vai is used in questions, like "onko tämä suomea vai viroa", and the answer would be either one. Asking "onko tämä suomea tai viroa" would not exclude the possibility of being something else as well.
However, one cannot say "tämä on suomea vai viroa"; it is a statement, not a question.
still I think both alternatives should be correct. If I read the word "kuningas" (king) which (as far as I know) is the same for estonian and finnish. And I would ask someone "onko tämä suomea tai viroa". If being really pedantic they would have to answer "no". Since with either-or you are only allowed to answer "yes" if this word only belongs to exactly one language and not both. which is silly of course but this raises two questions: 1. shouldn't tai in this case not also translate to "or" instead of "either-or" because I would expect the other person to answer "yes" if it belongs to both languages 2. if not and tai is striclty "either-or". Isn't it stupid to exclude the option for both in this kind of question? and you should mostly default to "vai". And only if you are certain that the option for both is not possible (or you are not interested in this option) you should use tai.
Anyway: In this course I saw the multiple choice question: "Tämä on suomea __ viroa" with both options: 1. tai 2. vai Only tai is correct, which I feel is wrong. Either both are correct or just vai, because I personally wouldn't ask a question in this case where the option for "both" is excluded. Especially if I don't see a "translate this to finnish" question but a multiple choice question with no context.
Alright. I would accept that "tai" is for questions and "vai" is for statements.
But if "tai" is always exclusive (meaning "either-or" but not "both") how do I pose a question where I want to accept that "both" being a valid option? If I am just allowed to use "tai" in a question this is not really possible.
My guess is that "tai" does not always translate to "either-or" but sometime to just "or". But my finnish skills are not so deep that I know such nuances. That's why I am asking
You could ask "onko tämä suomea tai viroa" and you could get either "kyllä", "ei", or one of the language names. If you ask "onko tämä suomea vai viroa", you would get the language name, or maybe "ei kumpaakaan" (neither).
In practice, tai is often used instead of vai, and this allows some intentional misunderstandings. Most of the time, the meaning is quite understandable.
Having a statement ("tämä on suomea tai viroa") is more strict, there "vai" won't do.
It reminds me of the Computer Science / Logic distinction between the "inclusive 'or'" & the "exclusive 'or'". Inclusive Or could be A, B, C or D...or any combination of them. Exclusive Or, however, could only be A, or B, or C, or D...and only exactly one of them. It's interesting that Finnish created a separate word to avoid any confusion about it...probably long ago...while in English we need a whole paragraph to talk about it since we use 'or' for both hehe.
Mandarin has something just like this actually. 还是 (Háishì) is strictly for question sentences, like "vai". For example, 你喜欢炒饭还是白饭？(Nǐ xǐhuān chǎofàn háishì báifàn?) Then there's also 或者 (Huòzhě) which would be like "tai", only using statements. Example would be, 她爱你，或者她恨你。(Tā ài nǐ, huòzhě tā hèn nǐ.)
Edit: it appears I was close, but not exactly right! Vai is specifically for something that is either this OR that, (not both or none), while Tai can be this, that, both, or none. This is also why Vai is only used in questions. (I'm including the link that helped me.)
There are many sentences drawing attention to Hungarian and Estonian. I've heard that they can be related languages, but like this sentence suggests, are they alike to the point to be mutually understandable, or to one familiar with both languages say that could be one or the other?
Hungarian not so much, but estonian and finnish are similar in many ways. Sentence structure, pronunciation, cases... I swear half the time I'm guessing the words by typing estonian ones and ending up correct. It does come with minor differences in how the languages work and also when some words mean different things ("hiljainen" sounds like "hilja", "late" in estonian; "hallitus" means government in Finnish, but mold in estonian). I could read a Finnish text and get the gist of it but it's not like I can just have a conversation with a Finn off the bat, for that we'd have to actually learn eachothers language. But for someone who doesn't speak either, it might be difficult to tell the difference. Like it is with Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. Interestingly, Finnish is more akin to South Estonian, not the standard estonian. So for us from the Võru and Setu areas, finnish is even easier to understand.
As a Finnish native speaker who has been learning Estonian for many years, Estonian seems easy at first but really isn't :-D The two are certainly further away from each other than Swedish (my other native language), Norwegian, and Danish are from each other. I've recently heard the comparison that Finnish and Estonian are like Italian and Spanish. But I've seen Italian and Spanish people speak a pidgin mix with each other, and Finns and Estonians can't do that unless at least one has quite some experience with the other's language (as many Estonians do).
Hungarian is waaaaaay off from these two. You can kind of see the similarity when you look at the grammar, but you understand nothing.
Hello dio-rgenes. I once lived on a community with both Hungarians and Finns, and they were disappointed to find themselves unable to understand each other at all. I speak enough Hungarian to have a conversation, and in the small amount of Finnish I have studied so far, there have been almost no noticeable similarities between the two, though I can guess what's happening with the grammar. The vocabularies are miles apart, so it's much further off than Romanian is to Spanish, or German to Dutch or Norwegian. Even the general sound and feel of Finnish is completely unlike Hungarian.