Shopps (I)



Shopps are Bulgarians who come from the areas around Sofia and Dupnitza


Bulgarians originating from the areas around Sofia and Dupnitza are called “Shopps”. They speak a specific dialect which is closer to the Macedonian rather than to the Eastern Bulgarian vernacular. The Shopps are known for their tenacity, conservatism and pretension to being “the most genuine” Bulgarians. People from the other parts of Bulgaria pay them back by referring to them as “wooden Shopps”.

The Shopps’ concervatism is something really unique. If, as a rule, “normal Bulgarians” are open to innovations and external influences of all kinds, the pigheaded Shopps tend to receive almost everything that is unusual with scepticism, ridicule and sarcasm. Come what may, they would persist in their mulish reluctance before changing any small bit whatsoever in their lives, habits, dialect. “No, there isn’t no such animal” says the Shopp seeing for the first time a giraffe in the Zoo. And to make things even more amusing - the Shopp region is not an isolated locality high up in the unscalable mountains. In its centre lies the open country where the capital Sofia is situated. Two age-old roads are crossed here: from the West to Bosporus and Jerusalem, from Moscow to Saloniki and Mount Athos.

The Shopp’s mentality is an almost absurd combination of blind dogmatism and wordly wisdom. It is true that, being a practical realist firmly treading on earth, the Shopp of today would also dress in the fashion, would get on board of an airplane, or would make computer programs, but it seems that deeply in himself he would accept neither of these things without reserve. First - because they have not been sanctified by the tradition of his grandfathers and fathers, and, second - because the Shopp, this age-old cynic and heretic, has always questioned the sense of what all other people, while singing praises, impart with the title of “progress”.

This lies behind the “concreted” obstinacy of the Shopp in sticking to things approbated by the centuries; this is the reason for his reservation towards innovations and, consequently, his hostile attitude to enthusiasm in all its transformations. Therefore, pronouncing his “Nothing’s higher than Vitosha, nothing’s deeper than the Iskar” (a mountain and a river near by Sofia), the Shopp is capable of  sending to hell even the loftiest urges of human mind and heart. A publicist has rightly mentioned that while a peasant living in the Rhodope mountains would melt at the sight of a maiden’s flower-bed in her courtyard, the Shopp’s mind would be swept by the raging tempest  of an irrational  grudge because of the wasted several square meters of soil, where one can plant onion or tomatoes.

On the other hand, the same primitive and derisive practicalness may pour into a silent patriotism. Shopps have been known as soldiers who would fight till the very end - without posing, however - with a sombre, but silent resolution. Shopps would not leave the trenches, they would rather die, but having once rushed to the attack, they would not stop. And... here is the next contradiction: during World War I, after having fought bravely for the liberation of the Bulgarian lands, occupied by the neighbouring countries, on reaching the Danube, the Shopp regiments suddenly halted: “Bulgaria stretches thus far, so we stop here...”


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