Bulgarian Cyrillic

iOS 14 started displaying text marked as Bulgarian using the special Bulgarian style of Cyrillic letters. I recall having seen it in a book printed in Bulgaria in the Soviet times, but then I thought it was just a kind of ornamental font (resembling Georgian script). My question is, what is the place of this style in modern Bulgaria? Is it meant to replace the standard angular rendering or…?

IMG_5732.png
 
  • Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    As far as I know, it has actually always been the "preferred" style in Bulgaria, but it was the advent of computers and information technology with their limited character support which cemented the "Russian-style" Cyrillic for a few decades. Now when the technology has advanced so much that the localisation works within the same alphabet (for example Russian-Cyrillic and Bulgarian-Cyrillic), it is simply reverting back to use. I have been following dnevnik.bg for some years now and for as long as I remember, they have been using the Bulgarian style of letters.

    This is my understanding of the situation, Bulgarians will probably have more answers. :)
     
    Interestingly, this is coded with the same plain Unicode Cyrillic letters, so it is just a marker that it is Bulgarian that makes the text to be displayed this way. macOS 10.15 displays the same mobile Wikipedia page using the standard rendering; dnevnik.bg is displayed in rounded letters though.

    P. S. I would be surprised if this style is not modeled after the Greek minuscule.
     
    Practically the implementation looks the following way:
    the unerlying code
    {{desc|bg|гле́дам}}​
    causes the text marked with bg to be displayed rounded, as opposed to the standard Cyrillic without this mark:

    IMG_5733.png
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Yeah, I have also noticed that wikipedia shows like this on mobile only.

    I don't think it has anything to do with Greek though, it's simply stylised handwritten cursive, isn't it? if you look at the shape of "гледам", it is the same as handwritten Russian, especially the forms of г and д.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    This style of Bulgarian Cyrillic letters always gives me a headache after trying to read couple of words.
     
    Yeah, I have also noticed that wikipedia shows like this on mobile only.

    I don't think it has anything to do with Greek though, it's simply stylised handwritten cursive, isn't it? if you look at the shape of "гледам", it is the same as handwritten Russian, especially the forms of г and д.
    This style of Bulgarian Cyrillic letters always gives me a headache after trying to read couple of words.
    It indeed resembles the 18th century Russian glyphs, like in the book nimak has recently cited elsewhere:
    Geometria_Slavenski_Zemlemerie.jpg

    Perhaps somebody knows what actually took place with this style of Cyrillic?
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Interestingly, this is coded with the same plain Unicode Cyrillic letters, so it is just a marker that it is Bulgarian that makes the text to be displayed this way.
    Isn't it a font selection rather than an encoding?
    I use a Noscript plugin in the browser which prohibits automatic script loading - unless they come from whitelisted sources. When I opened Dnevnik it was originally rendered using the Russian Cyrillic. Only when I allowed it to load the scripts, the look was changed to the Bulgarian style.

    Dnevnik before.png
    Dnevnik after.png
     
    Isn't it a font selection rather than an encoding?
    I use a Noscript plugin in the browser which prohibits automatic script loading - unless they come from whitelisted sources. When I opened Dnevnik it was originally rendered using the Russian Cyrillic. Only when I allowed it to load the scripts, the look was changed to the Bulgarian style.
    Don't know. If we enter the edit mode in my above screenshot, we get the following:
    ====Descendants====
    {{topa}}
    * East Slavic:
    ** Old East Slavic: {{l|ru|глѧдати}} {{i|11th century}}
    *** {{desc|ru|гля́дать}} {{i|dialectal}}, {{l|ru|гляда́ть}} {{i|dialectal; Dal's dictionary}}
    *** {{desc|uk|гляда́ти}}
    * South Slavic:
    ** Old Church Slavonic:
    **: Cyrillic: {{l|cu|глѧдати}}
    **: Glagolitic: {{l|cu|ⰳⰾⱔⰴⰰⱅⰹ}}
    ** {{desc|bg|гле́дам}}
    ** {{desc|mk|гледа}}
    ** {{desc|sh|-}}
    **: {{desc|sh|гле̏дати|sclb=1}}, {{l|sh|гле́дати}}
    **: Latin: {{l|sh|glȅdati}}, {{l|sh|glédati}}
    *** Chakavian {{a|Vrgada}}: {{l|sh|glȅdati}}
    *** Chakavian {{a|Orbanići}}: {{l|sh|glȅdat}}
    ** {{desc/sl-tonal|glẹ́dati}}
    * West Slavic:
    I don't see where a particular font is specified for displaying the Bulgarian text. Nor is it indicated at the page header. Must be somewhere globally in the site settings then…

    For dnevnik.bg you must be right: I have printed their page into pdf, opened the file in Acrobat and found an embedded font TheSerifDnevnik- (with plain, semibold etc. variants).
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Don't know. If we enter the edit mode in my above screenshot, we get the following:
    It's not the page source code which is executed by the browser. It's the source code for the engine which builds the page. It works more or less like this:

    What you type -> wiktionary page building engine -> HTML+CSS+fonts -> your browser -> What you see.

