A giant letter Ö was unveiled at the border of Saaremaa on Monday to highlight the islanders' dialect which replaces the letter Õ with Ö.
A year and a half ago, the border was marked with a brown sign which marked the end of of the use of the letter õ, but the Road Administration ordered it to be removed saying the sign was not the right size.
The Ö monument, which is visible during the day and night, was the resulting compromise. It is 5-meters tall and sits beside the Kuressaare-Kuivastu road. It was unveiled at a ceremony on Monday.
In July, when the plans for the statue were first announced, Taavi Pae, Associate Geography Professor in Estonia, told ERR: "There are many ways to joke about Saare's Ö-letter, but on the other hand, it shows how much it means to us and how it is part of our cultural identity. It is one of the hallmarks of Saaremaa residents. I think it highlights a lot in terms of the islanders and in terms of the Estonian dialect, that we still have such dialects and it is worth drawing attention to."
The municipality paid for the monument and the Road Administration (maaamet) will pay for the upkeep.
"Since there is a parking lot next to this new place and people can stop by and read the boards, then I think visitors take up an interest in learning about the sculpture. And since the story of the Ö-letter is interesting, I think it will become a tourist attraction," Pae said.
University of Tartu researcher Evelyn Uuemaa made a map of on the same subject for 2020's social media 30 Day Map Challenge.
30. A map: the isoline of Õ. One of the coolest peculiarities in Saaremaa #dialect is that instead of Estonian vowel Õ they use Ö. The isoline marks the line where the change in the vowel is found. Historically it was mapped by Theodor Kaljo in 1920ties #30DayMapChallenge #QGIS pic.twitter.com/hcug0fmwMv— Evelyn (@evelynuuemaa) November 30, 2020
Editor: Helen Wright