In the 1850s, the author of the first French-Bulgarian and Bulgarian-French dictionaries, Dr. Ivan Bogorov described the ideal linguistic skills of a Bulgarian at the time as the following: “Bulgarians should communicate with each other in Bulgarian, in Turkish they should communicate with the local authorities, in Greek – with their trading partners and in French – with the world”.
Bogorov, himself, was a good example to follow – often referred to as the first Bulgarian encyclopedist, a well versed in 6 languages publicist and novelist, lexicographer and translator. Yet among a few at the time, as Bulgaria struggled to preserve its language and traditions in the face of a long Turkish rule combined with Greek influence.
Bogorov dedicated his career to the cause of the development of the Bulgarian language’s lexicon. And while his main aim was to purify the language from foreign loanwords, he acknowledged the need of foreign language skills at the time when Bulgaria was coming out as a rural economy, ruled by Turkish government, and opening for foreign influence.
In the 1840s, Bogorov studied medicine in Paris, France, to find out that being a doctor is not his professional calling, but to master the French language and in 1849 to translate the French novel Les Janissaires, published by the French intellectual and writer Alfonse Royer in 1842, in Brussels. The plot presents the history of the Turkish coffee house and the history of the Janissaries in the Ottoman Empire.
20 years later, Bogorov became the author of the first extensive bilingual dictionaries.
In 1869, he published the first French-Bulgarian dictionary, followed by the Bulgarian-French one in 1871.
The rich lexical collection, covering terms from many different areas, as Bogorov, himself, had experience in history, geography and journalism, along with diplomacy and different industry sectors, economy and finance (he was the founder of the first Bulgarian stock company), has been of great benefit to the linguistic practice and the development of the Bulgarian language.
The Bulgarian – French Dictionary has three main sections, where the first covers general terms, the second is dedicated to terms used in science and commerce and the third – to geographical and historical terms. Bogorov’s dictionaries have become a model and basis for many other bilingual dictionaries.
A rare first edition of Dr. Ivan Bogorov’s Bulgarian-French Dictionary (published in Vienna, Austria, in 1871) is available at display at EVS Translations Bulgaria office, as part of EVS Translations Book Museum.