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On the areal division of Estonia according to dialect and folklore material

The article draws on the author’s web publication Uusi unistusi eesti murde- ja folkloorialade piiritlemise teemal („More dreams on the areal division of Estonia as based on dialect words, riddles and proverbs”,, which studies the corpora of Estonian dialect words, riddles and proverbs seeking for arguments to support the following assumption:

The peripheral/central position of geographic units, the rare/common character of the material and agglomeration/dispersal of groups formed of the geographic units are, essentially, dimensions of the same thing.

Our analysis of the Estonian data of three domains reveals two well-defined areas of language and culture and one less salient: 

(1) South-Eastern Estonia in abroad sense (Se+Võ+TaL) together with the less concentrated Mulgi region;

(2) the West-Estonian Islands together with the less concentrated Western and North-Western Estonia;

(3) the Northern and North-Eastern Coast of Estonia.

For the central part of Northern Estonia, the closer the more similar is also the general rule, without revealing, however, any well-defined areal groups. The material similarity of the geographic units is measured by average standardized coefficients of colligation (λ-coefficients). Graphic identification of the dialect and folklore areas relies on the descending λ-rankings of the strength of relationships between pairs of parishes, complemented by some elements of  factor and cluster analysis.

The article is introduced by a brief overview of the frequency distributions of cultural versus geographic units, relationships between λ-coefficients, correlation coefficients, and euclidean distances and the distances between geographic units, as well as of the geographical distribution of rare versus common material.