Ilmar Tomusk, head of the Estonian language inspectorate, writes in Postimees daily that people who talk about the need of making the English language a second official language in Estonia don’t understand what they are talking about.
Tomusk says ever since 1992 various people have made proposals to make English an additional state language.
“One must understand that while nothing in Estonia prohibits people from taking the English language into everyday use, we are not yet ready to make it official. Sometimes one gets a feeling that the only objective of such proposals is to get rid of Estonian, this small language that keeps sticking its nose into every sphere of life,” writes Tomusk.
He warns that those proposing to make the English language official must understand that this will put a major burden on the state since then all official documents must be drawn up in two languages and public institutions such as local governments would have to use both Estonian and English.
“We would also have to organize language training for officials and add English names to our street signs,” added Tomusk.
He said that even Finland that has two official languages says in its law that everyone in Finland must be able to use his or her own language, either Finnish or Swedish. “The keyword here is “own language” and I don’t know how many in Estonia can say today that the English language is their own language.”
The official adds that nothing in the language law prohibits foreign investors or businessmen to communicate in Estonia in English or some other languages. “The important requirement is that people who communicate with consumers and the public must know the state language,” he adds.