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The Estonian Language

It has around 1 million speakers in Estonia, the official language.

Estonian is a unique and fascinating language that hails from the Finno-Ugric family of languages. Its rich history, the array of speakers and its official status makes it a compelling subject to delve into.

One of Europe’s least crowded countries, Estonia has one of the highest adult literacy rates in the world, making translating your content into Estonian far from a waste of time. The Estonian people are also a technologically-focused lot, with the country becoming the first country in the world to embrace online voting back in 2005. Estonian has two main dialects, split between the north and the south of the country. 

Origins and Brief History:

  • Originating over a thousand years ago, Estonian is part of the Finno-Ugric family, which also includes Finnish and Hungarian.
  • While there’s no concrete evidence, it’s believed that the language developed from Proto-Finnic, the ancestral language of all the Finnic languages, around the beginning of the Common Era.
  • The Estonian language endured centuries of foreign rule, including the Danish, German, Swedish, and Russian. These influences are reflected in several loanwords.
  • Despite these influences, Estonian maintains a unique grammatical and phonetic system different from the Indo-European languages.

Number of Speakers:

  • As of my last update in September 2021, Estonian was spoken by approximately 1.1 million people globally.
  • The majority of the speakers reside in Estonia, but there are also Estonian-speaking communities in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Official Language Status:

  • Estonian is the official language of Estonia.
  • It’s also one of the 24 official languages of the European Union.

Where it is Used and How:

  • Estonian is used widely across Estonia in education, government, media, and everyday communication.
  • Estonia has a high level of internet penetration, and Estonian is commonly used online. The country is renowned for its digital advancements, including being the birthplace of Skype.

Example of Text:

Estonian: “Tere, kuidas sul läheb?”
English Translation: “Hello, how are you?”

English Words Used in Estonian:

With globalisation and technological advancement, English has left a considerable mark on Estonian. Examples include: “internet,” “džinn” (gin), and “buss” (bus).

Estonian Words in English:

While Estonian hasn’t substantially impacted English like Latin or French, some words of possible Estonian origin exist. One potential example is “jäääär,” a word used by some English speakers living in Estonia, which literally means “edge of ice.” 

In conclusion, with its Finno-Ugric roots and unique identity, the Estonian language has withstood the test of time. Despite foreign influences, it has maintained its core structure and continues to be a vibrant part of Estonia’s cultural heritage. Whether you encounter it in the bustling streets of Tallinn or the vast digital landscape, Estonian continues to resonate with its rich history and modern adaptability.

With our Estonian translation capabilities, we are able to offer a wide range of Estonian transition services, including consultancy, copywriting and quality assurance.

At Brightlines, we only use Estonian translation specialists who have used Estonian since birth.

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Our translation services - FAQ

Do you use native translators?

Yes, always. All our translators are native speakers and most are still resident in their native country. We pride ourselves on ensuring that all Brightlines’ translators are native. We do not accept applications from non-native candidates or allow them to register on our online recruitment database. All our translators are rigorously tested.

How long will the translations take?

The turnaround for the translation will depend on the word count. As a rough guide, assume that the translators can comfortably process about 2500 words of non-specialised text per day. Proofreading can effectively be completed on a basis of 4000-6000 words a day. Our minimum turnaround time is usually about three days, although it is possible to shorten this if you are in a rush for the final files and we will always be happy to discuss this with you.

What is the variation in your translators’ experience and qualifications? Are they native speakers? Will the cost increase if we use a more experienced translator?

All our translators have to go through a series of tests to make sure they are as good as they say they are, and only if they pass are they allowed to work for Brightlines. There is quite a range of experience and qualifications, but all translators have a minimum of five years’ experience. All translators translate into their mother-tongue without exception and are generally based in-country so they are up-to-date with the local language. We match translators with projects/clients depending on the subject matter, and most of our translators have industry experience in their speciality – there is no better experience than being immersed professionally in the industry they specialise in. Our costs are based on translator experience, speciality (i.e. medical, creative, scientific) and the language choice.

Which languages can you translate into?

We have an extensive database with hundreds of trusted and tested translators covering all commercial languages. If you cannot see the language or dialect you need please ask.

I don’t know the word count; can you base the quote on the number of pages?

Our pricing structure is based on a rate-per-word, but we can estimate from a page count. If we can’t see the source document then we would usually estimate between 300 – 500 words a page depending on the density of the text and the presence of photos and images.

Does the translation need to be proofread?

Brightlines is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company. This means that quality is safeguarded. We adhere to the “four-eyes principle” and translations are always checked by a second professional proofreader (who is not the translator). If the translation is for internal use and reference purposes only (i.e. not to be published, distributed or used in a court of law), or you simply don’t wish to have proofreading, we can remove the proofreading stage.

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If you need Estonian translations, get in touch with our team, or get a quick quote.