    I don't see where a particular font is specified for displaying the Bulgarian text. Nor is it indicated at the page header. Must be somewhere globally in the site settings then…
    I would expect that the font specification is included in the site-wide CSSes which are loaded with each individual page. It's simpler this way and allows preserving consistency across all the pages.
     

    eeladvised

    Member
    Slovene - Slovenia
    Probably the "bg" marker, yes. I don't know exactly how the {{desc}} template works, but the resulting HTML includes <span class="Cyrl" lang="bg">, so the language is marked appropriately in HTML as Bulgarian. This is all that should be needed to display Bulgarian variants of the characters, provided that the software supports this and that the font has suitable language-specific glyph substitution tables (which I guess a good OpenType font should have nowadays).
     
    Continuing monitoring… In the last days I have seen a number of instances of this Bulgarian Cyrillic in seemingly Russian texts. So, either there is a lot of crypto-Bulgarian content in the Runet, or the system mistakes other markers for this locale-setting one. As an example, today's Deutsche Wochenschau:

    IMG_5739.jpeg
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I personally like this script a lot. I find it more esthetically pleasing. It's a stylized handwritten script. Usually I don't notice the difference unless I think about. It looks as natural as the other one.
     
    I personally like this script a lot. I find it more esthetically pleasing. It's a stylized handwritten script. Usually I don't notice the difference unless I think about. It looks as natural as the other one.
    Do you agree with what Panceltic wrote in #2 that
    As far as I know, it has actually always been the "preferred" style in Bulgaria, but it was the advent of computers and information technology with their limited character support which cemented the "Russian-style" Cyrillic for a few decades. Now when the technology has advanced so much that the localisation works within the same alphabet (for example Russian-Cyrillic and Bulgarian-Cyrillic), it is simply reverting back to use.
    ?
    Is it indeed perceived as a national style of Cyrillic letters in Bulgaria, or do people just know that there are two variants, with no additional connotations? Do you feel this variant is spreading?
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Do you agree with what Panceltic wrote in #2 that

    ?
    Is it indeed perceived as a national style of Cyrillic letters in Bulgaria, or do people just know that there are two variants, with no additional connotations? Do you feel this variant is spreading?
    The average person has no clue and wouldn't give it a thought. I do remember reading about this though and some websites have shifted towards the this "national" script so now I do notice it.
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    I read in the "Russian" Cyrillic just as proficiently and quickly as I read in the Latin alphabet, but that "Bulgarian" script slows me down significantly.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I wonder if it's like different glyphs for a and g in Latin alphabets ... It goes completely unnoticed when you read the text.
    The differences are bigger than that. I mean, in your example they're basically the same.
    Here you have д vs g (and a few others like г and т look totally different). They are based on handwriting styles and look very natural. For example, absolutely no one ever writes "д" in handwriting. It's a shape you only see in print.

    But I can see the confusion it can cause to those who aren't used to it. For example, I know in Serbian handwriting they use
    1601660836590.png
    for П which to me looks like й.
     
    Last edited:

    Милан

    Senior Member
    Serbian (Србија)
    Our cursive B, D, b, d, p, t, g are different than your Bulgarian/Russian version. I remember when I was in primary school and in my textbook it was written пет (italic if you don't see it as nem) пет=five. We all read that as нем (nem) until the teacher explained to us that it was a 'Russian' thing. And since we kinda (re)started using the Cyrillic alphabet in the 90's, it took us more than 20 years for people to realise yep we can make fonts using our version пет.
     

    Attachments

    • пет.png
      пет.png
      1.1 KB · Views: 70
    Last edited:

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Our cursive B, D, b, d, p, t, g are different than your Bulgarian/Russian version. I remember when I was in primary school and in my textbook it was written пет (italic if you don't see it as nem) пет=five. We all read that as нем (nem) until the teacher explained to us that it was a 'Russian' thing. And since we kinda (re)started using the Cyrillic alphabet in the 90's, it took us more than 20 years for people to realise yep we can make fonts using our version пет.
    b, d look the same. And t also although it has a line on top. My grandma used to write t with a line above and sh with a line below. That was the only distinguishing feature.
    When I was taught to write, they were already without lines and the shapes looked similar but different enough.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    b, d look the same

    If we talk about handwritten uppercase "Д", then there is a difference. In Russian and Bulgarian it is written same as the handwritten Latin "D". In Macedonian and Serbian it looks differently.

