Northeastern coastal Estonian

The Northeastern coastal dialect (Estonian: kirderannikumurre) is a dialect (or dialect group) of the Estonian language. The coastal dialects of the Estonian language were spoken on the coastal strip of Estonia from Tallinn to river Narva. It has very few speakers left nowadays.

Treating the Northeastern coastal dialect as a single unit dates back to Arnold Kask's classification of Estonian dialects from the year 1956).[1] According to some authors, the coastal dialects form one of the three major dialect groups of Estonian (the other two being the North Estonian dialect group and the South Estonian dialect group).[2][3]


The characteristics of the dialect group are mostly shared with the Northern group of the Finnic languages.

  • There are remnants of vowel harmony (räbälä 'rag' (genitive case), cf. Standard Estonian räbala)
  • There is no palatalization
  • Short plosives are stronger than in other dialects of Estonian (mägi, cf. Finnish mäki)
  • Recent quantitative changes in consonant gradation are absent (silm [silːm] : silmad [silːmɑd̥], cf. Standard Estonian [silːm] : [silmɑd̥], 'eye' : 'eyes')
  • The negative verb inflects for person and number: en, et, ei, emma, etta, evad. Cf. Standard Estonian 'ei' for all persons sg/pl), versus Finnish en, et, ei, emme, ette, eivät.
  • The plural is marked with -i-, in contrast to -de- being usual in North Estonian dialects: puhti käsiga, cf. Standard Estonian puhaste kätega, 'with clean hands'
  • The preterite is marked with -i- as well, in contrast to -si- being usual in North Estonian.
  • Unlike all other Estonian dialects, the coastal dialects have an inflected -nud participle, as in Finnish: (juobune piaga, cf. Standard Estonian joobnud peaga, literally 'with drunk head', [saab] surne sõnumi, Standard Estonian [saab] surnu sõnumi '[gets] the dead man's message').

In contrast to , where -de- plural and -si- preterite are usual, the coastal dialects have -i- plural and -i- preterite. According to some authors, the 'Finnish-like' features of the coastal Estonian dialects are archaisms, rather than Finnish or Ingrian influence.[4]

The Northeastern coastal dialect of Estonian is nowadays alternatively split into two dialects: Coastal dialect and Alutaguse dialect, the former being more closely related with Southern Finnish dialects (note the non-presence of õ [ɤ], also absent in Finnish), Izhor and Votic languages, whereas the latter has also been influenced by the central dialect of the Northern Estonian dialects.

See also


  1. Karl Pajusalu, Tiit Hennoste, Ellen Niit, Peeter Päll, Jüri Viikberg "Eesti murded ja kohanimed", Tallinn 2002, lk 53
  2. Viitso, 1998 & 98.
  3. Such a division is used in Eesti nõukogude entsüklopeedia, 2. kd, as well as by Mari Must On Eastern Viru languages (in Estonian). Other sources may group the coastal dialects as subdivision of Northern Estonian dialects or just as one of the dialect groups of the Estonian language, without notions Northern/Southern Estonian (, )
  4. Laakso 2001, p. 207.


  • Laakso, Johanna (2001), "The Finnic languages", in Dahl, Ö.; Koptjevskaja-Tamm, M. (eds.), The Circum-Baltic languages. Typology and Contact. Volume I: Past and Present, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, p. 207
  • Must, Mari. 1987. Kirderannikumurre: häälikuline ja grammatiline ülevaade 406 pages Tallinn: "Valgus"
  • Soderman, Tiina. 1996. Lexical characteristics of the Estonian North Eastern coastal dialect. Uppsala : Uppsala Univ. — 184 p.
  • Viitso, Tiit-Rein (1998), "Fennic", in Abondolo, Daniel (ed.), Uralic languages, Routledge
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