First Estonian-Mandarin dictionary completed

Gao Jingyi compiled the first Estonian-Mandarin dictionary which contains more then 5,000 words.
Gao Jingyi compiled the first Estonian-Mandarin dictionary which contains more then 5,000 words. Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The first Estonian-Mandarin dictionary, which compiles 5,000 words, has been completed and published. It was presented at the Estonian Language Institute on Monday.

The dictionary was put together by Gao Jingyi, Senior Project Linguist at the Estonian Language Institute and a professor at Beijing University of International Studies. It is published by the Estonian Language Foundation.

Speaking to ERR News, Gao Jingyi said that he had wanted to create the dictionary because it was the first of its kind in the world. He also said he knew more than 40 students at his university in Beijing were learning Estonian and they needed something to help them study, as well as Estonian students learning Mandarin.

At the launch on Monday, Jingyi said one of the biggest differences between the two languages is that Estonian grammar is much more difficult than Chinese.

"Chinese grammar is not difficult. It's very simple," he said. He also thinks that speaking Chinese is easier than speaking Estonian. He said Estonian pronunciation is "very difficult".  

Director of the Estonian Language Institute, Tõnu Tender, said that writing in Chinese is very difficult and that it takes a long time to learn. He added, "But the spoken language, or what's being spoken, is relatively easily once you get the tone."

Speaking last week before the dictionary's launch, Tender said: "The size of Chinese and Estonian speakers varies by more than a thousand times. But that doesn't make one language bigger or smaller. The dictionary is a guide to the language. Those who need such a guide can be found in both Estonia and China."

European countries, including Estonia, have seen an increase in tourists from China in recent years. The Port of Tallinn already displays some signs in Mandarin.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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