We are pleased to present to our foreign readers a series of posts dedicated to English to Bulgarian translations, or more specifically, the main differences between these two languages that affect translations.
Starting today, the series will feature a variety of articles covering different linguistic categories, namely grammar (syntax, phonetics, punctuation, morphology, phonology), semantics and pragmatics, etc.
Today’s topic will be personal pronouns, and we will focus mainly on second-person pronouns as they’re the ones the two languages differ in.
In English, the pronoun “you” is being used to address anyone – regardless of whether you are addressing one or more people (i.e. singular or plural usage). In Bulgarian however, we have one word for the singular second-person pronoun (“ти”), and a completely different one for the plural pronoun („вие”).
While modern English does not have the distinction between informal and formal second-person pronouns,(or the so-called T-V distinction), in Bulgarian things are (again) not quite as simple: we have both the informal second-person pronoun (“ти”), and the formal one (“Вие”) – which is the most common form of addressing people outside your immediate circle of friends/relatives/close ones, or the so called “polite form” (a literal translation of what we call it in Bulgarian).
The interesting thing here is the fact that in Bulgarian, the plural second-person pronoun (“вие”) and the formal one (“Вие”) is one and the same word – the only difference being that the polite form is spelt with a capital letter.
In light of the above-explained basics of second-person pronouns usage in both languages, it becomes clear that the accuracy of English to Bulgarian translations would depend largely on context. Let’s take, for example, the translation of a simple sentence like “You are wonderful” into Bulgarian. In order to decide whether it’s the singular or plural, informal or formal pronoun that should be used, the translator would most certainly need the context the sentence is being used in. Another reason context would be of paramount importance for achieving an accurate translation of the above sentence, is the fact that in the Bulgarian language, verbs always conjugate with the noun/pronoun they are attached to – i.e. the form of the verb used with the polite form would be different than the one used with the informal pronoun.
To sum up, the above English sentence will remain the same regardless of formal or informal second-person pronoun usage; while in Bulgarian the pronoun and the verb will change depending on whether it’s a singular, plural, informal or formal usage. The verb form actually remains the same with both the plural and formal second-person pronoun, but we’ll discuss verbs conjugation in more detail later on.