Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is a Bulgaria? Part II

After telling people where Bulgaria is, the next question many people ask is “what language do they speak there?”

The answer is that they speak Bulgarian.  Yep, that’s right.  Bulgaria has its own language.  Bulgarian is part of the Slavic language group, which makes it similar to Russian, Polish, and Serbian along with several other languages.  The Slavic language group is a pretty tight-knit group, so if you learn one of the Slavic languages, other languages in the group come much easier.  For example, my sister speaks Russian.  She has never taken formal Bulgarian lessons, but she can often understand what Sasha and I are saying to each other when we speak Bulgarian in front of her.

Bulgarian uses the Cyrillic alphabet.  It is the same basic alphabet used in Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, and several other Slavic languages.  (Polish, Czech, and Slovakian are among the Slavic languages that do not use this alphabet.)  

This alphabet was developed by two missionary brothers from Greece named Cyril and Methodius to create a written Bible for the Slavic tribes in modern day Bulgaria.  To this day they are celebrated national heroes in Bulgaria, much like Martin Luther King Jr. is in the United States.

Cyril and Methodius are remembered throughout Europe.  This statue of them is from Trebic in the Czech Republic

Bulgarian is very easy to read once you know the alphabet.  It is almost entirely phonetic, so once you know the sounds you can read the word even if you have no idea what the word means.  Our daughters find English a bit frustrating to read because the letters don’t always make the sounds they are supposed to make.  For example, in English “ough” is pronounced differently in different words like “tough,” “through,” and “drought.”  They like reading in Bulgarian because it is more predictable.  Spelling in Bulgarian is also easier for the same reason.  Each word is spelled exactly like it is pronounced and you never have two spellings for the same pronunciation (as opposed to English where we have to, too, and two; read and reed; for, four, and fore; and so on).

That’s your lesson for the week.  You can now tell your friends that you know where Bulgaria is, and what language they speak there.  You’re getting smarter by the week.

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