Bulgar language: Wikis


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Spoken in from Central Asia to the steppes North of the Caucasus, the Volga, and the Danube, and Southern Italy (Molise, Campania)
Language extinction between the 9th century on the Danube and the 14th century on the Volga, turning into the Bulgarian Language
Language family Altaic
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 xbo

Bulgar (also Bolğar, Bulghar and Proto-Bulgarian) was the language of the Bulgars. Very few records exist of the language and little of them is understood. Considered by most linguists to have been a Turkic language[1][2][3], it is believed to have been spoken in the states founded by the Bulgars, namely Old Great Bulgaria (in the 7th century), Danube Bulgaria (from the 7th until the 9th century), and Volga Bulgaria (until the 13th century or 14th century).



The classification of Bulgar is somewhat controversial, but the most widely accepted theory places it among the "Lir" branch of Turkic languages referred to as Oghur-Turkic, Lir-Turkic, or, indeed, "Bulghar Turkic" as opposed to the "Shaz"-type of Common Turkic. The "Lir" branch is characterized by sound correspondences such as Oghuric r versus Common Turkic (or Shaz-Turkic) z and Oghuric l versus Common Turkic (Shaz-Turkic) š.[1][3][4]

On the other hand, some modern Bulgarian historians link it to the Iranian language group instead (more specifically, the Pamir languages are frequently mentioned).[5][6][7][8] Other Bulgarian historians only point out certain signs of Iranian influence in the Turkic base, without drawing such conclusions from them[9] (of the linguistic evidence only the Iranian origin of the name Asparukh seems to withstand scrutiny - see Schmitt 1985 for a critical assessment by an international Iranologist[10]). Still others assume an intermediate stance[11] or indeed actively oppose the "Iranian" theory.[12]

Danube Bulgar

The language of the Danube Bulgars (or Danube Bulgar) is recorded in a small number of inscriptions, which are found in Pliska, the first capital of Danube Bulgaria and in the rock churches near the village of Murfatlar, present-day Romania. Some of these inscriptions are written with Greek characters, others with runes similar to the Orkhon script. Most of them appear to have a private character (oaths, dedications, inscriptions on grave stones) and some were court inventories. Although attempts at decipherment have been made, none of them has gained wide acceptance. These inscriptions in Danube-Bulgar are found along with other official ones written in Greek. Greek was used as the official state language of Danube Bulgaria until the 9th century, when it was replaced by Old Bulgarian (Slavonic).

The language of the Danube Bulgars is also known from a small number of loanwords in the Old Bulgarian language, as well as terms occurring in Bulgar Greek-language inscriptions, contemporary Byzantine texts, and later Slavonic Old Bulgarian texts. Most of these words designate titles and other concepts concerning the affairs of state, including the official 12-year cyclic calendar (as used e.g. in the Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans). The language became extinct in Danubian Bulgaria in the 9th century as the Bulgar nobility became gradually Slavicized after the Slavic language was declared as official in 893.

Volga Bulgar

The language spoken by the population of Volga Bulgaria is known as Volga-Bulgar. There are a number of surviving inscriptions in Volga-Bulgar, some of which are written with Arabic characters, alongside the continuing use of Turkic runes. These are all largely decipherable. That language persisted until the 13th or the 14th century. In that region, it may have ultimately given rise to the Chuvash language, which is most closely related to it[13] and which is classified as the only surviving member of a separate "Oghur-Turkic" (or Lir-Turkic) branch of the Turkic languages, to which Bulgar is also considered to have belonged (see above).[1][2][14] Still, the precise position of Chuvash within the Oghur family of languages is a matter of dispute among linguists. Since the comparative material attributable to the extinct members of Oghuric (Hunnic, Turkic Avar, Khazar and Bulgar) is scant, little is known about any precise interrelation of these languages and it is a matter of dispute whether Chuvash, the only "Lir"-type language with sufficient extant linguistic material, might be the daughter language of any of these or just a sister branch.[4]


  1. ^ a b c Encyclopaedia Britannica Online - Bolgar Turkic
  2. ^ a b Campbell, George L. Compendium of the World's Languages. Routledge, 2000. page 274
  3. ^ a b Marcantonio, Angela. The Uralic Language Family: Facts, Myths and Statistics. Blackwell Publishing Limited, 2002. page 25
  4. ^ a b Johanson, Lars. 1998. "The history of Turkic." In: Johanson, Lars & Éva Agnes Csató (ed.). 1998. The Turkic languages. London: Routledge, pp. 81-125.[1]; Johanson, Lars. 2007. Chuvash. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Oxford: Elsevier.
  5. ^ Добрев, Петър, 1995. "Езикът на Аспаруховите и Куберовите българи" 1995
  6. ^ Бакалов, Георги. Малко известни факти от историята на древните българи Част 1 част 2
  7. ^ Димитров, Божидар, 2005. 12 мита в българската история
  8. ^ Милчева, Христина. Българите са с древно-ирански произход. Научна конференция "Средновековна Рус, Волжка България и северното Черноморие в контекста на руските източни връзки", Казан, Русия, 15.10.2007
  9. ^ Бешевлиев, Веселин. Ирански елементи у първобългарите. Античное Общество, Труды Конференции по изучению проблем античности, стр. 237-247, Издательство "Наука", Москва 1967, АН СССР, Отделение Истории.
  10. ^ Rüdiger Schmitt (Saarbrücken). IRANICA PROTOBULGARICA: Asparuch und Konsorten im Lichte der Iranischen Onomastik. Academie Bulgare des Sciences, Linguistique Balkanique, XXVIII (1985), l, 13-38
  11. ^ Rasho Rashev. On the origin of the Proto-Bulgarians, p. 23-33 in: Studia protobulgarica et mediaevalia europensia. In honour of Prof. V. Beshevliev, Veliko Tarnovo, 1992.
  12. ^ Йорданов, Стефан. Славяни, тюрки и индо-иранци в ранното средновековие: езикови проблеми на българския етногенезис. В: Българистични проучвания. 8. Актуални проблеми на българистиката и славистиката. Седма международна научна сесия. Велико Търново, 22-23 август 2001 г. Велико Търново, 2002, 275-295.
  13. ^ Clark, Larry. 1998. "Chuvash." In: Johanson, Lars & Éva Agnes Csató (ed.). 1998. The Turkic languages. London: Routledge, p.434
  14. ^ Формирование болгарской (древнечувашской) народности - web page

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