History of the Bulgarian language

History Of The Bulgarian Language

History of the Bulgarian language

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The History of the Bulgarian language can be divided into four major periods:

  • prehistoric period (from the time of the settlement of the Bulgarian Slavs on the Balkans until the late 9th century);
  • Old Bulgarian (from the late 9th until the 11th century);
  • Middle Bulgarian (from the 12th century to the 15th century);
  • Modern Bulgarian (from the 16th century onwards).

Bulgarian as a written language dates back to the end of the 9th century, i.e. from the time of Old Bulgarian.

Old Bulgarian

Old Bulgarian was the first literary period in the development of the Bulgarian language. It can be described as a highly synthetic language with a rich declension system. The language is attested by a number of manuscripts from the late 10th and the early 11th century written at the Preslav and the Ohrid Literary School or some of the smaller literary centres surrounding them. It was the medium of a rich literary activity — chiefly in the late 9th and the early 10th century — with writers such as Constantine of Preslav, John Exarch, Clement of Ohrid, Chernorizetz Hrabar and Naum of Preslav (Naum of Ohrid). None of the works of those writers has, however, been preserved in the original; they are all attested by later copies.


The name “Old Bulgarian” was extensively used in the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century synonymously with Old Church Slavonic to describe the literary language of a number of Slavic peoples from the 9th until the 12th...
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