Articles in Macedonian and Bulgarian

Slogos

Member
Russian
What is the significance of articles in Macedonian and Bulgarian? Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are the only Slavic languages that use some system of articles. Does anyone have any insight on how and why this system developed?
 
  • agcnec

    New Member
    English
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but these are the only Slavic languages that use some system of articles.
    That's correct.

    Some northern Russian dialects have a definite article which declines for case: жена-та, жену-ту, люди-те etc.

    Does anyone have any insight on how and why this system developed?
    The definite articles developed from demonstratives: Proto-Slavic *vьlkъ-tъ 'this wolf' → Macedonian волкот 'the wolf'.

    Demonstratives developed into definite articles under the influence of other Balkan languages; ex. Latin lupum illum → Romanian lupul.

    Russian has generalised the neuter demonstrative as a particle with an indefinite meaning (e.g. где-то, кто-то).
     
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    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Russian has generalised the neuter demonstrative as a particle with an indefinite meaning (e.g. где-то, кто-то).
    To be precise, the demonstrative participates in forming indefinite pronouns and adverbs.
    As a particle (clitic) attached to nouns, on the other hand, it has an emphatic meaning in Standard Russian.
    If I remember correctly, it's still disputed if North Russian postpositional articles are truly definite articles.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    As a particle (clitic) attached to nouns, on the other hand, it has an emphatic meaning in Standard Russian.
    If I remember correctly, it's still disputed if North Russian postpositional articles are truly definite articles.
    It's interesting, because also in Polish demonstrative pronouns happen to be used as a sort of definite article with an emphatic meaning. For example "co tam z tym piwem?" - if someone went out to bring more beer and does not return for a while. Or "zabieraj stąd ten rower" - when it's clear that the speaker means a bicycle which belongs to the interlocutor without the need to point to it specifically. There's even a book entitled 'Co z tą Polską?'. Sometimes it's difficult to distinguish if the word is used as demonstrative pronoun or as an article, sometimes it's quite clear once you begiin to realize it. Actually, since I learned about it, I notice this phenomenon surprisingly often. It's quite colloquial though.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Though not a Slavic language, Hungarian developed a system of articles during the 14th and 15th centuries. It's hard to say why such a change happens in languages, but it seems to be a historical tendency to give this new function to some of the demonstrative pronouns. The opposite does not normally happen, as far as I know.
    I don't know of any language that used to have definite articles in the past, but later lost them. :)
     

    Eirwyn

    Member
    Russian
    It's interesting, because also in Polish demonstrative pronouns happen to be used as a sort of definite article with an emphatic meaning.
    Marking definiteness is one of their main functions, emphatic or not. I doubt their usage was ever restricted to the purely demonstrative meaning.

    Russian "-to" has nothing to do with it though. It's only used to draw the speaker's attention to some particular element of the sentence. You can easily see it used with plain indefinite determiners, e.g:
    «Svechka-to hot' kakaja-nibud' u tebia jest'?» — Do you have some candle at least?
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    @Slogos

    Definite Articles in Macedonian:
    Singular (m. f. n.): -от, -ов, -он, -та, -ва, -на, -то, -во, -но
    Plural (m. f. n.): -те, -ве, -не, -те, -ве, -не, -та, -ва, -на

    Definite Articles in Bulgarian:
    Singular (m. f. n.): -ът, -ят, -a, -я, -та, -то
    Plural (m. f. n.): -те, -те, -та

    It is the Balkan Sprachbund. And there is nothing invented or artificial. Step by step the grammatical cases started to replace one another, and the more frequent use of the (common Slavic) prepositions started to make the declension needless. At the same time the definite articles started to develop from the (common Slavic) demonstratives etc. Macedonian developed 3 definite articles pertaining to position of the object: proximal (or close), distal (or distant), and medial and/or unspecified.

