Minister proposes 'language beauty contest'

  • 2007-11-21
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN - Giving a new twist to the seemingly endless "miss" pageants that are held in Estonia, Minister for Education and Science Tonis Lukas announced on Nov. 19 that his ministry intends to hold a novel event to mark the 90th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia 's a language beauty contest.
"There's a story that a world championship of beautiful languages was once held in which Estonian took second place after Italian with the sentence 'soida tasa ule silla,' or 'go slowly over the bridge,'" Lukas said, referring to a legend often repeated by estophiles.

"As part of the events for the anniversary of the republic, we're pleased to turn to other nations with a friendly call to check how our language sounds to others now," he added.
Lukas wants from ministries of education from countries around the world to submit entries to the contest in the form of audio files created by school children. The entries should contain a presentation of a sentence made up of one to seven words.
Details such as who would judge the languages and how to get a fair, unbiased result have yet to be worked out.

"It's just an idea right now, a very new idea and we haven't thought about it a lot yet," ministry spokesman Tarmu Kurm told The Baltic Times.
Kurm stressed that the contest isn't meant to be taken too seriously, but that it isn't a joke either.
"It's very clear that soon we must think of how to do it and soon we will inform the media about it," he said.
Estonia will celebrate the 90th anniversary of its independence on Feb. 24.
The Estonian language is spoken by an estimated 1.1 million people worldwide, about 950,000 of whom live in the country.