Bulgarian is a Southern Slavic language with about 12 million speakers mainly in Bulgaria, but also in Ukraine, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Greece, Romania, Canada, USA, Australia, Germany and Spain. Bulgarian is mutually intelligible with Macedonian, and fairly closely related to Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Slovenian.
Bulgarian was the first Slavic language to be written: it starts to appear in writing during the 9th century in the Glagolitic alphabet, which was gradually replaced by an early version of the Cyrillic alphabet over the following centuries.
At the end of the 18th century the Russian version of Cyrillic or the “civil script” of Peter the Great (1672-1725) was adapted to write Bulgarian as a result of the influence of printed books from Russia. During the 19th century a number of versions of this alphabet containing between 28 and 44 letters were used. In the 1870s a version of the alphabet with 32 letters proposed by Marin Drinov became widely used.
A modern literary language based on vernacular spoken Bulgarian was standardized after Bulgaria became independent in 1878. Many Turkish words were adopted into Bulgarian during the long period of Ottoman rule. Words have also been borrowed from Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Italian, and German and increasingly from English.