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English, Estlish, Estonia, Estonian | eesti keel, Language, Russian | русский язык, Travel, Worldlish

Estlish use of English in Estonia

Like many countries Estonia uses English in signs, new words and everyday language. In Tallinn this Estlish was sprinkled pretty liberally, but was also mixed with Russian and Nordic languages (at least I think they were Nordic rather than Baltic).

As with other ‘lishes there are loan words which are ‘adapted’ such ‘Faks’ for ‘Fax’ (see receipt image), some which are used without change such as ‘Magic’, ‘W.C.’ and ’24hr’. But there are also examples of mis-translations such as ‘hart’ and English for foreigners such as ‘Breakfast’.

For me the two most interesting examples were the cinema sign (that used a whole mix of Latin via English, Greek via German, and Estonian) and the cafe that mixed Russian (Cyrillic and transliterated), English and Estonian.

Much to the annoyance of ‘British’ English purists (of which I am most certainly not one) there are examples of US English influences such as ‘apartments’ and ‘muffin’ at least in the sense it is used here – which has become the default British English sense as well.

Oh you’ll also see a really cute children’s party pack of balloons with a German title “für echte Piraten” or ‘for real pirates’ in English, I couldn’t resist taking a picture. Then I noticed the “Capt’n Sharky” text in the corner so I can include it this Estlish posting!

About Doug Lawrence

I help businesses to grow internationally



  1. Pingback: Seen in Estonian Shop: Bust Firming Massage Cream ‘Tester’! | Real Men Drink Milk - August 16, 2011

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