How come that Bulgarians started to speak a Slavic language?

Jul 2014
7
Bulgaria
#1
The current state of Bulgaria was officially formed in the year of 680/681 and the generally recognized fact is that it was comprised of Proto-Bulgarian, Slavic and Thracian tribes. I believe recent DNA studies confirm this theory and even find that Proto-Bulgarians were of Indo-European origin (most probably Iranian) and definitely not Turk, as some Russian scholars believed up to some 50 years ago.

Moreover, we have at least 4 documents claiming that at these times Proto-Bulgarians were numerous and had a really vast population which is no surprise taking into account that it defeated the Byzantine Empire to establish a state on it that lasted for centuries.

In other words we know for sure that Proto-Bulgarians came in big numbers. But their language was of Iranian origin. Then how come that today Bulgarians are a Slavic nation, speaking a Slavic language. We know that it was the Bulgarian king Boris I who provided for the development of the Cyrillic alphabet (mid 9th century) and who has also approved the Slavic language as official in 893 when he was practically inherited as a king by his son Simeon I.

Is there any information regarding the transition from Proto-Bulgarian to Slavic language? Why would a numerous and state founding people which defeated Byzantium start using a Slavic language in less than 200 years?

I see only two possible explanations - one is that the Slavic tribes were much more numerous and they assimilated a minority of Proto-Bulgarians over time. But this is not plausible for we know that Proto-Bulgarians were also coming in great numbers. And the other one is that Proto-Bulgarians for some reason knew Slavic before they came to form the new state. Are there sources that can answer the question?

Thank you very much in advance for your answers.
 
Sep 2012
3,886
Bulgaria
#2
Actually Turkic language theory is not a communist invention. Back in 1900 Ivan Shishmanov first mentioned such possibility and nearly 30 years later the famous linguist of ours Stefan Mladenov wrote a great deal about it in 1928.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
#3
Several names of Protobulgarians indicate a turkic origin of the elite. But it is as well probable, that around these Turkic "Traditionskern" several indo-iranian groups followed them.
The Protobulgarians may have had a great number of people, but not extraordinary more than others before. So compared with the native population on the balkans they were a small minority, as all the other barbaric nations before.
These native population was a mix of Roman and greek-speaking people and since 612 there were Slavs settling on the balkans. Till 681 they have settled many regions.
That was probably the reason, why Boris chose Slavic as church language and the Protobulgarians adopted the language of the Slavs for their empire instead that the Turkic of the elite spread.
 
Sep 2013
1,110
Abu Dhabi
#4
I believe recent DNA studies confirm this theory and even find that Proto-Bulgarians were of Indo-European origin (most probably Iranian) and definitely not Turk ...
You believe? Based on what?

You believe or you wish?

Ok, I won't rush with conclusions as I see you just registered and that's your first post.

Here on this forum we don't talk about a DNA.

Besides, the whole thing about DNA is pointless. When these pseudo scientists who publish their rubbish to get more funding from racist, nationalist and xenophobic fund raisers - really learn which DNA is carrying which ethnic trait - and that will never happen - because we are all humans, same species - then please, let's come back to this. Until then it's all just a sheer speculation.

Now, regarding Bulgars. Their names, surviving records - all suggest they were Turkic.

If that is not enough - there are still two surviving population groups branched from Bulgars - Volga Bulgars (Tatars) and Balkars in Northern Caucasus. Both are (and have always been) Turkic.

And the last - a note to Bulgarian nationalists - I don't imply you are one of them but in case some will be reading this thread - if you hate all Turkish - no need to fake history - just change your name into a Slavic one.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
#5
You believe? Based on what?

You believe or you wish?

Ok, I won't rush with conclusions as I see you just registered and that's your first post.

Here on this forum we don't talk about a DNA.

Besides, the whole thing about DNA is pointless. When these pseudo scientists who publish their rubbish to get more funding from racist, nationalist and xenophobic fund raisers - really learn which DNA is carrying which ethnic trait - and that will never happen - because we are all humans, same species - then please, let's come back to this. Until then it's all just a sheer speculation.

Now, regarding Bulgars. Their names, surviving records - all suggest they were Turkic.

If that is not enough - there are still two surviving population groups branched from Bulgars - Volga Bulgars (Tatars) and Balkars in Northern Caucasus. Both are (and have always been) Turkic.

