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Finnish language

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Finnish
suomi
PronunciationIPA: [ˈsuo̯mi] (listen)
Native toFinland, Sweden, Norway (in small areas in Troms og Finnmark), Russia
EthnicityFinns
Native speakers
5.8 million
Finland 5.4 million
Sweden 0.40 million
Norway 8,000 (Kven)
Karelia 8,500
USA 26,000 (2020)[1]
Uralic
Dialects
Latin (Finnish alphabet)
Finnish Braille
Signed Finnish
Official status
Official language in
 Finland
 European Union
 Nordic Council
Recognised minority
language in
Sweden (official minority language)
Russia (Karelia)[2]
Norway (Kven language) (Finnmark)
Regulated byLanguage Planning Department of the Institute for the Languages of Finland
Language codes
ISO 639-1fi
ISO 639-2fin
ISO 639-3fin
Glottologfinn1318  excluding Kven and Meänkieli
Linguasphere41-AAA-a
Finnish language 2021.png
[image reference needed]
  Majority language
  Spoken by a minority
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Finnish (endonym: suomi [ˈsuo̯mi] (listen) or suomen kieli [ˈsuo̯meŋ ˈkie̯li]) is a Uralic language of the Finnic branch, spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by ethnic Finns outside of Finland. Finnish is one of the two official languages of Finland (the other being Swedish). In Sweden, both Finnish and Meänkieli (which has significant mutual intelligibility with Finnish[3]) are official minority languages. The Kven language, which like Meänkieli is mutually intelligible with Finnish, is spoken in the Norwegian county Troms og Finnmark by a minority group of Finnish descent.

Finnish is typologically agglutinative[4] and uses almost exclusively suffixal affixation. Nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs are inflected depending on their role in the sentence. Sentences are normally formed with subject–verb–object word order, although the extensive use of inflection allows them to be ordered differently. Word order variations are often reserved for differences in information structure.[5] Finnish orthography uses a Latin-script alphabet derived from the Swedish alphabet, and is phonetic to a great extent. Vowel length and consonant length are distinguished, and there are a range of diphthongs, although vowel harmony limits which diphthongs are possible.

Discover more about Finnish language related topics

Finnic languages

Finnic languages

The Finnic (Fennic) or more precisely Balto-Finnic languages constitute a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by the Baltic Finnic peoples. There are around 7 million speakers, who live mainly in Finland and Estonia.

Finland

Finland

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east, with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south, across from Estonia. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.6 million. Helsinki is the capital and largest city. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Finns. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, Swedish is the native language of 5.2% of the population. Finland's climate varies from humid continental in the south to the boreal in the north. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

Finns

Finns

Finns or Finnish people are a Baltic Finnic ethnic group native to Finland.

Meänkieli

Meänkieli

Meänkieli is a group of distinct Finnish dialects or a Finnic language spoken in the northernmost part of Sweden along the valley of the Torne River. Its status as an independent language is disputed, but in Sweden it is recognized as one of the country's five minority languages.

Minority language

Minority language

A minority language is a language spoken by a minority of the population of a territory. Such people are termed linguistic minorities or language minorities. With a total number of 196 sovereign states recognized internationally and an estimated number of roughly 5,000 to 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, the vast majority of languages are minority languages in every country in which they are spoken. Some minority languages are simultaneously also official languages, such as Irish in Ireland or the numerous indigenous languages of Bolivia. Likewise, some national languages are often considered minority languages, insofar as they are the national language of a stateless nation.

Kven language

Kven language

The Kven language is a Finnic language or a group of Finnish dialects spoken in the northernmost parts of Norway by the Kven people. For political and historical reasons, it received the status of a minority language in 2005 within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Linguistically, however, it is seen as a mutually intelligible dialect of the Finnish language, and grouped together with the Peräpohjola dialects such as Meänkieli, spoken in Torne Valley in Sweden. While it is often considered a dialect in Finland, it is officially recognized as a minority language in Norway and some Kven people consider it a separate language.

Agglutination

Agglutination

In linguistics, agglutination is a morphological process in which words are formed by stringing together morphemes, each of which corresponds to a single syntactic feature. Languages that use agglutination widely are called agglutinative languages. Turkish is an example of an agglutinative language. The Turkish word evlerinizden consists of the morphemes ev-ler-iniz-den, literally translated morpheme-by-morpheme as house-plural-your(plural)-from. Agglutinative languages are often contrasted with isolating languages, in which words are monomorphemic, and fusional languages, in which words can be complex, but morphemes may correspond to multiple features.

Adjective

Adjective

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun.

Inflection

Inflection

In linguistic morphology, inflection is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, mood, animacy, and definiteness. The inflection of verbs is called conjugation, and one can refer to the inflection of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, determiners, participles, prepositions and postpositions, numerals, articles, etc., as declension.

Information structure

Information structure

In linguistics, information structure, also called information packaging, describes the way in which information is formally packaged within a sentence. This generally includes only those aspects of information that “respond to the temporary state of the addressee’s mind”, and excludes other aspects of linguistic information such as references to background (encyclopedic/common) knowledge, choice of style, politeness, and so forth. For example, the difference between an active clause and a corresponding passive is a syntactic difference, but one motivated by information structuring considerations. Other structures motivated by information structure include preposing and inversion.

Finnish orthography

Finnish orthography

Finnish orthography is based on the Latin script, and uses an alphabet derived from the Swedish alphabet, officially comprising twenty-nine letters but also including two additional letters found in some loanwords. The Finnish orthography strives to represent all morphemes phonologically and, roughly speaking, the sound value of each letter tends to correspond with its value in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) – although some discrepancies do exist.

Gemination

Gemination

In phonetics and phonology, gemination, or consonant lengthening, is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonant. It is distinct from stress. Gemination is represented in many writing systems by a doubled letter and is often perceived as a doubling of the consonant. Some phonological theories use "doubling" as a synonym for gemination, others describe two distinct phenomena.

Classification

Finnish is a member of the Finnic group of the Uralic family of languages. The Finnic group also includes Estonian and a few minority languages spoken around the Baltic Sea and in Russia's Republic of Karelia.

Finnish demonstrates an affiliation with other Uralic languages (such as Hungarian) in several respects including:

  • Shared morphology:
    • case suffixes such as genitive -n, partitive -(t)a / -(t)ä ( Proto-Uralic *-ta, originally ablative), essive -na / -nä ( locative)
    • plural markers -t and -i- (
    • possessive suffixes such as 1st person singular -ni ( -si (
    • various derivational suffixes (e.g. causative -tta/-ttä
  • Shared basic vocabulary displaying regular sound correspondences with the other Uralic languages (e.g. kala 'fish' ~ North Saami guolli ~ Hungarian hal; and kadota 'disappear' ~ North Saami guođđit ~ Hungarian hagy 'leave (behind)'.

Several theories exist as to the geographic origin of Finnish and the other Uralic languages. The most widely held view is that they originated as a Proto-Uralic language somewhere in the boreal forest belt around the Ural Mountains region and/or the bend of the middle Volga. The strong case for Proto-Uralic is supported by common vocabulary with regularities in sound correspondences, as well as by the fact that the Uralic languages have many similarities in structure and grammar.[6]

The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, United States, classifies Finnish as a level III language (of four levels) in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers.[7]

Discover more about Classification related topics

Finnic languages

Finnic languages

The Finnic (Fennic) or more precisely Balto-Finnic languages constitute a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by the Baltic Finnic peoples. There are around 7 million speakers, who live mainly in Finland and Estonia.

Estonian language

Estonian language

Estonian is a Finnic language, written in the Latin script. It is the official language of Estonia and one of the official languages of the European Union, spoken natively by about 1.1 million people; 922,000 people in Estonia and 160,000 outside Estonia.

Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that is enclosed by Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the North and Central European Plain.

Hungarian language

Hungarian language

Hungarian is a Uralic language spoken in Hungary and parts of several neighbouring countries that used to belong to it. It is the official language of Hungary and one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Outside Hungary, it is also spoken by Hungarian communities in southern Slovakia, western Ukraine (Subcarpathia), central and western Romania (Transylvania), northern Serbia (Vojvodina), northern Croatia, northeastern Slovenia (Prekmurje), and eastern Austria.

Genitive case

Genitive case

In grammar, the genitive case is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can also serve purposes indicating other relationships. For example, some verbs may feature arguments in the genitive case; and the genitive case may also have adverbial uses.

Partitive case

Partitive case

The partitive case is a grammatical case which denotes "partialness", "without result", or "without specific identity". It is also used in contexts where a subgroup is selected from a larger group, or with numbers.

Ablative case

Ablative case

In grammar, the ablative case is a grammatical case for nouns, pronouns, and adjectives in the grammars of various languages; it is sometimes used to express motion away from something, among other uses. The word "ablative" derives from the Latin ablatus, the (irregular) perfect, passive participle of auferre "to carry away".

Essive case

Essive case

In grammar, the essive case, or similaris case, is a grammatical case. The essive case on a noun can express it as a definite period of time during which something happens or during which a continuous action was completed. It can also denote a form as a temporary location, state of being, or character in which the subject was at a given time. The latter meaning is often described as the equivalent of the English phrase "as a __".

Causative

Causative

In linguistics, a causative is a valency-increasing operation that indicates that a subject either causes someone or something else to do or be something or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event. Normally, it brings in a new argument, A, into a transitive clause, with the original subject S becoming the object O.

Proto-Uralic language

Proto-Uralic language

Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is thought to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differentiated Proto-Languages. Some newer research has pushed the "Proto-Uralic homeland" east of the Ural Mountains into Western Siberia.

Defense Language Institute

Defense Language Institute

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution consisting of two separate entities which provide linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense, other federal agencies and numerous customers around the world. The Defense Language Institute is responsible for the Defense Language Program, and the bulk of the Defense Language Institute's activities involve educating DoD members in assigned languages, and international personnel in English. Other functions include planning, curriculum development, and research in second-language acquisition.

Monterey, California

Monterey, California

Monterey is a city located in Monterey County on the southern edge of Monterey Bay on the U.S. state of California's Central Coast. Founded on June 3, 1770, it functioned as the capital of Alta California under both Spain (1804–1821) and Mexico (1822–1846). During this period, Monterey hosted California's first theater, public building, public library, publicly-funded school, printing-press, and newspaper. It was originally the only port of entry for all taxable goods in California. In 1846, during the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848, the United States Flag was raised over the Customs House. After Mexico ceded California to the U.S. at the end of the war, Monterey hosted California's first constitutional convention in 1849.

Geographic distribution

Areas in Southern Sweden with a Finnish-speaking population (2005)
Areas in Southern Sweden with a Finnish-speaking population (2005)

Finnish is spoken by about five million people, most of whom reside in Finland. There are also notable Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden, Norway, Russia, Estonia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The majority of the population of Finland (90.37% as of 2010[8]) speak Finnish as their first language. The remainder speak Swedish (5.42%),[8] one of the Sámi languages (for example Northern, Inari, or Skolt), or another language as their first language. Finnish is spoken as a second language in Estonia by about 167,000 people.[9] The varieties of Finnish found in Norway's Finnmark (namely Kven) and in northern Sweden (namely Meänkieli) have the status of official minority languages, and thus can be considered distinct languages from Finnish. However, since all three are mutually intelligible, one may alternatively view them as dialects of the same language.

