I've read that Turkish is a very old language, but I can't really find any information on how old Bulgarian is. Which of those two languages is older?

  • 6
    That depends on how you are defining Bulgarian or Turkish, but the relevant Wikipedia articles would seem to completely answer this question. Please read the Bulgarian language and Turkish language first, and if you still have questions, explain what isn't answered or is unclear with the wiki.
    – Semaphore
    Feb 18 '18 at 14:36

Rather than a direct answer, let me explain why it makes little sense to ask such a question. Current languages didn't appear at a distinct moment in time,[1] but rather it evolved gradually from an older language. For example, Bulgarian (see Bulgarian language#History) descended from Proto-Slavic (also ancestor of other Slavic languages, e.g. Russian), which gradually became Modern Bulgarian. To make classifying things easier, linguistic historians talk about "Old", "Middle" and "Modern Bulgarian", but in truth there is no clear limit between Modern Bulgarian and Middle Bulgarian, or between Old Bulgarian and the previous Slavic language that it descended from. People from each generation speak more or less the same language as their parents, it's only if we "zoom out" we'll notice the difference.

So, what does it have to do with your question? It means that the start of a language is quite arbitrary. There is no objective criteria to say whether 1st century or 10th century is a start of a new period. It depends more on how historians or linguists decide that "Bulgarian" or "Turkish" started at a particular period or century, and does not have any relation to how old a linguistic tradition is.

[1] There are exceptions, such as creoles, pidgins, and constructed languages, but these are very rare and neither Bulgarian and Turkish are those things.

  • How about a language like English? The difference between Early Modern English and Middle English really is quite distinct; the evolution of one to the other happened more abruptly than your answer would suggest is the case for Bulgarian and Turkish.
    – OmarL
    Jul 16 '18 at 7:48
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    @Wilson it's only quite distinct if you pick samples that are distant enough in time. The changes happen gradually but accumulate over time. that's the nature of evolutions in general
    – user69715
    Jul 18 '18 at 0:57
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    I think exceptions are much more common than your answer implies. The substantial difference between Old English and Middle English happened relatively suddenly (a century or two), and was engendered by the Norman Conquest. And there is enough Germanic influence in French (unlike other Romance languages) that I would assume that there was a similar sudden-ish change. Dec 17 '18 at 11:44

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