© 2010 Daniel IMG_0255

Труден Език

Dear friends…

My training is nearly over; 12 weeks of daily classes, technical sessions, and cultural seminars are behind me and the groundwork for the next two years has been laid, solidly. Overall, the experience has been good and I have been especially happy with picking up the language.

The overall difficulty of a language is best estimated, in my opinion, by breaking it down into its passive understandability and grammar complexity. Bulgarian, by this measure, is very difficult for Americans; Besides being written in the Cyrillic alphabet, its lexicon is only related to English through Greek roots, and the grammar is heavily dependent on inflection.

For a simple example, here are some transformations that change the person, tense, and object of a sentence:

виждам влак <- I see a train
виждаш влак <- you see a train
виждаш влакът <- you see the train
виждаш следващ влак <- you see a next train
виждаш следващият влак <- you see the next train
видя следващият влак <- you saw the next train
видя следващата лодка <- you saw the next boat
видя следващите лодки <- you saw the next boats
видяха следващите лодки <- they saw the next boats

A few things can be observed from above:
1. The verb has a different root for its imperfective and perfective aspects.
2. The verb changes suffixes to show person, number, and tense.
3. The adjective must agree with the noun in gender and number.
4. The definite article is attached to the noun, or to the adjective if present.
5. The definite article must agree with the noun and adjective in gender and number.

Once you take into account irregular words, word order, prepositions, conditional moods, imperative moods, direct and indirect pronouns, vocative particles, clitic doubling, T-V distinction, and many other factors, Bulgarian can easily seem overwhelming. But, as I said to my host baba on my first day, “малко по-малко”: little by little.

On a different note, my group took a visit to the capital, Sofia, last week, and the architecture is beautiful. Trolleys run through the main roads beneath cobwebbed wires strung from post to post. We rode around the city to the governmental buildings and to the Mall of Sofia where we ate at Subway, McDonald’s, and KFC. As distinctly Bulgarian as the city felt, I was happy to have a small taste of familiarity again.

I especially enjoyed the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral; It is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world and is filled with alabaster and marble artwork.

A couple more examples of the beautiful architecture can be seen in the National Theatre and the Church of St. Nicholas.

I hope to see other European cities once I accumulate enough vacation days on which to travel; The wanderlust hasn’t diminished one bit, and I’m excited to see more of this country and pretty much everything else out there worth seeing.



  1. Evangeline
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 12:24 pm | #

    bulgarian looks SO complicated =X

    even so, i’m glad you’re excited about the new things that you’re learning there dan!

    your pictures are wonderful. maybe i’ll try and convince dave to fly out of DC with me, and we’ll visit you sometime in these next few years. i’d like that :) by then you’ll be fluent in bulgarian!

    tell viktor krum i say hello!

  2. sehee
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 1:52 am | #

    Hi there,

    I’m a B21 RPCV and trying to consolidate BG blogs on my website: http://friendsofbulgaria.weebly.com/index.html

    What group number are you? I’ll list your blog there. Please share the site with PCVs, friends, and family!

  3. Daniel
    Posted August 23, 2011 at 2:05 am | #

    I’m a B-26.

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