verb entries)
====Derived terms====
====Related terms====
===See also===

Please note that the Noun header is only one possible part of speech that may appear as the header. If the entry being created is for a Bulgarian verb, then "Verb" should appear in place of the word "Noun" in the example above.

Alternative forms[edit]

It is used for words that have alternative forms, such as обед and обяд or жираф and жирафа. Dialectal forms of words can also be included, and they should be appropriately marked, e.g. {{alt|bg|дън||dialectal}} (form of ден (den)). See {{alt}} for more details on template usage.


A typical pronunciation section may look like the following example based on the word автомоби́л (avtomobíl):

* {{bg-IPA|автомоби́л}}
* {{bg-hyph}}

{{bg-hyph}} provides the hyphenation of the word, i.e. the ways in which it can be broken onto separate lines of text.


Some unstressed vowels are pronounced differently from their stressed counterparts.

Vowel Stressed Example Unstressed Example
<а> /a/ баба /'babɐ/ /ɐ/ баба /'babɐ/
<ъ> /ɤ/ мъж /mɤʃ/ /ɐ/ мъжът /mɐ'ʒɤt/
<о> /ɔ/ око /o'kɔ/ /o/ око /o'kɔ/
<у> /u/ уча /'utʃɐ/ /o/ уста /o'sta/
<е> /ɛ/ дете /dɛ'tɛ/ /ɛ/ дете /dɛ'tɛ/
<и> /i/ живи /'ʒivi/ /i/ живи /'ʒivi/


Voiced Voicеless Examples
Hard Soft Hard Soft
/b/ /bʲ/ /p/ /pʲ/ бор /bɔr/ бял /aɫ/ пор /pɔr/ пял /aɫ/
/v/ /vʲ/ /f/ /fʲ/ вал /vaɫ/ вял /aɫ/ фон /fɔn/ фьон /ɔn/
/g/ /gʲ/ /k/ /kʲ/ гол /gɔɫ/ гьол /ɔɫ/ куп /kup/ кюп /up/
/d̪/ /dʲ/ /t̪/ /tʲ/ дал /aɫ/ дял /aɫ/ та /a/ тя /a/
/ʒ/ - /ʃ/ - жило /ʒiɫo/ - шило /ʃiɫo/ -
/z/ /zʲ/ /s/ /sʲ/ тормоза /t̪or'mɔzɐ/ тормозя /t̪or'mɔɐ/ сал /saɫ/ сял /aɫ/
/l/ /lʲ/ - - лек /lɛk/ люк /uk/ - -
/ɫ/ - - - лук /ɫuk/ - - -
/m/ /mʲ/ - - дима /d̪i'mɤ/ димя /d̪i'ɤ/ - -
/n/ /nʲ/ - - звъна /zvɐ'nɤ/ звъня /zvɐ'ɤ/ - -
/r/ /rʲ/ - - пора /'pɔrɐ/ поря /'pɔɐ/ - -
- - /x/ /xʲ/ - - хубав /'xubɐf/ Хюстън /'ust̪ɐn/
/dz/ /dzʲ/ /ts/ /tsʲ/ Дзержински /dzɛr'ʒinski/ Ядзя /'jadzʲɐ/ цар /tsar/ цяр /tsʲar/
/dʒ/ - /tʃ/ - джанта /'ant̪ɐ/ - чанта /'ant̪ɐ/ -

Palatalization is denoted by the symbol /ʲ/ after the soft consonant, which is different from the symbol /j/, used for the semivowel й.

Final obstruent devoicing[edit]

Аll voiced consonants at the end of the word are pronounced like their voiceless counterparts. Here are some examples:

  • град - /gra/ (not /gra/)
  • молив - /'mɔlif/
  • гръб - /grɤp/
  • мъж - /mɤʃ/

Whenever two or more consonants that participate in the opposition voiced : voiceless occur next to each other, the final consonant influences the voicing of the whole consonant cluster. This means that if the final consonant is voiced - the whole lot becomes voiced, and vice versa - if the final consonant is voiceless, all will be voiceless. Here are some examples:

  • градски - /'graski/ (not /graski/)
  • робски - /'rɔpski/
  • мъжки - /'mɤʃki/
  • сграда - /'zgrad̪ɐ/
  • сватба - /'svabɐ/

The sonorants /l/, /ɫ/, /m/, /n/, /r/ and the consonant /v/ do not influence the voicing of the neighboring consonants. Examples:

