Estonia Announces Language Beauty Contest

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Jan 15 14:43:11 UTC 2008

Estonia Announces Language Beauty Contest
Posted by Shabana on January 14, 2008

On the occasion of its 90th birthday, Estonia is planning a beauty
contest for languages to crown the prettiest dialect of them all. No
girls in swimsuits mouthing breathless French phrases into a
microphone. Instead the plan is to have kids from around the world
send in a voice recording in their native language consisting of a
maximum of seven words.

The idea for the contest arose out of an Estonian story that the
country's language was once crowned the second most beautiful language
in the world after Italian. The winning phrase then was "soida tasa
ule silla" which means "go slowly over the bridge". Now on their
country's anniversary, Estonians want to check in to see how their
language ranks against the rest of the world's dialects.

Estonians have traditionally been fond of their linguistic heritage.
The country has fiercely opposed any kind of foreign rule for fear of
their language being diluted and linguistic issues are an important
part of government policy. The language itself - a member of the
Finno-Ugric group of languages - and an official language of the
European Union is spoken by barely 1.1 million people worldwide.

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