Talk:Estonian language

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Mutually intelligible?[edit]

The text claims that northern dialects of Estonian are mutually intelligible with Finnish. This is not true unless there is previous knowledge of the other language as many words are quite different. The different way of spelling also creates lots of difficulties especially if the speaker of the other language is speaking too fast. Then the final "bomb": _Southern_ dialects of Estonian are more easily to be understood by Finnish people as they have more of the same kind of "vowel harmony" and spelling as Finnish. There are also some common words between Finnish language and Southern Estonian dialects. These holds despite the geographical facts.

The Estonian dialect that is closest to Finnish is the littoral dialect of North East Estonia, featuring several common traits with Finnish among them even vowel harmony (by the way, its absence or presence does not affect intelligibility). But that dialect is more or less extinct.
I think that there is a high degree mutual intelligibility between Finnish and Estonian in evereday speech, since the basic vocabulary mostly coincides and grammars are close as well. The main difficulty is that Estonian words are "worn" shorter, so that Estonian speech is too fast to the Finnish ear. Andres 13:33, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)
It is extremely popular myth among Estonians that Southern Estonian is closer to Finnish. The reason is indeed probably related to vowel harmony and that some rare Finnish words like lämmin (warm) have well-known cognates in South Estonian dialects. In reality, opposite is true: Northern Estonian is much closer to Finnish than Southern dialects. Some examples: Estonian linnud, Finnish linnut (birds) is tsirgukõsõq in Võro (Estonian and Finnish do not have even leading 'ts' sound or trailing 'q' sounds and plural is absolutely different !!!) Estonian ei ole, Finnish ei ole (it is not) , Võro-Seto olõ-õi or olõ-õs: (Estonian and Finnish do not have ever the negation that way) etc. Warbola 05:27, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
linnud in Võro is tsirguq -- tsirgukõsõq is diminutive form.

While Estonian and Finnish are quite similar, it is really because of Finnish tv (which was viewable and extensivly watched during the soviet time in the northern Estonia), why northern estonians can understand and to some extent speak finnish. Someone outside of the finnish tv coverage can understand finnish much worse, and it is not to be attributed to other dialects, as these are really dying in common usage.

No, Finnish TV is not to "blame" for this. Estonian and Finnish are grammatically similar due to shared heritage; this similarity continues because the differences are not yet too great. However, Estonian has accepted a lot more Germanic word roots than Finnish, and this has decreased the mutual intelligibility over the centuries.
As for the "Northern Estonians" reference -- well, in *modern* times, due to tourism and high density of business relations, many people living in Northern Estonia regularly deal with Finnish-speaking people, contributing to their skill in speaking and understanding Finnish. While historically, northern dialects *used* to be somewhat closer, this modern trend is an entirely new mechanism not building on the old one. After all, the "standard Estonian" all over Estonia is what used to be "northern dialect". Digwuren 18:29, 2 June 2007 (UTC)


I've changed the part about "no accusative". Just as in Finnish, Estonian has an accusative that looks exactly the same as the genitive. This is a coincidence. Originally, the accusative ending was -m, but this was mutated to -n or lost for Estonian and Finnish. For example, Finnish "Syön kalam" -> "Syön kalan" (I eat the fish), and "Syö kalam!" -> "Syö kala!" (Eat the fish!) --Vuo 12:37, 8 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, I'll have to disagree with this. If it looks exactly like the Genitive, it *is* the genitive. Or perhaps the genitive is the accusative. Either way, they're the same case.
No. There is no conflict with e.g. English third-person verb inflection -(e)s and the English plural -(e)s, not to mention the genitive clitic -'s, even if these are pronounced identically. Similarly, the Balto-Finnic accusative -n is not a genitive -n, even if their pronunciations coincide. The name of a case should be determined based on its grammatical role, not its form. Cf. accusative Pesen isän (I wash the father) vs. genitive Pesen isän auton (I was the father's car). --Vuo 15:15, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Again, I can't agree. Few people would claim that English had a dative case seperate from the accusative (or an accusative outside the pronominal system, for that matter), despite it being clear that you are referring to a dative object (eg. I gave him it). The (English) examples you gave were examples across different grammatical categories. While the genitive is indeed identical to the nominative plural (except orthographically), it is a seperate case since its singular form is different from the nominative singular. Equally, I will say that Finnish has an accusative case, from what little I know of it, since it behaves differently from the genitive in the plural form (and has a pronominal accusative). However, Estonian does not. As such, I believe you can say that Estonian has no accusative case.