    UJzEUUb.png
     
    Last edited:

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    If we talk about handwritten uppercase "Д", then there is a difference. In Russian and Bulgarian it is written same as the handwritten Latin "D". In Macedonian and Serbian it looks differently.

    UJzEUUb.png
    I said specifically lower case.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    My grandma used to write t with a line above and sh with a line below. That was the only distinguishing feature.
    When I was taught to write, they were already without lines and the shapes looked similar but different enough.

    Which way the nowadays students in Bulgaria are taught at school to write the handwritten lowercase т?

    CoHPY3z.png
     
    Last edited:
    Thanks. But I find that the goal is unrealistic. They write that [б]ългарската кирилица е богата на знаци, но бедна на изразни форми (sorry, WordReference software doesn't display the Bulgarian letters), yet, taking into consideration that (1) there are in orders of magnitude less Cyrillic-supporting fonts in existence than Roman ones, (2) the proposed national Bulgarian Cyrillic has very peculiar shapes of many letters that makes adaptation to various fonts quite cumbersome, and (3) the size of the Bulgarian market — I venture to predict that there eventually will emerge some 3–5 fonts with Bulgarian support: this will make the alphabet more locally specific but will limit the typographic freedom even more. It's much easier to switch to the Roman script altogether if distancing from the Russian practice is so desirable.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    If I may bravely share my thought as a double-foreigner (not a Bulgarian and not even a native user of the Cyrillic script - although I read it), if the Bulgarian version wasn't labelled as such, I would not even notice the difference. Yes, some letters - mainly minuscule - have some specific features, but most of the time they closely resemble the hand-writing script I had learned on my Russian classes decades ago.

    This resembles me an effort to create a native Polish script by a graphic designer a decade or so ago. He shaped the letters - and their "hints" in the font files - so that they look nicely in combinations in which they are often used in the Polish language, like "rz", "sz", "cz", "ło", etc, which are rarely or never used in English, and hence they are unoptimised for this usage in commercially available font sets. A whole lot of the hard work, but the final effect is barely noticeable for the persons without education in graphic or design - and as far as I am aware, the number of users is rather limited, since most of the time default Windows fonts are used anyway.
     
    Last edited:

    Kazimir Lenz

    New Member
    Bulgarian
    This resembles me an effort to create a native Polish script by a graphic designer a decade or so ago. He shaped the letters - and their "hints" in the font files - so that they look nicely in combinations in which they are often used in the Polish language, like "rz", "sz", "cz", "ło", etc, which are rarely or never used in English, and hence they are unoptimised for this usage in commercially available font sets.

    I am interested in this. Do you happen to remember the name of the font or/and its author?
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    I read a lot about this Bulgarian STYLE (not font) of Cyrillic script. Only lowercase letters are different from usual Cyrillic style.

    Apparently, it was developed in late 1960's by Bulgarian typographers and other experts. There are several goals they had in mind with this style:

    1. to follow the pattern that Latin script uses, where lowercase letters draw their shape from their cursive forms, and not from uppercase letters' forms of regular printed script, as it is the case with Cyrillic script. Some people debate (although I found this a matter of personal preference) that rounded shapes of this style is more readable than usual angular style of Cyrillic lowercase. Most of those shapes are already used in italic form of Cyrillic script, so they are not unfamiliar to other Cyrillic users. The difference is that in italic they are, obviously, slanted to the right, while these are upright.
    So, basically, the goal here is to further the development (as they see it) of the Cyrillic typography, which turned to Latin pattern with Peter the Great's reform (Civil script), by adopting the Latin pattern completely.
    2. to develop distinctive Bulgarian national style (as they marked the traditional style as "Russian style"), although this one could also be debated, because nothing stops Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians from using this style, if they take a fancy for it. In fact, some Russian newspapers in 19th century used the style almost identical to this one, but it didn't catch the wider public. For Serbs, though, it is almost unimaginable that this style could pass, because shapes like "u", "n", "m", are too deep ingrained in our minds as only Latin. Our minds are already hard-coded with the notion that those letters represent Latin counterparts of Cyrillic "у", "н", "м", and it would be really hard to rewire us to see them as "и", "п", "т" as in new Bulgarian style. The whole idea, considering changes of some letter's shapes to more handwritten form, though, might make some influence, but we are yet to see it.