There are also forms of Finnish spoken by diasporas in Siberia, by the Siberian Finns[10] and in America, where American Finnish is spoken by Finnish Americans.[11]

In the latest census, around 1000 people in Russia claimed to speak Finnish natively; however, a larger amount of 14,000 claimed to be able to speak Finnish in total.[12]

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First language

First language

A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term native language or mother tongue refers to the language or dialect of one's ethnic group rather than one's first language.

Finland Swedish

Finland Swedish

Finland Swedish or Fenno-Swedish is a general term for the variety of the Swedish language and a closely related group of Swedish dialects spoken in Finland by the Swedish-speaking population, commonly also referred to as Finland Swedes, as their first language.

Finnmark

Finnmark

Finnmark is a former county in the northern part of Norway, and it is scheduled to become a county again in 2024.

Kven language

Kven language

The Kven language is a Finnic language or a group of Finnish dialects spoken in the northernmost parts of Norway by the Kven people. For political and historical reasons, it received the status of a minority language in 2005 within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Linguistically, however, it is seen as a mutually intelligible dialect of the Finnish language, and grouped together with the Peräpohjola dialects such as Meänkieli, spoken in Torne Valley in Sweden. While it is often considered a dialect in Finland, it is officially recognized as a minority language in Norway and some Kven people consider it a separate language.

Meänkieli

Meänkieli

Meänkieli is a group of distinct Finnish dialects or a Finnic language spoken in the northernmost part of Sweden along the valley of the Torne River. Its status as an independent language is disputed, but in Sweden it is recognized as one of the country's five minority languages.

Mutual intelligibility

Mutual intelligibility

In linguistics, mutual intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort. It is sometimes used as an important criterion for distinguishing languages from dialects, although sociolinguistic factors are often also used.

Siberian Finnish

Siberian Finnish

Siberian Finnish or Korlaka is the form of Finnish spoken in Siberia by the Siberian Finns. Siberian Finnish is an umbrella name, this name refers to at least two languages/dialects.

Siberian Finns

Siberian Finns

Siberian Finns are Finnish people living in Siberia, mainly descendants of Ingrian Finns, who were deported into Siberia. According to some estimates up to 30,000 Ingrian Finns were deported to Siberia, a third of whom died either on their way to the various labor camps or soon after arrival. The first Finns in Siberia were a group of serfs who were deported into Siberia in 1803 and formed the village of Ryzhkovo, which still has a Finnish population. Siberian Finns lived close to Izhorians and Estonians. Because the ground was good for farming, and Finns speaking Finnish in their villages, Siberia had become a new home for many Finns, and moving back to Finland was too big of a risk economically to do. Many Siberian Finns have an Estonian passport, because it was better to be Estonian than Finnish in the Soviet Union.

American Finnish

American Finnish

American Finnish, Fingliska or Fingelska is a form of the Finnish language spoken in North America. It has been heavily influenced by the English language. American Finnish was used actively until the 1950s and after that it has been declining, and Finnish Americans have been switching to English. Even some basic phrases like tätsrait 'that's right' were borrowed from English. The form of speech was studied by Pertti Virtaranta in 1960, and the first American Finnish dictionary was made in 1992. It has influence from English both in syntax and vocabulary. In 2013 Finnish was spoken by 26,000 people in their homes. In the town of Oulu, Wisconsin, there are documented third-generation speakers of American Finnish, and in Stanton Township, Michigan, there are children who speak the language. American Finnish also retained loanwords from Swedish, which Modern Finnish lost.

Finnish Americans

Finnish Americans

Finnish Americans comprise Americans with ancestral roots from Finland or Finnish people who immigrated to and reside in the United States. The Finnish-American population numbers a little bit more than 650,000. Many Finnish people historically immigrated to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Iron Range of northern Minnesota to work in the mining industry; much of the population in these regions remains of Finnish descent.

Russian Census (2021)

Russian Census (2021)

The Russian Census of 2021 was the first census of the Russian Federation population since 2010 and the third after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It took place between October 15 and November 14. However, for the remote and inaccessible areas of Russia, the census took place between April 1 and December 20.

Official status

Today, Finnish is one of two official languages of Finland (the other being Swedish), and has been an official language of the European Union since 1995. However, the Finnish language did not have an official status in the country during the period of Swedish rule, which ended in 1809. After the establishment of Grand Duchy of Finland, and against the backdrop of the Fennoman movement, the language obtained its official status in the Finnish Diet of 1863.[13]

Finnish also enjoys the status of an official minority language in Sweden. Under the Nordic Language Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries speaking Finnish have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs.[14][15] However, concerns have been expressed about the future status of Finnish in Sweden, for example, where reports produced for the Swedish government during 2017 show that minority language policies are not being respected, particularly for the 7% of Finns settled in the country.[16]

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Official language

Official language

An official language is a language having certain rights to be used in defined situations. These rights can be created in written form or by historic usage.

European Union

European Union

The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of 4,233,255.3 km2 (1,634,469.0 sq mi) and an estimated total population of about 447 million. The EU has often been described as a sui generis political entity combining the characteristics of both a federation and a confederation.

Finland under Swedish rule

Finland under Swedish rule

In Swedish and Finnish history, Finland under Swedish rule is the historical period when the bulk of the area that later came to constitute Finland was an integral part of Sweden. The starting point of Swedish rule is uncertain and controversial. Historical evidence of the establishment of Swedish rule in Finland exists from the late 13th century onwards.

Grand Duchy of Finland

Grand Duchy of Finland

The Grand Duchy of Finland was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.

Fennoman movement

Fennoman movement

The Fennoman movement or Fennomania was a Finnish nationalist movement in the 19th-century Grand Duchy of Finland, built on the work of the fennophile interests of the 18th and early-19th centuries.

Diet of Finland

Diet of Finland

The Diet of Finland, was the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy of Finland from 1809 to 1906 and the recipient of the powers of the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates.

Nordic Language Convention

Nordic Language Convention

The Nordic Language Convention is a convention of linguistic rights that came into force on 1 March 1987, under the auspices of the Nordic Council. Under the Convention, citizens of the Nordic countries have the opportunity to use their native language when interacting with official bodies in other Nordic countries without being liable to any interpretation or translation costs. The Convention covers health care, social security, tax, school, and employment authorities, the police and courts. The languages included are Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic.

Nordic countries

Nordic countries

The Nordic countries are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic. It includes the sovereign states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden; the autonomous territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland; and the autonomous region of Åland.

History

Prehistory

The Uralic family of languages, of which Finnish is a member, are hypothesized to derive from a single ancestor language termed Proto-Uralic, spoken sometime between 8,000 and 2,000 BCE (estimates vary) in the vicinity of the Ural mountains.[17] Over time, Proto-Uralic split into various daughter languages, which themselves continued to change and diverge, yielding yet more descendants. One of these descendants is the reconstructed Proto-Finnic, from which the Finnic languages developed,[18] and which diverged from Proto-Samic (a reconstructed ancestor of the Sámi languages) around 1500–1000 BCE.[19]

Current models assume that three or more Proto-Finnic dialects evolved during the first millennium BCE.[20][18] These dialects were defined geographically, and were distinguished from one another along a north–south split as well as an east–west split. The northern dialects of Proto-Finnic, from which Finnish developed, lacked the mid vowel [ɤ]. This vowel was found only in the southern dialects, which developed into Estonian, Livonian, and Votian. The northern variants used third person singular pronoun hän instead of southern tämä (Est. tema). While the eastern dialects of Proto-Finnic (which developed in the modern-day eastern Finnish dialects, Veps, Karelian, and Ingrian) formed genitive plural nouns via plural stems (e.g., eastern Finnish kalojen kaloi-ten), the western dialects of Proto-Finnic (today's Estonian, Livonian and western Finnish varieties) used the non-plural stems (e.g., Est. kalade kala-ten). Another defining characteristic of the east–west split was the use of the reflexive suffix -(t)te, used only in the eastern dialects.[18]

Medieval period

Birch bark letter no. 292 is the oldest known document in any Finnic language.
Birch bark letter no. 292 is the oldest known document in any Finnic language.

The birch bark letter 292 from the early 13th century is the first known document in any Finnic language. The first known written example of Finnish itself is found in a German travel journal dating back to c.1450: Mÿnna tachton gernast spuho sommen gelen Emÿna daÿda (Modern Finnish: "Minä tahdon kernaasti puhua suomen kielen, [mutta] en minä taida;" English: "I want to speak Finnish, [but] I am not able to").[21] According to the travel journal, the words are those of a Finnish bishop whose name is unknown. The erroneous use of gelen (Modern Finnish kielen) in the accusative case, rather than kieltä in the partitive, and the lack of the conjunction mutta are typical of foreign speakers of Finnish even today.[22] At the time, most priests in Finland were Swedish-speaking.[23]

During the Middle Ages, when Finland was under Swedish rule, Finnish was only spoken. At the time, the language of international commerce was Middle Low German, the language of administration Swedish, and religious ceremonies were held in Latin. This meant that Finnish speakers could use their mother tongue only in everyday life. Finnish was considered inferior to Swedish, and Finnish speakers were second-class members of society because they could not use their language in any official situations. There were even efforts to reduce the use of Finnish through parish clerk schools, the use of Swedish in church, and by having Swedish-speaking servants and maids move to Finnish-speaking areas.[24]

Writing system

Mikael Agricola, a 19th-century drawing by Albert Edelfelt
Mikael Agricola, a 19th-century drawing by Albert Edelfelt
Elias Lönnrot as depicted in a 19th-century caricature – Lönnrot made several journeys to Karelia and Eastern Finland to collect folklore, from which he compiled the Kalevala.
Elias Lönnrot as depicted in a 19th-century caricature – Lönnrot made several journeys to Karelia and Eastern Finland to collect folklore, from which he compiled the Kalevala.

