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Estonia Translation Style Guide

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Full name: Republic of Estonia.

Official language: Estonian.

Geography

Cities

Leave the names of urban centres, irrespective of size, in their original Estonian form, including diacritics (e.g. Pärnu, Kohtla-Järve, Võru, Põlva, etc.).

Be aware that historical names exist for some towns and are still used occasionally, but the Estonian names should always be used in English texts (e.g. write Tallinn (not the German Reval) and Tartu (not the German Dorpat or the Finnish Tartto)).

Note that Valga is in Estonia, while Valka is in Latvia.

Counties

There are two ways of referring to counties in Estonian. The names may appear in the form Harjumaa / Järvamaa / Lääne-Virumaa, etc. or in the form Harju maakond / Järva maakond / Lääne-Viru maakond, etc. Use the former in English (e.g. Harjumaa, etc.), adding ‘the county of’ or ‘county’ where necessary for clarity (e.g. the county of Harjumaa, Harjumaa county, etc.).

Islands

The islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa are both also counties in their own right, and so in some cases it may be necessary to write e.g. the island of Saaremaa to avoid confusion with the county of the same name.

Be aware that many of the islands also have historical names in Swedish, but the Estonian names should always be used in English texts (e.g. write Saaremaa (Swedish: Ösel), Hiiumaa (Swedish: Dagö), Muhu (Swedish: Moon), Vormsi (Swedish: Ormsö), Kihnu (Swedish: Kynö) and Ruhnu (Swedish: Runö)).

Lakes and rivers

Write Lake Peipus for Peipsi järv, Lake Võrtsjärv for Võrtsjärv and Lake Lämmijärv for Lämmijärv. Write the River Emajõgi, the Emajõgi River or even just the Emajõgi (if the context is clear) for Emajõgi. For river names made up of two words (e.g. Võhandu jõgi), use either of the forms the River Võhandu or the Võhandu River.

Regions

  • EESTI > ESTONIA
  • Põhja-Eesti > Northern Estonia
  • Lääne-Eesti > Western Estonia
  • Kesk-Eesti > Central Estonia
  • Kirde-Eesti > Northeastern Estonia
  • Lõuna-Eesti > Southern Estonia

Judicial bodies

  • halduskohus > administrative court
  • maakohus > county court
  • Riigikohus > Supreme Court
  • ringkonnakohus > district court

Write the Estonian Parliament or Parliament for Riigikogu, unless there is a particular reason to use the Estonian name. The English-language names of the Committees, etc. can be found on the Parliament website.

Government agencies and bodies are reorganised and renamed from time to time. The vast majority have English-language websites, and so these should always be checked for their official names. In most cases, it is sufficient to use just the English name without the Estonian, but if there is any chance of confusion it may be better to use the English name on the first occasion with the Estonian in brackets, and then the English name on subsequent occasions. One exception to this is Eesti Pank, which should not be translated. On first mention in a text, write Eesti Pank (Bank of Estonia), but afterwards write just Eesti Pank.

Names may be abbreviated if they are commonly abbreviated in Estonian and if a suitable English abbreviation exists, for example on the body’s website. Põllumajanduse Registrite ja Informatsiooni Amet is often abbreviated in Estonian to PRIA, and its website uses both the full name the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board and the abbreviation ARIB. The same applies to Keskkonnainvesteeringute Keskus (KIK) / the Environmental Investment Centre (EIC). The Police and Border Guard Board is less frequently abbreviated to PBGB. However, only abbreviate where this helps the reader. If there is no risk of confusion, it might be better to write the Board (rather than ARIB or PBGB) or the Centre (rather than EIC), etc., having written the name out in full on first mention.

Legal instruments

  • eeskiri > Rules
  • ettekirjutus > order (or instruction)
  • haldusakt > administrative instrument
  • korraldus > (administrative) Order
  • käskkiri > Order
  • määrus > Regulation
  • otsus > Decision
  • põhimäärus > Statutes
  • põhiseadus > Constitution
  • seadlus > Decree
  • seadus > Act
  • seadustik > Code

Unofficial English translations of most Acts of Parliament are available on the Riigi Teataja website. As far as possible, the translations are kept up to date as the Acts are amended. Translations are also available of a small number of regulations, etc., but these are often not updated.

There are abbreviated forms for the names of many Acts of Parliament. A list is available on the Riigi Teataja website. In general, the English names should not be abbreviated unless this is essential for formatting reasons, e.g. to save space in a small table.

Suggestions for titles of Regulations

  • Vabariigi Valitsuse [kuupäev] määrus nr xxx … > Government of the Republic Regulation No xxx of [date] on/establishing/laying down rules …
  • …ministri [kuupäev] määrus nr xxx … > Regulation No xxx of the Minister for … of [date] on/establishing/laying down rules …

Law gazettes, official gazettes and official journals

  • Riigi Teataja > State Gazette
  • Ametlikud Teadaanded > Official Announcements

Riigi Teataja is the sole official publication for the types of legal act referred to in Section 2 of the Riigi Teataja Act (available in Estonian and English), including Acts of Parliament, decrees issued by the President of the Republic, regulations issued by the Government of the Republic, international agreements and many others. Since 2010 it has been published in electronic form only.

Ametlikud Teadaanded is an electronic journal containing all notices, invitations and announcements that have to be published by law. They are not available in English.

In English texts the names Riigi Teataja and Ametlikud Teadaanded should be left in Estonian, although the English translation should usually be added in brackets after the first mention of each name in a text. In references, Riigi Teataja is abbreviated to RT.

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