BovineBeast 15:51, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The same debate between the "by form" and "by function" has been in the Finnish linguistical community for some time. Duck typing or no? --Vuo 22:20, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
In Estonian, accusative forms coincides with genitive in singular and with nominative in plural. I think this proves that there is an acuusative in Estonian. However, in school grammar there is no such case. Andres 07:14, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
Hasn't the field of balto-finnic linguistics decided that there is an accusative, anyway? I mean yeah, there's a split between whether partitive is used, and whether accusative is used, but there is some sort of accusative case in the end. What it is morphologically shouldn't really matter if the case exists. Perhaps I would say Estonian (like Finnish) has no accusative case that does not match the form of other cases, but there's certainly an accusative role in the language. Deciding whether or not a language has a case or not is not purely a task of isolating some sort of morphological element. English marks case syntactically, but would you say it suddenly has no accusative since it matches the nominative in singular and plural? Nope. Just look at recent literature on the Finnish and/or Estonian accusative. Might change your mind. --Alcarilinque 15:49, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I very definitely would say that English has no accusative case, except where pronouns are involved. Doesn't have a nominative case either, of course. It just has a possessive case (which turns out to be a clitic anyway), and a case for everything else. Of course, if in fact the Accusative does indeed match the nominative plural and the genitive singular, then I'd say it does have a seperate existance. BovineBeast 09:52, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
English also assigns case syntactically. While there is no morphologically accusative case for English nouns, there is still a syntactic Accusative. On the other hand, Estonian and Finnish DO have abstract accusative cases. Debating that it has no accusative as a result of the morphemes are similar or not is a waste of time, because there is still the idea of abstract case. On the other hand, accusative singular, in balto-finnic languages has historically been morphologically separate from genitive singular. --Alcarilinque 14:49, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
For a language to be able to express a detail that, in another language, is expressed via a specialized case is not the same thing as the first language "having" that case. For example, one doesn't say that English has syntactic "partitive, illative, inessive, elative, allative, adessive, ablative, translative, terminative, essive, abessive, and comitative" cases just because it does have ways to communicate the same specifics that Estonian expresses through the application of each of those cases. Largoplazo (talk) 16:14, 10 October 2017 (UTC)
The Estonian accusative isn't the same as the genitive, though. Look at the inflection of kala. The accusative is the same as the nominative, but it's clearly different from the genitive in the plural. Therefore they are not the same. For hiir, the accusative is not only different from the genitive in the plural, but it's also different from the accusative in the singular. Thus, it's a separate case. However, even if accusative and genitive cases actually were identical, why would you call it the genitive rather than the accusative? And how is the situation any different from Finnish or Proto-Finnic? Rua (mew) 16:20, 10 October 2017 (UTC)
"However, even if accusative and genitive cases actually were identical, why would you call it the genitive rather than the accusative?" For the same reason I don't say that English nouns have accusative, dative, and genitive cases that happen to be the same as the nominative—regardless of the fact that Old English nouns had them as distinct cases, and the fact that German, a sister language of English, still has them today. One says that English has nominative (or subject) and possessive noun forms, and that's it. Largoplazo (talk) 16:37, 10 October 2017 (UTC)

@Tropylium: An editor has recently been removing the accusative from the article, claiming it doesn't exist. To me, it obviously does exist, it just undergoes syncretism. Do you have any linguistic sources on the topic that might clarify this? Rua (mew) 15:10, 10 October 2017 (UTC)


It would be nice if someone could offer an English translation of the song lyrics depicted.


Is it certain that the word "poiss" is related to "boy"? From my guess, it would even more likely be related to Finnish "poika" (borrowed into Swedish as "pojke", actually, Swedish words borrowed from Finnish are much rarer than the other way around.)

"Poiss" is of Finno-Ugric origin. Swedish "pojke" and Norwegian "poik" are loans from a Finno-Ugric language (Most likely Finnish). Strombones (talk) 16:11, 21 December 2015 (UTC)

There has actually been a hypothesis that *poi has been borrowed from the Finno-Ugric to the Germanic languages. Also, I think the word 'koer' is of Finno-Ugric origin (Koer from cur. Etymology: Middle English, short for curdogge

Saagpakk, which I have found to be a fairly reliable source of word origins in Estonian, lists neither as a loan - though Saagpakk has quite a few definite loans unmarked as well. I *think* koer is from the old german term for dog, Köter .. which is again from the Latin, canis .. though I am not sure about that. Would be an interesting thing to find out if someone has access to more reliable information sources on etymology would be handy here. As for poika, I recall having learnt it is from Swedish when learning Finnish in Helsinki. I've always seen the Estonian poeg as the equivalent to that though ChiLlBeserker 21:21, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
I looked up English "Cur", since I couldn't find any info about "Köter". American Heritage gives "Middle English curre, perhaps of Scandinavian origin", gives "cur - c.1225, curre, earlier kurdogge, probably from O.N. kurra or M.L.G. korren both echoic, both meaning "to growl." ", possibly related to an IE root ger@-, meaning to cry hoarsely, related to the word for "crane". [It is also possible that the word derives from the Latin verbs "queri," meaning "to complain," or "quaerere," meaning "to ask."]

Cognates of koer exist in Uralic and Samojedic languages, it may derive from Indo-Iranic *hora meaning 'a bull' and have originally meant 'male'. Koer from Middle English cur is definitely not right.

'Koer' is not a Lower German loan. Koer, cur, canis etc have all been hypothesized to originate from *kuan in some very ancient global proto-language. *Poyi is probably finno-ugric or uralic, also definitely not Lower German. I suggest to consult Collinder's dictionary and maybe also some Campbell's works.

