Ethnologue: Areas: Europe


1,636,000 (1995). Republic of Estonia, Eesti Vabariik. Independence from USSR in 1991. 17,413 square miles. Capital Tallinn. Literacy rate 99%. Also includes Russian 474,834, Ukrainian 24,135 (mother tongue speakers, 1.4%, out of 48,271 ethnic Ukrainian, 3.1%), Belorussian 9,144 (mother tongue speakers, 0.6%, out of 27,711 ethnic Belorussian, 1.8%), Finnish 5,153 (mother tongue speakers, out of 16,622 ethnic Finnish), Latvian 2,000, Lithuanian 2,205, Chuvash 1,200, Tatar 4,000, Romani, possibly Yiddish. Swedish is nearly extinct in Estonia. Data accuracy estimate: B. Information mainly from the Estonian Human Development Report. The number of languages listed for Estonia is 1.

ESTONIAN [EST] 963,281 in Estonia, 61.5% of the population (1989 census); 95% speak it as mother tongue; 56,000 in Russia; 20,507 in USA (1970 census); 14,520 in Canada (1971 census); 6,000 in Finland (1993); 3,000 in Latvia; 1,100,000 in all countries. Estonia (93%). Also in St. Petersburg, Russia; United Kingdom, Australia, and Sweden. Uralic, Finno-Ugric, Finno-Permic, Finno-Cheremisic, Finno-Mordvinic, Finno-Lappic, Balto-Finnic. Dialects: TALLINN (REVAL), TARTU (DORPAT), MULGI, VÔRU (WERRO), SETO (SETU). 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). The central dialect of North Estonian is the basis for the literary language. Vôru, Setu (a subdialect of Vôru), and island are clearly distinct from standard Estonian. All the other dialects are assimilated into standard Estonian. Estonian has remained the language of education, including universities. Some linguistic influences from Russian, German, Swedish, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Finnish. Russian is the main second language. 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, and watch Finnish television. English is also known through television. The Roman alphabet is used. Dictionary (M. Laur). National language. Typology: 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; non-tonal; stress on first syllable; possible secondary stress on third syllable. Christian. Braille code available. Bible 1739-1995. NT 1686-1989. Bible portions 1632-1991.

External Links*

  • Estonian Human Development Report.

    Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
    Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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