Tuesday is Native Language Day in Estonia

Native Language memorial stone.
Native Language memorial stone. Source: Ilmar mesi/Government Office

Today, Tuesday, March 14 is Native Language Day, a flag day in Estonia.

The day is dedicated to the Estonian language and its survival, and is marked on the birthday of famous poet Kristjan Jaak Peterson (1801-1822). Meinhard Laks, a school teacher and linguist, initiated the annual day itself.

Flags are to be raised any time from sunrise, to no later than 8 a.m., and lowered again at sunset, or illuminated, if left flying after darkness falls (sunset is at 6.21 p.m. in Tallinn today).

All state, local government and public buildings will hoist the Estonian blue-black-white on Tuesday, while members of the public are invited to do so also.

Native Language Day starts early for the head of state, Alar Karis, who already kicked off a day of reading Estonian texts at sunrise – 6.41 a.m. in Tallinn – outside the front door of his official residence, Kadriorg, and this reading will continue across a relay of presenters, through to sundown.

The event is being live-linked on ERR's main page here.

ERR's traditional Vikerraadio e-recitation takes place at 10.25 a.m. also (see below).

The prizewinners at the language work of the year competition will also be announced, picked by ministers of education who have held the post since the restoration of independence in 1991, while a public vote also awards a prize for the best Estonian language work.

The winners will be announced at 4 p.m. at the Ministry of Education and Research, in Tartu.

Others already to have referenced the day include well-known bodybuilder Ott Kivias, who told Vikerraadio that a publisher returned the first draft of his first book, "the Smart Nutrition and Exercise Manual" to him, replete with corrections to his Estonian across the manuscript. "I hadn't seen that amount of red pen, even in my earlyschool years," Kivikas said.

Nonetheless, he invited all to take part in the Vikerraadio dictation Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile in Paide, the local church of Püha Risti will hold a bible-reading marathon, to mark the day, regional daily Järva teataja reports (link in Estonian).

The Gospel of John is to be read by 21 selected lectors, one for each chapter, and will take an estimated three hours

Andres Chumakov, pastor at the church, noted the importance of the bible in Estonian, in developing and preserving the Estonian language (the first complete bible in Estonian appeared in 1739).

Vikerraadio's annual e-dictation on Tuesday is the 16th of its kind, with the dictation text this year inspired by the Youth Song and Dance Festival.

The  e-dictation entry form will go live on Vikerraadio's homepage beginning at 10 a.m. Estonian time (UTC+2), while the reading itself starts at 10.25 a.m.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Maiken Tiits

Source: Government Office, Menu, Järva teataja

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