The first comprehensive writing system for Finnish was created by Mikael Agricola, a Finnish bishop, in the 16th century. He based his writing system on the western dialects. Agricola's ultimate plan was to translate the Bible,[25] but first he had to develop an orthography for the language, which he based on Swedish, German, and Latin. The Finnish standard language still relies on his innovations with regard to spelling, though Agricola used less systematic spelling than is used today.[26]

Though Agricola's intention was that each phoneme (and allophone under qualitative consonant gradation) should correspond to one letter, he failed to achieve this goal in various respects. For example, k, c, and q were all used for the phoneme /k/. Likewise, he alternated between dh and d to represent the allophonic voiced dental fricative [ð] (like th in English this), between dh and z to represent the geminate voiceless dental fricative /θː/ (like th in thin, but longer in duration), and between gh and g to represent the allophonic voiced velar fricative [ɣ]. Agricola did not consistently represent vowel length in his orthography.[26]

Others revised Agricola's work later, striving for a more systematic writing system. Along the way, Finnish lost several fricative consonants in a process of sound change. The sounds [ð] and [θ(ː)] disappeared from the language, surviving only in a small rural region in Western Finland.[27] In the standard language, however, the effect of the lost sounds is thus:

  • [ð] became [d]. The sound [ð] was written ⟨d⟩ or ⟨dh⟩ by Agricola. This sound was lost from most varieties of Finnish, either losing all phonetic realization or being pronounced as [r], [ɾ], [l], or [h] instead (depending on dialect and the position in the word). However, Agricola's spelling ⟨d⟩ prevailed, and the pronunciation in Standard Finnish became [d] through spelling pronunciation.[26]
  • [θː, θ] became [ts]. These interdental fricatives were written as ⟨tz⟩ (for both grades: geminate and short) in some of the earliest written records. Though these developed into a variety of other sounds depending on dialect ([tː, t], [ht, h], [ht, t], [sː, s], [tː, tː], or [ht, ht]), the standard language has arrived at spelling pronunciation [ts] (which is treated as a consonant cluster and hence not subject to consonant gradation).
  • [ɣ] became:
    • [ʋ] if it appeared originally between high round vowels [u] and [y] (cf. suku 'kin, family' : suvun [genitive form] from earlier *suku : *suɣun, and kyky : kyvyn 'ability, skill' [nominative and genitive, respectively] from *kükü : *küɣün, contrasting with sika : sian 'pig, pork' [nominative and genitive] from *sika : *siɣan. A similar process explains the /f/ pronunciation for some English words with "gh", such as "tough"),
    • [j] between a liquid consonant [l] or [r] and a vowel [e] (like in kuljen 'I go', a form of the verb kulkea 'to go' that was originally *kulɣen),
    • and otherwise it was lost entirely.

Modern Finnish punctuation, along with that of Swedish, uses the colon (:) to separate the stem of a word and its grammatical ending in some cases, for example after acronyms, as in EU:ssa 'in the EU'. (This contrasts with some other alphabetic writing systems, which would use other symbols, such as e.g. apostrophe, hyphen.) Since suffixes play a prominent role in the language, this use of the colon is quite common.

Modernization

In the 19th century Johan Vilhelm Snellman and others began to stress the need to improve the status of Finnish. Ever since the days of Mikael Agricola, written Finnish had been used almost exclusively in religious contexts, but now Snellman's Hegelian nationalistic ideas of Finnish as a fully-fledged national language gained considerable support. Concerted efforts were made to improve the status of the language and to modernize it, and by the end of the century Finnish had become a language of administration, journalism, literature, and science in Finland, along with Swedish.

In 1853 Daniel Europaeus published the first Swedish-Finnish dictionary,[28] and between 1866 and 1880 Elias Lönnrot compiled the first Finnish-Swedish dictionary.[29] In the same period, Antero Warelius conducted ethnographic research and, among other topics, he documented the geographic distribution of the Finnish dialects.[30]

The most important contributions to improving the status of Finnish were made by Elias Lönnrot. His impact on the development of modern vocabulary in Finnish was particularly significant. In addition to compiling the Kalevala, he acted as an arbiter in disputes about the development of standard Finnish between the proponents of western and eastern dialects, ensuring that the western dialects preferred by Agricola retained their preeminent role, while many originally dialect words from Eastern Finland were introduced to the standard language, thus enriching it considerably.[31] The first novel written in Finnish (and by a Finnish speaker) was Seven Brothers (Seitsemän veljestä), published by Aleksis Kivi in 1870.

Future

The Finnish language has been changing in certain ways after World War II, as observed in the spreading of certain dialectal features, for example the spread of the Western dialectal variant for the written cluster ts (mettä : mettän/metän ['forest : forest's'] instead of metsä : metsän) and the Eastern disappearance of d (tiiän 'I know' instead of tiedän) and the simultaneous preference to abandon the more visible dialectal features. Some scientists have also reported the low front vowel [æ] (orthographic ⟨ä⟩) moving toward [ɑ] (orthographic ⟨a⟩), theorising that the Finnish speakers would start to pronounce [ɑ] even more distantly from the changing [æ] in order to preserve the system of vowel harmony.

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Uralic languages

Uralic languages

The Uralic languages form a language family of 38 languages spoken by approximately 25 million people, predominantly in Northern Eurasia. The Uralic languages with the most native speakers are Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian. Other significant languages with fewer speakers are Erzya, Moksha, Mari, Udmurt, Sami, Komi, and Vepsian, all of which are spoken in northern regions of Scandinavia and the Russian Federation.

Daughter language

Daughter language

In historical linguistics, a daughter language, also known as descendant language, is a language descended from another language, its mother language, through a process of genetic descent. If more than one language has developed from the same proto-language, or 'mother language', those languages are said to be sister languages, members of the same language family. These concepts are linked to the tree model of language evolution, in which the relationships between languages are compared with those between members of a family tree. This model captures the diversification of languages from a common source.

Linguistic reconstruction

Linguistic reconstruction

Linguistic reconstruction is the practice of establishing the features of an unattested ancestor language of one or more given languages. There are two kinds of reconstruction:Internal reconstruction uses irregularities in a single language to make inferences about an earlier stage of that language – that is, it is based on evidence from that language alone. Comparative reconstruction, usually referred to just as reconstruction, establishes features of the ancestor of two or more related languages, belonging to the same language family, by means of the comparative method. A language reconstructed in this way is often referred to as a proto-language ; examples include Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Dravidian.

Finnic languages

Finnic languages

The Finnic (Fennic) or more precisely Balto-Finnic languages constitute a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by the Baltic Finnic peoples. There are around 7 million speakers, who live mainly in Finland and Estonia.

Close-mid back unrounded vowel

Close-mid back unrounded vowel

The close-mid back unrounded vowel, or high-mid back unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Its symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is ⟨ɤ⟩, called "ram's horns." This symbol is distinct from the symbol for the voiced velar fricative, ⟨ɣ⟩, which has a descender, but some texts use this symbol for the voiced velar fricative.

Reflexive verb

Reflexive verb

A verb referring to yourself regarding an action is the definition of a Reflexive verb.

Birch bark letter no. 292

Birch bark letter no. 292

The birch bark letter given the document number 292 is the oldest known document in any Finnic language. The document is dated to the beginning of the 13th century. It was found in 1957 by a Soviet expedition led by Artemiy Artsikhovsky in the Nerevsky excavation on the left coast side of Novgorod. It is currently held at the Novgorod City Museum.

Conjunction (grammar)

Conjunction (grammar)

In grammar, a conjunction is a part of speech that connects words, phrases, or clauses that are called the conjuncts of the conjunctions. That definition may overlap with that of other parts of speech and so what constitutes a "conjunction" must be defined for each language. In English, a given word may have several senses and be either a preposition or a conjunction, depending on the syntax of the sentence. For example, after is a preposition in "he left after the fight" but is a conjunction in "he left after they fought". In general, a conjunction is an invariable (non-inflected) grammatical particle that may or may not stand between the items conjoined.

Finland under Swedish rule

Finland under Swedish rule

In Swedish and Finnish history, Finland under Swedish rule is the historical period when the bulk of the area that later came to constitute Finland was an integral part of Sweden. The starting point of Swedish rule is uncertain and controversial. Historical evidence of the establishment of Swedish rule in Finland exists from the late 13th century onwards.

Spoken language

Spoken language

A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds or manual gestures, as opposed to a written language. An oral language or vocal language is a language produced with the vocal tract in contrast with a sign language, which is produced with the body and hands.

Hanseatic League

Hanseatic League

The Hanseatic League was a medieval commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Central and Northern Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 12th century, the League ultimately encompassed nearly 200 settlements across seven modern-day countries; at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries, it stretched from the Netherlands in the west to Russia in the east, and from Estonia in the north to Kraków, Poland, in the south.

Middle Low German

Middle Low German

Middle Low German or Middle Saxon is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle Ages and has been documented in writing since about 1225/34 (Sachsenspiegel). During the Hanseatic period, Middle Low German was the leading written language in the north of Central Europe and served as a lingua franca in the northern half of Europe. It was used parallel to medieval Latin also for purposes of diplomacy and for deeds.

Dialects

Map of Finnish dialects and forms of speech
Map of Finnish dialects and forms of speech

The dialects of Finnish are divided into two distinct groups, Western and Eastern.[32] The dialects are largely mutually intelligible and are distinguished from each other by changes in vowels, diphthongs and rhythm, as well as in preferred grammatical constructions. For the most part, the dialects operate on the same phonology and grammar. There are only marginal examples of sounds or grammatical constructions specific to some dialect and not found in standard Finnish. Two examples are the voiced dental fricative found in the Rauma dialect, and the Eastern exessive case.

The classification of closely related dialects spoken outside Finland is a politically sensitive issue that has been controversial since Finland's independence in 1917. This concerns specifically the Karelian language in Russia and Meänkieli in Sweden, the speakers of which are often considered oppressed minorities. Karelian is different enough from standard Finnish to have its own orthography. Meänkieli is a northern dialect almost entirely intelligible to speakers of any other Finnish dialect, which achieved its status as an official minority language in Sweden for historical and political reasons, although Finnish is an official minority language in Sweden, too. In 1980, many texts, books and the Bible were translated into Meänkieli and it has been developing more into its own language.[33]

Western dialects

The Turku dialect is famous for its seemingly inverted questions. For example, "Ei me mittä kaffelle men?" looks like it means "So we don't go for a coffee?" but actually means "Shall we go for a coffee?"[34]
The Turku dialect is famous for its seemingly inverted questions. For example, "Ei me mittä kaffelle men?" looks like it means "So we don't go for a coffee?" but actually means "Shall we go for a coffee?"[34]

The Southwest Finnish dialects (lounaissuomalaismurteet) are spoken in Southwest Finland and Satakunta. Their typical feature is abbreviation of word-final vowels, and in many respects they resemble Estonian. The Tavastian dialects (hämäläismurteet) are spoken in Tavastia. They are closest to the standard language, but feature some slight vowel changes, such as the opening of diphthong-final vowels (tietiä, miekkamiakka, kuolisikualis), the change of d to l (mostly obsolete) or trilled r (widespread, nowadays disappearance of d is popular) and the personal pronouns (me: meitin ('we: our'), te:teitin ('you: your') and he: heitin ('they: their')). The South Ostrobothnian dialects (eteläpohjalaismurteet) are spoken in Southern Ostrobothnia. Their most notable feature is the pronunciation of "d" as a tapped or even fully trilled /r/. The Central and North Ostrobothnian dialects (keski- ja pohjoispohjalaismurteet) are spoken in Central and Northern Ostrobothnia. The Lappish dialects (lappilaismurteet) are spoken in Lapland. The dialects spoken in the western parts of Lapland are recognizable by retention of old "h" sounds in positions where they have disappeared from other dialects.

