Pomak language

Pomak language (Greek: πομακική γλώσσα, pomakiki glosa or πομακικά, pomakika; Bulgarian: помашки език, pomaški ezik; Turkish: Pomakça) is a term used in Greece[1] and Turkey[2] to refer to some of the Rup dialects of the Bulgarian language spoken by the Pomaks in Western Thrace in Greece and Eastern Thrace in Turkey. These dialects are native also in Bulgaria, and are classified as part of the Smolyan subdialect.[3] Not all Pomaks speak this dialect as their mother language.[4]


Some grammatical forms of the Rup dialects, published by the Danish linguist Pedersen in 1907, have striking resemblance to the grammatical forms of the Armenian language.[5][6] As well, the Rup dialects have slightly different forms of demonstrative suffixes (exercising also functions of the possessive pronouns) from the Bulgarian Tran dialect and the modern standard Macedonian language.[7] There are publications concerning the vocabulary of the Rup dialects[8][9] and anthroponyms of Armenian origin which overlap areas, populated by Paulicians from the 15th to 18th centuries.[10]

According to the 1935 census in Turkey, 3881 people in Eastern Thrace identified their mother tongue as Bulgarian and 18,382 as Pomak.[11] The overall statistic from 1935 shows that 41,041 people speak Pomak as their mother tongue or as a secondary dialect.[12]

The Pomak language was used mainly in oral communication. As literary standard Pomaks attempt is being formed, it uses a script based on the Cyrillic, Greek, and Latin alphabets.


Some phrases and words
EnglishRhodope Pomak Dialect (Xanthi, Komotini, Alexandroupoli)
HelloDobar den (Formal), Zdravej (Informal)
I am Pomak/Bulgarian/Bulgarian Muslim (man)Ja sam Pomak/Balgarin/Balgarski Mohamedanin
I speak bulgarianJa lafim balgarcko
How are you?Kak si?
Thank youBlagodarja
Good dayDobar den
This chairAisos skemle
That auntieAinos lelka
Ibrahim is my uncleIbrahim e moj amiđa
Hatiđa is my sisterHatiđa e moja sestra
My fatherMojet bubajko
What are you doing?Kina rabutaš?
I knewJa znajeh
Do you know?Znaješ li ti?
He was a good manToj beše dobar čilak
I am from XanthiJa sam ot Skeča
One woman from the new villageEnna žena ot novoto selo
One day and one nightEdin den i enna nošt
Last yearLani

Some words and phrases, in the Pomak language, are borrowed from Turkish, Greek, and other languages.

A sample of the grammar

Spatio-pragmatic and Temporal-modal Uses of Nominals and Noun Modifiers

Three deictics (-s-, -t- and -n-) are used for spatio-pragmatic and temporal-modal reference in nominals. These deictics are used among others in noun modifiers such as definite articles and demonstratives:[13]

The cat (close to the speaker, here and now): Koteso.

The cat (close to the addressee or realis past): Koteto.

The cat (distal, realis future, irrealis or habitual): Koteno.

This is grand-father's snake: Aisos e dedvasa zmie.

That is grand-father's chair: Ainos e dedvasa skemle.


