Estonian, Standard


A language of Estonia

Alternate Names

953,000 in Estonia (1989 census). Population total all countries: 1,018,400. Ethnic population: 963,000 (1989 census).


Also in Australia, Canada, Finland, Latvia, Russian Federation, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1992, Constitution, Article 52(1)).


Mulgi, Tallinn (Reval), Tartu (Dorpat). 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). All the other dialects are assimilated into Standard Estonian. Related to Võru [vro], Vod [vot] and Finnish [fin].


SVO; 14 cases: affixes indicate case of noun phrases; verb affixes mark person, number of subject, and agreement (obligatory); genitives, adjectives, numerals 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; stress on first syllable; possible secondary stress on third syllable; nontonal

Language Use

Standard Estonian is language of education, including universities. Those over 60 and under 20 speak little Russian [rus], especially in rural areas and in southern areas. 75%–80% of the population in the northeast are Russian speakers. Those over 60 know some German [deu]. Most in the north speak Finnish [fin] for common topics.

Language Development
Fully developed. Bible: 1739–1995.
Latin script.
Other Comments

Some linguistic influences from Russian [rus], German [deu], Swedish [swe], Latvian [lav], Lithuanian [lit], and Finnish [fin]. Christian.

Also spoken in:

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