  • вълшебство - /vɐɫ'ʃɛpst̪vo/ (not /vɐɫ'ʃɛbzd̪vo/)
  • песни - /'pɛsni/ (not /'pɛzni/)

In complex consonant clusters the consonants /t/ and /d/ are omitted:

  • честно - /'tʃɛsno/ (not /'tʃɛst̪no/)
  • вестник - /'vɛsnik/
  • щастлив - /ʃt̪ɐs'lif/
  • дъжд - /d̪ɤʃ/


The semivowel /j/ is represented by the letters ю, я, when preceded by a vowel or at the beginning of a word, and by the letter й:

  • ютия - /jo't̪i/
  • плюя - /'plʲu/
  • йод - /jɔt̪/

Part of Speech line[edit]

Use {{bg-noun}} for nouns, e.g.

Use {{bg-adj}} for adjectives, e.g.

Use {{bg-verb}} for verbs, e.g.

For other parts of speech, currently you should use {{head}}, e.g.

  • {{head|bg|interjection|head=уви}} for the interjection уви (uvi).

Declension and conjugation templates[edit]

Declension (for nouns and adjectives) and conjugation (for verbs) templates are placed immediately after the Declension/Conjugation header. They provide a paradigm for the word.


Nouns should use {{bg-ndecl}}.


Adjectives should use {{bg-adecl}}.


Verbs should use {{bg-conj}}.

Marking a word dated, archaic or obsolete[edit]

The Dictionary of the Bulgarian Language uses the following scheme to denote older words:

  • остар. - остарели думи
  • старин. - старинни думи

The definitions of these terms can be found in the preface to volume 1 of the Dictionary. They are both described as applying to archaisms - words belonging to the older stratum of the language, whether that's Church Slavic or Old Church Slavic.

The scheme employed by the Dictionary doesn't map perfectly to Wiktionary's nomenclature, so the following is a guideline for selecting the right label (via {{lb}} or {{tlb}}):

It is expected that editors will occasionally mislabel words, because it can be difficult to apply subjective judgment to whether e.g. a word is archaic or obsolete. Here are some tips:

  • dated is seldom the right choice for остар. or старин.. It makes sense for things like милиционер, which is what people called a полицай until not that long ago, and your grandparents or elderly parents still probably use the former.
  • for choosing between archaic or obsolete, do the Quotation Test and the Heard-It-Before Test, perhaps in that order
    • Quotation Test: look at the quotations given in the Dictionary for the word. Are they mostly from Revival authors like Petar Beron or Ivan Vazov, but few or no more recent authors? Such words tend to be obsolete.
    • Heard-It-Before Test: have you heard this word before? Did the quotations jar something in your memory? If the quotation was a folk song, would you be able to translate it into modern language? If you answered "yes" to any of these, the word is probably archaic. If you're drawing a complete blank, it's probably obsolete.

Reference templates[edit]

In order to provide a reference for the information in the entry, we have several templates that can help:

  • {{R:bg:RBE|optional_word_here}} — this provides a citation to the online search tool Rečnik na bǎlgarskija ezik, which is a comprehensive dictionary from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
  • {{R:bg:RBE2|optional_word_here}} — like above, this provides a link to an online dictionary, Chitanka. It is often less detailed than RBE, and rarely provides etymologies, but covers many more modern terms and slang.
  • {{R:bg:BER|word|page_number|volume}} — This references the Bulgarian Etymological Dictionary, which consists of 8 published volumes, of which 7 are available for free online to view. This resource is of help in providing etymologies.
  • {{R:bg:LIFUB|page_number|optional_word}} — this has a similar function to BER, but explains the origins of personal names. This is a good reference work for many proper nouns, therefore.
  • {{R:bg:Gerov}} — this dictionary was compiled by Gerov before WW1, and is therefore much older than modern dictionaries. It, too, can be viewed online, and can provide a reference for old-orthography spellings (which can be listed under Alternative forms).

For most entries, you can begin by copy-pasting the contents:

* {{R:bg:RBE}}
* {{R:bg:RBE2}}

...since these are applicable to the vast majority of common terms. Additionally, you should add any other references that are of help, e.g. Bulgarian Etymological Dictionary.

Sometimes, the dictionaries will reference a word, but not have its own page for it; in this case, you can provide the page it is named on as a parameter, e.g. {{R:bg:RBE|човек}}.


Appendix:Bulgarian bibliography