Estonian 101

Estonian belongs to the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages. Estonian is thus closely related to Finnish, spoken on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, and is one of the few languages of Europe that is not Indo-European. Despite some overlaps in the vocabulary due to borrowings, in terms of its origin, Estonian is not related to its nearest neighbours, Swedish, Latvian and Russian, which are all Indo-European languages.

Estonian is distantly related to Hungarian. It has been influenced by German — initially Middle Low German, later also standard German, Russian, Swedish and Latvian, though it is not related to them genetically.

Like Finnish and Hungarian, Estonian is an agglutinative language, but unlike them, it has lost the vowel harmony of Proto-Finno-Ugric, although in older texts the vowel harmony is still to be recognized. Furthermore, the syncope of word-final sounds is extensive and has caused a shift from a purely agglutinative to an inflected language. The basic word order is Subject Verb Object.

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