IF Estonian and Finnish got Poika from Germanic Languages, it would be from Swedish I think - though it could easily be the other way around IMHO. IIRC, Swedish has loaned "Ei" from Finno-Ugric languages in the function of "Doesn't", so loaning that way around definitely is possible in principle, also if less common. ChiLlBeserker 11:31, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
Both "Svenska Akademins Ordbok" and "Svensk etymologisk ordbok" claims that "pojke" is originally from Finnish, and probably one of the most common finnish words that has been borrowed. AFAIK, it is not used in the other Scandinavian Languages, unless to convey a Swedish touch. Deutsches Wörterbuch doesn't give an etymology for Köter. "Ej" is, although very similar in appearance to "Ei", likely not borrowed, the word is related to Eng "ever" and Ger "Ewig", while Finnish "Ei" is a conjugation of the negative verb in 3rd person singular. Finnish borrowings to Swedish are far less common than the other way around, I don't think Swedes began using the word Sauna before the English, for instance, there probably are less than 50-100 relatively common Finnish borrowings in Swedish, while there are several hundreds or thousands direct or indirect borrowings from Swedish in Finnish.
Also, there is a word in Scanian, "påg" (rough translation "lad"), which appears to be unrelated, it is related to Swedish "påk"(stick, cudgel) and to English "poke".
We shouldn't add etymologies going back to hypothetized proto-languages since the hypothesis is widely disputed.


Are the Estonian "diphthongs" segmental, as they are in the Germanic languages, or are they vowel clusters, as in Japanese? kwami 15:52, 2005 August 11 (UTC)

Baltic-Finnic languages distinguish these two possibilities. What is called a "diphthong" in a BF language is by definition monosyllabic. (Vowel clusters are also found, and they are analyzed into syllables. For example, consonant gradation is a prolific source for these.) Estonian also contrasts long and short initial vowels in the dipthongs, but this is not written down. [1] For reference, Estonian has ai, ei, oi, ui, õi, öi, üi, ae, ie, oe, õe, äe, öe, ao, eo, io, õo, äo, ea, oa, õa, öa, au, eu, iu, ou, õu, äu. (In contrast, Finnish speakers would find it odd that oi ~ oe are contrasted, as this is dialectal variation or vowel clustering in Finnish. For example, in Finnish koen vs. koin ("I experience", present vs. past), where the former is a vowel cluster ko-en, while the latter is usually analyzed as a diphthong koin.) Votic [2] has more diphthongs (28), but distinguishes only two phonemic lengths. --Vuo 13:22, 12 August 2005 (UTC)
Thanks! Do all these diphthongs occur long and short? (Just a two-way contrast, right?) kwami 19:22, 2005 August 12 (UTC)
As far as I can tell from Mati Hint: Häälikutest sõnadeni, it's a distinction of a short vs. a half-long initial vowel. (Over-long followed by a short vowel would be a vowel cluster.) I'm not sure if all diphthongs appear with both forms, and in any case, it is more allophony than phonemic length. Nevertheless, native speakers are able to recognize the difference, as the same vowels would be phonemically distinct as pure vowels. Interestingly, Hint lists only 19 different dipthongs: ai, oi, ui, õi, ei, äi, öi, (üi), au, ou, õu, eu, iu, äu, ae, oe, õe, äe, ea; 'üi' is the same as 'üü', 'ea' cluster-like but found as 'ää' in some dialects. The additional ones are: ie, öe, ao, eo, io, õo, äo, oa, õa, öa. Hint describes these as more vowel clusters than dipthongs, and öe as a dialectal pronounciation of õe. These do, indeed, violate vowel harmony or other phonotactical difficulties, which is not recognized by modern Estonian, but was by its proto-form; OTOH, 'äu' does too, but it doesn't matter (e.g. kräunub). --Vuo 22:06, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Length levels[edit]

Ladefoged in SOWL describes Estonian as only having two phonemic lengths for vowels or consonants, with the third length being predictable, though he gives Mixe as an example of a 3-way lexical/phonemic distinction. The refs he mentions are:

  • Lehiste, Ilse. 1966. Consonant Quantity and Phonological Units in Estonian. Indiana University, Bloominton.
  • Lehist, Ilse. 1970. Suprasegmentals. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

kwami 23:40, 2005 August 22 (UTC)

The killer is that there are minimal pairs, even if it is suprasegmental. It is not an effect of stress, either; the stress is on the first syllable in native words; rather, it may modify the placement of the secondary stress, not vice versa. (A tonal pattern (which is suprasegmental) is observed with the third length level, but this is a secondary cue. For the opposite, consider "standard" English tense-lax distinction, where the length is a secondary cue, and thus English-speakers pronounce kilo as *<keeloh> with incorrect length rather than *<killa> with different vowel quality.) Similarly, you could say that "Swedish does not distinguish vowel length at all". But, Swedish vowel length suprasegmental: a short vowel is always followed by a geminate, and a long vowel by a simple consonant. A view like this about Estonian would be too narrow and ignore the obviously minimal pairs or how the third length level has a grammatical function. In Estonian, deletion of the morphemes which cause an allophonic variation of vowel length makes the variation phonemic. For example, /kooli/ "of the school", /koo:li/ from */koolit/ "of the schools". See, for example, here: [3][dead link] --Vuo 21:39, 25 August 2005 (UTC)

Nostratic hypothesis[edit]

Isn't nostratic pretty much just as hypothetical as all the rest of the ideas? Sure, I realize Uralic is much more established, and am no nostraticist, but it seems funny to me that something like this is marked. Isn't a large chunk of historical linguistics (when you get back far enough) hypothetical, anyway?

