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Russian vs. Bulgarian Language: Understanding Differences and Shared Features

Russian vs. Bulgarian Language: Understanding Differences and Shared Features

Russian and Bulgarian are two different languages. But still, it’s easy for Russian people to understand Bulgarian and Bulgarian people to understand Russian. Generally, Russian people and Bulgarian people can communicate with each other quite easily.

Since the origin of these languages are common, Russian and Bulgarian sounds pretty similar. However, despite having the same origin and being so mutually intelligible, these languages are still different from each other.

You might be wondering what are the differences in these languages, then you’ll get your answers in this article.

History of the Russian language

During the 6th century, the migration of Slavic tribes began. Some stayed in the Balkans, while others continued to Southern Europe. By the 10th century, three primary Slavonic language groups were created: Western, Eastern, and Southern.

The modern language which is now known as Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian, in fact, emerged from the Eastern Slavic language. All the Slavonic languages used the Cyrillic alphabet, also known as the Slavonic alphabet.

However, Russia wrote the Cyrillic script only in capital letters (also called legible ustav). After that, the cursive got developed. There were numerous changes that were made during the rule of Peter the Great as well as in 1918 which result in the simplification and standardization of the Russian language.

Until the 18th century, Old Church Slavonic wrote the norm in Russia and there was no standardization before that. Therefore, a new improved, and modern written language was needed to better express “the educated spoken norm”.

According to M. L. Lomonosov, a Russian scientist, and writer, there are three different types of styles in the Russian language, which are:

  • High style
  • Middle style
  • Low Style

Later, It was the middle style that was chosen to be used as the basis for the creation of the Modern Standard Russian language.

Russian and Bulgarian Language Has Same Origin
Russian and Bulgarian language comes from the same origin.

History of the Bulgarian language

The Bulgarian language is the first Slavic language that attained a writing system, which is now known as the Cyrillic alphabet. In ancient times, the Bulgarian language was referred to as the Slavic language.

The Bulgarian language was developed and enhanced throughout these years. The development of the Bulgarian language can be divided into four main periods:

Prehistoric Period

The prehistoric period is from the 7th century to the 8th century. This period is pronounced by the start of the relocation of the Slavonic tribes to the Balkans and ends with the shift from the now-extinct Bulgar language to the Old Church Slavonic.

This shift begin with the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius who created the Cyrillic alphabet. This writing system was similar to the Greek writing system, but a few new letters were introduced to make it unique and to represent some typically Slavic sounds that were not found in the Greek language.

Old Bulgarian Period

The old Bulgarian period is from the 9th century to the 11th century. During this period Saints, Cyril, and Methodius together with their followers translated the Bible and other pieces of literature from the Greek language to Old Church Slavonic.

This was the written standard of a Common Slavic language from which Bulgarian stems.

Middle Bulgarian Period

The Middle Bulgarian period is from the 12th century to the 15th century. and this period has a new written standard, stemming from Old Bulgarian, occurred and defined itself as an official language of the administration of the Second Bulgarian Empire. 

During this period, some major changes were made to the Bulgarian language in terms of simplification of its case system and the development of a definite article. It was also significantly affected by its neighboring countries (Romanian, Greek, Serbian) and later on during the 500-year Ottoman rule – by the Turkish language.

Modern Bulgarian

The modern Bulgarian period started in the 16th century and it’s still present. This period was an intense period for the Bulgarian language marked by some serious changes in grammar and syntax during the 18th and 19th centuries which eventually led to the standardization of the language. 

The modern Bulgarian was majorly influenced by the Russian language, however, during WWI and WWII these Russian loanwords were replaced by native Bulgarian words to a greater extent.

Bulgarian Language Changes Over Time
The Bulgarian language has changed over time.

Russian vs. Bulgarian: Differences & Similarities

Although the Bulgarian language did get influenced by the Russian Language, still they are different languages. The first difference is that Russian language is more complex language. On the other hand, has lost its case declension almost entirely.

Moreover, the Russian verb still has the infinitive form (e.g. ходить meaning to walk). While the Bulgarian verbs have no infinitive form. Apart from that, Bulgarian is a synthetic language and as such, the definite article is added after the noun or the adjective. Whereas, the Russian language has no definite article.

In the Russian language, there’s a certain way to address people, besides their name, their father’s name is also added and they address you by taking your name and your father’s name.

Moreover, the Bulgarian language is older than the Russian language. Therefore, Bulgarian has kept the Old Slavonic personal pronouns (аз, ти, той, тя, то, ние, вие, те) while Russian uses more modern forms of the personal pronouns (я, ты, он, она, оно, мы, вы, они).

The Russian Language is heavily affected by German and French. Whereas, Bulgarian is influenced by Turkish, Romanian, and Greek. Russian has kept more vocabulary from the Old Slavonic language since Bulgarian is more archaic than compared to Russian.


When it comes to similarities, there’s not much to talk about since Russian and Bulgarian both are quite different languages. However, the most obvious common thing in both Russian and Bulgarian is that they use the Cyrillic alphabet.

However, both of these languages have their own sound system and pronunciation, therefore, there are some minor differences in terms of the letters.

Are Russian And Bulgarian Languages Really That Similar? Comparison.

Russian and Bulgarian Speakers

When it comes to popularity, these two languages are completely different. Russian has over 250 million native speakers all around the world which makes it one of the fastest-growing languages in the world. Besides being the official language in Russia, it’s an official language in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

Native Russian speakers are found all around the world. They’re in Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, China, the US, Israel, and even Bulgaria.

Whereas, the Bulgarian language is the official language only in Bulgaria and its native speakers are estimated to be around 8 million people. Recognized Bulgarian minorities of people speaking Bulgarian are in Macedonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Ukraine, Serbia, Albania, and Romania.

However, there are large Bulgarian communities in Spain, Germany, Austria, the US, and the UK. But due to the current demographic crisis in Bulgaria, experts believe that by 2100 the Bulgarian language might even become extinct.


Russian and Bulgarian people have always been on good terms and close. They avoid any conflict with each other and respect each other’s culture and norms.

Russian and Bulgarian language does have similar origin, but there are a few differences in both this language. The Russian language is a complex language in terms of grammar. Whereas, Bulgarian language is quite simpler language with simple and easy grammar.

Although these languages are divided by hundreds of kilometers, they have still heavily influenced each other. If you know any one of these languages, then you may have no difficulty in understanding the other one.

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