Comparison: Macedonian and Bulgarian

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Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016
Pending moderation

Hi! I would like to start learning a new South Slavic language. It would be Macedonian or Bulgarian. My native language is Serbian, so I don't expect some bigger problems with it.
I would like to hear you:
1) As a Serbian native speaker, which language would be closer to my ear?
2) Which language is easier to learn and why?
3) Can you learn both languages at the same time?

You don't have to answer all questions, I just want to know something more about the topic Regular smile

P.S. I know some people say Macedonian is a dialect of Bulgarian. I consider it separate language, the same way I consider Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Montenegrin separate languages. I don't want to start a political topic or quarrel, I'm here just because of languages Regular smile

Best regards and love to everyone! Wink smile :*
Stefan

Leader of the Balkan Squad
Joined: 14.10.2016

Hey, Stefan!

Bulgarian and Macedonian are two interconnected languages (a lot of the vocab is similar and they both use the Cyrillic alphabet), but according to my research there has been a lot of Serbian influence in the Macedonian language in the past few decades, so I would suggest you try learning Macedonian. Although I suppose you could learn both!

-Vasiliki

Member
Joined: 07.03.2017

Ја сам Србин који зна оба... Додуше. ја сам са југа Србије, те ми та два језика донекле дођу као матерњи, но нема везе. У суштини, ја сам прво научио бугарски, а македонски сам научио тако што сам слушао Т. Проеског и остале македонске певаче, те га сад знам. Саветујем прво бугарски због тога што је македонски као нека мешавина српског и бугарског, те ако научите бугарски, провешћете свеукупно 15 минута учећи македонски. Мада, из личног искуства саветујем да после бугарског/македонског не покушавате да научите још неки словенски језик. Мени је, као што рекох, матерњи српски, а знам и бугарски и македонски. Већ сад ми се довољно меша, а почео сам да учим и руски, па мешању никад краја. А после руског бих да научим и чешки и старословенски. Знам да звучи лудо, али шта ћу? Мада, то никоме не саветујем. Пре неки дан смо се другарица и ја шалили: умрећу, а нећу знати који ми је матерњи. У сваком случају, шта год да одаберете, желим Вам сву срећу и ужитак, а ако затреба помоћ, увек можете да ми се обратите. Свако добро и надам се да сам помогао.

I do not know a Slavic language, so to me this sounds like quite an undertaking! From what little I know of the Balkan languages, Serbian is probably one of the more difficult ones (correct me if I am mistaken), having a rather complex case structure (I believe Slovenian is the most complex? I have heard it is quite close to Vedic Sanskrit, due to its linguistic conservatism). I imagine neither of these languages (id est Bulgarian and Macedonian) would provide a challenge for you.

My question for you: which language (if possible) do you have more access to? Do you live near any Bulgarians or Macedonians? Will you travel to one of those countries soon? Is there maybe someone you could befriend, or a church in your area that uses one of these languages?

If so, I would suggest just focus on the language that you have more access to, and master it. Then, you will probably be able to learn naturally through any subsequent encounters with speakers of the other language (however, it is possible that your mind will immediately be able to identify a difference between the two languages, perhaps through patterns of phonemes, or consonant clusters, etc. In this case, you may be able to acquire them both at once, while "filing" words and phrases for each in separate places in your memory).

Linguists always claim it is best to focus on one language in a family of languages and aim for mastery. Of course, you already are a native speaker of one. However, it may cause confusion for your ear at first if you are learning both at once... You might find yourself accidentally using a Bulgarian word when you are speaking to a Macedonian, or vice verse.

When I first tried to learn Arabic, I had already spent a couple of years learning a little Persian. After several months of Arabic, I bumped into an old friend of mine who spoke Persian. I tried to have a conversation with him, and I kept accidentally using the Arabic words for basic things! Conversely, while trying to learn Arabic, I had to unlearn all of my Persian syntax and grammar (completely different between the two languages). Truth is, Persian and Arabic have nothing in common, but as a dumb American, it was very easy for my brain to get mixed up between the two!

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

Hey Regular smile

As a native Bulgarian speaker, I'd say that the official Bulgarian, although sharing similar characteristics (grammatically) with Macedonian, has lots of differences too.

I have no idea which language will be easier for you - but learning one of them doesn't guarantee you to understand both. I am a rare case of someone who is almost "native" (grown up there since a very young age) in one of the Southwestern dialects of Bulgarian, which sounds really close to Macedonian, but it is not really understandable to people who have never lived there (like my dad, who comes from Northern Bulgaria). I've never in my life studied Macedonian, but I can understand/translate more than 95% of what I hear/read. What will sound more familiar to your ear - listen to something and find out? I personally understand a huge part of the Serbian language, considering I've never studied it either.

My advise for you is to try to concentrate on one language first (depending on which of them you like to start with) and master it to some extend before going into the other. Studying too many similar languages will confuse you, as they still have differences. I guess it won't be too hard to learn both? But I'm not really an expert since I have a childhood knowledge and have never formally studied Macedonian.

If you don't know natives and you plan to study on "books" and online, Bulgarian has a lot more resources available. But, of course, the choice is up to you.

Hope that helps and good luck!

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016
crimsonDyname wrote:

Hey, Stefan!

Bulgarian and Macedonian are two interconnected languages (a lot of the vocab is similar and they both use the Cyrillic alphabet), but according to my research there has been a lot of Serbian influence in the Macedonian language in the past few decades, so I would suggest you try learning Macedonian. Although I suppose you could learn both!