    Compare Serbian and Macedonian:

    SER dete; MAC dete; "kid"
    SER deteta (Gen.); MAC na deteto
    SER detetu (Dat.); MAC na deteto
    SER sa detetom (Ins.); MAC so deteto

    SER ovo dete; MAC ova dete; detevo (dete+ova, +voa dial.); "this kid", "the kid over here"
    SER ono dete; MAC ona dete; deteno (dete+ona, +noa dial.); "that kid", "the kid over there"
    SER to dete; MAC toa dete; deteto (dete+toa, +to dial.); "the kid"

    As for the Balkan Sprachbund, compare Albanian and Macedonian:

    ALB zog; MAC rog; indefinite
    ALB zogu; MAC rogot (rogo, rogut dial.); definite
    ALB të zogut; MAC na rogot/rogon/rogov; "of the..."
    ALB me zogun; MAC so rogot/rogon/rogov; "with the..."

    I think once the analytic way of expression starts to replace the synthetic way, the process can be unstoppable. See what happens today. The remnants of the old cases we have in Vocative and also in the Dative and Accusative forms of the pronouns, even though they are part of the Standard Macedonian language, there are people who tend to replace them with forms using prepositions: na nego instead nemu; na vas instead vam etc.
     
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    Slogos

    Member
    Russian
    Let’s take a look at the following example.
    /I gave the book you’re looking for to a friend of mine./ We know what particular book is in question (one that you are looking for) and we know that it was given to a random friend. So what additional information is provided by the articles? Or the other way around, what information would be lost if those articles were omitted?
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    I gave the book you’re looking for to a friend of mine.
    In Macedonian:
    Му ја дадов книгата што ја бараш на еден мој пријател. (If the friend is male)
    Ѝ ја дадов книгата што ја бараш на една моја пријателка. (If the friend is female)

    In Bulgarian:
    Дадох книгата която търсиш на (един) мой приятел. (If the friend is male)
    Дадох книгата която търсиш на (една) моя приятелка. (If the friend is female)

    We know what particular book is in question (one that you are looking for)
    Yes, and it means that the "book" is definite. And we must use a definite article, same like in English.

    and we know that it was given to a random friend
    A random friend - means the friend is indefinite, so English uses "a". And here we discovered another Balkan Sprachbund features found in Macedonian too: clitic doubling and "indefinite" articles. :D

    Besides the clitic doubling (му ја; ѝ ја etc.) which is obligatory in Macedonian, another Balkan Sprachbund feature present in Macedonian is using of еден, една, едно, едни "one/ones" as "indefinite" articles in some cases. This feature is present in Serbian/Croatian languages, in some way, too. Egy "one" as indefinite article is used in Hungarian too (@AndrasBP may help).

    English: In the room there is a dog.
    Macedonian: Vo sobata ima edno kuche. But also: Vo sobata ima kuche.
    Hungarian: A szobában van egy kutya.


    Now a little bit off-topic:
    Even though eden/edna/edno/edni "one/ones" is not considered to be indefinite article in Macedonian, in some cases it has that role, but it can be omitted too. The Hungarian indefinite article is egy "one/a". And here Macedonian and Hungarian have another thing in common too:

    Hungarian:
    egy kutya = "a dog", if the stress is on "kutya"
    egy kutya = "one dog", if the stress is on "egy"

    Macedonian:
    edno kúche = "a dog", if the stress is on "kuche"
    édno kuche = "one dog", if the stress is on "edno"
     
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    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Or the other way around, what information would be lost if those articles were omitted?
    Му ја дадов книгата што ја бараш на еден мој пријател. = I gave the book you’re looking for to a friend of mine.

    Му дадов (една) книга на еден (мој) пријател. = I gave a book to a friend (of mine).
     

