Estonian translation services

Estonian translation services Diskusija offers

Diskusija has been providing professional Estonian translation services for almost 20 years. 

Our company is located in the Baltic States, and historically Estonian is one of the first languages we started to translate into. It is, to date, still in high demand among our customers. Diskusija is highly adaptive when it comes to specialized content and putting together a suitable project team, which means we ensure that your translation is tailored to the target industry and audience. There are relatively few Estonian speakers in the world, which can make finding professional translators for this language a challenge. However, at Diskusija we’re proud of the rich pool of partner linguists we work with to fulfil any Estonian translation request you might have.

Our most commonly provided Estonian translation combinations are:

  • English to Estonian
  • German to Estonian
  • French to Estonian
  • Russian to Estonian

If the language you’re looking for isn’t included above, don't hesitate to contact us for other combinations involving translation to or from Estonian.

Estonian translation services

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About the Estonian language

The Estonian language is the official language of Estonia, spoken by approximately 1.1 million people (most of them reside in Estonia). It belongs to the Finno-Ugric subfamily of Uralic languages and is one of just several European Union languages that are not Indo-European languages.

Estonian is very close to Finnish – both belong to the same Baltic Finnic branch and they are mutually intelligible. It is also a distant relative of the Hungarian language.

Perhaps the main difference between Finnish and Estonian is the influence of different foreign languages. Finnish has many Swedish loanwords, while Estonian has lots of words of German origin, Russian, Latin, Greek and English loanwords.

Modern Estonian is based on the Latin alphabet. 

Modern language: alphabet, vocabulary, spelling, grammar

Estonian uses the Latin alphabet with some additional letters: ä, ö, ü, and õ, plus the later additions š and ž. The letters c, q, w, x and y are used only for names of foreign origin, and f, z, š, and ž appear in loanwords and foreign names only.

Because of German influence on Estonian, nearly one third of Estonian vocabulary is borrowed from German although the two languages have completely different origins.

Some sources note that Estonian has two main dialects: southern and northern (also known as Tallinn). Other sources say there are 3 groups of Estonian dialects: the northern, the southern and the north-east coastal. All of them differ in phonology, morphology and lexis, especially the southern dialects.

The northern dialect (or central dialect of the northern group) serves as the basis for written literary Estonian.

The pronunciation of Estonian is regular. Stress almost always falls on the first syllable of Estonian words. There can be a weaker secondary stress on the second, third or fourth syllable unless it is the final syllable, which is short.

Estonian vowels and consonants have different lengths – they can be short or long. In written form they are represented by the number of letters – one or two. There are 26 diphthongs in Estonian and vowels in them are pronounced the same way as they would be pronounced separately.

Another effect of the German influence on Estonian beyond vocabulary is syntax. The canonical order of sentences is “subject-verb-object”.

In Estonian, nouns and pronouns have no grammatical gender, but nouns and adjectives inflect in 14 cases.

History of the Estonian language

The oldest examples of written Estonian are names, words and phrases found in chronicles of the early 13th century. Kullamaa prayers dated around the 1520s are the earliest longer Estonian texts. The first printed book in Estonian was the Wanradt-Koell Catechism in 1535.

The domination of foreign rulers from the 13th to the beginning of the 20th century, mainly Germans and Russians, left its mark on the language. The suppression of Estonian identity and language resulted in few early literary works in Estonian. More significant works appeared only in the 19th century. The birth of native Estonian literature is considered to be connected with the publication of patriotic poems by Kristjan Jaak Peterson. His birthday – March 14 is celebrated in Estonia as Mother Tongue day.

After Estonia became an independent country in 1918, Estonian became the official language of the country. But in 1940 when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia, Russian became the second official language. Estonian was once again established as the only official language after Estonia declared its independence in 1991.

During the Soviet occupation, hundreds of thousands of workers, mostly Russian speakers, were relocated to Estonia. Because of this, around one quarter of the population speaks Russian as their primary language.

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