Q: In any language, what word contains the same vowel repeated four times in a row?

S: There are many words in the Estonian language with the same four vowels repeated. You can construct even a grammatically correct half-sentence, where all words share the same property. This

half-sentence is

Seeeest ja"a"a"a"rsete kuuuurijate to"o"o"o" ...

Seeeest: this means that you are comparing the following to something (which must be indicated in the missing end of the sentence) and you prefer (or consider more important) this ja"a"a"a"rsete kuuuurijate to"o"o"o".

Ja"a"a"a"rsete: this indicates that the persons, mentioned in the next word (kuuuurijad), are living, or at least are working at the place, near the edge of the ice.

Kuuuurijate: this indicate that you are speaking about persons, who are studying the Moon (let's say, some astronomers or such).

To"o"o"o": working at night - time when these astronomers work.

For example the full sentence:

Seeeest ja"a"a"a"rsete kuuuurijate to"o"o"o"d on ma"rksa ku"lmemad kui lounapoolsetel kolleegidel

can be translated approximately as:

However, the working nights of explorers of the Moon, who are living near the ice, are much colder than those of southern colleges.

From these examples you can also see that I have used these 4 words in different places in slightly different form. It is also one of the curiosities of the Estonian language. We do not have prepositions, but we have 14 cases, so if in English, people put something in front of the noun, we have to change the end of the word.

One more curiosity - in the Estonian language we do not have such tense as future. We simply cannot say something like "I shall do it". We must explicitly indicate, when, but this indication need not to be very precise. So, a corresponding Estonian sentence would be something like "I do it somtimes".

-- Urmas Haud (urmas@aai.ee)

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