One form of speech related to Northern dialects, Meänkieli, which is spoken on the Swedish side of the border, is taught in some Swedish schools as a distinct standardized language. The speakers of Meänkieli became politically separated from the other Finns when Finland was annexed to Russia in 1809. The categorization of Meänkieli as a separate language is controversial among some Finns, who see no linguistic criteria, only political reasons, for treating Meänkieli differently from other dialects of Finnish.[35]

The Kven language is spoken in Finnmark and Troms, in Norway. Its speakers are descendants of Finnish emigrants to the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kven is an official minority language in Norway.

Eastern dialects

A sign in Savonian dialect: "You don't get cognac here, but fresh wheat buns and good strong Juhla Mokka-brand coffee you will have. Welcome."
A sign in Savonian dialect: "You don't get cognac here, but fresh wheat buns and good strong Juhla Mokka-brand coffee you will have. Welcome."

The Eastern dialects consist of the widespread Savonian dialects (savolaismurteet) spoken in Savo and nearby areas, and the South-Eastern dialects now spoken only in Finnish South Karelia. The South Karelian dialects (eteläkarjalaismurteet) were previously also spoken on the Karelian Isthmus and in Ingria. The Karelian Isthmus was evacuated during World War II and refugees were resettled all over Finland. Most Ingrian Finns were deported to various interior areas of the Soviet Union.

Palatalization, a common feature of Uralic languages, had been lost in the Finnic branch, but it has been reacquired by most of these languages, including Eastern Finnish, but not Western Finnish. In Finnish orthography, this is denoted with a "j", e.g. vesj [vesʲ] "water", cf. standard vesi [vesi].

The language spoken in those parts of Karelia that have not historically been under Swedish or Finnish rule is usually called the Karelian language, and it is considered to be more distant from standard Finnish than the Eastern dialects. Whether this language of Russian Karelia is a dialect of Finnish or a separate language is sometimes disputed.

Helsinki slang (Stadin slangi)

The first known written account in Helsinki slang is from the 1890 short story Hellaassa by young Santeri Ivalo (words that do not exist in, or deviate from, the standard spoken Finnish of its time are in bold):

Kun minä eilen illalla palasin labbiksesta, tapasin Aasiksen kohdalla Supiksen, ja niin me laskeusimme tänne Espikselle, jossa oli mahoton hyvä piikis. Mutta me mentiin Studikselle suoraan Hudista tapaamaan, ja jäimme sinne pariksi tunniksi, kunnes ajoimme Kaisikseen.[36]

Dialect chart of Finnish

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Rauma dialect

Rauma dialect

Rauma dialect is a Southwestern dialect of Finnish spoken in the town of Rauma, Finland.

Exessive case

Exessive case

The exessive case is a grammatical case that denotes a transition away from a state. It is a rare case found in certain dialects of Baltic-Finnic languages. It completes the series of "to/in/from a state" series consisting of the translative case, the essive case and the exessive case.

Karelian language

Karelian language

Karelian is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia. Linguistically, Karelian is closely related to the Finnish dialects spoken in eastern Finland, and some Finnish linguists have even classified Karelian as a dialect of Finnish, though in the modern day it is widely considered a separate language. Karelian is not to be confused with the Southeastern dialects of Finnish, sometimes referred to as karjalaismurteet in Finland. In the Russian 2020-2021 census, around 9,000 people spoke Karelian natively, but around 14,000 said to be able to speak the language.

Meänkieli

Meänkieli

Meänkieli is a group of distinct Finnish dialects or a Finnic language spoken in the northernmost part of Sweden along the valley of the Torne River. Its status as an independent language is disputed, but in Sweden it is recognized as one of the country's five minority languages.

Bible

Bible

The Bible is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthology – a compilation of texts of a variety of forms – originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. These texts include instructions, stories, poetry, and prophecies, among other genres. The collection of materials that are accepted as part of the Bible by a particular religious tradition or community is called a biblical canon. Believers in the Bible generally consider it to be a product of divine inspiration, but the way they understand what that means and interpret the text can vary.

Southwest Finnish dialects

Southwest Finnish dialects

Southwest Finnish dialects are Western Finnish dialects spoken in Southwest Finland and Satakunta.

Southwest Finland

Southwest Finland

Southwest Finland, calqued as Finland Proper, is a region in the southwest of Finland. It borders the regions of Satakunta, Pirkanmaa, Tavastia Proper (Kanta-Häme), Uusimaa, and Åland. The region's capital and most populous city is Turku, which was as the capital city of Finland before Helsinki.

South Ostrobothnian dialect

South Ostrobothnian dialect

South Ostrobothnian dialect is a Western Finnish dialect. It is traditionally spoken in the region of South Ostrobothnia and parts of Coastal Ostrobothnia. The South Ostrobothnian dialect has many features that are unique to the region of South Ostrobothnia.

Central Ostrobothnia

Central Ostrobothnia

Central Ostrobothnia is a region in Finland. It borders the regions of Ostrobothnia, North Ostrobothnia, Central Finland and South Ostrobothnia.

Standard language

Standard language

A standard language is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage, although occasionally the term refers to the entirety of a language that includes a standardized form as one of its varieties. Typically, the language varieties that undergo substantive standardization are the dialects associated with centers of commerce and government. By processes that linguistic anthropologists call "referential displacement" and that sociolinguists call "elaboration of function", these varieties acquire the social prestige associated with commerce and government. As a sociological effect of these processes, most users of this language come to believe that the standard language is inherently superior or consider it the linguistic baseline against which to judge other varieties of language.

Finnish War

Finnish War

The Finnish War was fought between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Russian Empire from 21 February 1808 to 17 September 1809 as part of the Napoleonic Wars. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire. Other notable effects were the Swedish parliament's adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of the House of Bernadotte, the new Swedish royal house, in 1818.

Kven language

Kven language

The Kven language is a Finnic language or a group of Finnish dialects spoken in the northernmost parts of Norway by the Kven people. For political and historical reasons, it received the status of a minority language in 2005 within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Linguistically, however, it is seen as a mutually intelligible dialect of the Finnish language, and grouped together with the Peräpohjola dialects such as Meänkieli, spoken in Torne Valley in Sweden. While it is often considered a dialect in Finland, it is officially recognized as a minority language in Norway and some Kven people consider it a separate language.

Linguistic registers

Example of a participle construction
Example of a participle construction

There are two main registers of Finnish used throughout the country. One is the "standard language" (yleiskieli), and the other is the "spoken language" (puhekieli). The standard language is used in formal situations like political speeches and newscasts. Its written form, the "book language" (kirjakieli), is used in nearly all written texts, not always excluding even the dialogue of common people in popular prose.[38] The spoken language, on the other hand, is the main variety of Finnish used in popular TV and radio shows and at workplaces, and may be preferred to a dialect in personal communication.

Standardization

Standard Finnish is prescribed by the Language Office of the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland and is the language used in official communication. The Dictionary of Contemporary Finnish (Nykysuomen sanakirja 1951–61), with 201,000 entries, was a prescriptive dictionary that defined official language. An additional volume for words of foreign origin (Nykysuomen sivistyssanakirja, 30,000 entries) was published in 1991. An updated dictionary, The New Dictionary of Modern Finnish (Kielitoimiston sanakirja) was published in an electronic form in 2004 and in print in 2006. A descriptive grammar (the Large grammar of Finnish, Iso suomen kielioppi, 1,600 pages) was published in 2004. There is also an etymological dictionary, Suomen sanojen alkuperä, published in 1992–2000, and a handbook of contemporary language (Nykysuomen käsikirja). Standard Finnish is used in official texts and is the form of language taught in schools. Its spoken form is used in political speech, newscasts, in courts, and in other formal situations. Nearly all publishing and printed works are in standard Finnish.

Colloquial Finnish

The colloquial language has mostly developed naturally from earlier forms of Finnish, and spread from the main cultural and political centres. The standard language, however, has always been a consciously constructed medium for literature. It preserves grammatical patterns that have mostly vanished from the colloquial varieties and, as its main application is writing, it features complex syntactic patterns that are not easy to handle when used in speech. The colloquial language develops significantly faster, and the grammatical and phonological changes also include the most common pronouns and suffixes, which amount to frequent but modest differences. Some sound changes have been left out of the formal language. For example, irregular verbs have developed in the spoken language as a result of the elision of sonorants in some verbs of the Type III class (with subsequent vowel assimilation), but only when the second syllable of the word is short. The result is that some forms in the spoken language are shortened, e.g. tule-ntuu-n ('I come'), while others remain identical to the standard language hän tulee 'he comes', never *hän tuu). However, the longer forms such as tule can be used in spoken language in other forms as well.

The literary language certainly still exerts a considerable influence upon the spoken word, because illiteracy is nonexistent and many Finns are avid readers. In fact, it is still not entirely uncommon to meet people who "talk book-ish" (puhuvat kirjakieltä); it may have connotations of pedantry, exaggeration, moderation, weaseling or sarcasm (somewhat like heavy use of Latinate words in English, or more old-fashioned or 'pedantic' constructions: compare the difference between saying "There's no children I'll leave it to" and "There are no children to whom I shall leave it"). More common is the intrusion of typically literary constructions into a colloquial discourse, as a kind of quote from written Finnish. It is quite common to hear book-like and polished speech on radio or TV, and the constant exposure to such language tends to lead to the adoption of such constructions even in everyday language.

A prominent example of the effect of the standard language is the development of the consonant gradation form /ts : ts/ as in metsä : metsän, as this pattern was originally (1940) found natively only in the dialects of the southern Karelian isthmus and Ingria. It has been reinforced by the spelling "ts" for the dental fricative [θː], used earlier in some western dialects. The spelling and the pronunciation this encourages however approximate the original pronunciation, still reflected in e.g. Karelian /čč : č/ (meččä : mečän). In the spoken language, a fusion of Western /tt : tt/ (mettä : mettän) and Eastern /ht : t/ (mehtä : metän) has resulted in /tt : t/ (mettä : metän).[39] It is notable that neither of these forms are identifiable as, or originate from, a specific dialect.

The orthography of informal language follows that of the formal. However, in signalling the former in writing, syncope and sandhi – especially internal – may occasionally amongst other characteristics be transcribed, e.g. menenpä → me(n)empä. This never occurs in the standard variety.

Examples

formal language colloquial language meaning notes
hän menee

he menevät

se menee

ne menee

"he/she goes"

"they go"

loss of an animacy contrast in pronouns (ne and se are inanimate in the formal language), and

loss of a number contrast on verbs in the 3rd person (menee is 3rd person singular in the formal language)

minä, minun, ... mä(ä)/mie, mun/miun, ... "I, my, ..." various alternative, usually shorter, forms of 1st and 2nd person pronouns
(minä) tulen

(minä) olen

tuun

oon

"I'm coming" or "I will come"

"I am" or "I will be"

elision of sonorants before short vowels in certain Type III verbs along with vowel assimilation,

and no pro-drop (i.e., personal pronouns are usually mandatory in the colloquial language)

onko teillä

ei teillä ole

o(n)ks teil(lä)

e(i)ks teil(lä) oo

"do you (pl.) have?"

