Learn Estonian

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About Estonian

Estonia is home to around 900,000 speakers of Estonian, known as 'eesti keel', with another hundred thousand or so living abroad. It is related to Finnish however it is not related to the neighbouring Slavic, Germanic or Baltic languages such as Russian, German and Latvian. A distinctive feature of Estonian and Finnish is that they have no grammatical gender - just one word is used for both ‘he’ and ‘she’.

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Fun facts — Estonian

  • Many people confuse Finnish and Estonian, but they do use some separate vowels such as the Estonian uses ü and üü instead of Finnish y and yy.
  • Although not a Germanic language, nearly a third of Estonian vocabulary comes from German - for example, the word for glass, klaas, comes from the German glas.
  • Estonian has an astonishing 14 grammatical cases!
  • Some well-known examples of false friends between Estonian and Finnish are hallitus (which means 'government' in Finnish and ‘mould’ in Estonian), and kalju, which means 'bald’ in Finnish and 'cliff' in Estonian.

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