Wikijunior:Languages/Estonian

What writing system(s) does this language use?Edit

Estonian uses the letters in the English alphabet, but includes several letters with diacritics. Here is a list of all the Estonian letters.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, Š, Z, Ž, T, U, V, W, Õ, Ä, Ö, Ü, X, Y

Letters in bold are only used in words that are not actually Estonian; rather, they are from another language.

(Definition)

diacritic — a mark added to a letter to change how it's pronounced.

How many people speak this language?Edit

Estonian is spoken by about 1.1 million people, making it the 243rd highest language in number of speakers.

Where is this language spoken?Edit

Estonian is an official language in:

It is a minority language in:

What is the history of this language?Edit

It is believed that the Baltic-Finnic languages evolved from a proto-Finnic language, from which Sami was separated around 1500–1000 BC. It has been suggested that this proto-Finnic had three dialects: northern, southern and eastern. The Baltic-Finnic languages separated around the first century, but continued influencing each other. You might see southwestern Finnish dialects have many genuine Estonian influences.

Around the 15th century, northern Estonia was under great cultural influence of Germany. Some German monks wanted to bring God closer to the native people, so they invented the Estonian literal language. It was based on the German alphabet and one character "Õ/õ" was added. As time passed, many words that were borrowed from German coalesced. This was the beginning of enlightenment.

When the Estonians declared themselves a nation, at the beginning of the 20th century, the country bloomed. For the first time they could express themselves freely. This was the golden age of Estonia, and the language evolved greatly.

The Second World War ended the golden age. Forces from the east marched in, took power, and Estonian was often deemed unnecessary to speak or teach. At that time many changes were made. For example, the structure of sentences was changed — the verb was put at the beginning of the sentence. Interestingly, this is not the way that it is in German.

When the Estonian people got back to power, the Soviet Union was disunified. They were a democratic nation for a second time; the cultural shield was broken. New information came in. A lot of slang words and phrases were adopted from English and English-speaking countries.

Interesting factEdit

Finnish and Estonian are closely-related languages. It's been said that northern Estonians can understand what is being said by Finnish people, even if they haven't learned Finnish.

Strangely, it doesn't seem to work the other way around. The Finnish have to put a lot more effort into learning Estonian, than Estonians have to put in for Finnish.

Who are some famous authors or poets in this language?Edit

Anton Hansen Tammsaare

Friedebert Tuglas

Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald

Johann Voldemar Jannsen

Jaan Kross

Lennart Meri

What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?Edit

Vastused Responses
Jah Yes
Ei No
Võibolla Maybe
Tervitused Greetings
Tere Hello
Minu nimi on ____ My name is ____
Tere hommikust Good morning
Tere päevast Good afternoon
Head ööd Good night
Mis lahti? What's up?
Mis toimub? What's going on?
Mitte palju. Not much.
Hüvastijätud Good-byes
Head aega. Good-bye.
Hüvasti. Bye.
Näeme homme. See you tomorrow.
Hoiame ühendust. Keep in touch.
Peatse jällenägemiseni. See you soon.
Kasulikud fraasid Useful phrases
Kas te võiksite juhatada mind tualettruumi? (polite)
Kus on tualettruum?
Could you tell me where the bathroom is?
Where is the bathroom?
Kui palju see maksab? How much does it cost?
Ma tahan piima. I want milk.
Sa meeldid mulle. I like you.
Ma armastan sind. I love you.
Mu koer sõi mu kodutöö. My dog ate my homework.
Muuhulgas... Among other things...
Lahe Cool
Öö Night
Jää Ice
Kutt Dude
Naine Woman
Mees Man
Hea Good
Halb Bad

What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?Edit

At Christmas time, you might like to sing Christmas carols about your tree. The Estonians do, too. This song is originally called "O Tannenbaum", but it's called "Oh kuusepuu" in Estonian. It has also been translated into English. The song was first written by Ernst Anschütz in 1824.

Here is the first verse:

"Oh kuusepuu" "O Christmas Tree"
Oh kuusepuu, oh kuusepuu O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree!
Kui haljad on su oksad! How are thy leaves so verdant!
Ei mitte üksi suisel a’al. Not only in the summertime,
Vaid talvel ka siin külmal maal But even in winter is thy prime.
Oh kuusepuu, oh kuusepuu O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Kui haljad on su oksad! How are thy leaves so verdant!

and so on...

Listen to the melody

Last modified on 25 November 2013, at 13:26