Stahl's grammar

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1637

One of the goals of the Lutheran church was translating the bible into lockal languages. There were several problems with translating to Estonian, however. Firstly, the translators had to have very good grasp of Estonian language. This was a big issue, since there were no Estonian intellectuals who could take on the task. Also, one could not study Estonian in a school, so translators of other nationalities had to learn it from the common folk. The language of the Bible is rather figurative and wordy, and therefore new words had to be added to the language. And the Estonian language had two written languages: northern and southern.

The first prints in Estonian used a rather random grammar. In 1637, minister of the Dome Church of Tallinn, Heinrich Stahl, published the first Estonian grammar. Stahl used the German rules of orthography, so he had to use several foreign letters and letter compounds unique to the German language. : h>hh, kk>ck, hv>f, p>ph, ts>tz, ks>x.
This representation fell far from the national language, and Forselius recommended to use phonetic writing, similarly to Finns. The German pastors did not support this idea, and though that the latter representation might not be any closer to the the language either. The Estonians simply pronounce their language loosely and wrong. So Stahl's grammar remained the basis of Estonian orthography for decades.

Image: title page of Stahl's Grammar.

Source: Ain Mäesalu, Tõnis Lukas, Mati Laur, Tõnu Tannberg. Eesti ajalugu I. Avita, Tallinn 1995
Image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/EstonianGrammar1637.jpg


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