    Slogos

    Member
    Russian
    Thank you for your explanations!
    These grammatical features are absent from Old Church Slavonic, which is allegedly based on some South Slavic dialects. We see that only two existing Slavic languages have adopted these features and both of them are located to the southwest of the Common Slavic area. So what other non-Slavic languages in the Balkans have similar rules? Hungarian, Albanian, Romanian, Greek? This was clearly a local phenomenon, as Serbo-Croatian, which is also in the South Slavic group, does not employ articles. None of the West or East Slavic languages use articles.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    These grammatical features are absent from Old Church Slavonic, which is allegedly based on some South Slavic dialects.
    As far as I am aware, it was based on the dialects surrounding Thessalonica (Sołuń, Солоунь). But since most of the divergence of the Slavic languages was a result of contacts with other languages, the Slavic dialects of the 9th century are expected to be much closer one to another than they are today. For example, it's known that the languages spoken in the Kingdom of Czech and in the Kingdom of Poland in 10th or 11th century were basically one language, or at least they were fully mutually understandable. Besides, only in the 10th century the Hungarians conquered the Pannonian Basin and started assimilating local peoples, including the Slavs, thus separating the South Slavic languages from the North Slavic.

    We see that only two existing Slavic languages have adopted these features and both of them are located to the southwest of the Common Slavic area. So what other non-Slavic languages in the Balkans have similar rules? Hungarian, Albanian, Romanian, Greek?
    Some of these languages are mentioned above in the discussion. I can't recall the source at this moment, but I recall reading somewhere that because of a number of structural and grammatical similarities the Balkan Sprachbund was even described as one language with several distinct sets of vocabulary, including Slavic, Illirian, Romance, and Hellenic. It's a very far-reaching statement, though, so probably it does not go that far.

    This was clearly a local phenomenon, as Serbo-Croatian, which is also in the South Slavic group, does not employ articles. None of the West or East Slavic languages use articles.
    Sometimes, for convenience, the West and East Slavic languages are grouped together as North Slavic as they share some features which are not present in the South Slavic group.
    Indeed, none of the North Slavic languages uses articles - but at least in some of them (Polish, Czech, Slovak and some North-Russian dialects were mentioned above with this regard) make use of demonstrative pronouns as a sort of a definite article, which is quite limited in use, primarily to emphatic purposes. It's not a part of a generally recognised grammar though.
     

    Slogos

    Member
    Russian
    I infer from the above that Macedonian and Bulgarian were influenced by Hungarian, which could have happened after the 10th century CE. Since Serbo-Croatian was spoken in approximately the same area, it should have been influenced as well if we follow that logic. However, it does not display the same characteristics. Another aspect is the loss of cases - no other Slavic languages have undergone the same changes. Partially degraded case systems exist nowadays in some Serbo-Croatian dialects, but that is most likely a contemporary change.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    I infer from the above that Macedonian and Bulgarian were influenced by Hungarian, which could have happened after the 10th century CE. Since Serbo-Croatian was spoken in approximately the same area, it should have been influenced as well if we follow that logic.
    Indeed, from the geographical perspective, Hungarian is not even close to Bulgarian and Macedonian - and the two even do not have a common borders with the lands massively inhabited by Hungarians - unlike Serbia and Croatia for that matter. What is common for these countries though is proximity of Greece and - historically - Turkey, which had also eliminated the borders between the countries for a period of time. Also Albanian - which is considered to belong to the Balkan Sprachbund as well - is quite at hand, though closer to Macedonia. Not forgetting about Romania at the North, albeit Macedonian is a bit aside from this perspective.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    I used Hungarian in my examples because @AndrasBP took a part in the discussion and talked about the development of the articles in Hungarian, and I found out some interesting things that Macedonian and Hungarian have in common, so I wanted to share that.

    But I also gave some examples of Albanian articles in my post above. Aromanian (Vlach), Romanian and Greek also have articles.

    And surprisingly...
    This was clearly a local phenomenon, as Serbo-Croatian, which is also in the South Slavic group, does not employ articles.
    ...this is not true! :)

    Some South Serbian dialects have lost some of the cases too, and some of them use definite articles too. They also have many features of the Balkan Sprachbund.

