Estonian, Standard


A language of Estonia

Alternate Names
Eesti Keel, Eesti Kirjakeel

1,050,000 in Estonia (European Commission 2012). Including 1,290 speakers of Northeastern Coastal Estonian dialects, 26,800 speakers of North Estonian dialects (24,500 island dialects, 770 eastern dialects, 210 central dialects, and 1,280 western dialects), and 13,800 speakers of South Estonian dialects (9,700 Mulgi and 4,110 Tartu) (2011 census). Total users in all countries: 1,164,770.

Language Status

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


Tallinn (Reval), Tartu (Dorpat), Mulgi. 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]. A member of macrolanguage Estonian [est].


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; 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; stress on first syllable; possible secondary stress on third syllable; non-tonal.

Language Use

Standard Estonian is the language of education, including universities. Most also use Russian [rus] (European Commission 2006). Many also use English [eng] (European Commission 2006). Some also use Standard German [deu] (European Commission 2006). Also use Finnish [fin].

Language Development

Fully developed. Bible: 1739–1995.


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

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