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Estonian belongs to the Uralic family, Finno-Ugric group, Finnish subgroup, and is spoken by over 1 million people. Linguistically speaking, its closest relative is Finnish, spoken across the Gulf of Finland. The two languages are sufficiently similar to be mutually intelligible, at least for those Estonians who speak the dialect of the north. Dialects are grouped into three: North-eastern Coastal Estonian (between Tallinn and Narva), North Estonian (island, western, central, and eastern dialects), and South Estonian (Mulgi, Tartu, Vôru). The central dialect of North Estonian is the basis for the literary language. North Estonian became the chief language in 1739, when the Estonian translation of the Bible, an important standard-setter in this regard, was published. Vôru, and Setu (a subdialect of Vôru) are clearly distinct from standard Estonian. All the other dialects are assimilated into the standard language. Estonian is not, as is sometimes thought, in any way related to its nearest geographic neighbours, Latvian and Lithuanian.
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