Opinions of Estonian texts?

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Linguaphile
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Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-09-17, 17:22

I was wondering which textbooks or study materials others have found or used, and what you have thought of them. I have used a few different ones and have others on my list of "hope-to-finds" for later. So I will make my list, and hope others might either comment on these books or add others. I think all of the ones I've listed below are good, although they are quite different from each other and in some cases intended for different audiences.

Estonian Textbook by Juhan Tuldava
Grammar, readings, vocabulary, expressions, exercises, and answers to the exercises. This is one of the best texts I've found, very user-friendly and comprehensive. It is a translation of a 1962 text originally written for Swedish-speakers, but very well adapted for English-speakers.

Estonian for Beginners by Winifred Oser and Tiiu Salasoo
Each chapter has a short (half-page or one-page) dialogue or reading, wordlist, grammatical points, exercises. No answers to the exercises provided. I think it's a good intro, similar to the Tuldava book in some ways (although less comprehensive and much shorter). Seems to be designed for Estonians living abroad who want to learn the language but works well for anyone.

Teach Yourself Estonian by Mare Kitsnik and Leelo Kingisepp
Dialogues, audio, grammar, exercises including listening exercises. Intended for self-study. More comprehensive than Colloquial Estonian. The authors have written many texts used in Estonia, but this one (like all books in the series) is aimed more at those visiting Estonia from English-speaking countries with the usual focus on restaurants, asking directions, etc. Answers to the exercises provided.

Colloquial Estonian by Christopher Moseley
Dialogues, audio, language points (grammar), exercises including listening exercises. Intended for self-study and aimed at those visiting Estonia from English-speaking countries. Answers to the exercises provided.

E Nagu Eesti by Mall Pesti and Helve Ahi.
Audio, grammar, vocab, exercises. Entirely in Estonian although there is an Estonian-Russian-English-German-Finnish glossary in the back and answers to the exercises. Much of the audio includes children's songs and poems. It is a text sometimes used by language classes in Estonia but works for self-study.

Basic Course in Estonian by Felix Oinas
Dialogues, grammar explanations, grammar practice. Lots of practice exercises with the answers in the back. This is an older book (pre-Soviet and early-Soviet content in the readings). It has an amusing emphasis on cigarettes and horse-drawn carriages but again I think this is because it is an older book. It is one of the most comprehensive in terms of grammar, but a few of the grammatical explanations seem to be unecessarily complicated.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

Llawygath
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Llawygath » 2016-09-18, 7:35

I have Estonian for Beginners. I haven't gotten through much of it yet, so I can't say how good it is overall. My only objection so far is the pronunciation guide, which follows the common convention of giving English "equivalents" -- specifically British English. As a non-British speaker, while I did have a basic idea of what was meant, I still found myself somewhat puzzled and ended up looking online for the IPA values. This book is intended to enable one to use the language for practical travel matters (or so suggest the parts I've read), so the exact details of the pronunciation may be beside the point, but I do wish they'd try a little harder to cater to us ignorant Americans. Maybe only Europeans visit Estonia...

Linguaphile
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-09-18, 8:08

Llawygath wrote:I have Estonian for Beginners. I haven't gotten through much of it yet, so I can't say how good it is overall. My only objection so far is the pronunciation guide, which follows the common convention of giving English "equivalents" -- specifically British English. As a non-British speaker, while I did have a basic idea of what was meant, I still found myself somewhat puzzled and ended up looking online for the IPA values. This book is intended to enable one to use the language for practical travel matters (or so suggest the parts I've read), so the exact details of the pronunciation may be beside the point, but I do wish they'd try a little harder to cater to us ignorant Americans. Maybe only Europeans visit Estonia...