    The style was promoted by Bulgarian authorities since early 1970's, but with limited success. Only in recent 10-15 years it gains momentum through the various initiatives, with the obvious help of modern technology which makes it pretty easy to make and spread any number of fonts with this style.

    I asked a few Bulgarians about their thoughts on this, and their answer (they are not into language and typography), generally, was that they didn't even notice the difference. It means either the style is not too widespread to be noticeable, or more likely that the people are already used to it, the way Serbs are used to using two alphabets interchangeably without noticing it.
     
    Last edited:

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    In fact, some Russian newspapers in 19th century used the style almost identical to this one, but it didn't catch the wider public.

    I have seen texts in Russian (but can't find any images right now), stuff like diplomas, certificates etc. from the 1970s (I believe) using this style of Cyrillic, the weirdest thing is that Ь is always very tall, even in minuscule.
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    This style is still used in Russian, but not for general reading. It is used in cases like you said, for book covers, certificates, billboards etc (in that capacity it is sometimes used in Serbian, too, and it doesn't look weird). It is called прямой курсив (upright italic) in Russian. But in 19th century a few newspapers (I can't remember which) used it for general texts. It is/was not identical to this current new Bulgarian style, some letters are different. What I find really wrong about Bulgarian style, and I think they made quite a mistake there, is that oversized lowercase Bulgarian "в", the one that looks like German "ß". It sticks like a sore thumb from text, makes an obtrusive appearance, makes words seem disjoined and ruins the overall harmony of text. I really can't get over it. I think some of Bulgarian designers think the same way as I do, because I've seen some fonts made with a smaller "в", more to the proportion of other letters. I also don't like ж and ю with ascenders, it looks pretty superfluous. I generally dislike things done just in order to deliberately make something different or similar to some other thing, and I suspect they've overdone it in the case of some letters.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I asked a few Bulgarians about their thoughts on this, and their answer (they are not into language and typography), generally, was that they didn't even notice the difference. It means either the style is not too widespread to be noticeable, or more likely that the people are already used to it, the way Serbs are used to using two alphabets interchangeably without noticing it.
    It's not noticeable because people are used to having different fonts whether due to different styles in print, ads, etc. or the fact than it's in a way similar to handwritten letters.

    What I find really wrong about Bulgarian style, and I think they made quite a mistake there, is that oversized lowercase Bulgarian "в", the one that looks like German "ß". It sticks like a sore thumb from text, makes an obtrusive appearance, makes words seem disjoined and ruins the overall harmony of text. I really can't get over it. I think some of Bulgarian designers think the same way as I do, because I've seen some fonts made with a smaller "в", more to the proportion of other letters. I also don't like ж and ю with ascenders, it looks pretty superfluous. I generally dislike things done just in order to deliberately make something different or similar to some other thing, and I suspect they've overdone it in the case of some letters.
    Can you give an example?
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    It's not noticeable because people are used to having different fonts whether due to different styles in print, ads, etc. or the fact than it's in a way similar to handwritten letters.
    Well, this is not correct. All the people that use Cyrillic, Latin are used to different fonts. This Bulgarian new style is something completely different, and as you can see it is highly odd and unusual to other Cyrillic users. So, if it is not unusual to Bulgarians it means one of two things I said - you are using it regularly so you are used to it, or you use it seldom and don't notice it at all. In fact, one of Bulgarians I asked never saw it before, and it was unusual to him. Important to mention is that he lives in USA for about 20 years

    Can you give an example?
    Example of what exactly? If you ask about "в", there are examples virtually everywhere, like this>
    Screenshot_5.jpg


    It's is an example where "в" doesn't stick out that much as in some other fonts. It still look oversized though.
    This one is too big>
    Screenshot_6.jpg


    If you mean about ж, ю with ascenders, there are examples in those two pictures. I think, while ж (and к) can pass somewhat, for ю it really doesn't suit at all. I also don't like that prolonged "з" on the second image.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    if it is not unusual to Bulgarians it means one of two things I said - you are using it regularly so you are used to it, or you use it seldom and don't notice it at all.
    The second option makes no sense. If you don't see it often or at all, you should notice it immediately.