--Alcarilinque 15:38, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Uh, no, not really. The IE family has been derived with the comparative method, and is largely based on regular sound shifts, which could't have occurred due to chance. The Nostratic wordlists have usually been derived either through mass lexical comparision of modern languages, which is highly criticized by linguists, or through comparisions of already hypothetized proto-languages, which, even when following the comparative method rigorously adds another level of incertainty, often, the sound shifts involved are also highly irregular, compared to generally accepted proto-languages, such as Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Afro-Asiatic... 17:49, 19 November 2005 (UTC)
You are making a big mistake of confusion.
Nostratic is not a product of mass lexical comparison. It has been brought to you by the good old comparative method. It may be wrong (you are of course right about the extra level of uncertainty), but it's still science.
Please give me an example of such an irregular sound shift.
You are right that the existence of Proto-Afro-Asiatic is generally accepted, but no particular reconstruction of it is generally accepted; all of them have methodological weaknesses (lack of data on Cushitic and Omotic languages, too much reliance on the well-studied Semitic languages… one of the two newest ones [1995] is even visibly influenced by the way Arabic dictionaries are organized!), for example.
David Marjanović | | ignore my IP address, it's dynamic! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 14:35, 30 December 2006 (UTC).
I have gotten myself a login, now. Alright, it seems that most versions of Nostratic indeed are based on the comparative method. However, I'm still not sure about including it, since it's still considered rather controversial. 惑乱 分からん 00:30, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I have deleted Nostratic from this article - the Nostratic hypothesis is valid science of course, but there's no justification for inlcuding such a marginal theory in this article. This article is about Estonian, and as such it's not the place for discussing non-mainstream theories on remote linguistic prehistory. In fact, I'm not sure if the whole table of words and their origins really serves a purpose in this article. --AAikio 10:10, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I don't think the article actually discusses the Nostratic theory, but I think it should be mentioned. More information is better than less. Of course there could be a separate article about historical lexicology of Estonian language [4] or something like that. -- 11:05, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

The Nostratic theory is no more relevant to Estonian than to the hundreds of other articles about all the individual languages in Indo-European, Uralic and other families. Although an interesting theory, I don't think it has yet achieved that amount of solidity-plus-relevance. If you want to know about theories of the distant relationships that might have eventually led to Estonian (or Catalan, or Marathi), you read about Uralic and Indo-European and you reach the Nostratic theory from there. Andrew Dalby 11:25, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

The Nostratic theory and proposed word roots are discussed in a university course of history of Estonian language. If the editors find that it is too detailed information for an overview article, please start a new article "Historical Lexicology of Estonian language" or "Origin of Estonian Word Roots" (or whatever sounds right) and move the whole table there, but please don't delete this information completely. -- 12:40, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Andrew Dalby here. The Nostratic theory is not in any way relevant to this article, and should remain deleted. Or should we start adding similar sections to all the other articles on "Nostratic" languages as well - starting from, say, English? --AAikio 13:18, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
I repeat my proposition: find a new place for that information, don't just delete it. Start a new and more detailed article about the history of Estonian vocabulary and move that section there. -- 15:55, 23 January 2007 (UTC)
"The Nostratic theory and proposed word roots are discussed in a university course of history of Estonian language." Yes, that seems normal. You would expect a university course on the history of a language to range much wider than any one article in Wikipedia. That's why Wikipedia has links. Andrew Dalby 16:38, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

Estonian translations[edit]

I think all of these examples of the Estonian language isn't very helpful, when it doesn't provide a translation in English. The word examples should include the Estonian meaning, as well as the word and meaning borrowed, I am taking a guess here on some examples to show what I mean : "toll from Low German toll (toll)", "kroonu from Swedish krona (crown, name of currency)" "kunst from Low German kunst (art)", also, it should be noted if the original borrowed word meant something else than it does in current Estonian. 惑乱 分からん 15:04, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

== Reply:

You're very wrong there with your guess about "kroonu"! "Kroonu" is the name estonians use for the (in)famous russian army, meaning both either 19th century army or the Soviet one.

How could I know? Anyway, this does only strengthen my conviction that this page needs a lot of rewriting and clarification for the general audience. 惑乱 分からん 13:37, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Nah, you don't *have to*. I just corrected that minor mistake about the meaning of "kroonu". :)


I have a few questions about Estonian pronunciation that are not cleared up by the article. In word-final positions (or in syllable-final positions before consonants), is a three-way (or two-way?) distinction of stops maintained? I can (sort of) hear the difference between b, d, g; p, t, k; and pp, tt, kk in the middle of words, but I can't tell at all at the end of words (granted, the only samples I have are from Estonian-language pop songs). Specifically, words ending with b, d, g sound like they are pronounced p, t, k. The article says something about b, d, g being written when the pronunciation is p, t, k for historical reasons; would this have something to do with it?

Simply put, would words ending with g, k, and kk but otherwise identical be distinguished in pronunciation?

Also, how are the fricatives written as f š ž z actually pronounced by Estonians? Do different people pronounce them differently? Is there a prescribed pronunciation that would be considered "correct"?

Finally, is ng pronounced as [ŋk] or [ŋg] in some positions? The pronunciation seems to be different from the case of Finnish, where it's usually a simple [ŋ] (or geminated between vowels).

I'd appreciate if the article cleared up some of these points. --Iceager 06:59, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

For the stops in word-end positions, there are different cases according to the different stress positions and different length of the vocal before the stop.
If the last syllable bears stress and the vocal before the stop is short, then there is only one way the stop can be pronounced. Normally then the stop is written as pp, tt, kk. It reads approximately like the same between vocals (of course, it cannot be geminated in syllable-end positions, it is only about intensity and length). It also holds for ortographically deviant loan words like pop. In this case, the stop never can be written us b, g, d. The word pub (a loan from English; often pubi is used instead) is pronounced like in English: [paab] in Eestonian orthography.

I don't agree that the pronunciation of the vowel "ä" is unlike German "ä" but like Finnish AND SWEDISH "ä". As far as I'm aware the Swedish "ä" is like German "ä" and Norwegian and Danish "æ", but unlike Finnish "a", which does indeed sound like English "a" in "mat" and presumably also like Estonian "ä". (talk) 11:11, 19 September 2010 (UTC)

If the last syllable bears stress and the vocal before the stop is long (including the case of a diphthong) then there are two options: b, d, g or p, t, k (the latter are pronounced approximately as p, t, kk'). The former is less intense than the later. Both of them are voiceless. In Estonian orthoepy, b, d, g never are voiced, though some people pronounce then voiced in some international loan words as banaan 'banana'. Sometimes b, d, g are pronounced voiced in word end position in some English loans as gag [gääg] (the vocal is pronounced long here).
If the last syllable bears no stress then there can be b, d, g or p, t, k in the end position. The difference is the same as in the previous case except that p, t, k are less intense.
For stressed non-end syllables the orthographical options are b, d, g and p, k, t but the former are pronounced as pp, kk, tt. If two weak stops follow each other as in bd then they are pronounced strongly as pt (this occurs in some loans). bs, ds, gs are pronounced as ps, ts, ks.
In unstressed non-end syllables the same holds except that the strong options are pronounced like p, k, t.
b', 'd, g are weaker (less intense) and shorter sounds than p, t, k. But in some cases these letters are pronounced like p, t, s (see above).
The orthoepically correct pronunciation of f, š is as in English words for, offer, off and approximately like in English words shy, usher, wash. The sound š is a bit different from the English sound, it sounds like the French ch or the German sch.
Often people pronounce f as hv. The sound š sometimes is pronounced like s.
In syllable-end positions the three-way distiction is not maintained. It exists only between vocals.
The orthoepically correct pronunciation of ž and z are correspondingly like a weak š and a weak s. The weak-strong distinction is analogous to that distinction in stops. Thus correctly these sounds are voiceless. Some people sometimes pronounced them voiceless.
Voicing g, b, d, z and ž depends not only from the idiolect but also from the style. The same holds for the incorrect pronunciation of f and š. The latter marks low style (rural accent), whereas the former marks being over-refined or is used for indicating orthography.
ng is almost always pronounced as [ŋg]. Before voiceless consonants as in gangster [kankster] it is pronounced [ŋk]. In some idiolects or maybe in some styles it is (orthoepically incorrectly) pronounced as [ng] ([nk]. In Estonian normally it is impossible to pronounce [ŋ] without a following [k] or [g].
I wrote this from my first language user knowledge. Im am no linguistics expert, so I might have overlooked some details. Therefore I am not inserting this into the article now. But I think that what I wrote is basically correct. If you have more questions you are welcome to put them on my user talk page here or on my user talk page on the Estonian wiki (as I spend most of my time there). Andres 12:15, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Foreign sounds š ž are often completely ignored and pronounced as 's'. For most people Pane garaaži uks kinni ja söö šokolaadi is pronounced just like it was written Pane karaasi uks kinni ja söö sokolaadi. Warbola 18:26, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

I don't agree that the pronunciation of the vowel "ä" is unlike German "ä" but like Finnish AND SWEDISH "ä". As far as I'm aware the Swedish "ä" is like German "ä" and Norwegian and Danish "æ", but unlike Finnish "a", which does indeed sound like English "a" in "mat" and presumably also like Estonian "ä". (talk) 11:13, 19 September 2010 (UTC)


I removed the reference to Hungarian in the opening paragraph. Hungarian and Estonian are related very distantly, about as distantly as English to Greek, and claiming their relation in the begnning could be misleading. Rain74 17:50, 26 April 2006 (UTC)


why is the term 'overlong' used here in the article? The direct translation of 'ülipikk' is 'ultralong'.--Constanz - Talk 08:39, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Which means exactly the same. (ultra (lat.) = over) -- megA (talk) 15:47, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

Estonian language course[edit]

Hi, I just remembered that I created an Estonian language course just after high school a month or so after I got back from Estonia. I knew that I wouldn't be able to find many places to use the language for the next few years (and still haven't) and so I wrote it out with as much as I could remember and got some Estonian people I knew to check it. The page vanished but I found it later on and just put it up here:

I made the page but the page doesn't exist anymore, nor is my name on the page so maybe it doesn't count as self-promotion. What should I do with this? Anybody want to make use of it? It has more than the average intro but it's still incomplete. It could also make a good beginning for a Wikibooks text. Any ideas? Mithridates 12:11, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Wikibook would be a good idea --Constanz - Talk 15:03, 29 December 2006 (UTC)



Estonian differs from Finnish, where consonant gradation is a weakening process only (nouns: sg nom - strong grade, sg gen - weak grade; verbs: supine - strong grade, ind pres - weak grade), in also having some noun inflection types with strengthening quantitative consonant gradation.

