Estonian Pronunciation Guide

By Dick Oakes


A a, B b, C c, Č č, D d, E e, F f, G g,
H h, I i, J j, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, P p,
Q q, R r, S s, Š š, Ž ž, T t, U u, V v,
W w, Õ õ, Ö ö, Ő ő, Ø ø, Ä ä, Å å, Ü ü, X x, Y y


Estonian is a Finno-Ugric language spoken by more than a million people. It is closely related to Finnish. The language has many loan words from English, German, Latin, Greek, Russian, and Swedish.

Stress is (almost) always on the first syllable (except for a few native words and words of foreign origin).

Vowels and consonants can be short (written with one letter) or long and extra long (written with two letters).

The f, š, z, and ž only occur in foreign words and foreign proper names.

The c, č, q, x, y, ø, and å occur in personal names and words of foreign origin.

The õ, ä, ö, and ü are independent phonemes. The tilde (in õ) is a separate vowel phoneme, not nazalized as in Portuguese nor palatalised as in Spanish.

Letters not listed below are pronounced approximately as in English.


A, a   - a as in far
E, e   - e as in let; also e as in grey
I, i   - i as in pin; also i as in machine
O, o   - o as in note; also o as in gone
U, u   - u as in duke
Y, y   - y as in you
 
Ä, ä   - ai as in fair
Ö, ö   - eu as in earn
Ő, ő   - i as in girl
Ü, ü   - eu as in fleur
 
C, c   - ts as in coats; k as in king elswhere
J, j   - y as in yes
R, r   - slightly rolled
Š, š   - s as in sugar
Z, z   - s as in stamp
Ž, ž   - z as in azure
X, x   - ks as in backs (only in foreign names)


Copyright © 2011 by Dick Oakes