    Examples of South-Eastern Serbian dialects:

    Nesam ga videl ovčaratoga. = "I haven't seen the shepherd."
    ovčaratoga (shepherd+the masc.sg.Acc.)
    Macedonian
    : Ne sum go videl ovčarot.

    Na deteto knjigu mu dade Jana. = "It is Jana who gave a book to the kid."
    deteto (kid+the neut.sg.)
    Macedonian
    : Na deteto kniga mu dade Jana.

    Na kogo mu ju dade knjigutu? = "To whom did you give the book?"
    knjigutu (book+the fem.sg.Acc.)
    Macedonian
    : Komu/(na kogo) mu ja dade knigata?
     
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    Slogos

    Member
    Russian
    @nimak

    Thank you for your insight. The Serbo-Croatian dialects you mentioned have been influenced by Bulgarian and Macedonian. I am more interested in what other languages may have influenced Bulgarian and Macedonian when those separated from Common Slavic.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Greek has had a definite article since ancient times, however it went and it still goes before the noun. Albanian and Romanian, however, have postposed definite articles like Bulgarian and Macedonian. Close contact between Slavic and Romanian speakers (Vlachs) is usually considered the main reason for the existence of articles in Bulgarian and Macedonian.
     

    Eirwyn

    Member
    Russian
    Besides the clitic doubling (му ја; ѝ ја etc.) which is obligatory in Macedonian, another Balkan Sprachbund feature present in Macedonian is using of еден, една, едно, едни "one/ones" as "indefinite" articles in some cases. This feature is present in Serbian/Croatian languages, in some way, too.
    We use "один" as a determiner as well, but it has a much narrower meaning than the indefinite article in Western European languages. It indicates that the speaker knows something about the thing (person, creature) he's talking about, while for the listener it's just an ordinary object of this sort. One could say "У меня есть один знакомый, который играет на африканских барабанах" (I have a friend who plays African drums), but "Нам нужна одна новая идея" (We need a new idea) would definitely sound incorrect.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I infer from the above that Macedonian and Bulgarian were influenced by Hungarian, which could have happened after the 10th century CE.
    Without trying to open a can of worms, Macedonian as a language is a fairly new concept. All historical developments should be discussed in the context of Bulgarian only.

    Some South Serbian dialects have lost some of the cases too, and some of them use definite articles too. They also have many features of the Balkan Sprachbund.

    @nimak

    Thank you for your insight. The Serbo-Croatian dialects you mentioned have been influenced by Bulgarian and Macedonian. I am more interested in what other languages may have influenced Bulgarian and Macedonian when those separated from Common Slavic.
    These South Serbian dialects are not dialects of the Serbian language. They are historically and linguistically part of the Bulgarian dialect continuum. That's why they are closer grammatically to Bulgarian and Macedonian today. It may not be politically correct to say this but it's a fact. The Serbian language spread there much later as it was the language of the country where these lands ended up being a part of. In reality, the original area of Serbian is somewhere in and around Bosnia.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... Hungarian developed a system of articles during the 14th and 15th centuries.
    This opinion is not shared by all linguist. According some linguists the demonstrative pronoun az (<oz) was used in function of article already earlier, at least from the 10th century.
    It's hard to say why such a change happens in languages, but it seems to be a historical tendency to give this new function to some of the demonstrative pronouns.
    I agree. Btw I do not think that any external influence is needed. The Romance languages have articles, but the Latin did not. So did the Romance people "import:" it from the Germanic peoples? .... Etc.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    The Romance languages have articles, but the Latin did not. So did the Romance people "import:" it from the Germanic peoples? .... Etc.
    Why not?
    French was under the influence of Frankish, Spanish - Visigothic and Arabic, Italian - Lomards, Sicilian - Norman and Greek, so were South Italian and Romanian dialects ... Besides they might have influence one another considering that the states and political organisations were formed in various combinations, not even mentioning the trade in the Mediterranean basin.
     
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