The Bulgarian alphabet

Nick Shinn's picture

An extensive search of "Bulgarian Alphabet" (in English) on the Internet reveals that the "standard" Cyrillic alphabet and fonts are used in Bulgaria. There is nothing peculiar, except if one happens across the Hermes type foundry, or visits Bulgarian-language Cyrillic web sites and notices plain type styles with seeming Latin intrusions.

Hermes, in Bulgaria, is a quality outfit, with a good range of type styles, and all of them utilize a special Bulgarian alphabet.
In it, eleven upright ("roman") characters differ from the usual Cyrillic form, by using the Cyrillic italic forms -- either just straightened up, or with extenders, or stretched. In general the effect is one of Latinizing, despite the italic and script precedents for Cyrillic ascenders.

Also, there are at least eight accented/stressed characters (with grave accent) which are either not otherwise stressed in Cyrillic, or stressed with the dieresis instead.

Details of how to substitute these characters in OpenType fonts have been provided in the Build forum -- but I am interested here in the history, politics, people and practicality of the whole situation.

This is a movement which requires a group of type designers to be on side, as well as the local design community, and scholars, educationalists, orthographers, and government to some extent.

So what's the story?
How well established is the Hermes-flavoured Cyrillic alphabet in Bulgaria?

And now that Bulgaria is in the European Union, will the Hermes-promoted Bulgar-Cyrillic alphabet become more entrenched there, and possibly make inroads elsewhere?

david h's picture

> And now that Bulgaria is in the European Union, will the Hermes-promoted Bulgar-Cyrillic alphabet become more entrenched there, and possibly make inroads elsewhere?

Nick -- just side note, I don't want to hijack your thread:

I don't think we are going to see any cultural 'improvements' (the near future)
Bulgaria -- the EU's poorest member -- is facing more acute problems: judicial reforms, labor market , structural reforms, and more, and more, and more.....

The EU is nice thing, but don't forget the real life. Or -- as you know -- the frosting doesn't make the cake.

Nick Shinn's picture

EU membership will be a big boost to the Bulgarian economy, starting with the demand for translators. They're also redoing their roadsigns for the expected influx of tourists.
So get to work on your Bulgarian alternates for Clearview, Mr Montalbano.

http://lgi.osi.hu/documents.php?id=1244

Miguel Sousa's picture

A search on Flickr reveals that the localized forms are indeed used sometimes (when the font permitted ?) [pic. 1 & 2], but not everywhere [3 & 4]. There also mixed cases [5 & 6]. The handwritten examples don't tell much [7 & 8], but the current money bills show Bulgarian forms in use [9]. It's also interesting to note that the McDonalds logo in Varna [10] is different from the one in Moscow [11].

(Note: The 'be' [б] form referenced in this other thread, is used in Serbian not Bulgarian)


[1] http://www.flickr.com/photos/eesti/105776121/


[2] http://www.flickr.com/photos/andygilham/225193374/


[3] http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanyagin/280916438/


[4] http://www.flickr.com/photos/becklectic/94232441/


[5] http://www.flickr.com/photos/dizz/205928046/


[6] http://www.flickr.com/photos/ziodave/58650697/


[7] http://www.flickr.com/photos/ztephen/289814619/


[8] http://www.flickr.com/photos/psmith/340237668/


[9] http://users.mrl.uiuc.edu/petrov/pari/pari.html


[10] http://www.flickr.com/photos/furbyx4/156618063/


[11] http://www.flickr.com/photos/32754778@N00/172732855/

Nick Shinn's picture

Looks like a real free-for-all, with many hybrids. The Bulgarian forms prominent in street signs, but not exclusively used. Nice research, Miguel.

twardoch's picture

> Hermes, in Bulgaria, is a quality outfit

Nick,

I assume you’re referring to HermesSOFT. Is your understanding of a "quality outfit" one that sells a renamed clone of ITC Eras, a renamed clone of Fritz Quadrata, a renamed clone of Univers or a renamed clone of Palatino?

;)

A.

Nick Shinn's picture

I thought "Hermes" was Bulgarian for "Micro".

paul d hunt's picture

Is your understanding of a “quality outfit” one that sells a renamed clone of ITC Eras, a renamed clone of Fritz Quadrata, a renamed clone of Univers or a renamed clone of Palatino?

Are we talking about Bitstream or HermesSOFT?

SuspensionOfDi's picture

If I'm not mistaken, all of these 'variations' are not localized Bulgarian variations, but just Cyrillic cursive/italic script. Both are seen in most of the Slavic countries, and I'm pretty sure you can find signs in cursive if you look around Moscow.

Miguel Sousa's picture

The Newseum website currently has 5 Bulgarian newspapers published in Sofia in its database. They all seem to be using fonts that employ the Bulgarian forms, except for the Pari. Here are their today's front pages in PDF:

Дневник (Dnevnik) -- PDF
24 Часа (24 Hours) -- PDF
Труд (Trud) -- PDF
Стандарт (Standart) -- PDF
Пари (Pari) -- PDF

quadibloc's picture

The D that looks like a lowercase g, and the I that looks like a lowercase u, are indeed standard Cyrillic italic/cursive forms, found in Russian-language italic fonts. So is a T that looks like a lowercase m, or the P that looks like a lowercase n, or the G that looks like a backwards s.

However, the letter that looks like an eszet seems to be something new.

Jongseong's picture

However, the letter that looks like an eszet seems to be something new.

I think you are referring to the в (v), which rises to ascender height in some Cyrillic cursive forms so that it looks like modern forms of the Greek beta without a descender. This form also shows up outside of Bulgaria.

Thanks for linking to the newspaper examples, Miguel. Most of them seem to be using a mix of different styles of Cyrillic typefaces—traditional, Bulgarian, and just standard Cyrillic cursive forms.

By standard Cyrillic cursive forms, I just mean that the forms used in the typical Cyrillic cursive have been adopted for the upright letters. Look at the Труд (Trud) example to see what I mean. Bulgarian forms go further and add ascenders on some of these letters, which I personally have a hard time liking. I get the need to break up the monotony of all the letters confined to the x height, but an ascender on the ю (yu) just seems illogical.

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