"don't you (pl.) have (it)?"

vowel apocope and common use of the clitic -s in interrogatives

(compare eiks to standard Estonian confirmatory interrogative eks)

(me) emme sano me ei sanota "we don't say" or "we won't say" the passive voice is used in place of the first person plural
(minun) kirjani mun kirja "my book" lack of possessive clitics on nouns
(minä) en tiedä

syödä

mä en ti(i)ä

syyä

"I don't know"

"to eat"

elision of [d] between vowels, and subsequent vowel assimilation

(compare mä en ti(i)ä to standard Estonian ma ei tea or dialectal forms ma ei tia or ma ei tie)

kuusikymmentäviisi kuuskyt(ä)viis "sixty-five" abbreviated forms of numerals
punainen

ajoittaa

punane(n)

ajottaa

"red"

"to time"

unstressed diphthongs ending in /i/ become short vowels, and apocope of phrase-final -n
korjannee kai korjaa "probably will fix" absence of the potential mood, use of kai 'probably' instead

Note that there are noticeable differences between dialects. Also note that here the formal language does not mean a language spoken in formal occasions but the standard language which exists practically only in written form.

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Register (sociolinguistics)

Register (sociolinguistics)

In sociolinguistics, a register is a variety of language used for a particular purpose or in a particular communicative situation. For example, when speaking officially or in a public setting, an English speaker may be more likely to follow prescriptive norms for formal usage than in a casual setting, for example, by pronouncing words ending in -ing with a velar nasal instead of an alveolar nasal, choosing words that are considered more "formal", and refraining from using words considered nonstandard, such as ain't and y'all.

Colloquial Finnish

Colloquial Finnish

Colloquial or spoken Finnish refers to the unstandardized spoken variety of the Finnish language, in contrast with the standardized form of the language. It is used primarily in personal communication and varies somewhat between the different dialects.

Nykysuomen sanakirja

Nykysuomen sanakirja

Nykysuomen sanakirja is a Finnish language dictionary published between 1951 and 1961 in six separate volumes. The dictionary was edited by the Finnish Literature Society and published by WSOY. It is the first monolingual Finnish dictionary and has over 201,000 headwords. It is the most comprehensive Finnish language dictionary. Throughout the years, it has enjoyed major academic significance. The dictionary has never been updated: all later editions contain the same content, which reflects the language as it was before the mid-20th century. The need for a modern dictionary has led to the publication of The New Dictionary of Modern Finnish.

Iso suomen kielioppi

Iso suomen kielioppi

Iso suomen kielioppi is a reference book of Finnish grammar. It was published in 2004 by the Finnish Literature Society and to this date is the most extensive of its kind. It is a collaboration written by noted Finnish language scholars Auli Hakulinen, Maria Vilkuna, Riitta Korhonen, Vesa Koivisto, Tarja-Riitta Heinonen and Irja Alho.

Elision

Elision

In linguistics, an elision or deletion is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase. However, these terms are also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are run together by the omission of a final sound. An example is the elision of word-final /t/ in English if it is preceded and followed by a consonant: "first light" is often pronounced /fɜ:s laɪt/. Many other terms are used to refer to particular cases where sounds are omitted.

Sonorant

Sonorant

In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant or resonant is a speech sound that is produced with continuous, non-turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; these are the manners of articulation that are most often voiced in the world's languages. Vowels are sonorants, as are nasals like and, liquids like and, and semivowels like and. This set of sounds contrasts with the obstruents.

Assimilation (phonology)

Assimilation (phonology)

Assimilation is a sound change in which some phonemes change to become more similar to other nearby sounds. A common type of phonological process across languages, assimilation can occur either within a word or between words.

Ingria

Ingria

Ingria is a historical region in what is now northwestern European Russia. It lies along the southeastern shore of the Gulf of Finland, bordered by Lake Ladoga on the Karelian Isthmus in the north and by the River Narva on the border with Estonia in the west. The earliest known indigenous European peoples of the region are the now mostly Eastern Orthodox Izhorians and Votians, as well as the Ingrian Finns who descend from the Lutheran Finnish immigrants who settled in the area in the 17th century, when Finland proper and Ingria were both parts of the Swedish Empire.

Karelian language

Karelian language

Karelian is a Finnic language spoken mainly in the Russian Republic of Karelia. Linguistically, Karelian is closely related to the Finnish dialects spoken in eastern Finland, and some Finnish linguists have even classified Karelian as a dialect of Finnish, though in the modern day it is widely considered a separate language. Karelian is not to be confused with the Southeastern dialects of Finnish, sometimes referred to as karjalaismurteet in Finland. In the Russian 2020-2021 census, around 9,000 people spoke Karelian natively, but around 14,000 said to be able to speak the language.

Sandhi

Sandhi

Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of sound changes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries. Examples include fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of one sound depending on nearby sounds or the grammatical function of the adjacent words. Sandhi belongs to morphophonology.

Animacy

Animacy

Animacy is a grammatical and semantic feature, existing in some languages, expressing how sentient or alive the referent of a noun is. Widely expressed, animacy is one of the most elementary principles in languages around the globe and is a distinction acquired as early as six months of age.

Grammatical number

Grammatical number

In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions. English and other languages present number categories of singular or plural, both of which are cited by using the hash sign (#) or by the numero signs "No." and "Nos." respectively. Some languages also have a dual, trial and paucal number or other arrangements.

Phonology

Segmental phonology

The phoneme inventory of Finnish is moderately small,[40] with a great number of vocalic segments and a restricted set of consonant types, both of which can be long or short.

Vocalic segments

Finnish monophthongs show eight vowel qualities that contrast in duration, thus 16 vowel phonemes in total. Vowel allophony is quite restricted. Vowel phonemes are always contrastive in word-initial syllables; for non-initial syllable, see morphophonology below. Long and short vowels are shown below.

Front Back
Unrounded Rounded
Close i iː y yː u uː
Mid e eː ø øː o oː
Open æ æː ɑ ɑː

The usual analysis is that Finnish has long and short vowels and consonants as distinct phonemes. However, long vowels may be analyzed as a vowel followed by a chroneme, or also, that sequences of identical vowels are pronounced as "diphthongs". The quality of long vowels mostly overlaps with the quality of short vowels, with the exception of u, which is centralized with respect to uu; long vowels do not morph into diphthongs. There are eighteen phonemic diphthongs; like vowels, diphthongs do not have significant allophony.

Consonants

Finnish has a consonant inventory of small to moderate size, where voicing is mostly not distinctive, and fricatives are scarce. Finnish has relatively few non-coronal consonants. Consonants are as follows, where consonants in parentheses are found either only in a few recent loans or are allophones of other phonemes.

Labial Dental/
Alveolar
Postalveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ [note 1]
Plosive p (b) t d [note 2] k (ɡ) ʔ [note 3]
Fricative (f) s (ʃ) (ç) [note 4] (x) [note 5] h (ɦ) [note 6]
Approximant ʋ l j
Trill r
  1. ^ The short velar nasal is an allophone of /n/ in /nk/, and the long velar nasal /ŋŋ/, written ng, is the equivalent of /nk/ under weakening consonant gradation (type of lenition) and thus occurs only medially, e.g. Helsinki – Helsingin kaupunki (city of Helsinki) /hɛlsiŋki – hɛlsiŋŋin/.
  2. ^ /d/ is the equivalent of /t/ under weakening consonant gradation, and thus in inherited vocabulary occurs only medially; it can actually, especially when spoken by older people, be more of an alveolar tap rather than a true voiced stop, and the dialectal realization varies widely; see the main article on Finnish phonology.
  3. ^ The glottal stop can only appear at word boundaries as a result of certain sandhi phenomena, and it is not indicated in spelling: e.g. /annaʔolla/ 'let it be', orthographically anna olla. Moreover, this sound is not used in all dialects.
  4. ^ An allophone of /h/. Vihko (notebook) [ˈʋiçko̞]
  5. ^ An allophone of /h/. Kahvi (coffee) [ˈkɑxʋi]
  6. ^ An allophone of /h/. Raha (money) [ˈrɑɦɑ]

Almost all consonants have phonemic short and long (geminated) forms, although length is only contrastive in consonants word-medially.

Consonant clusters are mostly absent in native Finnish words, except for a small set of two-consonant sequences in syllable codas, e.g. "rs" in karsta. However, because of a number of recently adopted loanwords that have them, e.g. strutsi from Swedish struts, meaning 'ostrich', clusters have been integrated to the modern language to different degrees.

Finnish is somewhat divergent from other Uralic languages in two respects: it has lost most fricatives, as well as losing the distinction between palatalized and non-palatalized consonants. Finnish has only two fricatives in native words, namely /s/ and /h/. All other fricatives are recognized as foreign, of which Finnish speakers can usually reliably distinguish /f/ and /ʃ/. The alphabet includes "z", usually pronounced [ts]. While standard Finnish has lost palatalization, which is characteristic of Uralic languages, the Eastern dialects and the Karelian language have redeveloped or retained it. For example, the Karelian word d'uuri [dʲuːri], with a palatalized /dʲ/, is reflected by juuri in Finnish and Savo dialect vesj [vesʲ] is vesi in standard Finnish.

A feature of Finnic phonology is the development of labial and rounded vowels in non-initial syllables, as in the word tyttö. Proto-Uralic had only "a" and "i" and their vowel harmonic allophones in non-initial syllables; modern Finnish allows other vowels in non-initial syllables, although they are uncommon compared to "a", "ä" and "i".

Prosody

Characteristic features of Finnish (common to some other Uralic languages) are vowel harmony and an agglutinative morphology; owing to the extensive use of the latter, words can be quite long.

The main stress is always on the first syllable, and is in average speech articulated by adding approximately 100 ms more length to the stressed vowel.[41] Stress does not cause any measurable modifications in vowel quality (very much unlike English). However, stress is not strong and words appear evenly stressed. In some cases, stress is so weak that the highest points of volume, pitch and other indicators of "articulation intensity" are not on the first syllable, although native speakers recognize the first syllable as being stressed.

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Finnish phonology

Finnish phonology

Unless otherwise noted, statements in this article refer to Standard Finnish, which is based on the dialect spoken in the former Häme Province in central south Finland. Standard Finnish is used by professional speakers, such as reporters and news presenters on television.

Morphophonology

Morphophonology

Morphophonology is the branch of linguistics that studies the interaction between morphological and phonological or phonetic processes. Its chief focus is the sound changes that take place in morphemes when they combine to form words.

Chroneme

Chroneme

In linguistics, a chroneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words by duration only of a vowel or consonant. The noun chroneme is derived from Ancient Greek χρόνος (khrónos) 'time', and the suffixed -eme, which is analogous to the -eme in phoneme or morpheme. However, the term does not have wide currency and may be unknown even to phonologists who work on languages claimed to have chronemes.

Diphthong

Diphthong

A diphthong, also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue moves during the pronunciation of the vowel. In most varieties of English, the phrase "no highway cowboy" has five distinct diphthongs, one in every syllable.

