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Forum > Languages and Cultures > Finnish & Estonian languages
#0 Finnish & Estonian languages Fri 18 Apr 08 16:23:36
Tonight, I was told by my Lithuanian friend that Estonian speakers can
understand Finnish much better than reversed, i.e. Finnish native speakers
cannot understand Estonian that well. Is it true? Would be good to know what to
study first :-)

And besides that, I'm also wondering how difficult Estonian language is compared
to Finnish - the grammar is more or less the same, but I'm wondering about the
major differences, and I also wonder whether there are a lot of loan words in

Thx on forehand! :-)
#6 Finnish & Estonian languages Wed 07 May 08 8:55:45
Finnish and Estonian do have some common words, but they don't always mean the
same ;) For example "Raamatud" means "books" in Estonian, but in finnish it is
almost like word "Raamattu" which means The Bible. :D So you have to be careful
;) There are more examples too but I can't remember them right now.

It is true that Estonian speakers understand better finnish than Finns
understand Estonian language. I don't know why it is like so. Maybe because many
finnish tourists travel in Estonia and they are often served by finnish. Finnish
people meet often Estonian people, but they don't speak Estonian langauge when
they meet. A little stupid but true :D

I'm Finnish and I think it is much easier to study Estonian first. Because
Estonian have more common words with German and this. And finnish language, yes,
it is quite difficult. :) But when you understand Estonian it is easier for you
to learn Finnish. Good luck!
#7 Finnish & Estonian languages Wed 07 May 08 13:21:12
Kiitos! :-) In fact, I'm learning both languages at the same time now, so my
head feels like exploding :D, but by September everything should be fine :-)
#8 Finnish & Estonian languages Fri 09 May 08 20:18:00
For me it seems, that one(?) reason for the differencies in the understanding
is, that Estonian is a little more modenised - the words became shorter - in
Finnish the end of the word tells you, whose land or hat and so on..  In
Estonian the same is said before the word / MAAmme  - meie MAA - our LAND/. So
estonians have time to think, what was said in finnish, but for finns estonian
words are ending too quickly. The base for modern written Estonian is the
North-Estonian dialect; at the same time - the Võru dialect from the Southern
Estonia  has preserved more similarities with Finnish. Do not know exactly, but
in thirds app one part of words are ~ the same, one third very similar, ...
And one reason is, that during last decades of soviet time the Northern Estonia
could watch the Finnish TV 
loans in Estonian are from German, Danish, Swedish, Russian...
#9 Finnish & Estonian languages Thu 12 Jun 08 16:52:38
Hello Joeri!

Some years I did start studying Estonian, would like to learn Finnish one day as
well. If you have a good idea about how it should sound and are not affraid to
make mistakes in using it right from the beginning, you can get quite far
without mayor efforts. 

To my personnal appreciation, the pronounciation of Estonian might be more
archaïc (even if the grammar is more modern and indo-European trough the
influence of the many Germans that studied or used it before). Just by listening
at pre-war time finnish music, I get the idea this lays much closer to the
actual Estonian, although the youngsters start to use a very different slang.
(mostly speaking with their mouth almost shut, really fast :D  - => like
everywhere btw)

There's also a growing Estonian community in Brussels. :-)

A little similar question to you:  I would like to learn Latvian and Lithuanian
at the same time, what do you think? (now only busy with Latvian) 

In ieder geval succes, misschien komen we mekaar nog wel ergens tegen! :-)


#10 Finnish & Estonian languages Wed 18 Jun 08 22:36:00
Hey Wouter!

Latvian and lithuanian are as different from each other as, let's say, Dutch and
Danish - you notice easily the differences, but the familiarities as well. I
don't think mixing up is a problem, once you've reached a good basic level (and
that's someting you learn best independently of each other). I don't know how
you're learning it, but if you want, you can borrow my course books for some

Ps from next week I have more time, so if you're in for a pintje or so, let me
know! ;-)
#11 Finnish & Estonian languages Tue 08 Jul 08 13:10:36
The phenomen you refer to is quite interesting. Though I don't have any
experience with Finnish/ Estonian, I know some similar phenomens in other

-Like Estonians seem to understand Finnish better than the other way around,
Norwegians normally understand Swedish and Danish better than Swedes or Danes
understand Norwegian. As some people suggest, I also belive that television has
something to do with this, as we see Swedish television in (eastern Norway), but
they don't see Norwegian television in Sweden.

