miseryõnnetuskurjuus...and so on. But sometimes seemingly identical words can have drastically differentmeanings. The Finnish word
(government), is the exact same as the Estonian word
(mould). One should not make assumptions.And then there are the possibilities for gross misunderstandings: The Estonian word fortercel (hawk) is kull, which is also a fairly common family name in Estonia. In Finnish,however, it is slang for testicle(s).So, in short: 1) Most Finns and Estonians are unable to understand each other (but maywith some effort), and 2) They easily could with a few months of study. But this does notseem to be the case. However, Estonians do tend to be more inclined to know Finnish thanvice versa, as Estonia receives a few Finnish TV channels. During the Soviet occupationFinnish TV provided a window to the West and the western lifestyle, which motivated theEstonians to learn Finnish. Also, it gave the people a chance to hear the Finnish nationalanthem, the same music as that of free Estonia’s. Finland does not receive Estonian TVthough, and so have less opportunity to learn Estonian. There is quite a bit of interchangebetween the two, however. Finns often go to Tallinn for a day or two to enjoy the lowerprices, as well as to drink (and also enjoy marginally warmer weather?), and Estonianscommonly go to Helsinki to see shows or cultural exhibits, (Helsinki is about 20% largerthan Tallinn).Lastly, Estonian has no similarity to the Indo-European languages of the other countries itborders on. Though it has had some Russian influence, Russian is a Slavic language, not aFinno-Ugric tongue, and is quite different. Estonian also has no similarity to Latvian (Latvianis similar to Lithuanian, though).Although Estonian as a language has existed for a long time, the language was not codified(i.e., the rules of grammar and spelling established) until the late 19th century. Manyregional dialects still survive.
Once again, I urge you to find a way to hear spoken Estonian as well, such as Travlang'spage above.Also, to hear Estonian radio you may also clickhere.This is the news section of an Estonianradio station, called (I believe) simply Eesti raadio. For beginners of course it's quite fastbut nevertheless it gives a good idea of how Estonian is actually spoken.There are others as well, and it is not too difficult to find. But I will also add specifics here,and tips on pronouncing that may go unnoticed by the casual listener.
Estonian vowels, in general, are not changed by doubling like in English. A doubled
sounds like the o in tone, while the short
sounds like the o in moment. It is somewhatsubtle, but all too important.
As with vowels, the doubling of consonants is noticeable. For example, the double s of theword
(import), is pronounced more like as in 'Miss something' than as in'Mystery'. Say it as if it were two words, but do not pause.In general, the stress in Estonian is always on the first syllable of a word and thus wordsusually begin with a hard consonant (p, t, k) as opposed to a soft consonant (b, d, g). Thisdoes not carry over into syllabication, but has some impact in pronunciation; e.g., Jaakobi ispronounced as if it were written Jaakopi.
The Estonian lettersa.
Pronounced like the a in f
Pronounced like the a in h
Pronounced like the o in m
Pronounced somewhat like in c