Numbers in Bulgarian

11.06.2012 § 1 Comment

Bulgaria uses the Indo-Arabic numeral system known around the world.

We begin, as always, counting from 1 to 10.

  1. Едно (ednó)
  2. Две (dve)
  3. Три (tri)
  4. Четири (chét’ri)
  5. Пет (pet)
  6. Шест (shes‘)
  7. Седем (sédem)
  8. Осем (ósem)
  9. Девет (dévet)
  10. Десет (déset)

For the numbers 11-19, we add ten to what we had above, which in Bulgarian is accomplished with the suffix -надесет (-nádeset, literally “above ten”).

  • eдинадесет (11) – edináyse
  • дванадесет (12) – dvanáyse
  • тринадесет (13) – trináyse
  • четиринадесет (14) – chet’rináyse
  • петнадесет (15) – petnáyse
  • шестнадесет (16) – shesnáyse
  • седемнадесет (17) – sedemnáyse
  • осемнадесет (18) – osemnáyse
  • деветнадесет (19) – devetnáyse

All roots but the first two are exactly the same as the single digits. For 11, we write “edinadeset” instead of “ednonadeset*” and for 12, we write “dvanadeset” instead of “dvenadeset*”.

Since saying “something-nadeset” is a bit of a mouthful, pronunciation takes a huge shortcut on the suffix, changing it to “-nayset” or even “-nayse“. This will be a common deviation between written and spoken numbers in Bulgarian.

To reach twenty, we say “two tens”. Десет (“deset”) means “ten”, and the word for “two” we used in the pre-teens was два (“dva”), making twenty двадесет (dvádeset). Below are the tens:

  • десет (10) – déset
  • двадесет (20) – dváyse
  • тридесет (30) – tríyse
  • четиридесет (40) – chetír’se
  • петдесет (50) – pedesé
  • шестдесет (60) – sheysé
  • седемдесет (70) – sedemdesé
  • осемдесет (80) – osemdesé
  • деветдесет (90) – devedesé

Another pronunciation deviation applies here, shortening “-deset” to “-yse” or “-dese“.

We get to the hundreds. The word for “one hundred” is сто (“sto“). You will see a variant of it in every one of the following. 200 and 300 follow one formation pattern (adding -sta) while 400-900 follow another (adding -stotin). By the way, the word стотинка (“stotinka“) means “one hundredth” and refers to the Bulgarian cent, 1/100 of the Lev.

  • сто
  • двеста
  • триста
  • четиристотин
  • петстотин
  • шестстотин
  • седемстотин
  • осемстотин
  • деветстотин

The word for “one thousand” is хиляда (“hilyáda”), and its plural, хиляди (“hílyadi”) can be put after any of the numbers discussed above to denote that many thousands, e.g. петнадесет хиляди (“petnáyse hílyadi“, fifteen thousand).

Now, how do we combine these into more complex numbers? This is, thankfully, very simple: we start with the most significant register (thousands, then hundreds, then tens, then units), imagining we’re enumerating a list, adding an “and” before the last element in the list.
If all of them are present, for instance in the number 1876, the year of the April uprising, this looks like so:
1876: хиляда (1000) осемстотин (800) седемдесет (70) и (and) шест (6).
We can skip any of these and apply the same rule:
2012: две хиляди (2000) и (and) дванадесет (12).
This works for two-digit numbers:
54: петдесет (50) и (and) четири (4)
The one exception that requires adding a second “and” occurs when there are thousands, tens and units but no hundreds.
1063: хиляда (1000) и (and) шестдесет (60) и (and) три (3)

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