Estonian – the Most Insignificant Language?

Some while ago an online media outlet ran a poll, asking the readers where do they think Estonian language falls among the languages of this world by “usefulness”. Many Estonian-speakers do tend to think that a million speakers means… nothing. That the language is on the verge of going distinct. About 2/3rds of answers ranked the language to the bottom third of worlds’ 6000 languages.

There was a linguistics forum in April that surfaced some interesting data of the contrary, which I thought are worth sharing… in English as well:

  • By the speaker count, Estonian ranks at 274th place out of 6000
  • Higher education is available in just 100 languages in the world (including Estonian). 30 in Europe and just 3 out of the hundreds of African languages.
  • There are about 200 countries in the world, where state language is the same as majority of population’s mother tongue.
  • Estonian ranks among top 30 IT-languages. For example, Microsoft products have been localized to 35 (Skype is available in 28), including Estonian.
  • Human to computer speech synthesis exists for 25 languages, Estonian included.

(source: Sirje Kiin at Eesti Ekspress)

So, we’re well alive and kicking in that weird and complicated tongue. Good to know, even when the reality of globalizing world has brought the dire need for becoming an English bilingual to communicate and ultimately succeed. I will keep blogging in both.