Estonia, Viro or Eesti?

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by PABLO DE SOTO, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    I have seen that,in Finnish, Estonia can be Viro or Eesti .
    Which is the difference between both names?
    Are they interchangeable?
    Is it a matter or colloquial or formal language?.
  2. Prometo

    Prometo Senior Member

    USA English
    Viro está en el idioma finés, Estonia en español.

    Eesti es estoniano.

    ENG. Viro is in Finnish and Eesti is Estonian. Estonia in English.
  3. We need an opinion from a native Finnish speaker. I would second Prometo but is it possible that Finns have taken to calling Estonia :Eesti" colloquially or....?
  4. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Viro is the traditional name and it's still the only official name of Estonia in Finnish. In fact Viro means only the northern or northeastern part of Estonia (Virumaa) and that's why many Finnish speaking Estonians don't like it. So Eesti has become a more and more common name for Estonia even in Finnish.

    In colloquial language Viro and Eesti are interchangeable but in formal language you have to use Viro.
  5. What is the history of this "discrimination"?
  6. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    The history is very logical: During centuries Finns had contacts with the Virumaa people. There was no country named Estonia or Eesti. The area was occupied first by Germans, then by Swedes and finally by Russians. Obviously it was the Swedes who used the name Estland (= east land) and this name became established also in other languages, even in Estonian, but not in Finnish.

    Choosing the name Viro is not very exceptional. Sweden we call Ruotsi because the Vikings came to Finland from the Roslagen area; Germany we call Saksa because the merchants came from Sachsen. In a similar way the name of Germany and Germans in different languages have been taken from different German tribes.
  7. So you Finns only choose what you like in every nation and make it your definition of the neighbouring nations based on that!:D
  8. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    So, do estonians still call that area Virumaa or a similar name?
    I remember a shopping mall in Tallinn called Viru Keskus, am I right?
    I suppose this name has some kind of relation to the name Virumaa.
  9. I do not think such a word is used at all nowadays, but you might like to check Wikipedia for these.
  10. PABLO DE SOTO Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    Just checked Wiki, and yes...Ida Viru is the name of one of the fifteen counties in which Estonia is divided.
    Thanks to all of you, everything is clearer to me now.
    Thank you.
  11. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Not at all! Remember how the names came up:
    A man from the other side of the Gulf of Finland came here and said: "I'm from Virumaa."
    A man from west came to Finland and said: "I'm from Roslagen."
    A man from south came to Finland and said: "I'm from Sachsen."
    In those days there was no Estonia, no Sweden, no Germany. We had to take the words they gave us.
  12. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Yes, there is Idavirumaa or Ida Viru (East Viru land) and Läänevirumaa (West Viru land). In Tallinn there is Hotel Viru, Viru Shopping Centre, and of course Viru Valge, the famous Estonian vodka...
  13. KotkaSLC New Member

    Isn't that just as good as calling everybody what the Swedes call them, i.e. Finland, Estland?
  14. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    Or why wouldn't we use as well Swahili or Chinese or some other foreign language?
  15. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    A little bit off topic, but are you sure that the names Eesti/Estonia/etc. are based on the Germanic word for "east"?

    I don't think there's a consensus on the origin of this name, and it is possible that it comes from a word meaning "east", but if so, this word doesn't seem to have been directly inherited into the later Germanic languages: if it were, we would expect "Östland" in Swedish (rather than Estland) and "Austland" in Icelandic (rather than the actual Eistland).
  16. KotkaSLC New Member


    Going by something I read earlier, which I can't find again or confirm right now, the name was from Old Swedish (or possibly Old German) and was literally Eastland). I also just found Tacitus' writing about the Aesti tribe. Many instances, however, have been cited here, where the official name of a foreign nationality in many languages is not accurate, completely representative, or what that nationality calls itself. These instances are by no means slurs. The argument for translation versus transliteration between two Germanic languages would hardly explain how Österreich became Austria, or how English, alone among the Germanic languages, calls the East Sea the Baltic (in Russian it's the West Sea).
  17. sirammaris Member

    The official version taught in Estonian schools is that Tacitus's "aestid" was the earliest name attributed to the tribes living in the area that is now Estonia and this is where the name Eesti comes from. We don't know where Tacitus got it from, because no older written sources exist. He might have invented it, or heard it from the Swedish Vikings.
  18. tarinoidenkertoja Senior Member

    The informations Tacitus had at his disposal were so scarce that he could have been as well referring to the Estonians as the "Fenni" he mentions in the "De Germania". After all, back then no Roman would have dared venture that north to identify every barbarian tribe he might have heard of :D
  19. henseri New Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish, Swedish
    Yes, the correct form in finnish is indeed Viro. In the finnish language we have our own words for countries, so it's grammatically correct to only use those. For example, Sweden is Ruotsi in finnish, Norway is Norja, and so on, even though Sweden is Sverige in swedish and Norway is Norge in norwegian, just as Estonia is Eesti in estonian.
  20. osemnais Senior Member

    And where does the name Venäjä come from? It seems very obscure.
  21. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Here's the explanation given in Häkkinen's Nykysuomen etymologinen sanakirja (= etymological dictionary of modern Finnish):

    "The term [= Venäjä] is an old Germanic loan. Germanic *weneđ- originally referred to Slavs in general, but later on the word came to refer specifically to the Wends (German Wenden or Winden), a West Slavic people who lived on the southern Baltic coast [...] and whose descendants are now known as the Sorbs. In the Baltic Finnic languages, the word began to refer to the more familiar East Slavic neighbors [of Finnic speakers]."

    (Häkkinen, 1472; my translation)

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