Estonian alphabet

The Estonian alphabet (Estonian eesti tähestik ) based on the Latin alphabet. It is based on the principle of phonetic orthography.


The Estonian basic alphabet contains 27 letters. They read in the official order

Aa, Bb, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Rr, Ss, SS, Zz, zz, Tt, Uu, Vv, Oo, Ää, öö, Üü


The two letters with caron - SS and ZZ - can be replaced by sh and zh.

The four letters Ff, SS, and ZZ Zz occur only in foreign words and proper names.

Foreign letters

The five letters

Cc, Qq, Ww, Xx Yy and

Are also permitted in the Estonian alphabet. You will find, however, only in non - Estonian proper nouns or foreign place names. With them, the Estonian alphabet has 32 ​​characters, arranged in the order

Aa, Bb, Cc, Dd, Ee, Ff, Gg, Hh, Ii, Jj, Kk, Ll, Mm, Nn, Oo, Pp, Qq, Rr, Ss, SS, Zz, zz, Tt, Uu, Vv, Ww, OO, Ää, Öö, Üü, Xx, Yy.

Among this group after controversial representation the letters CC and AA.

Phonetic name of the letter


The development of the Estonian alphabet was strongly under the influence of the Germans. Estonia's upper class was German until the late 19th century.

1637 published the Baltic German pastor Heinrich Stahl his leadership to the Esthnischen language that should lay the foundation for the development of Estonian grammar and spelling. The older spelling of the Estonian based on the high Germans have particularly influenced Bengt Gottfried Forselius and Johann Hornung end of the 17th century.

First of all German -speaking clergy and linguists have then contributed during the 19th century to form the Estonian literary language. Therefore, can be found in Estonian also the letters ä for the phoneme [ æ ], ö for [ ø ] and ü [y ]. Unlike the Germans, however, they are no umlauts but separate letters.

On the priest and linguist Otto Wilhelm Masing (1763-1832), the letter goes õ back for the vowel sound [ ɤ ].

Until the 1930s, was always written as v w. Then the official letters oriented in the Finnish spelling, replacing w by v.

The Estonian linguist Johannes Aavik (1880-1973) could not be introduced at the beginning of the 20th century with its further requirement to replace the above by y (analogous to Finnish ). In the SMS language is, however, often written ü y today.

In the printed font was used in Estonia to 1940 fracture, then Antiqua.