Sorry, no. If whatever you need to title for is about the language, it has to be eesti keel. I do know in Finnish and well, a mighty batch of other languages, you can easily leave the language word aside, but that's not the case in Estonian for some reason. For example you have to say 'ma räägin eesti keelt' ('I speak Estonian'), 'ma räägin eestit' just doesn't exist.
Don't ask me why that is, apparently it's just one of the quirks of our weird language.
Thanks for the welcome! I've been lurking around here for about a year now (I've been trying to improve my French and all the grammar and vocabulary tips really come in handy) and I finally thought I'd register and start giving something back to the community.
You're right, it does stand for the country on stamps. Actually, unless I'm accidentally overlooking something here, I don't think Eesti alone can mean anything other than that. ... So if you ever see the word alone somewhere, you'll know what it's about? Yeah, I don't know how that was supposed to be relevant.
This is becoming borderline spam, so I'll just stop now.
Ah, you're right. I'm by no means a linguist (so everyone feel free to argue away and prove me wrong ), but I'm thinking it's because here the "sõnastik" part indicates it's indeed the language that is in question. A dictionary can't really be about much anything else but the language, right?
Let me see if I can explain this a bit more. In English, there are a bunch of words that work the way "eesti keel" does in Estonian, for example "German literature" or "Italian music". Just "Italian" alone doesn't mean the music, it can mean either the language or the nationality. In Estonian, languages are sort of like in the same group with literature and music (and food etc etc). "Eesti" alone can't mean the language and since there is a different word form for nationalities (with -lane ending, e.g. "eestlane", "itaallane"), just "eesti" doesn't usually make any sense at all. Or well, in spoken language it would mean the country, in written language countries would have to be capitalized, so lowercase "eesti" would mean nothing.
But yes, you're right, sometimes "eesti" without the "keel" can mean the language, but you'd need pretty specific context for that. Say if in a everyday conversation you're asked "What language is this?" you can reply with just "Eesti.", 'cause the question makes it clear it's the language. Yet as a heading, "eesti" would never fit, even if the text below is all about the language. Pretty tricky, no? ;D
I hope that all made at least some sense. Feel free to give more examples and/or ask questions if you're still interested in this!
Thanks, hollabooiers, for the explanation. I'm not sure how birder wants to use these words, but if it's in the context of a list of languages, such as "italiano, English, français, nederlands, eesti, magyar" etc., where it is known that we're talking about languages, would that provide enough context for an Estonian to know that we're talking about the Estonian language and not music or literature, for example? Or is there a grammatical reason that one must add "keel"?
Nope, that wouldn't work. It does seem to be a grammatical thing, although I don't know if there's an actual logical explanation for this or not. It just sounds very wrong to a native's ears.
It would be fine if the whole list was in Estonian with the word "keel" at the end of it, as in "itaalia, inglise, prantsuse, hollandi, eesti ja ungari keel". However, if it's names of languages listed in the respective languages like in your example, it would have to be "eesti keel". Estonian for "Estonian" just is "eesti keel", never "eesti".
I even asked my linguist mother what she thought about all this and she said pretty much the exact same thing, "eesti" without the "keel" doesn't exist. To exemplify how it goes, she told me she had recently written some kind of a text in Finnish and asked her Finnish colleague/friend to proofread it. That colleague has lived in Estonia for years and amusingly enough, started correcting sentences like "Oppilaat ovat opiskelleet suomea kaksi vuotta" ("The students have studied Finnish for two years") to "... suomen kieltä kaksi vuotta". My mother had to point out just "suomea" was perfectly correct in Finnish, before the colleague realized it had been the influence of Estonian that had made her add the word "kieli" to those senteces.
I don't think I can explain this much better than I did in my last post, I'm sorry. Maybe other Estonians can come up with something?
Your explanation is just fine . It seems that you're saying eesti can only be an adjective and never a noun. Except for Eesti (capitalized), which is the country. The other languages mentioned so far can be both adjectives and nouns. So Wikipedia should be corrected, since on the home page in the list of languages it just has Eesti, and in the articles themselves, in the list of languages in the left margin it also says just Eesti.
The difference between the name used for languages and nationalities can also be confusing. For instance, you can say either "Are you American?" or "Are you an American?" But while you can say, "Are you English?", you cannot say, "Are you an English?" An English what? It doesn't mean anything without adding a suffix like -man or -woman, or a noun.
Oh there we go, that would be it indeed. Now I do feel rather stupid for not coming up with that right away. And your parallel with nationalities explains it perfectly for foreigners, thank you.
Now I'm going to go ahead and confuse things even more by saying that in Wikipedia, just "Eesti" doesn't bother me. I think it's quite simply because there's the word "languges" at the top of the list. Similarly, in your example with a list of languages, if it would say something along the lines of "Here comes a list of languages: italiano, English, français, nederlands, eesti, magyar." (hooray for creative examples), that would sound okay to me as well. Yet "I like italiano, English, français, nederlands, eesti and magyar." sounds wrong. I know the difference is relatively subtle, but it's there!