-Vasiliki

Thank you for your reply! Yes, Macedonia was a part of Serbia for a long time. We influenced their language a lot. But I think I will start with Bulgarian, just because more people speak it, and later I will start with Macedonian. I also plan learning Old Church Slavic, and Macedonian and Bulgarian are closest to them Regular smile

Best regards Regular smile

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Пуно Вам хвала за Ваш одговор!
Много сте ми помогли. И ја сам раније слушао Тошета, допада ми се његова музика, али углавном сам га слушао на хрватском. И мене такође интересује старословенски, као што сам навео у опису профила хахах, надам се да ће бугарски и македонски касније послужити као одскочна даска. Шта се тиче словенских језика, већ учим руски и пољски, пољски ме много боље иде, иако се сналазим и у руском (боље га разумем него шта говорим). Почећу са бугарским, више људи га говори, и вероватно имају више музике коју бих могао да слушам него Македонци. Видећемо шта ће да буде после али фокусираћу се на бугарски Regular smile

Одрастао сам у Далмацији, тако да ми бугарски није толико близак, после сам живео у Београду (тако да сам прешао на екавицу, сада је користим и у усменој и у писаној форми), а сада сам ево у Подгорици.
Леп поздрав и пуно хвала!
Стефан

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Hi!
Thank you for your reply. As I live in Montenegro, Macedonia is closer to me than Bulgaria, but I think I'll start with Bulgarian language. More people speak it, and they probably have more music I'd gladly listen to than Macedonians.
Yes, Serbian language is very hard to learn, I consider that Serbian is probably the hardest Slavic language. I learn Polish (which is often believed to be the hardest) and I have no problems with Polish grammar. Only with some harder sentence structures.
Later I can move on to Macedonian, and after that even to Old Church Slavic which kinda catches my attention for a while.
Best regards at lot of success with your studies!
Stefan

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Hi, Gloria!

Yes, I listened to Bulgarian music and I could understand a bit. So it caught my attention as I wanted to understand everything! I'm curious about languages, that's why I started learning Polish.

After all these replies, I decided to start with Bulgarian. It's spoken by more people, more music in that language is available and it has Old Church Slavic roots, that language also catches my attention Regular smile

Do you know for an internet site which is good for learning Bulgarian?

Thank you for your reply and I wish you all the best!
Stefan

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

Feel free to ask, if I have any questions - I'm a bit busy sometimes and it takes me time to get back, but if you ever need help, just drop me a PM Regular smile

As far as I know, the closest language to the ancient Old Church Slavonic is still Bulgarian - the Bulgarians even call it "Old Bulgarian". The Balkan languages as a whole share similar characteristics, especially the Slavic ones, so good luck! There are lots of music artists available, depending on what you like.

I don't really know any sites to be honest (the ones I've checked before were awful!), but it really depends on how exactly you learn - is it with more listening, more understanding of the grammar, learning more words? It may help you if you know your "style" and what you struggle with. My usual recommendations for any language is to try to develop all four skills... There is a lot on YouTube to listen to (like lessons, not only music), and I personally like Memrise for vocabulary building. If you like learning grammar, try finding some books, I personally like the Colloquial series as a starter (never "learned" Bulgarian, but judging from the Albanian and Romanian ones), mainly because they have audio too. Try to expose yourself as much as possible to the language, even if it's learning 10 new words a day or listening to TV for 10 minutes... Try finding some online lessons in YouTube, that is usually a very good starting point (and good to come back and work on pronunciation later too). Hope that helps, and good luck!

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Thank you very much for your help and advice!
I listen to Serbian pop folk music, so I consider Bulgarian pop folk very similar!
The biggest problem I'm dealing with in Bulgarian are cases. They are completely different from Serbian ones, while Polish are mostly the same as Serbian. I will need time to adapt my ear to Bulgarian way of thinking (prepositions etc.) Wink smile
I will try to expose myself to Bulgarian primarily through music Regular smile
Best regards!
Stefan

Moderator of the Balkans :)
Joined: 07.12.2012

Well, Bulgarian is actually case-free, so you may find it a bit awkward... the only "leftover" is that the definite masculine form changes in accusative/nominative, and some pronouns (mainly the personal ones) are different for each "case", other than that everything else is mainly the same. But yes, we use quite a lot of prepositions to express different constructions.

The music is very, very similar, I agree... I love Balkan music! Each country has its own style, and it's very cool to learn with it.

Good luck again Regular smile

Member
Joined: 07.03.2017

Yeah, it was quite awkward for me to find out that Bulgarian is case-free... I had (and I'm still having) a lot of problems when it comes to using the definite article... If there's something that I cannot learn, it's when to use it. I mean, I know when it should be used in theory, but not real-life situations...

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Yes, English and French are also case-free so they use a lot of prepositions. Sometimes it can be hard for Serbs and Croats Regular smile
Best regards and thanks again!
Stefan

Super Member
Joined: 18.09.2016

Jeste, takodje sam video razlike u koriscenju definisanog i nedefinisanog clana. Da li koriscenje slicno kao u engleskom (zavisno o tome da li se nesto pominje prvi put ili posle), ili postoje neke vece razlike? Doima se u najmanju ruku komplikovano..

Member
Joined: 07.03.2017

У суштини, кад год бисте употребили "the" у енглеском, у бугарском ћете употребити одређени члан, мада има мало изузетака ("Nulla regula sine exceptione").