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Estonian or eesti keel [ˈeːsti ˈkeːl] is a Finnic language spoken primarily in Estonia. Estonian is very closely related to Finnish, and the two languages are somewhat mutually intelligible.

OrthographyEdit

The Estonian alphabet consists of most of the letters of the Latin in addition to some with diacritics. The letters and their sounds are given below:

Letter Sound
A / a [ɑː]
B / b [b]
D / d [t]
E / e [e]
F / f [f]
G / g [g]
H / h [h]
I / i [i]
J / j [j]
K / k [k]
L / l [l]
M / m [m]
N / n [n]
O / o [o]
P / p [p]
R / r [r]
S / s [s]
Š / š [ʃ]
Z / z [z]
Ž / ž [ʒ]
T / t [t]
U / u [u]
V / v [v]
Õ / õ [ɤ]
Ä / ä [æ]
Ö / ö [ø]
Ü / ü [y]

The letters F, Š, Z, and Ž are only used in loan words. Also note that the letters C, Q, W, X, and Y can also be used in loan words, but they are not part of the official alphabet.

PhonologyEdit

Stress is on the first syllable for most Estonian words. For loan words, the stress is often but not always the same as in the language of origin.

The stops are unaspirated and have a length feature. The short stops /b/, /g/, and /d/ can be voiced when between vowels but are unvoiced otherwise. The long stops /p:/, /k:/, and /t:/ are slightly longer. The overlong stops /p::/, /k::/ and /t::/ are represented by the double letters ⟨pp⟩, ⟨kk⟩, and ⟨tt⟩. There are minimal triplets that are distinguished by consonant length.

GrammarEdit

Word OrderEdit

Estonian is primarily a subject-verb-object language. Questions are formed by placing the interrogative phrase at the beginning of the sentence if present.

NounsEdit

Estonian nouns have 14 cases. Each case has a singular form and a plural form. The cases are as follows:

  1. Nominative
  2. Genitive
  3. Partitive
  4. Illative
  5. Inessive
  6. Elative
  7. Allative
  8. Adessive
  9. Ablative
  10. Translative
  11. Terminative
  12. Essive
  13. Abessive
  14. Comitative

NegationEdit

Negation of an indicative or conditional verb is formed by placing the word for "no", ei, in front of the verb stem. Here is an example with olema ("to be"), which has the stem ole:

Ma olen siin.
I am here.
Ma ei ole siin.
I am not here.

The object of a negated verb is in the partitive case.

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