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Estonian Language Facts and Information

Information About Estonian Language

Estonian language topics and discussion
Estonian speakers in the Phrasebase community
Extinct: no
Family: Uralic
Branch: Finnic
Continent: Europe
Country: Estonia
Region: ESTONIAN: Also spoken in Australia, Canada, Finland, Latvia, Russia (Europe), Sweden, United Kingdom, USA. ESTONIAN, SIGN: Throughout Estonia, especially Tallinn and Pärnu.
Countries Where Spoken: ESTONIAN: 953,032 in Estonia out of 963,281 (93%) ethnic group (1989 census). Population total all countries 1,100,000. Finland. ESTONIAN, SIGN: 4,500 users out of 1,600 deaf and 20,000 hearing impaired. 2,000 persons need regular help from interpreters (1998 Urmas Sutrop).
Countries Where Official: Estonia
Native Speakers: 953,032
Speakers Total: 1,100,000
Phrasebase members who speak Estonian at a native level: 563
Phrasebase members who speak Estonian at a conversational level: 563
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Estonian: 620
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Estonian: 745
Three Letter Code: EST
Alternative Names: EESTI KEEL
Summary: ESTONIAN:Dialects are grouped into three: Northeastern Coastal Estonian (between Tallinn and Narva), North Estonian (island, western, central, and eastern dialects), and South Estonian (Mulgi, Tartu, Vôru). Vôru, Setu (a subdialect of Vôru), and island are clearly distinct from standard Estonian. All the other dialects are assimilated into standard Estonian. Those over 60 and under 20 speak little Russian. It is spoken less in rural areas and in southern areas. 75% to 80% of the population in the northeast are Russian speakers. Those over 60 know some German. Most in the north speak Finnish for common topics. Estonian has remained the language of education, including universities. Some linguistic influences from Russian, German, Swedish, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Finnish. National language. Dictionary. Grammar. SVO; 14 cases: affixes indicate case of noun phrases; verb affixes mark person and number of subject and agreement (obligatory); genitives, adjectives, numberals before noun heads; question word initial; 1 prefix maximum; 5-6 suffixes maximum; word order distinguishes given and new information; active and passive voice; 4 moods in both voices: indicative, imperative, conditional, oblique; 2 infinitives for all verbs; 4 tenses in both voices and all moods: present, past, perfect, pluperfect; 3 degrees of comparison: positive, comparative, superlative; V, CV, CVC, CVCCC, CVV, CVVC, VC, VCCC, VV, VVC, CCV, CCVV, CCVC, CCVCC, CCVVCC, CCVCCC; nontonal; stress on first syllable; possible secondary stress on third syllable. Literacy rate in second language: North Estonian, central dialect. Roman script used. TV. Christian. Bible 1739-1995. ESTONIAN, SIGN: Some local dialects. The dialect in Pärnu is the most archaic. Apparent influences from Finnish and Russian Sign Languages. Some people can use both Estonian and Russian Sign Languages. Russian Sign Language is used in Tallinn by deaf Russians. In other regions Russians use some pidginized versions of Russian Sign Language mixed with Estonian Sign Language. Systematic teaching and research since 1990 at the Dept. of Special Education at Tartu University. Sign language instruction for parents of deaf children in Tallinn. Classes for hearing people in Tallinn and Pärnu. Classes for interpretars. Schools for children with hearing impairments. Many children with hearing impairments in ordinary schools. Oral and signed teaching. There is a Society of the Interpreters of Estonian Sign Language. Centers for interpreters in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, at the Association of Deaf People. Local authorities pay for interpreters for 36 hours for each deaf person per year. Some grants for students who need interpreters. Courts accept signed interpretation and pay for interpreters. Dictionary. Grammar. TV, videos.

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