Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Talinn – the Estonians don’t like it
Estonian’s related to Finnish and, more distantly, Hungarian. It’s absorbed quite a few German influences over the years but it was still the only place I’ve visited in years where I had, basically, no clue how to say anything, even with an English-Estonian dictionary and phrasebook.
I read a recommendation that there wasn’t any point even trying to speak Estonian – most Westterners get the pronunciation so wrong they can’t be understood. Take the word for ‘thank you’ – tanon (I think). The ‘t’ is pronounced very hard with little aspiration so the word sounds like danon, as if you have a blocked nose – and I tried and I was still almost unable to persuade anyone I was speaking Estonian.
Nouns and adjectives in Estonian decline in fourteen cases: nominative, genitive, partitive, illative, inessive, elative, allative, adessive, ablative, translative, terminative, essive, abessive, and comitative. This is almost impossible for me, who stuggled in school with nominative, accusative, genitive and dative in German verbs, to begin to comprehend. The word for house changes depending on whether I’m going into it, leaving it, viewing it or burning it down.