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ESTONIAN LANGUAGE

23.08.2012


THE STORY OF THE ESTONIAN LANGUAGE

The word for Estonia, Eesti, originates with the ancient Scandinavians who called those tribes living to the east of Scandinavia esti. In 98 AD, Tacitus in his "Germania" used a slightly different version of this word - aestii. The widespread use of the name of the country Eesti by Estonians themselves dates from no earlier than the 19th century...

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Written for the MFA by Mart Meri, Member of Parliament, linguist


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THE ESTONIAN LANGUAGE

Along with Icelandic, Estonian is at present one of the smallest languages in the world that fulfils all the functions necessary for an independent state to 'perform' linguistically. Teaching, at both primary school and university level, is in Estonian; it is also the language of modern science (molecular biology, astronomy, computer science, semiotics, etc.). Estonian is used in the army, in the theatre, aviation, journalism - in all walks of life. Estonian is the only official language in Estonia in local government and state institutions.

Estonian is spoken by approximately 1 100 000 people throughout the world. About 950 000 of them live in Estonia, and more than 150 000 are scattered over Sweden, Canada, USA, Russia, Australia, Finland, Germany and other countries. The first attempts to describe the Estonian language scientifically were undertaken in the early 17th century. In 1803, a lectureship of the Estonian language was established at what was then the German-language University of Tartu, founded in 1632. With the spread of the ideas of Enlightenment, the interest of the Baltic German Estophiles in the local language and culture increased. During the 19th century, the first educated Estonians began publishing scholarly research of their mother tongue. The first doctor of the Finno-Ugric languages of Estonian origin was Mihkel Veske who did research into the history of the Estonian language in the 1870s; the Estonian Writers' Union, established in 1871, undertook the task of standardising the common language.

In 1919, a professorship of the Estonian language was established at the University of Tartu where Estonian became the language of study in the same year. At present, research on the Estonian language-related topics is being carried out at the Institute of the Estonian Language in Tallinn, at the University of Tartu, at the Tallinn Pedagogical University, the Estonian Institute of Humanities, and at various research institutions all over the world...

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Estonian Institute: Publication


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THE NATIONAL LANGUAGE POLICIES

According to the Constitution, the official language of Estonia is Estonian and it is the states obligation to preserve the Estonian language, nation and culture “through the ages”. The activities necessary for the preservation and development of the Estonian language are defined in the Development Strategy of the Estonian Language (2004–2010) and the upcoming Estonian Language Development Plan (2011–2017). Practical language relations in Estonia are regulated by the Language Act and the legislation based thereon...

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Estonian Ministry of Education and Research


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SPEAK ESTONIAN!

Estonian is a member of the Finno-Ugric language family, being closely related to Finnish and more distantly so to Hungarian. It's not an Indo-European language such as French or Spanish, and as a result the vast majority of words in Estonian will look thoroughly unfamiliar to someone whose mother tongue is English.

Speak Estonian! offers a wide range of materials to help you learn Estonian.  Pick up some basic phrases or expand your vocabulary.


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WHERE CAN I LEARN ESTONIAN IN THE UK?

Estonian Society, Culture and Language Studies
University of Glasgow

Ms Lea Kreinin
Room 406, 8 Lilybank Gardens
Glasgow G12 8RS
email: l.kreinin@lbss.gla.ac.uk
MORE INFO ABOUT THE COURSE


School of Slavonic and East European Studies
University College London

Language Unit
16 Taviton Street
London WC1H 0BW
Tel. 020 7679 8738
web (undergraduate and postgraduate courses):
http://www.ssees.ucl.ac.uk/eveningcourses/index.htm
email (evening courses). languageunit@ssees.ucl.ac.uk

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