Vanill or vanilje?

Keywords: actual use, borrowings, corpus planning, fixed norm, linguistic standard

One way to interpret the contradiction between the linguistic standard or authoritative recommendation and the actual use in the case of vanill ‘vanilla’ and vanilje ‘vanilla’ is that the actual use has not allowed itself to be confused by the standards. It can be assumed, though, that without the fixed norm, vanilje would perhaps enjoy a still greater predominance over the receding vanill.

The case of vanill and vanilje is a good example of the fact that even a hundred years of dictionary recommendations may not be able to eliminate or reduce some lexical parallels, much less – in actual language use a less recommended variant can be preferred. The regulative approach of corpus planning usually attempts to find a semantic difference between parallel words, assigning them to different categories or domains.

Note again that here we speak not of a temporal linguistic change, but of a whole century of parallel use of vanill and vanilje. Considering that ÕS (The Dictionary of Standard Estonian) has already accepted the parallel variants of quite many foreign words, there seems to be not much sense in going on to marginalize vanilje either.


Tiina Paet (b. 1974), MA, Institute of the Estonian Language, Senior Language Planner, Junior Researcher (Roosikrantsi 6, 10119 Tallinn); University of Tartu, Doctoral Student,