I think the statement about Finnish gradation is wrong, as there are nouns types with nom. sing. in weak grade and gen. sing. in strong grade(raide => raiteen, tiede => tieteen) as well as verb types with weak grade first infinitive and strong grade otherwise (tavata => minä tapaan, pelätä => minä pelkään).

I don't want to change anything yet, because I feel this observation would render the paragraph unnecessary and I don't want to delete it without feedback.

Oliver Uwira 15:35, 31 January 2007 (UTC)

You're right, that description of Finnish gradation is flat-out wrong,just go ahead and delete it. --AAikio 10:43, 1 February 2007 (UTC)
OK, I have just removed it. Oliver Uwira 08:51, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Estonian genitive[edit]

The genitive in Estonian is marked by adding a vowel after the end of the word. For example kass (cat) -> kassi (cat's), linn (city) -> linna (city's). How do Estonians know which vowel to add? How do they know it shouldn't be *kassa or *linni? JIP | Talk 08:19, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

By using analogy probably. And one has to know by heart, just like Germans know, which gender a noun has. Constanz - Talk 08:35, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
Suur tänu sulle ku vastasid mu arvutukse, or something. JIP | Talk 09:07, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
I disagree. In Estonian, genitive is the root word itself and nominative is just genitive minus trailing wowel. In old grammar , still present in Finnish, linna is the nominative and linnan genitive. For newer loan words where genitive is really derived from nominative, there is almost no variation and genitive always ends with 'i': printer, printeri. Warbola 18:02, 27 March 2007 (UTC)
The "how do they know" problem is actually there with plural partitive. (kivi-> kive, linn -> linnu, kass -> kasse, konn -> konni, ... ) People make many mistakes here, but almost never with genitive. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:21, 10 May 2007 (UTC).
Actually there is not problem, there is a simple rule which I can look up if anyone's interested. I remember it vaguely. 21:47, 21 July 2007 (UTC)


"kirderanniku dialect" and other such expressions seem a bit strange. I'd suggest something like this:

northeastern dialect (kirderannikumurre)
eastern dialect (idamurre)

Lebatsnok 13:28, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

kirderannikumurre = north eastern coast dialect 03:53, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Merging of "Revived language" and "Estonian literature"[edit]

I suggest merging of the sections "Revived language" and "Estonian literature" into a single section "History", written anew. Articles about other languages are usually organized in this way. I don't have sufficient knowledge about the subject, so perhaps someone else could do it. Greg-si (talk) 15:31, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Lines by Kristjan Jaak Peterson[edit]

I think that those lines written by Kristjan Jaak Peterson should also be mentioned in estonian. Someone should fit them into the article.

Kas siis selle maa keel
laulutuules ei või
taevani tõustes üles
igavikku omale otsida?

Iffcool 19:59, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

There is a typo in the translation of these lines: laulutuules comes from laul + tuul (song + wind) not tuli (fire), therefore 2nd line should be ...In the wind of incantation... (talk) 06:42, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Edit warring[edit]

User:Peter_Isotalo has chosen to remove the following text from the article that seems unreasonable, so I'll bring it to the talk page to find out what would be other opinions on the question.--Termer (talk) 22:43, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Another feature that sets Estonian apart from most languages is the vowel õ ([ɤ]), a close-mid near-back unrounded vowel, which is farther back than the schwa ([ə]), but unrounded unlike [o].

Statements about the uniqueness of certain sounds is usually not a good idea and not terribly informative to readers. Truly rare sounds like the labiodental flap or the voiceless palatal-velar fricative can be worth mentioning in the lead, but these are usually limited to a handful of closely related languages or even just a single one. I know of at least four European languages and several East Asian languages that have an [ɤ], most of which are unrelated, and that doesn't strike me as particularly rare.
Peter Isotalo 08:07, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

