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The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society cover
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society
Impact Factor (2022): 0.3
PDF | doi:10.3176/esa61.02

Siim Antso

A study on the perception of Estonian dialects among students from five regions

The article examines the dialect perception of students from Kuressaare, Jõhvi, Pärnu-Jaagupi, Tartu and Võru. The data was collected with the draw-a-map task known from perceptual dialectology, specifically from the works of Dennis R. Preston. Students were asked to mark all the dialects they know on an Estonian contour map with parish outlines and the biggest cities. These mental maps allow the analysis of how a person (or a group of people) represents and organises the surrounding world. According to the hypothesis, the closer a person lives to a dialect area, the better he/she should know the boundaries. To analyse the mental maps, I used ArcGIS software similar to that used by Montgomery and Stoeckle (2013) and constructed aggregated mental maps.
The analysis of the mental maps experiment revealed that the students’ residence actually does affect their percpetion of dialects, with the exception of the Võru and island dialects. The latter are probably better known because of their distinct local identity and presence in media. Nevertheless, differences can be found in the mapping of those two dialects. The Võru dialect area marked by students from Saaremaa was generally smaller than the Võru dialect area marked by their inland counterparts. Most students from Võru tagged two islands (Saaremaa and Muhu) under the label island dialect, while students from other schools only marked one (Saaremaa).
When analysing other dialects that the students marked more often, local differences in the perception of dialects emerged more greatly. For example, students from western Estonia marked different island dialects more commonly than others. Similarly, students from southern and eastern Estonia marked the Mulgi and Setu dialects and the eastern dialects, respectively, more commonly.


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