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  • Mar 14, 2012
  • 10:19 PM

Happy Estonian Language Day!

Today, March 14, is Estonia's Native Language Day (Emakeelepäev). The date was established as a national holiday in 1999, on the anniversary of the birth of poet Kristjan Jaak Peterson.

Estonian is spoken by a little over 1 million people, and unlike most European languages, is a member of the Uralic language family: It is related to languages like Finnish, Livonian, Veps, Karelian, and more distantly to Hungarian, Khanty, Mansi, the Sami languages, and the Samoyedic languages. Estonian's southern dialect Võro is considered by many to be a distinct language.

Typically for a Uralic language, Estonian is rich in noun cases, with 14 of them, though unlike its nearest relatives, it no longer has vowel harmony (where vowels in a word must match in certain respects). Estonian is extremely unusual among the world's languages in having three length distinctions in vowels and consonants.

Here are some additional links to explore:

Estonian Language Celebrated All Around the World on Mother Tongue Day
Estonian Institute
Oneness Online Estonian Course
Speak Estonian! - Learn Estonian Online
The Story of the Estonian Language

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