The claim about the uniqueness of the sound doesn't mean that everything about the fact has to be removed from the article. Even though I'm not an expert, the letter õ seems unique in the latin alphabet. Either the sound itself is unique in any way would be a subject of comparative phonetics between similar sounds in other languages and the claim would need a source , that's for sure. but the bottom line of this, there is no reason to remove all related facts from the article. What needs to be done, the claim of uniqueness would need a citation tag at first. If not replied within a reasonable time frame and a source is not provided, the claim about the uniqueness would need to be removed, not the whole text that characterizes the language. The fact that you personally know so and so many languages that has similar vowel would be relevant if appropriate sources would be provided, saying that the the [ɤ] is present in other languages. Since you haven't provided any sources, the current text can be considered as valid as your opinion. I'd suggest rolling back your removal and tagging the claim appropriately first. And in case you'd like to address the question by yourself, please edit the article according to the sources you have in your hands by providing intext citations according to WP:RS, not according to your opinions, meaning WP:OR. Thanks! --Termer (talk) 18:27, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't see why unreferenced claims should be allowed to stay in articles if there are good reasons to doubt their veracity. Close-mid back unrounded vowel has plenty of info and is linked to several phonology articles that explain the usage of the sound in quite a lot of other languages. It's not just my personal knowledge. The letter "õ" is already mentioned under "Writing system" along with an explanation of the vowel it stands for. That means that except for the dubious claim of uniqueness no information has been removed from the article.
Peter Isotalo 07:56, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

according to Close-mid back unrounded vowel it's represented in 9 languages in the world. One out of 9 among hundreds makes it pretty special case as far as I can tell that characterizes the language. So still nothing has justified the removal of the fact. In case you think the claim "uniqueness" is a problem, that's another story that still doesn't justify the removal of the fact.--Termer (talk) 17:29, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, the problem is that we're not actually talking about a pure fact statement, but an opinion. And problem remains that there isn't any evidence of exactly how rare that vowel is. Either way, I think there should be very good reasons for mentioning a very specific aspect of a language in the lead. Especially when one has already been mentioned. A lead is supposed to summarize an article, not list oddities.
Peter Isotalo 19:16, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
The existence of the rare vowel and the only form of the letter "õ" in use in the Latin alphabet is an opinion?--Termer (talk) 19:49, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
An article "Development of language-specific phoneme representations in the infant brain" by M Cheour, R Ceponiene, A Lehtokoski, A Luuk, J Allik, K Alho, R Naatanen, published in the scientific journal "Nature Neuroscience" in 1998 (page 351), states "õ" is unique to Estonian. Martintg (talk) 20:44, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
Are we talking about the letter or the sound? They are quite separate entities and should not be confused. Regardless whether the former or the latter, I'd like to stress that it's not particularly interesting to stress oddities of a language in a summary, since that usually leads to an undue focus on curiosities rather than general description. Native speakers like nothing better than presenting their own language as uniquely special, but it seldom leads to neutral and linguistically relevant presentations.
Peter Isotalo 21:40, 31 October 2008 (UTC)
so who exactly is the native speaker to get the blame up there cited by Martintg, either M Cheour, R Ceponiene, A Lehtokoski, A Luuk, J Allik, K Alho or R Naatanen?--Termer (talk) 22:05, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

Here is something related Facts and myths about Uralic studies by Tapani Salminen (Helsinki)[5]

to a non-native observer, it seems unnecessary to emphasize the great difference between Estonian õ and Russian y

--Termer (talk) 22:15, 31 October 2008 (UTC)

How does a comparison to Russian make Estonian unique among the worlds languages? I also checked the Nature Neuroscience article, and it doesn't say at all what Martin claims. Here's the relevant quote from p. 351:
The Estonian and Finnish languages, which are closely related to each other, have very similar vowel structures5. For example, the vowels /e/ and /ö/, which differ only in the second-formant (F2) frequency, exist in both languages. However, only Estonian has the vowel /õ/, which is approximately between /ö/ and /o/.
The comparison is only between Finnish and Estonian, and nowhere do the article authors make any specific claims about the uniqueness of the vowel. And this is the full quote used by Termer:
The authors leave open the question whether the vowel symbolized by õ is to be regarded as a mid or high vowel: from the systematic point of view, the latter solution seems superior, and to a non-native observer, it seems unnecessary to emphasize the great difference between Estonian õ and Russian y.
None of these sources actually comment the frequency of this vowel among languages in general.
Peter Isotalo 21:31, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, is it me or is it you who's missing something here? My first sentence in this discussion was The claim about the uniqueness of the sound doesn't mean that everything about the fact has to be removed from the article. And once its clear by now that the subject gets as much attention by different sources I need to repeat myself again the claim would need a source , that's for sure. but the bottom line of this, there is no reason to remove all related facts from the article.--Termer (talk) 22:38, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
PS. Not to mention that comparing Estonian õ and Russian y doesn't make any sense, so who knows what exactly this Tapani Salminen was talking about. As far as I can tell the õ Close-mid back unrounded vowel marked with the IPA symbol Ram's horns.svg is pronounced close to [o] in English home and Russian y is straight forward U in the Latin alphabet.--Termer (talk) 23:05, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

PPS. restored [6] the fact under Estonian_language#Vowels.--Termer (talk) 20:21, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

"Spoken in" in infobox.[edit]

I removed Finland, Sweden, Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, USA, Candada, UK, Ireland, Germany, Costa Rica and Australia from "spoken in" in the infobox. They were all reverted, with the exception of Costa Rica, because, allegedly, it is "usual to include many countries". They had originally been added by user "Sixest" on 31 December 2008, without citations or edit summary.

I think wikipedia should include factual and cited information. It is unfortunately true that the articles of many languages have a long list of countries in which the language is allegedly spoken. I find this very unhelpful. The infobox should state where there is a permanent community of speakers of the language. If any country that has immigrant speakers of the language are included, the list would just grow and grow, and the infobox would not, in fact, be informative.

