View Full Version : Estonian People

06-19-2009, 09:00 PM

What do the Estonian names mean?

Eha - dusk
Kaja - echo
Laine - wave
Lagle - brant (goose)
Leelo - folk song refrain, singsong
Tuuli - wind
Õie - blossom
Auli - long-tailed duck
Kalju - rock
Kaur - diver (bird)
Koit - dawn
Lembit - beloved
Malev - battalion
Valdur - one who has power
Meelis - agreeable, pleasant
Kiur - titlark

The most frequent surnames

Saar* - ash*
Tamm - oak
Lepik* - alder grove*
Sepp - blacksmith
Karu* - bear*
Mägi - mountain
Kukk* - cock
Kask - birch

Some Estonian proverbs:

- Beauty does not fill your tummy.
- Make fun of the man, not of his hat.
- You shall have as good as you bring.
- Man is after money, but money is after his soul.
- Don't put off today's work till tomorrow.
- The mouth is the interpreter for the heart.
- Where there's work, there's bread.

What Estonians compare things with:

- As moody as the April weather.
- As big as a horse.
- As cold as a wolf's stable.
- As fierce as the juniper's flames.
- As unexpected as a bang from the broom handle.
- As fitting as a saddle on a pig.
- To sleep like a sack.
- Stupid as a table leg.

When somebody is glad, his mouth stretches up to his ears, and he can laugh himself into a pea or even into two halves. He holds his stomach with both hands when he hears a hilarious joke.

When a person is angry, his lungs move on top of his liver, his heart fills up, he comes to the boil, and in a rage turns into a pretzel. His top then turns purple, and he goes out of himself.

What is an Estonian like?

An Estonian is like a tree. His appearance is completely different when he is looked at from the west, the east or from other directions. His various shapes cannot be discerned from under the shadow of the tree crown; they become visible at a distance.

Throughout centuries, the reigning winds have shaped his crown, but not his roots.

They are fixed firmly in the ground following supreme laws, his own laws, his own wisdom.

How forked the crown really is, becomes evident only when storms have stripped it bare.

Only then do you see his broken branches, and twisted or withered twigs; some are visible from the west or east, others from the north or south. Near the tree trunk they can be observed clearest of all.

Standing there, you can see his rough bark, with fresh and old welts.

Just like big or small knarls and burls indicate a tree's health, these too tell the tree's story.

They speak about those who suck or have sucked the vitality from him and left their marks on him.

They are evidence of the pain that can be felt by the tree alone and no one else.

Here, you may hear the whistling of storms amongst the branches and the rustle of wind in the foliage.

You hear the shouts of those who come and go, and the songs of those who stay.

You begin to understand the whispers and silences of those present.

Here, you perceive the circulation of life in this entity, one amongst others.
And its words become your words, and you become somebody, so that you could be who you are.

Fred Jüssi, nature photographer

An Estonian

has low collective emotionality, and thus he does not want or indeed is not able to either take in or let out the collective energy of his emotions. He realises how it shatters his interior and destroys his personal balance. An Estonian is not interested in the intensity of an emotion, but rather its quality. One of the features of the quality of an emotion is its personality. Estonians are good tacticians, chiefs of staff, but they make poor cannon fodder; they are poor soldiers when they're expected to cast aside their own feelings and charge headlong into machine gun fire. They never seize a single Bastille. They stand on the fringes instead, finger in mouth, analysing, assessing, advancing, and sometimes gradually falling in love with something.

