10 Tongue Twisters To Get You Started on Estonian

You may have heard or experienced that Estonian is not the easiest language to master. It sounds and is composed unlike most other languages, which means that English, German, Spanish, French, or Russian are more similar to each other than any of them are to Estonian. Spoken by just about one million people, it may sound like a strange language of elves. Remarkably, Estonian has no sex and no future (well, grammatically).

While all of this might be a perfect reason NOT to learn Estonian, it might as well be just the opposite.

So, how to get started on this peculiar and irregular sign system? Normally, you would start learning a language from the basics: phrases like ‘Hello’, ‘My name is John’, ‘I am a woman’. With a tough language like Estonian, why not take a reverse approach and attack the most challenging part first? Try to learn the words and phrases that sound almost unimaginable and likely non-existent to most non-Estonians — a source of great joy and fun for native speakers.

If you manage to learn and pronounce some of these tongue twisters, then congratulate yourself – the rest of Estonian will be more like a piece of cake, and most importantly, nothing will be able to scare you off your learning track if you are determined to pursue it. And, if it’s not your cup of tea, you have at least had some fun.

So, ready? Let’s give it a shot.

1. Kuuuurija

kuuuurija


2. Kummikutes kummitus kummitas kummutis

kummikutes kummitus kummitas kummutis

3. Jäääär

jäääär

4. Veoautojuht

veoautojuht

5. Töööö

töööö

6. Ülihea ülikool

ülihea ülikool

7. Aastapäevaball

aastapäevaball

8.Pagari piparkook

pagari piparkook

9. Häid Jõule!

Häid Jõule!

10. Skaipima

skaipima

So, how is your progress? What was the most difficult? Is there anything else you would like to learn?

If you enjoyed this, check out a free video and animation heavy online course Keeleklikk, take part in the summer courses of Estonian, or come join the semester or degree programmes of Estonian at the University of Tartu.

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  • iramszarvas

    Estonian has no sex – sa mõtled gender, või?

    • http://www.twitter.com/ingulia ingulia

      Tegelikult küll. You are right, of course – it should be gender. I was just quoting a well-known joke that ‘Estonian has no sex and no future’.

      • lisa

        Väga tabav nali, aga pole enne kuulnud. Kus kandis see nali ka “well-known” on?

        • http://www.twitter.com/ingulia ingulia

          Võib olla ka, et ‘laialt tuntud kitsas ringis’, aga proovi guugeldada: http://bit.ly/1aQkHHv.

    • http://www.levesa.fi Taavet

      Btw – we have Kender :)

  • Vladimir Boskovic

    Töööö!!!!

  • http://www.levesa.fi Taavet

    But where is our best known tongue twister “12 months” – kaksteist kuud?

    • http://www.twitter.com/ingulia ingulia

      Thanks, Taavet! Who knows – we might use it for volume 2 ;)

  • http://www.levesa.fi Taavet

    Try also “Hippopotamus amphibius” – Jõehobu :)

  • http://aivar.ruukel.ee/ Ruukel

    Aoäiaõeuueoaõieaiaõueauaööau : translates as “the night honour of a lullabye languaged dog in the yard of new bean-flowers belonging to the sister of my sunrisy father-in-law”

    • http://www.twitter.com/ingulia ingulia

      This one sounds quite impossible for Estonians, too :D