Estonian for Beginners is actually published in Australia so it gives Australian English pronunciations. I agree with you about English equivalents not being helpful. I suppose they give equivalents because many English speakers are unfamiliar with IPA, but it would be nice if more books included both. The equivalents always oversimplify it anyway because so many sounds are not really exactly the same as English sounds, just "pretty close".
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

księżycowy
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby księżycowy » 2016-09-24, 18:19

Linguaphile wrote:Estonian Textbook by Juhan Tuldava
Grammar, readings, vocabulary, expressions, exercises, and answers to the exercises. This is one of the best texts I've found, very user-friendly and comprehensive. It is a translation of a 1962 text originally written for Swedish-speakers, but very well adapted for English-speakers.

I'd agree that this is a fantastic text, and one of the best that exists for Estonian, the only thing that seriously cripples the textbook is it's lack of marking certain phonological features not always obvious in Estonian orthography, and the lack of audio. This is especially crippling when you don't have a native Estonian that can help you.

Basic Course in Estonian by Felix Oinas
Dialogues, grammar explanations, grammar practice. Lots of practice exercises with the answers in the back. This is an older book (pre-Soviet and early-Soviet content in the readings). It has an amusing emphasis on cigarettes and horse-drawn carriages but again I think this is because it is an older book. It is one of the most comprehensive in terms of grammar, but a few of the grammatical explanations seem to be unecessarily complicated.

I haven't looked over all of the grammar material in this book, but so far I have found it well written and not overly complicated. It is also a huge help that it marks the phonological features such as palatalization and overlong vowels/consonants (even if not always in the clearest way). There is also free audio to go with the textbook over at CeLTIE (Indiana University). This kind of gives it an edge, in my eyes, over Tuldava's textbook.

Linguaphile
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-09-24, 19:20

księżycowy wrote:I haven't looked over all of the grammar material in this book, but so far I have found it well written and not overly complicated. It is also a huge help that it marks the phonological features such as palatalization and overlong vowels/consonants (even if not always in the clearest way). There is also free audio to go with the textbook over at CeLTIE (Indiana University). This kind of gives it an edge, in my eyes, over Tuldava's textbook.


I think my initial description for Basic Course was a bit too harsh. I do recommend the book. Lots of vocab and pretty much every verb conjugation known to man is presented, including several that are usually not included in other texts, such as impersonal imperative and negative perfect indirect discourse.
Basic Course was actually my first introduction to self-study of Estonian back in 1994 or so. I'm trying to remember which sections I thought were "overly complicated" and I really do not remember. I do know that I happily went through the first ten or so chapters several times and got stuck somewhere around Chapter 10 each time, got frustrated and set it aside for long enough that I had to start again from Chapter 1 when I finally got back to it. Went back through the first (easier) chapters, got stuck again and so on. This went on for several years in the late 90's. It was not until I found some of the other books (Tuldava and Oser especially) that it really "clicked". Later with that foundation from Tuldava and Oser I went back and completed the whole Basic Course without too much difficulty, but I seemed to need the other books to get me headed in the right direction. Maybe it's just my learning style.
Also, I did not have the audio for Basic Course at the time. Many of the exercises (such as the one about identifying quantity) were a lot easier once I found the audio. I'm curious whether anyone knows if the free audio from Indiana University is the same as the "30 CD's" that are sold online for around $200? I've only used the free online audio and just wondered if it's the same as what's for sale, not that I could afford it anyway.
I also wonder how necessary it is to memorize the word classes? Basic Course uses Muuk's system and expects the classes and subclasses to be memorized. I never have committed them to memory and most other texts for Estonian "võõrkeelena" make no mention of them. Partitive plural forms still make me crazy though. :roll: Probably the word class system would have helped me with that!
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

księżycowy
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby księżycowy » 2016-09-24, 21:17

Oh, I didn't mean to seem I was defending the text from a "harsh" review. I thought you wrote a good review. I was giving my impressions and some extra info for potential learners. :-)

I think we are along similar lines of thought with both texts, actually. Though to be honest, I haven't actually started learning Estonian as of yet. And I just got the Basic Course, so I have yet to flip through everything. But I have looked over it a good bit and think it's a great starting point IMO.