Coronal consonant

Coronal consonant

Coronals are consonants articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. Among places of articulation, only the coronal consonants can be divided into as many articulation types: apical, laminal, domed, or subapical as well as different postalveolar articulations : palato-alveolar, alveolo-palatal and retroflex. Only the front of the tongue (coronal) has such dexterity among the major places of articulation, allowing such variety of distinctions. Coronals have another dimension, grooved, to make sibilants in combination with the orientations above.

Labial consonant

Labial consonant

Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. The two common labial articulations are bilabials, articulated using both lips, and labiodentals, articulated with the lower lip against the upper teeth, both of which are present in English. A third labial articulation is dentolabials, articulated with the upper lip against the lower teeth, normally only found in pathological speech. Generally precluded are linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue contacts the posterior side of the upper lip, making them coronals, though sometimes, they behave as labial consonants.

Dental consonant

Dental consonant

A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as, . In some languages, dentals are distinguished from other groups, such as alveolar consonants, in which the tongue contacts the gum ridge. Dental consonants share acoustic similarity and in Latin script are generally written with consistent symbols.

Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the upper teeth. Alveolar consonants may be articulated with the tip of the tongue, as in English, or with the flat of the tongue just above the tip, as in French and Spanish.

Palatal consonant

Palatal consonant

Palatals are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate. Consonants with the tip of the tongue curled back against the palate are called retroflex.

Glottal consonant

Glottal consonant

Glottal consonants are consonants using the glottis as their primary articulation. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the glottal fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have, while some do not consider them to be consonants at all. However, glottal consonants behave as typical consonants in many languages. For example, in Literary Arabic, most words are formed from a root C-C-C consisting of three consonants, which are inserted into templates such as or. The glottal consonants and can occupy any of the three root consonant slots, just like "normal" consonants such as or.

Plosive

Plosive

In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases.

Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is a type of consonant mutation found in some Uralic languages, more specifically in the Finnic, Samic and Samoyedic branches. It originally arose as an allophonic alternation between open and closed syllables, but has become grammaticalised due to changes in the syllable structure of the languages affected.

Morphophonology

Finnish has several morphophonological processes that require modification of the forms of words for daily speech. The most important processes are vowel harmony and consonant gradation.

Vowel harmony is a redundancy feature, which means that the feature [±back] is uniform within a word, and so it is necessary to interpret it only once for a given word. It is meaning-distinguishing in the initial syllable, and suffixes follow; so, if the listener hears [±back] in any part of the word, they can derive [±back] for the initial syllable. For example, from the stem tuote ('product') one derives tuotteeseensa ('into his product'), where the final vowel becomes the back vowel "a" (rather than the front vowel "ä") because the initial syllable contains the back vowels "uo". This is especially notable because vowels "a" and "ä" are different, meaning-distinguishing phonemes, not interchangeable or allophonic. Finnish front vowels are not umlauts, though the graphemes ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩ feature dieresis.

Consonant gradation is a partly nonproductive[42] lenition process for P, T and K in inherited vocabulary, with the oblique stem "weakened" from the nominative stem, or vice versa. For example, tarkka 'precise' has the oblique stem tarka-, as in tarkan 'of the precise'. There is also another gradation pattern, which is older, and causes simple elision of T and K in suffixes. However, it is very common since it is found in the partitive case marker: if V is a single vowel, V+ta → Va, e.g. *tarkka+tatarkkaa.

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Finnish consonant gradation

Finnish consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is the term used for a systematic set of alternations which are widespread in Finnish grammar. These alternations are a form of synchronic lenition. They occur also in other Finnic and Uralic languages; see consonant gradation for a more general overview.

Vowel harmony

Vowel harmony

In phonology, vowel harmony is an assimilatory process in which the vowels of a given domain – typically a phonological word – have to be members of the same natural class. Vowel harmony is typically long distance, meaning that the affected vowels do not need to be immediately adjacent, and there can be intervening segments between the affected vowels. Generally one vowel will trigger a shift in other vowels, either progressively or regressively, within the domain, such that the affected vowels match the relevant feature of the trigger vowel. Common phonological features that define the natural classes of vowels involved in vowel harmony include vowel backness, vowel height, nasalization, roundedness, and advanced and retracted tongue root.

Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is a type of consonant mutation found in some Uralic languages, more specifically in the Finnic, Samic and Samoyedic branches. It originally arose as an allophonic alternation between open and closed syllables, but has become grammaticalised due to changes in the syllable structure of the languages affected.

Phoneme

Phoneme

In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language.

Allophone

Allophone

In phonology, an allophone is a set of multiple possible spoken sounds – or phones – or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, the voiceless plosive and the aspirated form are allophones for the phoneme, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in some languages such as Thai. On the other hand, in Spanish, and are allophones for the phoneme, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in English.

Germanic umlaut

Germanic umlaut

The Germanic umlaut is a type of linguistic umlaut in which a back vowel changes to the associated front vowel (fronting) or a front vowel becomes closer to (raising) when the following syllable contains, , or.

Grapheme

Grapheme

In linguistics, a grapheme is the smallest functional unit of a writing system. The word grapheme is derived from Ancient Greek γράφω (gráphō) 'write' and the suffix -eme by analogy with phoneme and other names of emic units. The study of graphemes is called graphemics. The concept of graphemes is abstract and similar to the notion in computing of a character. By comparison, a specific shape that represents any particular grapheme in a given typeface is called a glyph.

Diaeresis (diacritic)

Diaeresis (diacritic)

The diaeresis ( dy-ERR-ə-sis, -⁠EER-; is a diacritical mark used to indicate the separation of two distinct vowels in adjacent syllables when an instance of diaeresis occurs, so as to distinguish from a digraph or diphthong.

Lenition

Lenition

In linguistics, lenition is a sound change that alters consonants, making them more sonorous. The word lenition itself means "softening" or "weakening". Lenition can happen both synchronically and diachronically. Lenition can involve such changes as voicing a voiceless consonant, causing a consonant to relax occlusion, to lose its place of articulation, or even causing a consonant to disappear entirely.

Grammar

Finnish is a synthetic language that employs extensive agglutination of affixes to verbs, nouns, adjectives and numerals. However, Finnish is not generally considered polysynthetic, its morpheme-to-word ratio being somewhat lower than a prototypical polysynthetic language (e.g., Yup'ik).[43]

The morphosyntactic alignment of Finnish is nominative–accusative, but there are two object cases: accusative and partitive. The contrast between accusative and partitive object cases is one of telicity, where the accusative case denotes actions completed as intended (Ammuin hirven 'I shot the/an elk (dead)'), and the partitive case denotes incomplete actions (Ammuin hirveä 'I shot (at) the/an elk').[44] Often telicity is confused with perfectivity, but these are distinct notions. Finnish in fact has a periphrastic perfective aspect, which in addition to the two inflectional tenses (past and present), yield a Germanic-like system consisting of four tense-aspect combinations: simple present, simple past, perfect (present + perfective aspect) and pluperfect (past + perfective aspect). No morphological future tense is needed; context and the telicity contrast in object grammatical case serve to disambiguate present events from future events. For example, syön kalan 'I eat a fish (completely)' must denote a future event, since there is no way to completely eat a fish at the current moment (the moment the eating is complete, the simple past tense or the perfect must be used). By contrast, syön kalaa 'I eat a fish (not yet complete)' denotes a present event by indicating ongoing action.

Finnish has three grammatical persons; finite verbs agree with subject nouns in person and number by way of suffixes. Non-finite verb forms bear the infinitive suffix -ta/-tä (often lenited to -(d)a/-(d)ä due to consonant gradation).[45] There is a so-called "passive voice" (sometimes called impersonal or indefinite) which differs from a true passive in various respects.[46] Transitivity is distinguished in the derivational morphology of verbs, e.g. ratkaista 'to solve something' vs. ratketa 'to solve by itself'. There are also several frequentative and momentane affixes which form new verbs derivationally.

Nouns may be suffixed with the markers for the aforementioned accusative case and partitive case, the genitive case, eight different locatives, and a few other oblique cases. The case affix must be added not only to the head noun, but also to its modifiers; e.g. suure+ssa talo+ssa, literally 'big-in house-in'. Possession is marked with possessive suffixes; these suffixes appear on nouns and pronouns alike (Finnish possessive pronouns are thus not suppletive like English her).

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Finnish grammar

Finnish grammar

The Finnish language is spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by ethnic Finns elsewhere. Unlike the languages spoken in neighbouring countries, such as Swedish and Norwegian, which are North Germanic languages, or Russian, which is a Slavic language, Finnish is a Uralic language of the Finnic languages group. Typologically, Finnish is agglutinative. As in some other Uralic languages, Finnish has vowel harmony, and like other Finnic languages, it has consonant gradation.

Agglutination

Agglutination

In linguistics, agglutination is a morphological process in which words are formed by stringing together morphemes, each of which corresponds to a single syntactic feature. Languages that use agglutination widely are called agglutinative languages. Turkish is an example of an agglutinative language. The Turkish word evlerinizden consists of the morphemes ev-ler-iniz-den, literally translated morpheme-by-morpheme as house-plural-your(plural)-from. Agglutinative languages are often contrasted with isolating languages, in which words are monomorphemic, and fusional languages, in which words can be complex, but morphemes may correspond to multiple features.

Morphosyntactic alignment

Morphosyntactic alignment

In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the grammatical relationship between arguments—specifically, between the two arguments of transitive verbs like the dog chased the cat, and the single argument of intransitive verbs like the cat ran away. English has a subject, which merges the more active argument of transitive verbs with the argument of intransitive verbs, leaving the object distinct; other languages may have different strategies, or, rarely, make no distinction at all. Distinctions may be made morphologically, syntactically, or both.

Grammatical case

Grammatical case

A grammatical case is a category of nouns and noun modifiers which corresponds to one or more potential grammatical functions for a nominal group in a wording. In various languages, nominal groups consisting of a noun and its modifiers belong to one of a few such categories. For instance, in English, one says I see them and they see me: the nominative pronouns I/they represent the perceiver and the accusative pronouns me/them represent the phenomenon perceived. Here, nominative and accusative are cases, that is, categories of pronouns corresponding to the functions they have in representation.

Perfective aspect

Perfective aspect

The perfective aspect, sometimes called the aoristic aspect, is a grammatical aspect that describes an action viewed as a simple whole; i.e., a unit without interior composition. The perfective aspect is distinguished from the imperfective aspect, which presents an event as having internal structure. The term perfective should be distinguished from perfect.

Germanic languages

Germanic languages

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, English, is also the world's most widely spoken language with an estimated 2 billion speakers. All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia.

Perfect (grammar)

Perfect (grammar)

The perfect tense or aspect is a verb form that indicates that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the time under consideration, often focusing attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself. An example of a perfect construction is I have made dinner. Although this gives information about a prior action, the focus is likely to be on the present consequences of that action. The word perfect in this sense means "completed".

Grammatical person

Grammatical person

In linguistics, grammatical person is the grammatical distinction between deictic references to participant(s) in an event; typically the distinction is between the speaker, the addressee, and others. A language's set of personal pronouns are defined by grammatical person, but other pronouns would not. First person includes the speaker, second person is the person or people spoken to, and third person includes all that are not listed above. It also frequently affects verbs, and sometimes nouns or possessive relationships.

