Living in Bulgaria without learning the language

Tips and advice on learning Bulgarian

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lyn
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Postby lyn » Mon Jul 25, 2011 4:42 am

Good luck in Bulgaria. You're going to need it. :(

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leedarkwood
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Postby leedarkwood » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:01 am

This may have been said before but I am not going to go back through 13 pages to find out... sorry

There is a problem we struggle with which is common to all newcomers to a language. If the new language has some sounds that don't exist in the birth tongue, you simply may not be able to hear them at first. The brain picks up the sounds in the language you first learn at a very early age, and it is very hard to insert new sounds into the storage! We couldn't hear the difference between words starting with S and those starting with TS for a very long time, still can't at speed. Our brains simply don't recognise them as being different, much to the puzzlement of our teacher. It gives us a 'bulgarian lisp' that makes it hard for people to understand us.

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B52
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Postby B52 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:05 am

Lol, lyn, although I don’t agree with their wording I can understand the sentiment.

We’ve always had problems making ourselves understood to some extent or another and most of the time just laugh it off but it can be quite frustrating.

Despite Google and PONS and pictures and rephrasing even, if the person you’re dealing with has no experience of the topic then what can you expect. The latest problem is getting someone at a garden/agro centre to understand that you need something to get rid of algae in a pond. Google says algae is водорасли but the word, even in an appropriate sentence (haven’t tried a picture, it’s true), is invariably met with a blank expression and shrugs.

Another one recently was router (the woodworking tool) or оберфреза that my partner wanted a bit for. First off, you can’t get a translation for it from Google, although it translates back ok. I don’t think that we have ever seen one in a hardware store flyer. It’s true, we could have taken a picture off the internet but having found the correct term for the device on an online hardware store site we assumed that we would be ok. Apparently, it is the single most versatile woodworking tool in the world but trying to get someone to understand what we needed, even in Praktiker and Mr Bricolage, was difficult. Then try explaining that you only need a “bit” (not a part) for one.

However, the most ridiculous was trying to buy carrots locally (and it has happened more than once). When you are standing in the fruit and vegetable section in the store and asking for carrots in Bulgarian and changing the stress to try and accommodate them (I refuse to carry a picture of a carrot around with me or learn “you know, one of those orange vegetables where only the green frondy bits show above ground” in Bulgarian), how anyone who doesn’t speak English can think that you are actually asking for “… coffee” and point at/get down coffee products from shelves to show you, is beyond me.

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Postby mastylo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:22 am

Kembo wrote: As an example, if I said something like this in Bulgarian, hold on, I'm just finishing this off, I'll be with you in a minute, even if I stressed the word 'minute' wrongly, I would expect the person listening to know that I was referring to a minute of time, rather than the size, minute, if they can't work that out from the context of what I said to them, that's not my problem.

Kembo, be careful with the stress in "minute", because if you stress the second syllable, it means in Bulgarian "a b**w job"... :oops:

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Postby Seedy » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:35 am

If I'm following the latest turns correctly, we seem to have arrived at the reason why some Brits have problems communicating with Bulgarians ...................the silly beggars can't understand their own language! :lol:

I can't believe that I didn't work it out before - when I ask for a carrot and get given a coffee, it's because the dumb BG who's serving me doesn't know the difference and can't understand my beautifully-correct Bulgarian. Likewise, those twits in Praktiker should immediately know that I want a фрезера for my оберфреза - especially since both words are German and it's a German chain, innit? :wink:

Now I can rest easy in the knowledge that any misunderstandings and incomprehension don't come from my mangling of Bulgarian! :lol:

Mastylo, ever wondered why it's not "suck job" in English? The logic defeats me.... :wink:

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Postby mastylo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:00 am

Seedy wrote: Mastylo, ever wondered why it's not "suck job" in English? The logic defeats me.... :wink:

Seedy, I was absolutely shocked the other day, when I found in the etymological dictionary that it probably comes from the Sanscrit`s "manyatē, manutē „remember“, mánas „mind, spirit“, which in Bulgarian is closely related to the verb "to blow" - "духам". So, back to the spiritual, godlike topic :lol:

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Postby B52 » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:02 am

If I'm following the latest turns correctly, we seem to have arrived at the reason why some Brits have problems communicating with Bulgarians ...................the silly beggars can't understand their own language!


