Thursday, 16 March 2017

UpNorth: Four Thousand Ethnic Russians in Estonia Now Consider Estonian Their Native Language

UpNorth: Four Thousand Ethnic Russians in Estonia Now Consider Estonian Their Native Language

by Paul Goble

"Four thousand ethnic Russians and more than 2,000 ethnic Finns who live in Estonia tell officials that they consider Estonian to be their native language while 24,000 ethnic Estonians say they don’t speak Estonian – and the state statistics department says that most of those speak Russian.

In addition, Tallinn officials say more than 220,000 ethnic Russians say they now speak Estonian, and more than 8,000 people from all nationalities who are not citizens say that they consider Estonian their native language.

For Estonia as a whole, the figures released in advance of the Day of Native Language show, 68 percent of the total population identify Estonian as their native language, roughly the same share as of those who identify as Estonian by nationality, and a significant fraction of the remainder speak Estonian as a second language.

On the one hand, these figures reflect the success of Estonia in integrating non-Estonians, including ethnic Russians, few of whom spoke Estonian at the end of Soviet times, and the willingness of these people to identify not only with the country as a political entity but with the Estonian language community."

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