I suggest the solution that is now in place on Russian language, and which I have now tried here. If other countries have a permanent Estonian-speaking community, this should be cited.--Barend (talk) 17:26, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Makes sense! 'Spoken in' should include only places where the language has an official status. Otherwise for example I've heard people speaking Estonian in Copenhagen Central Station and at the Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok etc., it doesn't mean it should be therefor part of 'Spoken in' section of this infobox.--Termer (talk) 18:39, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

IPA link[edit]

Currently the IPA in the header links to Finnish phonology. This is temporary; eventually we should have an IPA key that covers both Finnish and Estonian, rather than covering Finnish only and leaving Estonian personal and place names for the generic IPA key. If this is problematic, please comment at Template_talk:Usage_of_IPA_templates. kwami (talk) 20:30, 9 June 2009 (UTC)


What's going on in this section? Seems as if there was some markup which went wrong somehow. -- Deville (Talk) 18:00, 20 July 2009 (UTC)


Where's the information on Estonian phonotactics? We're missing an entire part of the phonology of Estonian haha (talk) 16:39, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

"segmental diphthongs"?[edit]

What does "segmental diphthongs" mean? That these are allowed vowel sequences which are not actually diphthongs, or that they're single segments, which is the definition of a diphthong? — kwami (talk) 20:11, 29 September 2010 (UTC)


I removed the statement, that the estonian õ is similar to "the Kazakh ұ, the Turkish ı and the Russian ы". The estonian õ is a close-mid back unrounded vowel /ɤ/, which is most close to the Vietnamese ơ (which is practically the same sound) and the bulgarian ъ - a mid back unrounded vowel /ɤ̞/, which is just a bit more open. The Kazakh ұ is a near-close near-back vowel /ʊ/ is both more close and more fronted, the Turkish ı is a close back unrounded vowel /ɯ/, which is even more close; the russian ы is a close central unrounded vowel /ɨ/. It's neither back, nor close-mid or mid, so there isn't even the smallest similarity to the estonian õ. Kreuzkümmel (talk) 23:44, 7 February 2011 (UTC)


1. It would be nice to have all 'grades' of all phonemes in IPA and supplied with sound files. Now you need to go for a site like Forvo to get the idea that e.g. a long & overlong 'a' or 't' is really 1,5* & 2* as long as a short one, but an overlong 'l' or 'n' sounds rather like a sequence of two l's or n's. The descriptions used now are too vague to be interpreted in only one way. Also, it isn't absolutely clear now that the long grade shares its orthographic representation (where it does) with the overlong rather than the short grade.

2. The gradation section is a mess--it should be either moved to the grammar section (and perhaps the historical phonetic changes section, too) or at least brought into factual and terminological conformity with the rest of the article (e.g. use 'short, long, overlong' instead of 'weak, short long' for stops, decide if 's' has two or three grades in pronunciation). (talk) 02:04, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

IPA for Tallinn[edit]

What is the correct IPA for the Estonian pronunciation of Tallinn? --Espoo (talk) 20:32, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

Concerns about blatant advertising[edit]

Is anyone still watching this page and editing it? It appears that the external links section has grown into a list of pay-for summer courses, etc., all using Wikipedia for advertising (which would probably enhance their credibility as a reputable service provider). There is no mention of credentials for any of the courses and Wikipedia is not an advertising space. I'll await a response before I remove all links to non-free language learning materials. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:18, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I've cleaned up the External links. Are there problems elsewhere in the article? --Ronz (talk) 16:55, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Greatly appreciated, Ronz. I soon became entrenched in recent Eastern European events related articles and couldn't remember which article I'd noted the spam in. Thanks for picking up on and cleaning it up! --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:22, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

Denoting the suprasegmental/third length in IPA[edit]

I'm wonder how the "overlong" syllables should be indicated in IPA. If the syllable contains a long vowel or consonant, it's easy enough, because you can put an overlong mark after that. But this doesn't work as easily for diphthongs like või, let alone for words that have a short vowel plus a cluster like jalg. Which sound is the actual longer one that would receive the length mark in IPA? My understanding is that it's the syllable as a whole that lengthens, not so much the individual phonemes. But there is no way to indicate syllable-wide lengthening in IPA that I know of. CodeCat (talk) 02:38, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Pointless photograph[edit]

The one photograph of modern printed Estonian - the road sign - doesn't include even one of the typically Estonian letters, especially õ, and largely consists of borrowings from other languages ('meteoriidikraater'). What's the point of a photograph that doesn't tell us anything about what makes Estonian so different, even from Finnish? Perhaps someone can provide something more useful. I'm not in Estonia (and don't have a camera anyway), but I've just googled 'Road signs in Tallinn' on Wikicommons and it provides several better examples, including a sign to the Õismäe district of Tallinn - you don't get much more Estonian-looking than that! (talk) 16:29, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

Or look at the category Signs in Estonia, commons:Category:Signs_in_Estonia. Help yourself! —Largo Plazo (talk) 16:41, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
 Done Removed as redundant and misleading per WP:PERTINENCE. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 01:19, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

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