Estonian appears in English for the first time in 1795. In an article called Popular Poetry of the Estonians the minister Tooke, who was stationed in Moscow, writes that the Estonians “both men and women, have an extremely soft, delicate, and tender articulation”. He claims the Germans cannot pronounce it at all, but that “the Englishman will pronounce it better.” He analyses wedding songs – for which he provides the translation – and concludes that these simple poems will allow someone to “get an insight into the genius of the nation”.
Lady Eastleake was a literary figure in the first half of the 1800s. She spoke French and German and her claim to Estonian fame is that she had a married sister who lived in Estonia. She writes long letters of her travels which were published in 1841 under the title A residence on the shores of the Baltic. It is an extremely genteel description about her trip running into a few hundred pages. An outsider gleans various ideas of how an educated English lady sees a foreign country. “Education has not been considered a necessary portion of an Estonian lady’s dowry or “lively conversation is not the favourite bosom sin of an Estonian gentleman.” But in general she was pleased: “Nothing can exceed the hospitality of the Estonians.”
The first book in Estonian goes back to 1535. The first dictionary was a rudimentary word list German to Estonian in the middle of the 1600s. Much more extensive dictionaries followed quickly. The next dictionaries against Estonian were Russian and Finnish.
Connections between English-speaking countries were slow. The first US diplomat to be stationed in Tallinn was Harry Carlson in 1930, with an ambassador being appointed first in 1992. And it was only in 1939 that an excellent bilingual dictionary with over 17 000 words for English came out. The first edition of the Johannes Silvet’s dictionary is available at display at EVS Translations Bulgaria office, as part of Vick Museum’s collection. Today, the dictionary is available in a fourth edition in 1,392 pages with over 100, 000 headwords.
Naturally, the Estonian language evolved, as did its vocabulary and complexity. And while no official study has yet proved the Englishman’s superiority over Germans when comes to pronunciation, our certificates of quality and work processes define our international translation company as a market leader for Estonian language solutions. Click here to see what EVS Translations can offer you: