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  • Member of the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family.

  • Closely related to Finnish, Votic, Livonian, Ingrian, Karelian, and Veps.

  • The language occurs in two major dialectal forms, northern and southern; the northern dialect, Tallinn, is used in most of the country and forms the basis of the modern literary language. The southern dialect is found from Tartu southward.

  • Typologically, Estonian represents a transitional form from an agglutinating language to an inflected language.

  • In Estonian nouns and pronouns do not have grammatical gender, but nouns and adjectives are declined in fourteen cases: nominative, genitive, partitive, illative, inessive, elative, allative, adessive, ablative, translative, terminative, essive, abessive, and comitative, with the case and number of the adjective(s) always agreeing with that of the noun. Thus the illative for "a yellow house" (kollane maja) - "into a yellow house" is (kollasesse majasse).

  • The verbal system is characterized by the absence of the future tense (the present tense is used) and by the existence of special forms to express an action performed by an undetermined subject (the "impersonal").


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