Let’s All Learn Estonian

How did I know what you’d decided to do this evening? Guess I’m just sharp like that… At any rate, having already posted handy and ground-breaking guides to French, Spanish, and German, (German, for example simply adds -ger to English words, such that in English you use a rod to catch a fish with a fin, whereas in German, the very same activity uses a ‘rod-ger’ and the fish has a ‘fin-ger‘. Nify, huh?)
And so let’s move on to Estonian. Whether you’re planning a trip to Tablisi (or whatever their capitol is) or just want to meet Nona here, spend a few minutes reading this and you’ll be all set.
Estonian: Probably no other language makes such an efficient use of a limited alphabet. Hawaian comes to mind, but you seen one hula and one luau and you’re ready to move up… to ‘E-S-T-O-N-I-A’.
Flag, so you know you’re in the right country:


Let’s have a quick look at vocabulary, ok?
Hungry? well, relish the TASTE of ONION on TOAST, served by TATIANA in native dress. And have no fear of verbs: food is to EAT. past tense is ATE, and later on you can regale the jealous stay-at-homes about the meal you’ve EATEN. Simple, huh?
Punctuation is also similar to English. For example, the declarative sentence:
“TANIA AN’ I SIT ON A TEN TON STONE AN’ TEST TEAS.”  ends with a period as expected. Questions can take two forms, simple interrogative: “NONA SAT IN SEAT NINE, NO?” or conversely, the rhetorical question “AIN’T STAN A SAINT!” which takes an exclamation mark.
Numbers, you will quickly find out, are simplified from the English system you are no doubt familiar with. Yes, Estonians make-do quite well with NONE, ONE, NINE, TEN, and NINETEEN. A few days ‘in-country’ and you’ll wonder why anyone needs the whole decimal mess of pottage.
You will also learn to love TIN roofs, NEON lights, and with some study, even the poetry of the language. (The specialty is SONNETS, of course. The men, dressed in traditional garb write these at an astounding pace, sometimes a dozen a day. Probably an excess of TESTOSTANONE explains this amorous bent, who knows? Or perhaps this typical Estonian girl (below)
But all in all, have a wonderful time there, and perhaps even print and save this post so it’ll be handy whenever you need it. My pleasure/ JS

typical estonian


12 thoughts on “Let’s All Learn Estonian

  1. g.

    My mother had a friend who went to the Netherlands and came back convinced she could speak Dutch by adding the prefix “ge” to past-tense verbs. Gecleaned. Getraveled. Geread. It was both insane and adorable.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      ‘Insane and adorable’, love it. I had a girlfriend once of similar qualities.
      yes, my facetious language tips are tailored especially for the ‘quick learner, ha.

      1. g.

        HA. That’s awesome. And also, I’m pretty sure a “word” at least two of the six people in my family have actually used. (More if you count variations like “ausgechucked.”)

  2. eleanorio

    I recall a brother and sister of Estonian descent in my junior high school back in the day. They were both blonde to the point of albinism, except for very light blue eyes. NO TANS for Estonians.

  3. solberg73 Post author

    Ach, du sprischt a bisse Estonisch. ‘NO TAN’ indeed.
    I left out a ton of vocab vords: ‘ANISE’ and ‘SNOT’ come to mind. But vis da 8 most frequently used letters in English as an alphabet, one can even do a passable ‘anti-dis-establishmentarianism’ translation.

  4. Roadkill Spatula

    I appreciate your NOTATIONS, Solberg, although I would rather hear you INTONATE them in person. ESTONIANS are known for their NATTINESS; sipping ANISETTE from STEINS and noshing ONION sandwiches whilst listening to SESTINAS is the latest cultural SENSATION. Their radio STATIONS purport to cover internecine TENSIONS, spewing the SNOOTIEST INSENSATE ANTISENSE.

    I could go on and on.

    And I totally cheated: Scrabblefinder.com.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Not to apologize; the net is there to serve Man. either as a helper or a cookbook.
      I lost a night’s sleep going through most of the short vocab. I’m sure you knov that the ETAOINS alphabet, by coincidence (and I realized it only after the fact) is the table of most frequently used letters in english.
      Although this veek, vis mein ‘double-you’ key dysfunctional, I have nev respect for that letter’s frequency.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      OK, there vill be a feeding ‘frenzy , hordes of the unwashed squabbling’ over the choice rocks.The honest are forever doomed to sit on the sidelines, deep in moral accounting while fools rush in…

  5. bursted

    Forgive me for the concluding line of this comment, I have not read above to see if anyone else had already executed my magnificent pun almost worthy. This was the first new post I saw from the time I began stalking you, so I guess I’m all caught up. There’s a lot of time machine action going on here – I blame Canada. Hey I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing about Estonia in this except the flag and Tatiana, but there’s never a time like the present to get started because, and I think you know this well since you must be Bob Dylan’s nearly distant cousin, Everybody Must Get Estonia.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Forgive the delay in replying. I must say your quote is both humorous and original. (Although the night after I wrote this I did have a sudden urge to re-listen to ‘Everybody must get stoned’)
      I don’t advise being too concerned about ‘uniqueness’ in an interconnected reverberating world of the net. I once did a post where I took 12 of my most recent ‘neologisms’ and finally checked Google-wise’ whether they were in fact original. About a third did come up as ‘No results’ which made me proud. But the ones I most treasured turned out to be ‘yesterday’s meme’. surprisingly. (Ex: ‘foxy moron’. I suppose that with a billion monkeys pecking at keys one shouldn’t be surprised.
      As to the post I do have a record of ‘debunking’ languages, revealing the shockingly simple strategy for becoming fluent in them overnight. All a parody of similar schemes. Thanks for your reading and feel free to continue/ JS.


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