  1. Pilbrow, Tim (1997). "The Nation and its Margins: Negotiating a National Identity in Post-1989 Bulgaria". Anthropology of East Europe Review. Field and International Study Program, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University [and] Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Central Connecticut State University. 15 (2): 68. OCLC 475414332. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  2. Turan, Ömer (2007). "Pomaks, Their Past and Present". Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Routledge. 19 (1): 69. doi:10.1080/13602009908716425.
  3. Bulgarian dialectology; Stoyan Stoykov; 4th edition, 2002; pp.128-143
  4. Иванов, Й. Българска диалектология. Пловдивско Университетско Издателство “П. Хилендарски”. Пловдив, 1994 г., с. 80 (Ivanov, J. Bulgarian Dialectology. Plovdiv University Press “P. Hilendarski”. Plovdiv, 1994, p. 80)
  5. Պեդերսեն, Հ. Հին հայերէնի ցուցական դերանուները, Վիեննա, 1907, էջ 7 (in Armenian). (Pedersen, H. The Demonstrative Pronouns of the Old Armenian Language. Vienna, 1907, p. 7).
  6. Tumanian, E. G. (in Russian) Drevnearmianskiĭ iazyk (Classical Armenian). Moskva, "Nauka", 1971, 448 p. (p. 274).
  7. Iaroslav Iashchuk. On Possible Origin of the Postpositive Definite Article in Balkan Languages and Contribution of Armenian to Balkan Sprachbund Formation. In: Academia.edu
  8. http://napenalki.com/glossary.html?task=list&glossid=1&letter=%D0%99
  9. Селян, Е. (in Bulgarian) Коренът "джур" в българска езикова среда. Сп. "Филология", Изд.: СУ "Св. Кл. Охридски", София, 1983, бр. 12 - 13, с. 137 – 139. (Selian, E. The Root "Jur" in the Bulgarian Language Environment. Magazine "Philology". Publisher: Sofia University "St. Kl. Ohridski", Sofia, 1983, issue 12-13, p. 137-139).
  10. Голийски, П. (in Bulgarian) Ономастични и лексикални аспекти на арменското етническо присъствие в българските земи през средновековието. Автореферат на докторска дисертация. СУ "Св. Климент Охридски", ФКНФ, ЦИЕК, катедра "Класически Изток", секция "Арменска филология". София, 2005 г., 241 с. (Goliyski, P. Onomastic and lexical aspects of Armenian ethnic presence in the Bulgarian lands during the Middle Ages. Abstract of doctoral dissertation. Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", FKNF, CELC, Department "Classic East," section "Armenian Studies." Sofia, 2005, p. 241).
  11. Сребранов, Румен (2007). Чечкият говор (in Bulgarian). София: Академично издателство „Проф. Марин Дринов". p. 24. ISBN 978-954-322-230-8.
  12. Ülker, Erol (2007). "Assimilation of the Muslim communities in the first decade of the Turkish Republic (1923-1934)". European Journal of Turkish Studies. Revues.org: 18. OCLC 179911432. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  13. Adamou, E. 2011, Temporal uses of Definite Articles and Demonstratives in Pomak (Slavic, Greece), Lingua 121(5) : 871-889.

Further reading

  • Стойков, Ст. Българска диалектология. София, 1968. (Stoykov St. Bulgarian Dialectology. Sofia, 1968).
  • Милетич, Л. Ловчанските помаци. София, Български преглед, г. V, кн. I, 1898, c. 67 - 78. (Miletic, L. The Lovech Pomaks. Sofia, Bulgarian Review, y. V, vol. I, 1898, p. 67-78).
  • Савов, В. Ловчанските помаци и техния говор. Известия на семинара по славянска филология. София, 1931, кн. VII, с. 1 - 34. (Savov, V. The Lovech Pomaks and their speech. Proceedings of the Workshop on Slavic Studies. Sofia, 1931, vol. VII, p. 1-34).
  • Миков, В. Българските мохамедани в Тетевенско, Луковитско и Белослатинско. Родина, 1940 - 1941, No 3, с. 51 - 68.(Mikov, V. Bulgarian Muslims in Teteven, Lukovit, and Byala Slatina Country. Rodina, 1940 - 1941, No 3, p. 51- 68).
  • Български диалектен атлас. София, 1980, т. IV: с. Галата /под No 1471/, с. Добревци /под No 1458/ и с. Кирчево (Помашка Лешница) /под No 2306/. (Bulgarian Dialect Atlas. Sofia, 1980, section IV: the village of Galata /under No 1471/, Dobrevtsi /under No 1458/, and Kirchevo (Pomak Leshnitsa) /under No 2306/).
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