Monday, 29 June 2020

Tallinn University Study: Why do we speak 'Estonglish'?

Helin Kask, a doctoral student at Tallinn University recently completed a study of the linguistic changes in Estonia. Kask reports that the Estonian language has changed throughout history and had most contact with both the Russian and German languages, but after Estonia regained independence, the language has been busy incorporating more words from the West where the influence of the English language, in particular, has begun to increase. The Internet plays a big role here, Kask states.

In her study Kask found the definition of a word is the main the reason why English words and phrases are used in Estonian. This is mostly because words and expressions with a specific meaning often do not have an exact match in Estonian. 

For example, it is difficult to find a one-word match for the English word "outfit", because in Estonian it is "riietus" (English: clothing) which, unlike the English word, does not include accessories, shoes, etc.

English discourse particles are also trending in Estonia to express emotion. Expressions such  as 'oh my god'  (jumal küll), "anyway" (igatahes), "last but not least" (viimaks), or "whatever" (mida iganes) are becoming more popular. Also, words with a strong emotional connection are often borrowed from English, e.g. "I'm so excited"(erutatud), or "I love it!" (ma armastan seda).

These changes in the Estonian language is a reflection of globalisation, the era in which we live and the ubiquity of the English language.