Bulgarian Is Spoken by 15 Million People Worldwide
According to a study of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAN), around fifteen million people across the world speak the Bulgarian language.
Seven million of them live in Bulgaria, three other million inhabit the Bulgarian language continuum, which comprises the historical provinces of Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia, while the remaining five million speakers are Bulgarian emigrants living across the world.
This was stated by Anna Kocheva, Associate Professor at the Institute for Bulgarian Language to BAN, which has devised a map of the speakers of Bulgarian language across the world.
In an interview for private bTV station on Friday, Kocheva reminded that the Bulgarian diaspora has emigrated at different stages.
For example, there have been four emigrant waves to the USA – at the beginning of the 20th century, after the September uprising of 1923, after the establishment of Communist rule in 1944 and most recently after the fall of Communism in 1989.
In the state of Illinois, Bulgarian has been recognised as an official language since 2005 due to the large population of Bulgarians living there, in particular in Chicago.
In the Cook County of Illinois, Bulgarian has been recognised as official language in the tax administration.
In the eastern part of the USA, scientists organise congresses at which the official languages are Bulgarian and English.
In Austria, the exams at the end of high school can be held in the Bulgarian language.
Kocheva added that in the case of parents of different nationalities, children are more likely to speak Bulgarian if the mother is Bulgarian.
Spain is one of the countries to which Bulgarians have moved more recently.
According to latest data, there are around 300 000 Bulgarians living in Spain, whose origin can be traced mainly to the villages of the Rhodope mountains.
In the opinion of Kocheva, these emigrants will preserve the typical Rhodopean dialect as entire villages have moved to the Iberian peninsula.
The preservation of the language depends on the surrounding environment and it is more difficult to preserve Bulgarian in German or English-language environment.
According to data of the education ministry, at present there are 253 Bulgarian schools around the world, which are attended by the children of Bulgarian emigrants at weekends, as well as two state educational establishments in Prague and Bratislava.
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