Jaan Undusk, literary critic

Being Estonian as a branch of postmodernism

An Estonian is an extremely contemporary person, although he might not be aware of it himself. In the world today, all kinds of fashions and styles exist side by side. The mind of any European or American citizen includes both the fragments of a scientific world view and the belief in healers and horoscopes. An Estonian too, is the embodiment of the sum total of the most different influences, both in a biological and mental sense. In diverse situations, these differences are revealed as different aspects, which is why it is so difficult to explain to someone what an Estonian is really like. Describing what an Estonian is not like is much more effective. An Estonian does not remember his roots which date back thousands of years very well, he has no national dishes he wants to eat himself, and there are few customs the whole nation follows. Although every generalisation about a nation is weak and there do exist nervous Finns and Englishmen without a sense of humour, myths about these nations still circulate widely. Despite efforts throughout the ages to work them out, nobody is really prepared to believe any myths about the Estonian character. Other nations nearby represent these qualities in a more pure form than in Estonia; this is partly due to the vigorous mixing of blood with people from all parts of the world. Furthermore, the history of Estonians as a nation has been the history of catching up with others. At the end of the last century, Estonians went through the same cultural trends that developed elsewhere over centuries within the period of a few dozen years. During the first period of independence, Estonia managed to catch up with Europe. Now, after the end of the Russian occupation, Estonia is once again catching up with the world. It is quite clear that this constant catching up has left its mark. This is a postmodernist nation with all the related good and bad things; it's a nation of the pastiche, parody, eclectics and recycling. Failing to remember the lost paradise, Estonians strive towards a vague notion of paradise. Very-very contemporary indeed.

Mihkel Mutt, a man of letters, editor of a cultural newspaper

'and indeed can be said about any nation. Throughout centuries, Estonians have always lived in the corner of the world'

Estonians speak a soft, melodious language. Estonia is rich in folk songs. Estonians are poetically inclined, with lively imaginations and good memories. They are benevolent and of a friendly disposition (…), but certain vices, like flying into a rage, the desire for revenge and stubbornness, are not altogether alien to them (…). Conversations-Lexicon, Brockhaus, 1877

All that may, and indeed can be said about any nation. Throughout centuries, Estonians have always lived in the corner of the world where there is a large-scale migration of peoples. The Estonian language contains loan words from Low German, German, Swedish, Russian, French, Finnish and English. Those travelling through or those who have come here by chance, have doubtlessly left their mark on the Estonians' way of thinking and their character.

Despite the high level of urbanisation (about ¾ of the population live in towns), Estonians are connected quite closely with rural life. A favourite conversation topic of the city folk in both the dry summer and the wet autumn is the possibility of a drought. Perceiving historical roots, albeit unconsciously, is perhaps one of the most typical features of Estonians. In answering almost any question, an Estonian will reply at length, starting at least from the 13th century; if he happens to be in a hurry, he will 'merely' refer to how things stood twenty years ago.

On the whole, not eager to display great joy or sadness, Estonians are economical with their feelings. Anyone coming from afar is struck by the cool demeanour and restrained reactions of Estonians. Although at official meetings people shake hands, privately, they avoid both handshakes and hugging; a friendly 'hello!' is a good enough substitute. It takes some time to penetrate their cool exterior. Those who have the patience to wait long enough find an easy-going conversation partner, a generous host and a faithful friend. In the worst cases, instead of polite superficiality, Estonians display a rather discourteous indifference. More often, however, they express a sincere and unselfish desire to communicate, and at times, an almost startling eagerness. The only place one can see an Estonian roaring with laughter, is in a pub. Estonian jokes are for the most part cuttingly ironical and disguised. They are equally directed, without mercy, towards the jokers themselves, their neighbours and the government. Since relations between Estonians and all kind of authorities have always been complicated, an Estonian never trusts anyone merely because of their status. An Estonian is especially sceptical about people trying to teach him what and how he should go about his business. Consequently, he may seem overly headstrong at times. Stubbornness is a quality that an Estonian likes to include in the list of his positive qualities; Estonians associate it with their love of work and faithfulness to the place where they live.

During the Singing Revolution,

a popular song of the time declared:
"what pride and wonder it is to be an Estonian".

In the midst of the crumbling Soviet empire, an Estonian felt proud and superior because of his significant role in overthrowing the empire. Now that the great enemy is gone, the greatness of the Estonians is gone as well. Estonians are constantly annoyed by the ignorance of the surrounding world; distant countries and nations cannot place Estonia anywhere on the map, and closer neighbours are unable to understand the specificity of an Estonian's mental anguish. At the other side of the globe, people think that an Estonian would be happy to hear the Russian na zdarovje when clinking their glasses together before a drink. Close neighbours associate him with the tragic sinking of the ferry boat, or reproach him because his grandfather wore the wrong uniform during the Second World War.

