Some people think that Estonian is some kind of Finno-Ugric cave language. Once in awhile I have to agree.
Because the vocabulary is so different, one has to memorize huge numbers of new words. That's fine. At least there's no future tense or gender. There are trade-offs in every language.
But because Estonians often only speak the language amongst themselves they often slur their words together. Particularly in southern Estonia, consonants are given a light treatment and one needs to listen attentively to differentiate the words and swallow the sentences.
In North Estonia, the pronunciation is more clear and it is easier to break words apart to digest their meaning. Unfortunately, last night I wasn't playing basketball with North Estonians. They were from South Estonia and try as I might there were times when I had no friggin' idea what the hell they were talking about.
Typical sentences might go something like this: 'Kas oli nii või? Ei, noh, ei. Tõesti või? Eh, noh, eh. Laisk või? Noh, ei, noh." Other Estonians listening would sometimes chime in with a grunt, which I am sure can be written down on paper and assigned a meaning in the dictionary, but pretty much sounded like "Grunt" to me.
Epp has a friend Kaja who is from north Estonia. Kaja's family comes from near Lahemaa National Park, and it is easier to understand Kaja because she enunciates. I have tried to emulate this way of talking more because it seems easier that trying to muddle-up my words with the Lõuna-Eesti murre or dialect (and make sure to add that extra 'r' sound, mure can mean 'troubled').
But between my awkwardness with the language and inability to correctly say 'õ' there is a bit of a drunken islander style to my way of speaking Estonian. So, in true Estonian fashion, I have decided to say as little as possible.