    Example of what exactly? If you ask about "в", there are examples virtually everywhere, like this>
    View attachment 53345

    It's is an example where "в" doesn't stick out that much as in some other fonts. It still look oversized though.
    This one is too big>
    View attachment 53347

    If you mean about ж, ю with ascenders, there are examples in those two pictures. I think, while ж (and к) can pass somewhat, for ю it really doesn't suit at all. I also don't like that prolonged "з" on the second image.
    None of these things would make me pause at all. Especially not в which you said that looks like that German letter. Not at all, in my mind.
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    The second option makes no sense. If you don't see it often or at all, you should notice it immediately.
    It makes sense like this - if someone doesn't meet it often, he wouldn't notice it because he would assume that it is some random or special thing, not likely to be seen again very soon, so that doesn't require any thought as such.

    None of these things would make me pause at all. Especially not в which you said that looks like that German letter. Not at all, in my mind.
    That's because you are fully adopted to this style, and it has grown to be totally natural to you. For us, not used to it, в, к, ж, ю really stick out. But, that was the idea of creators of this style, because they maintain that ascenders make letters more noticeable and recognizable, and consequently that should (in their mind) make the script more readable. Still, having all that in mind, "в" stays too odd and I think that gradually it would change its size/shape to be more harmonious with other letters. In my first example В is 4 times used as a word B (meaning "in"), and every time it seems as if a new sentence begins at that place.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    That's how в is in cursive, it's taller than most letters. It doesn't have the shape of a capital letter so it doesn't look like a new sentence.

    I don't know how this makes the text more readable. I can read both equally without any problem.
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    That's how в is in cursive, it's taller than most letters. It doesn't have the shape of a capital letter so it doesn't look like a new sentence.
    In cursive it's upper "belly" is way narrower than the lower one and doesn't look that intrusive, it looks more like Latin "b" (by the way, Latin "b" and Cyrillic "в" have the same shape in cursive). Anyway, I'm telling you how I feel about it, and I'm sure many people feel the same, including many Bulgarian font designers, because I notice that many newer fonts are designed with smaller or narrower "в". But I've said that already.

    I don't know how this makes the text more readable. I can read both equally without any problem.

    Well, some typographers and some other "specialists" have argued that it is the case (better readability of the text if you have more letters with ascenders/descenders, because it supposedly makes them more recognizable). Personally, I agree with you. I think once that you learn technic of reading, and adopt yourself to certain shape of letters, there's nothing in the field of letter design that can improve your reading speed, at least not in any substantial capacity. Of course a person can improve reading speed and accuracy, but there are special techniques which do it on individual level, through training etc, not through changing the script.
     

    cHr0mChIk

    Member
    Serbian (maternal); Slovak (paternal)
    I, as a fellow Serbian actually agree with you. This style takes a bit of getting used to. It looks a bit distracting and not as pleasant to look at, for me personally.

    Out of all the screenshots you shared, the one from dnevnik.bg looks the best for me, that one looks slightly more natural than the others.

    I completely agree that the letters в, ж and occasionally ю with ascenders don't look good at all. I think it's mainly that which makes it distracting and displeasing.

    But either way, I don't think I've encountered this style in the past, so probably with a bit of getting used to, I wouldn't have any issues with it.

    I think Bulgarians are just used to it, in the same way we're used to 2 scripts. Most of the times, my brain doesn't even register which script something is written in (in Serbian).
     

    rhiniwr

    New Member
    Spanish - Uruguay
    If one wishes to read mostly Bulgarian, it is possible to "fix" the Cyrillic style in the web browser, so that most web sites will share the same style.

    I've done this with Firefox: I've set it to use the Pliska, HK Grotesk, and Inconsolata LGC fonts for Cyrillic (for Serif, Sans, and Monospace respectively - the first two in regular form, the last one in italics only - proportional default is Sans), and I've unchecked the check box that allowed sites to choose their own fonts. Now most web sites adhere to the Bulgarian Cyrillic style.

    All the above are fonts that can be downloaded free from the Internet. Also other fonts, like Simbal (for writing documents) and Marck Script (for occasional use as cursive), can be located there.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Well, I don't know what it is exactly but it's different from the "standard" one. Like д has another shape.

    Yeah normal default Cyrillic (as used in Russia) cursive looks like this. I guess they just put the whole letter in italics to approximate the Bulgarian form of the letters?
     

    Mačak pod šlemom

    Member
    Serbian
    Yes, the second one is just a standard Cyrillic italic script. New-style Bulgarian italic corresponds to it's upright letters, meaning к and ж with ascenders and a few other distinctive marks.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    I completely agree that the letters в, ж and occasionally ю with ascenders don't look good at all. I think it's mainly that which makes it distracting and displeasing.
    This thing about ascenders has stuck with me and I realized that Latin script is full of them. So, it's a matter of getting used to.
     
    Top