From algkmes to Infinity: the Curvy Ways of Language Reform Cover Image

Algkmesest lõpmatusse kulgevad keeleuuenduste kurvid
From algkmes to Infinity: the Curvy Ways of Language Reform

Author(s): Kristiina Ross
Subject(s): Language and Literature Studies
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: Estonian; history of literature language; language reform

Summary/Abstract: This paper treats language as a community means of communication, regarding language reform as a process conditioned by a change in the community’s cognitive field. From this point of view several language reforms can be discerned in the development of the Estonian literary language. The first took place in the Middle Ages, with the advent of the Christian discourse. This reform brought about changes in the semantic fields, without probably changing the grammatical structure of the language. Then second reform was brought about by the Reformation. The following two centuries of mass translation of German texts into Estonian produced a literary Estonian that was German-like all through. The period also included a short counter-reform in then late 17th century, but the purifying attempt fell short of handling the characteristically German structure of the language. Another puristic reform surged in the early 19th century, yet the German character of literary Estonian could still not be eliminated. It was not until the early 20th century that the Young Estonians and J. Aavik could – by introducing French culture – redirect the development of literary Estonian to a broader bed.

  • Issue Year: XLVIII/2005
  • Issue No: 07
  • Page Range: 521-525
  • Page Count: 5
  • Language: Estonian