Reede, 21 Aprill 2017 20:59
Estonian Life No. 16 2017
Let me introduce myself firstly. I was in Toronto two years ago, doing a Summer internship in the VEMU arhiiv (where I met my partner, Laani Heinar), and I had the opportunity to be interviewed for the Eesti Elu. Since then, I've moved to Toronto from the UK (last September) and started to attend the Eesti Maja Estonian language course for adults, and in the process of discovering more about my heritage (my father's side of the family is Estonian), I made these two Estonian language guides.
Part of what motivated me to do this was a lack of condensed language materials in Estonian. I have found quite a few resources that explain the language in great depth, but are a little bit mind-boggling initially. I also noticed that Estonian is a language most people learn very early in life. The older you get, the likelihood of learning drops exponentially! So, I tried to make a short, 'travel sized' phrase guide for people, like myself, who may have a difficult time picking it up. I paired the contents down as much as I could without compromising good linguistic form. I also wrote an accompanying 'structure guide' that encompasses the form and grammar of Estonian, focussing on the essential concepts, instead of emphasizing exceptions and irregularities. I found that this was another aspect of language learning that frustrated me.
I studied at the University of Pisa for the second year of my history degree in the UK, and in many ways, simplifying the language to its key constituents enabled me to become conversant in Italian. I had eight or so pieces of loose paper taped on the wall beside my bed, and I learned those pages very thoroughly. I didn't really get much chance at all to speak English for that entire year, either, as I spoke Italian with all of my friends and acquaintances. Those pages stuck to my wall, and frequent conversational practice with what I had memorized- they convinced me that I could apply the same methodology to Estonian, or any language for that matter.
A year and half after leaving Italy, I've finally published these language guides. Thankfully there are frequent opportunities to speak Estonian in Toronto and apply what I've put together, and what I'm learning myself.
My idea was, if it is possible, to include something about the guides in the Eesti Elu English section, as a way to encourage people who are learning or who want to learn Estonian. To encourage people to feel more comfortable practising and using the language. I thought that perhaps a small sample of one of the guides could be placed among the article. On a larger scale, I envisioned the guide being very topical and useful with the 100th anniversary of Estonia's independence. Visitors to Estonia- and those partaking in celebrations in Canada, the United States, and around the world- can make use of the guides if they are learning. I think it would also be a good time to say thank you to Laani Heinar, Tom Heinar, Toomas Karmo, Marika Mayfield, and Epp Meisner for their help in editing the guides.
I'm convinced that international knowledge about Estonia, and interaction with Estonia, is crucial for its continued freedom. Not to mention the importance of the culture and language in and of itself. If I gauge interest in the guides, I would also try to put the idea forward to Estonian World Review.
Below are the links for print-on-demand of the guides:
Vincent Andres Teetsov