Finite verb

Finite verb

Traditionally, a finite verb is the form "to which number and person appertain", in other words, those inflected for number and person. Verbs were originally said to be finite if their form limited the possible person and number of the subject.

Agreement (linguistics)

Agreement (linguistics)

In linguistics, agreement or concord occurs when a word changes form depending on the other words to which it relates. It is an instance of inflection, and usually involves making the value of some grammatical category "agree" between varied words or parts of the sentence.

Lenition

Lenition

In linguistics, lenition is a sound change that alters consonants, making them more sonorous. The word lenition itself means "softening" or "weakening". Lenition can happen both synchronically and diachronically. Lenition can involve such changes as voicing a voiceless consonant, causing a consonant to relax occlusion, to lose its place of articulation, or even causing a consonant to disappear entirely.

Finnish consonant gradation

Finnish consonant gradation

Consonant gradation is the term used for a systematic set of alternations which are widespread in Finnish grammar. These alternations are a form of synchronic lenition. They occur also in other Finnic and Uralic languages; see consonant gradation for a more general overview.

Lexicon

Suomalaisen Sana-Lugun Coetus (1745) by Daniel Juslenius was the first comprehensive dictionary of the Finnish language with 16,000 entries.
Suomalaisen Sana-Lugun Coetus (1745) by Daniel Juslenius was the first comprehensive dictionary of the Finnish language with 16,000 entries.

Finnish has a smaller core vocabulary than, for example, English, and uses derivational suffixes to a greater extent. As an example, take the word kirja "a book", from which one can form derivatives kirjain 'a letter' (of the alphabet), kirje 'a piece of correspondence, a letter', kirjasto 'a library', kirjailija 'an author', kirjallisuus 'literature', kirjoittaa 'to write', kirjoittaja 'a writer', kirjuri 'a scribe, a clerk', kirjallinen 'in written form', kirjata 'to write down, register, record', kirjasin 'a font', and many others.

Here are some of the more common such suffixes. Which of each pair is used depends on the word being suffixed in accordance with the rules of vowel harmony.

Examples of Finnish derivational suffixes on nouns
Suffix Used to create... Example(s) Notes
-ja / -jä agents from verbs lukea 'to read' → lukija 'reader'
-sto / -stö collective nouns kirja 'a book' → kirjasto 'a library'

laiva 'a ship' → laivasto 'navy, fleet'

-in instruments or tools kirjata 'to book, to file' → kirjain 'a letter' (of the alphabet)

vatkata 'to whisk' → vatkain 'a whisk, mixer'

-uri / -yri agents or instruments kaivaa 'to dig' → kaivuri 'an excavator'

laiva 'a ship' → laivuri 'shipper, shipmaster'

-os / -ös result nouns from verbs tulla 'to come' → tulos 'result, outcome'

tehdä 'to do' → teos 'a piece of work'

-ton / -tön adjectives indicating the lack of something onni 'happiness' → onneton 'unhappy'

koti 'home' → koditon 'homeless'

-kas / -käs adjectives from nouns itse 'self' → itsekäs 'selfish'

neuvo 'advice' → neuvokas 'resourceful'

-va / -vä adjectives from verbs taitaa 'to be able' → taitava 'skillful'

johtaa 'to lead' → johtava 'leading'

-llinen adjectives from nouns lapsi 'child' → lapsellinen 'childish'

kauppa 'a shop, commerce' → kaupallinen 'commercial'

-la / -lä locations (places related to the stem) kana 'a hen' → kanala 'a henhouse'

pappi 'a priest' → pappila 'a parsonage'

-lainen / -läinen inhabitants (of places), among others Englanti 'England' → englantilainen 'English person/thing'

Venäjä 'Russia' → venäläinen 'Russian person or thing'.

formed from -la / -lä plus -inen

Verbal derivational suffixes are extremely diverse; several frequentatives and momentanes differentiating causative, volitional-unpredictable and anticausative are found, often combined with each other, often denoting indirection. For example, hypätä 'to jump', hyppiä 'to be jumping', hypeksiä 'to be jumping wantonly', hypäyttää 'to make someone jump once', hyppyyttää 'to make someone jump repeatedly' (or 'to boss someone around'), hyppyytyttää 'to make someone to cause a third person to jump repeatedly', hyppyytellä 'to, without aim, make someone jump repeatedly', hypähtää 'to jump suddenly' (in anticausative meaning), hypellä 'to jump around repeatedly', hypiskellä 'to be jumping repeatedly and wantonly'. Caritives are also used in such examples as hyppimättä 'without jumping' and hyppelemättä 'without jumping around'. The diversity and compactness of both derivation and inflectional agglutination can be illustrated with istahtaisinkohankaan 'I wonder if I should sit down for a while after all' (from istua, 'to sit, to be seated'):

  • istua 'to sit down' (istun 'I sit down')
  • istahtaa 'to sit down for a while'
  • istahdan 'I'll sit down for a while'
  • istahtaisin 'I would sit down for a while'
  • istahtaisinko 'should I sit down for a while?'
  • istahtaisinkohan 'I wonder if I should sit down for a while'
  • istahtaisinkohankaan 'I wonder if I should sit down for a while after all'

Borrowing

Over the course of many centuries, the Finnish language has borrowed many words from a wide variety of languages, most from neighbouring Indo-European languages. Owing to the different grammatical, phonological and phonotactic structure of the Finnish language, loanwords from Indo-European have been assimilated.

While early borrowings, possibly even into Proto-Uralic, from very early Indo-European languages can be found, Finnic languages, including Finnish, have borrowed in particular from Baltic and Germanic languages, and to a lesser extent from Slavic and Indo-Iranian languages (all of which are subgroupings of Indo-European). Furthermore, a certain group of very basic and neutral words exists in Finnish and other Finnic languages that are absent from other Uralic languages, but without a recognizable etymology from any known language. These words are usually regarded as the last remnant of the Paleo-European language spoken in Fennoscandia before the arrival of the proto-Finnic language. Words included in this group are e.g. jänis (hare), musta (black), saari (island), suo (swamp) and niemi (cape (geography)).

Also some place names, like Päijänne and Imatra, are probably from before the proto-Finnic era.[47]

Often quoted loan examples are kuningas 'king' and ruhtinas 'sovereign prince, high ranking nobleman' from Germanic *kuningaz and *druhtinaz—they display a remarkable tendency towards phonological conservation within the language. Another example is äiti 'mother' (from Germanic *aiþį̄), which is interesting because borrowing of close-kinship vocabulary is a rare phenomenon. The original Finnish emo and emä occurs only in restricted contexts. There are other close-kinship words that are loaned from Baltic and Germanic languages (morsian 'bride', armas 'dear', huora 'whore'). Examples of the ancient Iranian loans are vasara 'hammer' from Avestan vadžra, vajra and orja 'slave' from arya, airya 'man' (the latter probably via similar circumstances as slave from Slav in many European languages[48]).

More recently, Swedish has been a prolific source of borrowings, and also, the Swedish language acted as a proxy for European words, especially those relating to government. Present-day Finland was a part of Sweden from the 12th century and was ceded to Russia in 1809, becoming an autonomous Grand Duchy. Swedish was retained as the official language and language of the upper class even after this. When Finnish was accepted as an official language, it gained legal equal status with Swedish. During the period of autonomy, Russian did not gain much ground as a language of the people or the government. Nevertheless, quite a few words were subsequently acquired from Russian (especially in older Helsinki slang) but not to the same extent as with Swedish. In all these cases, borrowing has been partly a result of geographical proximity.

Especially words dealing with administrative or modern culture came to Finnish from Swedish, sometimes reflecting the oldest Swedish form of the word (lag – laki, 'law'; län – lääni, 'province'; bisp – piispa, 'bishop'; jordpäron – peruna, 'potato'), and many more survive as informal synonyms in spoken or dialectal Finnish (e.g. likka, from Swedish flicka, 'girl', usually tyttö in Finnish).

Some Slavic loanwords are old or very old, thus hard to recognize as such, and concern everyday concepts, e.g. papu 'bean', raja 'border' and pappi 'priest'. Notably, a few religious words such as Raamattu ('Bible') are borrowed from Old East Slavic, which indicates language contact preceding the Swedish era. This is mainly believed to be result of trade with Novgorod from the 9th century on and Russian Orthodox missions in the east in the 13th century.

Most recently, and with increasing impact, English has been the source of new loanwords in Finnish. Unlike previous geographical borrowing, the influence of English is largely cultural and reaches Finland by many routes, including international business, music, film and TV (foreign films and programmes, excluding ones intended for a very young audience, are shown subtitled), literature, and the Web – the latter is now probably the most important source of all non-face-to-face exposure to English.

The importance of English as the language of global commerce has led many non-English companies, including Finland's Nokia, to adopt English as their official operating language. Recently, it has been observed that English borrowings are also ousting previous borrowings, for example the switch from treffailla 'to date' (from Swedish, träffa) to deittailla from English 'to go for a date'. Calques from English are also found, e.g. kovalevy (hard disk), and so are grammatical calques, for example, the replacement of the impersonal (passiivi) with the English-style generic you, e. g. sä et voi 'you cannot', instead of the proper impersonal ei voida 'one cannot' or impersonal third-person singular ei voi 'one cannot'. This construct, however, is limited to colloquial language, as it is against the standard grammar.

However, this does not mean that Finnish is threatened by English. Borrowing is normal language evolution, and neologisms are coined actively not only by the government, but also by the media. Moreover, Finnish and English have a considerably different grammar, phonology and phonotactics, discouraging direct borrowing. English loan words in Finnish slang include for example pleikkari 'PlayStation', hodari 'hot dog', and hedari 'headache', 'headshot' or 'headbutt'. Often these loanwords are distinctly identified as slang or jargon, rarely being used in a negative mood or in formal language. Since English and Finnish grammar, pronunciation and phonetics differ considerably, most loan words are inevitably sooner or later calqued – translated into native Finnish – retaining the semantic meaning.

Neologisms

Some modern terms have been synthesised rather than borrowed, for example:

puhelin 'telephone' (from the stem puhel- 'talk' + instrument suffix -in to make 'an instrument for talking')
tietokone 'computer' (literally: 'knowledge machine' or 'data machine')
levyke 'diskette' (from levy 'disc' + a diminutive -ke)
sähköposti 'email' (literally: 'electricity mail')
linja-auto 'bus, coach' (literally: line-car)
muovi 'plastic' (from muovata 'to mould, form or model, e.g. from clay'; compare plastic from Ancient Greek πλᾰστῐκός (plastikós) 'mouldable, fit for moulding')

Neologisms are actively generated by the Language Planning Office and the media. They are widely adopted. One would actually give an old-fashioned or rustic impression using forms such as kompuutteri (computer) or kalkulaattori (calculator) when the neologism is widely adopted.

Loans to other languages

The most commonly used Finnish word in English is sauna, which has also been loaned to many other languages.