A Russian finding himself amongst an alien nation, asks himself "why aren't they like us?"; an Estonian, on the other hand, struggles with the question "why don't they know anything about us?"

The world does not understand Estonians, and Estonians do not understand the world. The world can easily live with this, but can Estonians? That is the question.

Andrei Hvostov, freelance journalist








06-19-2009, 09:02 PM
Those names looks finns or else I haven't heard enough finn names ?
Anyway, I have a high opinion on Estonian, never meet any, but on the internet they are respectable people.

06-19-2009, 09:07 PM
Those names looks finns or else I haven't heard enough finn names ?
Anyway, I have a high opinion on Estonian, never meet any, but on the internet they are respectable people.

Finnish names are different, but some are similar.

06-20-2009, 11:35 AM


Estonians are tremendously proud of their nation and their country because as a small nation they have managed to gain independence and survived all the rough times that centuries of history filled with wars has served them.

Estonians are a hard working nation, sometimes referred as the Japanese of Europe. Sometimes, it's said (also often among themselves) that Estonians don't know how to enjoy life because they are always working. As is often true, spending more time with Estonians may prove otherwise.

Estonias are well-educated. Education is highly valued in Estonia because as a small nation with no exceptional resources, they believe that the only way to be competitive is to absorb knowledge. There are so many highly educated people in Estonia that it is becoming a problem in the labour market - there aren't enough workers for jobs that requiring minimal education (trade jobs).

When entering a home, shoes should be taken off at all times. During most seasons in Estonia there's a lot of mud or snow outside. Do not worry that your feet will get dirty - the floors are just as clean as the walls - Estonians are very neat and clean people.
Do not raise your voice in conversation. Raising your voice too much is not a good way to impress anyone in Estonia. A decent silent conversation is the Estonian way of doing business and is much appreciated.

Do not try to initiate too many small-talk conversations. Estonians are a rational people and their interest tends to those who speak on subjects worthy of discussion. They may get tired and cranky if you try to elicit chit-chat conversations.

Do not expect many compliments from Estonians; they are very sincere. If you manage to get a compliment out of a Estonian then you know that it's pure and candid.

When entering a shop do not wait for the attention of the salesman - ask for it. Don't consider it to be rude, they just do not want to disturb. Your freedom to choose and decide on your own is considered to be a major social right in Estonia.

It is very common in Estonia to give up your seat for an elderly passenger on the public transport, as well as letting women board a train or bus, or enter a room first.

Littering and spitting is considered a very bad manner by the Estonians.

If being served in an Estonian home, it's considered disrespectful not to eat all the food served on one's plate. But turning down local cuisines is understood and tolerated - after all everybody is not willing to eat everything.

The main way of greeting is to shake hands. If there is a "long time - no see" situation, then a hug may be suitable.

Be careful when mentioning Estonia in the context of the former USSR. Any praising of Soviet (or Russian) practices is unlikely to be understood or appreciated by the Estonians. World War II and its immediate aftermath was an utter tragedy and almost every Estonian has a relative who was deported to Siberia.

Related to this is the controversy over the use of the Russian language because it can be highly emotive amongst Estonians. In general, travellers should rather attempt to communicate in English or German. Simply be aware that use of the Estonian language was surpressed during the Soviet time.

The absolutely worst thing you can do is to call Estonians Russians or their language Russian!

Estonians are not very comfortable with being referred as Eastern-Europeans. Estonians consider themselves a Nordic nation because of their location in the north which has strongly influenced their way of life and still does. Before WWII, Estonia was considered a Nordic country in the other Nordic countries. They are closely related to the Finns, and they also have very strong historical and cultural ties with Sweden, Denmark and Germany. Estonia is a Lutheran Protestant country, like other Nordic countries, and unlike Eastern-European countries which are mainly Eastern Orthodox Christian.

Estonians have a subtle sense of humour, which you will appreciate if you come to know one well.