The language barrier is one of things that a lot of tourists are concerned about when holidaying in a foreign country — especially if it is their first time there or when the destination country doesn’t have a lot of English speakers.
Some of the questions that tourists usually ask:
- Will they understand me if I speak English?
- What is the language in this country?
- Can I understand some words in Bulgarian?
What language is spoken in Bulgaria?
The official language of Bulgaria is Bulgarian. It is a branch of the Southern Slavic language family. It uses the Cyrillic alphabet, just like Russian.
So the question that you are likely to ask is: is Bulgarian similar to Russian?
While Bulgarian and Russian are both Slavic, use the same Cyrillic alphabet and may sound similar to each other, they are otherwise two entirely different languages. It’s the same way that you look at, say, Spanish and Italian — they both belong to the same language family (Romance) and may sound similar to each other, but they are otherwise two distinct languages.
Bulgarian is more closely related to Macedonian, and other languages such as Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian. This means that speakers of any of these languages can understand each other readily without much trouble.
Are there signs in English?
Despite the fact that Cyrillic is the main alphabet and writing system in Bulgaria, the names of some of the establishments and offices are also written in English. And they are significantly helpful for foreign tourists visiting the country.
On many intersections, you can see the signs with the names of streets and arrows. The names are written in both Bulgarian and English. Although we had the impression that the English version was done via Google Translate – so many mistakes happen in it.
The great thing about Bulgarian language is that it is actually pretty easy to learn. Unlike other languages (such as French), Bulgarian language is mostly phonetic, which means you pronounce it in the way it is written.
A nod in Bulgaria means no!
When traveling abroad, you may find differences in their culture that most Westerners find peculiar and confusing. Sometimes, things do not mean what you think they mean.
If the Bulgarians disagree with something, they nod just like we do when we want to say “yes.” And when they agree with something, they shake their heads from side to side — something that we do when we want to say “no.”
And yes, that’s for real! This is one thing that you should never, ever, forget when traveling to Bulgaria.
Make sure to accompany your answer with da (“yes,” while shaking your head from side to side) and ne (“no” while nodding). This is the key to avoid confusion and potential disagreements especially when trying to communicate with the locals.
Will they understand me in Bulgaria?
In Bulgaria, you will be understood. Despite the fact that the Bulgarians are simply amazingly friendly people, they also do not like rudeness. So if you ask politely, you will be understood and be replied accordingly. But this applies only to the younger generation. Older people understand English very poorly.
The main advice for communicating with the Bulgarians: be polite and friendly and you will certainly be helped! Do not forget to say “hello,” apologize and say “thank you.”
Will knowledge of English help in Bulgaria?
In Bulgaria, it is worth talking English only to younger people. There is quite a lot of tourists from the US and Europe, and therefore most sellers and waiters speak English quite well.
How do I set up an offline translator?
Most mobile devices have a Google Translate default app. But if your own device doesn’t have Google Translate, it is highly recommended that you should download it. After installing Google Translate, upload the Bulgarian language into it. You’re done!
Even without an Internet connection, your translator will still work — it will help you quite a lot when you need it most. While the translations are not perfect, they are otherwise understandable.
It is worth to learn even a few Bulgarian words?
Learning a foreign language is one of the challenging but fun things to do when traveling abroad. It is also a gesture of appreciating a country’s culture, as well as a way of broadening your linguistic skills.
So it is highly recommended that you should learn at least a handful of useful and essential Bulgarian words and phrases, which you should check out below:
- Zdravei -“Hello”
- Dobro utro – “Good morning”
- Dobar den – “Good afternoon”
- Leka nosht – “Good night”
- Dovizhdane – “Goodbye”
- Kak si? – “How are you?”
- Az sam strahotno, a ti? – “I’m great, and you?”
- Az sum dobre, a ti? – “I’m well, and you?”
- Kak se kazvash? – “What is your name?”
- Kazvam se… – “My name is…”
- Priyatno mi e da se zapoznaem – “Nice to meet you”
- Na men sashto – “Nice to meet you, too”
- Hubby den / priyaten den – “Have a nice day”
- Molya – “Please”
- Blagodarya – “Thank you”
- Mnogo blagodarya – “Thank you very much”
- Pak zapovyaday – “You’re welcome”
- Da – “Yes”
- Ne – “No”
- Izvinete me – “Excuse me” (when getting attention)
- Molya? – “Excuse me?” or “Pardon?”
- Izvinete me / Proshtavj (te) – “I am sorry”
- Ne razbiram – “I don’t understand”
- Govorite li anglijski? – “Do you speak English?”
- Ne govorya balgarski mnogo dobre – “I don’t speak Bulgarian very well”
- Moje li da povtorite? – “Could you please repeat that?”
- Kolko struva? – “How much does it cost?”
- Kolko e…? – “How much is…?”
- Kade e…? – “Where is…?”
Bulgarians – very kind and hospitable people
About the Bulgarians, their traditions and customs, check out this article impressions of visiting Bulgaria.
- Pros and cons of holidays in Bulgaria – our opinion
- A selection of useful tips and facts about Bulgaria – helping tourists!
- Food in Bulgaria – how much does food costs in supermarkets?
- Souvenirs from Bulgaria. What do we recommend bringing home?
- Prices in Bulgaria – what and how much does it cost?
- How much does a holiday in Bulgaria cost – planning a budget
- All about the currency of Bulgaria – how and where to change without fear?
- Going to Bulgaria – what do you need to take with you?
- What you can see in Bulgaria – our list of interesting places
- If you need something to read check out the classic othello characters.