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Russians and the Estonian language—Illusion and Reality

Russians do learn the language. Just not all of them.

Every foreigner who’s bothered to learn a single Estonian phrase has been met with the following statement: “Your Estonian is wonderful. The Russians have lived here fifty years and never learned a single word...”

Last week, Estonian sociologist Iris Pettai gave an interview to the Russian-language daily Molodjozh Estonii where she claimed half of local Russians speak Estonian. Quite an impressive figure, if it’s true. And perhaps we may now retire the tired old saw about Russians not learning the language.