You’ve obviously missed something somewhere.

I can't believe that I didn't work it out before - when I ask for a carrot and get given a coffee, it's because the dumb BG who's serving me doesn't know the difference and can't understand my beautifully-correct Bulgarian. Likewise, those twits in Praktiker should immediately know that I want a фрезера for my оберфреза - especially since both words are German and it's a German chain, innit?


You’ve obviously missed something somewhere.

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Postby booboo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:08 am

mastylo wrote:
Kembo wrote: As an example, if I said something like this in Bulgarian, hold on, I'm just finishing this off, I'll be with you in a minute, even if I stressed the word 'minute' wrongly, I would expect the person listening to know that I was referring to a minute of time, rather than the size, minute, if they can't work that out from the context of what I said to them, that's not my problem.

Kembo, be careful with the stress in "minute", because if you stress the second syllable, it means in Bulgarian "a b**w job"... :oops:


One Swallow does not make a Summer, but wait a minet it could certainly brighten a weekend.

It's the Bulgarians to blame, as obviously we all speak with a perfect non foreign accented central version of Bulgarian that they should understand. I say give up, pointless trying. Us Brits are far more intelligent, and by rights Bulgaria should change their language to be officially English. If you cannot see my sarcasm in those comments, then GOD help.

For an indication of how phonetic Bulgarian is perhaps google KEN LEE BULGARIA. It's a laugh but is a simple example of how important sound of word is over actual word.

Simple non opinionated question - why would you choose Bulgaria over somewhere with an "easier" language if you will drop all 'effort' at the FIRST sign of difficulty? IT'S JUST A QUESTION - for example why not many other European countries or English speaking far off ones? Why not a more developed country or area (as in a place of many Brits or English speaking locals)? Or a country that does not rely so much on pronunciation?

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Postby booboo » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:34 am

Perhaps the other thing that is not is being fairly reported in this thread regarding Bulgarians not understanding there own language is ...

Most Brits are not speaking full sentences with an odd pronunciation error, it is often one or 2 words, with little backup in case of a misunderstood word. If in Bulgarian you asked a 10 word question, or made a 10 word comment, then likely even with a pronunciation error in one word (minute in Kembo's example) you would be understood because the phrase or question would in context.

If you went into a shop in England and said "give router" - would you get a piece of technical hardware (eg wifi) or a wood working tool. Obviously in this case it would be determined by what kind of shop you were in, but not if it was superstore such as asda or tesco etc (who often stock such things) or Argos. If the request was 'do you have a router for wifi' then irrespective of whether you said roooter or rowter you would be understood. Not the perfect example but you get my point.

Now hands up of those that have been misunderstood when you THINK you are speaking PERFECT Bulgarian, have said it in a decent length sentence or backed it up with some information. If you are in a cafe and ask for dago coffee (yes I'm doing wrong on purpose) they will understand you, even though neither word is correct in Bulgarian. because the context is correct for the location. And how many actually just glance at the waitress and say in your best bulgarian, coffee or beer, instead of I would like a beer, or even give me beer.

When a bulgarian asks how are you - do you say good (dobre) or do you answer with a sentence such as "thankyou for asking, I'm ok/good/up and down/super and how are you today?". I'm sure many do, but I know most Brits in my region don't. For what it is worth I rarely have porblems with Bulgarians not understanding me. Perhaps it is my Neutral accent :) :P
Last edited by booboo on Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby spantrout » Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:36 am

Booboo wrote
Simple non opinionated question - why would you choose Bulgaria over somewhere with an "easier" language if you will drop all 'effort' at the FIRST sign of difficulty? IT'S JUST A QUESTION - for example why not many other European countries or English speaking far off ones? Why not a more developed country or area (as in a place of many Brits or English speaking locals)? Or a country that does not rely so much on pronunciation?


That would be too easy, :lol:


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