Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by over 1.1 million people.
It is a Southern Finnic language and is the second most spoken language among all the Finnic languages.It is closely related to Finnish.
Alongside Finnish, Hungarian and Maltese, Estonian is one of the four official languages of European Union that is not of an Indo-European origin.
Estonian and Finnish are not related to their nearest geographical neighbours, Swedish, Latvian, and Russian, which are all Indo-European languages.
The two different historical Estonian languages (sometimes considered dialects), the North and South Estonian languages, are based on the ancestors of modern Estonians’ migration into the territory of Estonia in at least two different waves, both groups speaking considerably different Finnic vernaculars. Modern standard Estonian has evolved on the basis of the dialects of Northern Estonia.
The oldest written records of the Finnic languages of Estonia date from the 13th century.
The earliest surviving samples of Estonian are the so-called Kullamaa prayers dating from 1524 and 1528.
In 1525 the first book published in the Estonian language was printed. The book was a Lutheran manuscript, which never reached the reader and was destroyed immediately after publication.The first surviving Estonian book is a bilingual German-Estonian translation of the Lutheran catechism by S. Wanradt and J. Koell dating to 1535, during the Protestant Reformation period. An Estonian grammar book to be used by priests was printed in German in 1637.
The New Testament was translated into southern Estonian in 1686 (northern Estonian, 1715). The two languages were united based on northern Estonian by Anton thor Helle.
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