Bulgarian: Question Regarding Nominal Morphology (Noun Cases) in Modern Bulgarian


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I've read that Bulgarian has no cases except for pronouns. However, can these be examples of cases?

In this sentence the focus is on the noun: приятел

Какво значи да сънуваш приятеля (Accusative) си.

(What does it mean to dream of your friend.)

Where according to definition the accusative case is used is used for direct objects.

However if we use:

Какво значи да сънуваш приятелят си.

It doesn't make much sense.

Another example is the noun: орех

(The walnut fell on the ground.)

Падна на земята ореха (Accusative). Makes sense.


Падна на земята орехът. Doesn't make sense.


Орехът (Nominative) падна на земята. Makes sense once again because the noun is in nominative form.

Another example:

Хареса ми бабината (Genitive) рибена чорба.

(I liked my grandmother's fish soup.)


Хареса ми бабина рибена чорба.

Doesn't make much sense.

It appears that Bulgarian's "definite articles" (ът, а, я, ят, та, то) appear to define both noun definiteness and case distinctions. At this point Bulgarian, (in my opinion), is more of a synthetic language than analytical, and its declensions look more like Turkish declensions.

Edit: I know that Bulgarian once had a full paradigm of 8 cases which it lost gradually over time and that the forms mentioned here do not depict the forms of the ancient accusative, genitive, etc...,, forms. But still, even with the replacement of noun cases with prepositions, there still appear to be forms that satisfy the definition of a noun case. And in that regard Bulgarian is not really case free.

What are your educated opinions on this topic?
  • I am not Bulgarian but interested in the topic. Some observations:

    "Падна на земята ореха (Accusative). Makes sense."

    It doesn't make sense imo. Do you have any source of sentences of these type? It should be орехът as it is still the subject of the sentence, no matter its position. Of course, in spoken language -ът and -а are pronounced the same so maybe this is a case of somebody writing colloquially?

    "Хареса ми бабината (Genitive) рибена чорба."

    This is not genitive, it's simply the article -та appended to the possessive adjective бабина.

    At any rate, we can't really talk about accusative, genitive etc. in modern Bulgarian. There is a distinction between subject ("nominative") and object ("oblique") forms, only in masculine definite nouns.
    As far as I understand, literary written Bulgarian makes a distinction between subject and object definite forms of masculine nouns (орехът/ореха, вятърът/вятъра, etc). And, of course, Bulgarian has the vocative case, so the statement that "Bulgarian has no noun cases" isn't exactly accurate.
    Какво значи да сънуваш приятелят си.

    It doesn't make much sense.
    You should not really overanalyse the (mis)use of the full form of the definite article. It is a mistake made by 99% of all educated Bulgarians. There is no difference in pronunciation unless you deliberately emphasise the 't'' at the end. In other words, in connected speech приятеля приятелят are pronounced in the exact same way, which means that people confuse them and misuse them all the time.

    Yes, I know, you only use the full form (with the 't' at the end) when it applies to the sentence subject group. But fewer and fewer people know that these days...