Language typology

In the research of Estonian language typology, a lot of research is done by participating in large international projects. Phonology, morphology,  syntax and lexicon of the Estonian language are studied typologically. The aim of the research is to find out how Estonian is similar to or differs from other related languages, and to what extent Estonian can be considered an SAE language, i.e. a typical European language. The typological position of Estonian in the Balto-Finnic language area, and the typological differences of standard Estonian and Estonian dialects are also studied. The most important currently active project is the compilation of the Typological Database of Uralic Languages, UraTyp.

Researchers related to the field

Helle Metslang
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Professors emeritus, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Professor emeritus

Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Professor emeritus
Jakobi 2-424
Helle Metslang is Professor Emerita at the University of Tartu, Adjunct Professor of the University of Helsinki and of the University of Oulu, Member of Academia Europaea, of the AcademiaNet, of the Estonian Language Board. She has worked as Professor at the universities of Tartu, Tallinn and Helsinki. Her research interests include morphosyntax, pragmatics, language dynamics, language variation, historical sociolinguistics, contrastive linguistics and typology. She is co-author of Estonian reference grammars and Editor in Chief of the book series "Eesti keele varamu" (Estonian repository), PI of the project “Pragmatics overwrites grammar: subjectivity and intersubjectivity in different registers and genres of Estonian“ (PRG341).
Helle Metslang
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Professors emeritus, Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Professor emeritus

Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Professor emeritus
Jakobi 2-424
Karl Pajusalu
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Academician, Professor of History and Dialects of Estonian Language
Jakobi 2-425
+372 526 7733 (6124)
Karl Pajusalu is a Professor of Estonian language history and dialects, a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. He studies the pronunciation and grammar of Estonian and its related languages as well as their changes, and has also dealt with historical sociolinguistics. His research has focused most of all on Southern Finnic languages, especially their word prosody. He is one of the founders of the University of Tartu Collegium for Transdisciplinary Studies in Archaeology, Genetics, and Linguistics. He is currently involved in compiling the Typological Database of Uralic Languages and taking part in the Estonian ethnic history project and research projects on Inari Sámi prosody and Livonian heritage; he is also participating in the compilation of Seto, Mulgi, and Häädemeeste dictionaries.
Karl Pajusalu
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Academician, Professor of History and Dialects of Estonian Language
Jakobi 2-425
+372 526 7733 (6124)
Gerson Stefan Klumpp
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Head of Department, Professor of Finno-Ugric Languages, Programme Director for Estonian and Finno-Ugric Languages
Jakobi 2-415
+372 737 6537
Gerson Klumpp joined the University of Tartu in 2011 as a professor of Finno-Ugric languages. His research interests include Samoyed languages, in particular the extinct Kamas language, Permic languages, and pragmatics and information structure as motivators of morphosyntactic structures, such as differential object marking in Komi dialects, as well as language change. He is currently leading a project on the grammar of discourse particles in minor Finno-Ugric languages. Gerson loves to work with older text collections and contrast them with contemporary language data. He is also participating in projects dealing with parish court records and other Estonian texts.
Gerson Stefan Klumpp
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Head of Department, Professor of Finno-Ugric Languages, Programme Director for Estonian and Finno-Ugric Languages
Jakobi 2-415
+372 737 6537
Miina Norvik
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Lecturer in Finnic Languages
Jakobi 2-445
Miina Norvik is a researcher of the Finnic languages at the Department of Finno-Ugric Studies. In her research she has mainly focused on the study of grammatical features in Livonian and other Finnic languages (e.g. Karelian, Veps). First and foremost, she is interested in morphological and syntactic features (e.g. the expression of tense, change-of-state, degrees of comparison), which she has mainly studied from the functional-typological perspective. Since 2018 she has been working more generally with the Uralic languages by developing the typological database of the Uralic languages (UraTyp). This has given her the possibility to participate in international and interdisciplinary research groups (AGL and BEDLAN). Until March 2023 she is also affiliated with the Uppsala University, where she is carrying out her post-doc project Continuity and change in Finnic language structure in the light of language contact. Since 2011 she has been involved in organising the linguistic olympiads to introduce linguistic diversity among school children.
Miina Norvik
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Lecturer in Finnic Languages
Jakobi 2-445
Eva Saar
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Research Fellow in Finnic Languages 0.7 p
Jakobi 2-413

Department of Estonian
Centre for South Estonian Language and Culture Studies
Coordinator 0.3 p
Jakobi 2-413
+372 737 5422
Eva Saar is a research fellow in Finnic languages at the Department of Finno-Ugric Studies and the coordinator of the Centre for South-Estonian Language and Cultural Studies. His research focuses mainly on the minor Finnic languages spoken in Russia, but also on South Estonian. Her research interests include language history, phonology, morphology, and morphosyntax of the Finnic languages, as well as personal names and onomastics in general. Since 1997, she has carried out fieldwork in Votic, Ingriani, Lydic, Veps and Karelian language areas in Russia, as well as in the Mulgi, Seto and Võro language areas in Estonia. Since 2018, she is involved in compiling the typological database of Uralic languages (UraTyp). She is currently leading the project "Vepsian way of life and worldview in the 21st century", and manages the compilation of a Seto (South Estonian) dictionary.
Eva Saar
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Research Fellow in Finnic Languages 0.7 p
Jakobi 2-413

Department of Estonian
Centre for South Estonian Language and Culture Studies
Coordinator 0.3 p
Jakobi 2-413
+372 737 5422
Denys Teptiuk
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Research Fellow
Jakobi 2-431
Denys Teptiuk is a research fellow of Mordvin languages. In his research, he focuses on quotative indexes and reported speech and thought in Finno-Ugric languages (Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Komi, Udmurt, and Erzya) and beyond (Russian and English) from a typological and functional perspective. Denys also has a strong interest in the related domains of epistemic modality, evidentiality, engagement, and how these categories are realised among Eastern Finno-Ugric languages, especially in contact with dominant Russian. As a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Tartu, Denys works in a project on discourse particles/markers in minor Uralic languages.
Denys Teptiuk
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Finno-Ugric Studies
Research Fellow
Jakobi 2-431
Rodolfo Basile
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Junior Research Fellow in Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics 0.5 p
Jakobi 2-431
Rodolfo Basile is a doctoral candidate and junior researcher at the University of Tartu. His PhD is done in Cotutelle with the University of Turku, Finland. His research interests include partitive subjects in Finnic languages, corpus linguistics and quantitative methods, Digital Humanities, as well as linguistic typology, focusing in particular on non-prototypical locational predication.
Rodolfo Basile
Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
Department of Estonian
Junior Research Fellow in Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics 0.5 p
Jakobi 2-431
Agu Bleive
doctoral student
Agu Bleive is a PhD student at the University of Tartu since 2020. His main research interests are connected to second language acquisition and linguistic typology. For his PhD thesis (supervised by Ilona Tragel) he is researching the acquisition of Estonian language by Chinese native speakers. Before that, he has been active in the field of second language teaching in practice, namely by teaching Estonian in China at the Beijing International Studies University (2019-2020) and in Germany at the University of Göttingen (2016-2018) and at the University of Greifswald (2014-2015).
Agu Bleive
doctoral student
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Apply for a doctoral position on the topic of "Language, identity and spatial-policy choices in the state gymnasia in Russian-dominant settings"

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MEDAL Summer School in Corpus Linguistics

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Doctoral defence: Marili Tomingas „Pro-forms in spoken courland Livonian“

On 8 May at 10:15 Marili Tomingas will defend her doctoral thesis “Pro-forms in spoken courland Livonian”.