Once I start learning I'll have to see if I get stuck too, which is a distinct possibility. :lol:

I just wish that Juldava's text had audio. :doggy:

Prantsis
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Prantsis » 2016-11-06, 15:26

I started to learn Estonian this summer with E nagu Eesti. Now I have just finished reading through T nagu Tallinn. I think that these two textbooks together make up a decent, fairly comprehensive textbook. And probably they should be both mentioned together. Anyway I was happy with them, and I feel now ready enough to have a first go at some novel...
Also I've ordered L nagu Lugemine, which is a selection of texts by Estonian writers with hopefully interesting comments. Not received yet.
Last edited by Prantsis on 2016-11-07, 23:24, edited 1 time in total.

Linguaphile
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-11-06, 16:27

Thanks, Prantsis. The reason I didn't mention T nagu Tallinn is that I haven't been able to locate it in the United States. E nagu Eesti is the only one of the three that I've been able to locate. It's good to know that T nagu Tallinn is a good continuation of it, though! Thanks for the info.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

Linguaphile
Posts: 246
Joined: 2016-09-17, 5:06
Gender: female
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-11-09, 6:41

Prantsis wrote: I feel now ready enough to have a first go at some novel...

Any particular novel? I've read some historical novels (Anton Tammsaare, Jaan Kross, Indrek Hargla) and some travel narratives from the "Minu Sari" series - some in Estonian and others in English translation.
You may already know this but many older Estonian novels and other works can be found online here: https://et.wikisource.org/wiki/Esileht - everything from short poetry to Tammsaare's entire six-volume Tõde ja õigus (which I haven't read, except for the first volume in English translation). :D They are mostly older works, though (for copyright reasons), so some use the older spelling and dated language style. Still, if you're interested in reading some classic Estonian literature, it's a good site.
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.

Prantsis
Posts: 46
Joined: 2016-11-02, 15:32
Gender: male
Country: FR France (France)

Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Prantsis » 2016-11-09, 18:38

Thanks for the suggestions, and for this link that I didn't know.
Yet I don't think I'll start with Jaan Kross, unless you'd say it's suitable for a beginner.
Like I said before I ordered L nagu Lugemine, and I ordered too a couple more books. I think I'll start with this one. Very short stories, probably quite easy to read.
The other books are novels by Andrus Kivirähk (I've already read another one of his in French) and Indrek Hargla (I don't know at all). For both of them there are French translations available, so if need be I can do some parallel reading.
At this very moment all these books are still working their way from Estonia to France, and meanwhile I'm reading an Estonian translation of The Little Prince (that I've found in the depths of the internet).

Linguaphile
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Re: Opinions of Estonian texts?

Postby Linguaphile » 2016-11-10, 0:55

Prantsis wrote:Thanks for the suggestions, and for this link that I didn't know.
Yet I don't think I'll start with Jaan Kross, unless you'd say it's suitable for a beginner.
Like I said before I ordered L nagu Lugemine, and I ordered too a couple more books. I think I'll start with this one. Very short stories, probably quite easy to read.
The other books are novels by Andrus Kivirähk (I've already read another one of his in French) and Indrek Hargla (I don't know at all). For both of them there are French translations available, so if need be I can do some parallel reading.
At this very moment all these books are still working their way from Estonia to France, and meanwhile I'm reading an Estonian translation of The Little Prince (that I've found in the depths of the internet).


I've only read some of Tammsaare's shorter works, and for Jaan Kross and Indrek Hargla I've actually mostly read English translations, unfortunately not the original Estonian, but I'm hoping to read more in Estonian when I have more time. Mul on Jaan Krossi Paigalend eesti keeles, aga ma seda veel ei lugenud. Yes, I think Metsavaimu heategu looks like a good choice, and Väike prints and probably the others you mentioned.
Rõõmsat lugemist! (Happy reading!)
 (en-US) Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere.
 (es-MX) El aprendizaje es un tesoro que sigue a su dueño por todas partes.
 (et) Õpitu on aare, mis saadab oma omanikku kõikjal.
 (de) Lernen ist ein Schatz, der seinem Besitzer überallhin folgt.
 (fr) L'apprentissage est un trésor qui suit son propriétaire partout.


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