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The Estonian Language Landscape
Population of Estonia: 1,307,605 (July 2008 est.)
Internet country code: .ee
Internet users: 760,000 (2006)
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities. It is a Finno-Ugric language and is closely related to Finnish.
One distinctive feature that has caused a great amount of interest in linguists is that Estonian has what is traditionally seen as three degrees of phoneme length: short, long, and "overlong", such that /toto/, /toˑto/ and /to:to/ are distinct. In actuality, the distinction isn't purely in the phoneme length, and the underlying phonological mechanism is still disputed.
Another feature that sets Estonian apart from most languages is the vowel õ ([ɤ]), a close-mid near-back unrounded vowel, which is farther back than the schwa ([ə]), but unrounded unlike [o].
Sources: CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia – Content available under GNU Free Documentation License Related Article: The Global Language Landscape – Languages in Use on the Internet
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