One of the best things about Bulgarian is the cyrillic script. Don’t get me wrong, I moaned about it at the beginning. But it’s phonetic, so once you’ve mastered it, you can pretty much pronounce anything you read. Often, what looks terrifyingly foreign (like Чикън МакНагетс) becomes terrifyingly familiar when you read it aloud to yourself (“Chicken McNuggets”).
It makes you realise what a trial it must be to learn English, in which so many combinations of letters can have numerous different pronunciations. The letters ough, for example, can be pronounced in 10 different ways (such as through, trough and hiccough, to name but a few). It’s no wonder that the crazy man that I hitchhiked with was angry about the illogical way in which we spell ‘tea’ – although it took about ten minutes of him shouting ‘tay-ah! ti!’ before I finally understood what he was on about…
But the ease with which Cyrillic is read makes transliteration mistakes rather obvious. A prime example is the new bookshop on Vitosha Boulevard, Greenwich book center, which ought to be spelled Гренич in Cyrillic but is instead written as Гринуич – pronounced “Green Witch.”
(Of course, it could be that it’s a tribute to Elphaba and the Roman characters are wrong…)