-This can hardly explain all though, because in other regions of Norway than the
East, they do not sdee Swedish television and still the are generally better in
understanding Swedish than the other way around. One explaination of this I
think is a matter of mentality. To look to Sweden to do business or spend your
sparetime is quite natural for Norwegians, though it is virtually unthinkable
for most Stockholm companies to do business with a Norwegian company. In Norway
it is also quite natural for a professor to hold a lecture at university in the
dialect from the region he is from, while this would be unthinkable in Sweden. I
don't know Finland that well, but I will not be surprised if Finland is "more
relevant" for Estonians than vice versa.

-Third I think this also have a genuine lingual explaination. Norwegians
probably have easier to understand Swedish and Danish because Norwegain are sort
of in between vocabulary-wise and foneticly (when a Dane tried to speak
Norwegian it normaly become Swedish). I have also understood that it is easier
for Portogese speakers to understand Spanish than the other way around.

By the way, from what I have understood Tallinn means Danish town in Estonian
(and Danish castle in Finnish?). Russia is believed to be a derivation from
Sweden in Finnish, there are Finnish names, expressions and grammatical
constructions in Russian that does not exist in other Slavic lanauges and there
is several aditional Finno languages in this area like Karelian (Russia),
Livonian (Latvia) and Several Samii languages.
#12 Finnish & Estonian languages Wed 09 Jul 08 16:08:03
Scandinavian languages is smth I know much more about, so...:
1) the word 'Russia' (Rossija - or however I have to transcribe it in latin
alphabet) is believed to come from 'Ruotsi', indeed the Finnish word for sweden.
It's logical, from a historical point of view: the Sweds were well-organized in
viking-tribes, while Finnish were much less organized in small (minor) groups.
When the vikings were looking for a way to the Black sea/Istanbul, they followed
the Dnjepr (or however I've to write it), thereby passing what is now Finland,
of course.
2) Tallin is indeed 'Danish town' in (old?) Estonian - btw the myth of the
Danish flag (dannebro) is that it appeared when the Danish were invading this
3) When I was in Scandinavia, it was very striking that all Scandinavians know
at least one other Scandinavian language, apart from their own - except for the
Swedes. I always thought this had to do with the disbalance in power
(economical, contemporary cultural) of Sweden, but I'm not 100% sure of that. 
4) For me, Norwegian seemed much easier to understand than Swedish because the
pronounciation is little more clear, and they speak somewhat slower.

And so on, and so on... Aren't they just lovely, those languages? ;-)
#13 Finnish & Estonian languages Tue 05 Aug 08 12:17:54
The word "Russia" in fact comes from the North. Vikings, caled at first "Waregs"
became later "Ruses" (one Rus). And Rus' (Polish Ruś) means "Rus's (Land)",
similarry as Poznań means "Poznan's (town)". The founder of Rurikovich Dynasty,
Rurik, was originally a Wareg called Hroedekr or Roedekr (Roderick, Rodrigo). In
some Russian cities (eg. Novgorod) Old Nordic language was spoken even till XVII
century :)

#14 Finnish & Estonian languages Mon 11 Aug 08 17:34:32
The orign of the Word Rus is desputed though mainstream theory suggests it is a
derivation from the Dinnish word for Sweden and/or Ruslangen, the area outside
Stockholm where the Scandinavian settlers to Russia orignially came from.

Scandinavian was in fact apperant in Russia until world war one, in the trade
language Russenorsk (Russonorwegian) that was used among Pomor traders at Kola,
a kombination of Norwegian, Russian and Dutch - check out this conversation in

Norwegian: Drasvi, gammel go ven på moja. Tvoja fisk kopom? (Hello my old, good
friend. Do you buy fishk?)
Russian: Da. (Yes)
Nordmannen: Kak pris? (What price?)
Russeren: En voga mokka, så to voga treska. (One measurement flour for 2
measurements of fish))
Nordmannen: Eta mala. (It is too little)
Russeren: Slik slag, en å en halv voga treska, så en voga mokka. (Well, then
one and a half measurement of fish for one measurement of flour.)
Nordmannen: Eta grot dyr. (It is still too expensive.)
Russeren: No davaj på kajut sitte ned så dokka lite tjai drinkom. Ikke skade.
(Well, come down in the cabin and drink tea, it can not hurt.)

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