And the last - a note to Bulgarian nationalists - I don't imply you are one of them but in case some will be reading this thread - if you hate all Turkish - no need to fake history - just change your name into a Slavic one.
It would be generally intersting to know what DNA makes somebody a Turk? :)
 
Sep 2013
1,110
Abu Dhabi
#6
Indeed... considering that native Turkic speakers are spread on the whole Eurasia - from inner China to Romania/Bessarabia :)
 
Jul 2014
7
Bulgaria
#7
Several names of Protobulgarians indicate a turkic origin of the elite. But it is as well probable, that around these Turkic "Traditionskern" several indo-iranian groups followed them.
The Protobulgarians may have had a great number of people, but not extraordinary more than others before. So compared with the native population on the balkans they were a small minority, as all the other barbaric nations before.
These native population was a mix of Roman and greek-speaking people and since 612 there were Slavs settling on the balkans. Till 681 they have settled many regions.
That was probably the reason, why Boris chose Slavic as church language and the Protobulgarians adopted the language of the Slavs for their empire instead that the Turkic of the elite spread.
Beorna, this is exactly the question - if Slavs were newcomers on the Balkans just like the Proto-Bulgarians are (and we know that the Bulgarians were indeed very numerous) isn't it strange that it was the Slavic language that was soon adopted as official in the newly found state and not the Proto-Bulgarian language? May be this elite that you are speaking about was leading a mix of different tribes? Is it possible that the Proto-Bulgarian elite was followed by Slavs coming on the Balkans. If there were also Slavs among them this would reveal a lot.
 
Jul 2014
7
Bulgaria
#8
You believe? Based on what?

You believe or you wish?

Ok, I won't rush with conclusions as I see you just registered and that's your first post.

Here on this forum we don't talk about a DNA.

Besides, the whole thing about DNA is pointless. When these pseudo scientists who publish their rubbish to get more funding from racist, nationalist and xenophobic fund raisers - really learn which DNA is carrying which ethnic trait - and that will never happen - because we are all humans, same species - then please, let's come back to this. Until then it's all just a sheer speculation.

Now, regarding Bulgars. Their names, surviving records - all suggest they were Turkic.

If that is not enough - there are still two surviving population groups branched from Bulgars - Volga Bulgars (Tatars) and Balkars in Northern Caucasus. Both are (and have always been) Turkic.

And the last - a note to Bulgarian nationalists - I don't imply you are one of them but in case some will be reading this thread - if you hate all Turkish - no need to fake history - just change your name into a Slavic one.
Nesimi, my question has little to do with the origin of the Proto-Bulgarians (unless they happen to be Slavs of course). The question is why they would adopt a Slavic language if they were so numerous. In the end the Slavs came in the region more or less at the same time and were also new settlers and not locals. So, I am looking for a source that would support one of the two theories: either Slavs have settled in much higher humbers and managed to assimilate the Proto-Bulgarians, or the Proto-Bulgarians were actually just a mere elite as beorna says - an elite that was followed by other Slav speaking population.

As about the origin of the Proto-Bulgarians - it is not the DNA that proves the Indo-Iranian origin, it is actually linguistics as most of the words that we know have remained from this language are with no doubt with Indo-Iranian roots. The DNA (to the extent to which can be trusted so far) comes simply to support this hypothesis.
 
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beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
#9
Beorna, this is exactly the question - if Slavs were newcomers on the Balkans just like the Proto-Bulgarians are (and we know that the Bulgarians were indeed very numerous) isn't it strange that it was the Slavic language that was soon adopted as official in the newly found state and not the Proto-Bulgarian language? May be this elite that you are speaking about was leading a mix of different tribes? Is it possible that the Proto-Bulgarian elite was followed by Slavs coming on the Balkans. If there were also Slavs among them this would reveal a lot.
There are only a few linguistic traces left. The name material suggests, as I wrote before, that the original Protobulgarian elite were of Turkic origin. That doesn't say anything about the language that was used among the Protobulgars in a wider sense, because there were for sure as well indo-iranian elements. I think it is generally impossible to exclude a Sclavinic or Antic participation as well. But this would be speculation, especially if it would let to the thesis, that Slavic was already the lingua franca of the Protobulgarian invaders. We have to keep in mind here, that the Protobulgarians first used Greek in administration shows, that the Slavisation of the balkan did not stop under the Protobulgarians.
 
Dec 2011
4,877
Iowa USA
#10
There are only a few linguistic traces left. The name material suggests, as I wrote before, that the original Protobulgarian elite were of Turkic origin. That doesn't say anything about the language that was used among the Protobulgars in a wider sense, because there were for sure as well indo-iranian elements. I think it is generally impossible to exclude a Sclavinic or Antic participation as well. But this would be speculation, especially if it would let to the thesis, that Slavic was already the lingua franca of the Protobulgarian invaders. We have to keep in mind here, that the Protobulgarians first used Greek in administration shows, that the Slavisation of the balkan did not stop under the Protobulgarians.
How many human generations pass between founding of Bulgarian Empire and the destruction of the Avars' center of power in Danube basin? Not many, if I recall, no more than five generations.

How does an academic person make a distinction between turkic proto-Bulgarian "elite class" and Avars?

It seems reasonable that if Slavic speaking people had a very thin Turkic aristocracy exacting tribute that Iranian-dialect speakers could also have a thin aristocracy over them. Can they be the same nobility, Avar nobility?

Once Charlemagne's Frankish power physically destroyed the Avar nobility then Slavic speakers were left to be invested by both Roman and Eastern Churches as nobility.
 

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