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Daniel Juslenius

Daniel Juslenius

Daniel Juslenius was a Finnish writer and bishop. He was a professor of Hebrew, Greek and theology at the Royal Academy of Turku.

Alphabet

Alphabet

An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character represents a syllable, and logographic systems use characters to represent words, morphemes, or other semantic units.

Agent noun

Agent noun

In linguistics, an agent noun is a word that is derived from another word denoting an action, and that identifies an entity that does that action. For example, driver is an agent noun formed from the verb drive.

Collective noun

Collective noun

In linguistics, a collective noun is a word referring to a collection of things taken as a whole. Most collective nouns in everyday speech are not specific to one kind of thing. For example, the collective noun "group" can be applied to people, or dogs, or objects.

Agent (grammar)

Agent (grammar)

In linguistics, a grammatical agent is the thematic relation of the cause or initiator to an event. The agent is a semantic concept distinct from the subject of a sentence as well as from the topic. Whereas the subject is determined syntactically, primarily through word order, the agent is determined through its relationship to the action expressed by the verb. For example, in the sentence "The little girl was bitten by the dog", girl is the subject, but dog is the agent.

Adjective

Adjective

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or noun phrase. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun.

Frequentative

Frequentative

In grammar, a frequentative form of a word is one that indicates repeated action but is not to be confused with iterative aspect. The frequentative form can be considered a separate but not completely independent word called a frequentative. The frequentative is no longer productive in English, unlike in some language groups, such as Finno-Ugric, Balto-Slavic, and Turkic.

Momentane

Momentane

In Finnish grammar, the momentane is a verb aspect indicating that an occurrence is sudden and short-lived.

Causative

Causative

In linguistics, a causative is a valency-increasing operation that indicates that a subject either causes someone or something else to do or be something or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event. Normally, it brings in a new argument, A, into a transitive clause, with the original subject S becoming the object O.

Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages

The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, and Spanish, have expanded through colonialism in the modern period and are now spoken across several continents. The Indo-European family is divided into several branches or sub-families, of which there are eight groups with languages still alive today: Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, and Italic; and another nine subdivisions that are now extinct.

Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate

Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate

Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate refers to substratum loanwords from unidentified non-Indo-European and non-Uralic languages that are found in various Finno-Ugric languages, most notably Sami. The presence of Pre-Finno-Ugric substrate in Sami languages was demonstrated by Ante Aikio. Janne Saarikivi points out that similar substrate words are present in Finnic languages as well, but in much smaller numbers.

Paleo-European languages

Paleo-European languages

The Paleo-European languages, or Old European languages, are the mostly unknown languages that were spoken in Europe prior to the spread of the Indo-European and Uralic families caused by the Bronze Age invasion from the Eurasian steppe of pastoralists whose descendant languages dominate the continent today. Today, the vast majority of European populations speak Indo-European languages, but until the Bronze Age, it was the opposite, with Paleo-European languages of non-Indo-European affiliation dominating the linguistic landscape of Europe.

Orthography

The first page of Abckiria (1543), the first book written in the Finnish language. The spelling of Finnish in the book had many inconsistencies: for example, the /k/ sound could be represented by c, k or even g; the long u and the long i were represented by w and ij respectively, and ä was represented by e.
The first page of Abckiria (1543), the first book written in the Finnish language. The spelling of Finnish in the book had many inconsistencies: for example, the /k/ sound could be represented by c, k or even g; the long u and the long i were represented by w and ij respectively, and ä was represented by e.

Finnish is written with the Latin alphabet including the distinct characters ä and ö, and also several characters (b, c, f, q, w, x, z, å, š and ž) reserved for words of non-Finnish origin. The Finnish orthography follows the phoneme principle: each phoneme (meaningful sound) of the language corresponds to exactly one grapheme (independent letter), and each grapheme represents almost exactly one phoneme. This enables an easy spelling and facilitates reading and writing acquisition. The rule of thumb for Finnish orthography is write as you read, read as you write. However, morphemes retain their spelling despite sandhi.

Some orthographical notes:

  • Long vowels and consonants are represented by double occurrences of the relevant graphemes. This causes no confusion, and permits these sounds to be written without having to nearly double the size of the alphabet to accommodate separate graphemes for long sounds.
  • The grapheme h is sounded slightly harder when placed before a consonant (initially breathy voiced, then voiceless) than before a vowel.
  • Sandhi is not transcribed; the spelling of morphemes is immutable, such as tulen+pa /tulempa/.
  • Some consonants (v, j, d) and all consonant clusters do not have distinctive length, and consequently their allophonic variation is typically not specified in spelling; e.g. rajaan /rajaan/ ('I limit') vs. raijaan /raijjaan/ ('I haul').
  • Pre-1900s texts and personal names use w for v. Both correspond to the same phoneme, the labiodental approximant /ʋ/, a v without the fricative ("hissing") quality of the English v.
  • The letters ä [æ] and ö [ø], although written with diaereses, do not represent phonological umlauts (as in German, for example), and they are considered independent graphemes; the letter shapes have been copied from Swedish. An appropriate parallel from the Latin alphabet are the characters C and G (uppercase), which historically have a closer kinship than many other characters (G is a derivation of C) but are considered distinct letters, and changing one for the other will change meanings.

Although Finnish is almost completely written as it is spoken, there are a few differences:

  • The n in the sequence nk is pronounced as a velar nasal /ŋ/, as in English. When not followed by k, /ŋː/ is written ng. The fact that two spellings correspond to this one sound (putting aside the difference in length) can be seen as an exception to the general one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters.
  • Sandhi phenomena at word or clitic boundaries involving gemination (e.g., tule tänne is pronounced [tu.let.tæn.ne], not [tu.le.tæn.ne]) or the place assimilation of nasals (sen pupu would usually be pronounced as [sem.pu.pu], and onpa as [om.pɑ])
  • The /j/ after the letter i is very weak or there is no /j/ at all, but in writing it is used; for example: urheilija. Indeed, the j is not used in writing words with consonant gradation such as aion and läksiäiset.
  • In speech there is no difference between the use of /i/ in words (like ajoittaa, but ehdottaa), but in writing there are quite simple rules: The i is written in forms derived from words that consist of two syllables and end in a or ä (sanoittaa, 'to write song-lyrics', from sana, 'word'), and in words that are old-stylish (innoittaa). The i is not written in forms derived from words that consist of two syllables and end in o or ö (erottaa 'to discern, to differentiate' from ero 'difference'), words which do not clearly derive from a single word (hajottaa can be derived either from the stem haja- seen in such adverbs as hajalle, or from the related verb hajota), and in words that are descriptive (häämöttää) or workaday by their style (rehottaa).

When the appropriate characters are not available, the graphemes ä and ö are usually converted to a and o, respectively. This is common in e-mail addresses and other electronic media where there may be no support for characters outside the basic ASCII character set. Writing them as ae and oe, following German usage, is rarer and usually considered incorrect, but formally used in passports and equivalent situations. Both conversion rules have minimal pairs which would no longer be distinguished from each other.

The sounds š and ž are not a part of the Finnish language itself and have been introduced by the Finnish national languages body for more phonologically accurate transcription of loanwords (such as Tšekki, 'Czech Republic') and foreign names. For technical reasons or convenience, the graphemes sh and zh are often used in quickly or less carefully written texts instead of š and ž. This is a deviation from the phonetic principle, and as such is liable to cause confusion, but the damage is minimal as the transcribed words are foreign in any case. Finnish does not use the sounds z, š or ž, but for the sake of exactitude, they can be included in spelling. (The recommendation cites the Russian opera Hovanštšina as an example.) Many speakers pronounce all of them s, or distinguish only between s and š, because Finnish has no voiced sibilants.[49]

The language may be identified by its distinctive lack of the letters b, c, f, q, w, x, z and å.

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Finnish orthography

Finnish orthography

Finnish orthography is based on the Latin script, and uses an alphabet derived from the Swedish alphabet, officially comprising twenty-nine letters but also including two additional letters found in some loanwords. The Finnish orthography strives to represent all morphemes phonologically and, roughly speaking, the sound value of each letter tends to correspond with its value in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) – although some discrepancies do exist.

Abckiria

Abckiria

Abckiria, in English "ABC book", is the first book that was published in the Finnish language. It was written by Mikael Agricola, a bishop and Lutheran Reformer, and was first published in 1543. Agricola wrote the book while working on the first Finnish translation of the New Testament.

Latin alphabet

Latin alphabet

The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Largely unaltered with the exception of extensions, it is used to write English and other modern European languages. With modifications, it is also used for other alphabets, such as the Vietnamese alphabet. Its modern repertoire is standardised as the ISO basic Latin alphabet.

Sandhi

Sandhi

Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of sound changes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries. Examples include fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of one sound depending on nearby sounds or the grammatical function of the adjacent words. Sandhi belongs to morphophonology.

Breathy voice

Breathy voice

Breathy voice is a phonation in which the vocal folds vibrate, as they do in normal (modal) voicing, but are adjusted to let more air escape which produces a sighing-like sound. A simple breathy phonation,, can sometimes be heard as an allophone of English between vowels, such as in the word behind, for some speakers.

Diaeresis (diacritic)

Diaeresis (diacritic)

The diaeresis ( dy-ERR-ə-sis, -⁠EER-; is a diacritical mark used to indicate the separation of two distinct vowels in adjacent syllables when an instance of diaeresis occurs, so as to distinguish from a digraph or diphthong.

I-mutation

I-mutation

I-mutation is a type of sound change in which a back vowel is fronted or a front vowel is raised if the following syllable contains, or. It is a category of regressive metaphony, or vowel harmony.

Assimilation (phonology)

Assimilation (phonology)

Assimilation is a sound change in which some phonemes change to become more similar to other nearby sounds. A common type of phonological process across languages, assimilation can occur either within a word or between words.

Nasal consonant

Nasal consonant

In phonetics, a nasal, also called a nasal occlusive or nasal stop in contrast with an oral stop or nasalized consonant, is an occlusive consonant produced with a lowered velum, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. The vast majority of consonants are oral consonants. Examples of nasals in English are, and, in words such as nose, bring and mouth. Nasal occlusives are nearly universal in human languages. There are also other kinds of nasal consonants in some languages.

ASCII

ASCII

ASCII, abbreviated from American Standard Code for Information Interchange, is a character encoding standard for electronic communication. ASCII codes represent text in computers, telecommunications equipment, and other devices. Because of technical limitations of computer systems at the time it was invented, ASCII has just 128 code points, of which only 95 are printable characters, which severely limited its scope. All modern computer systems instead use Unicode, which has millions of code points, but the first 128 of these are the same as the ASCII set.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic, also known as Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Historically known as Bohemia, it is bordered by Austria to the south, Germany to the west, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the southeast. The Czech Republic has a hilly landscape that covers an area of 78,871 square kilometers (30,452 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental and oceanic climate. The capital and largest city is Prague; other major cities and urban areas include Brno, Ostrava, Plzeň and Liberec.

Khovanshchina

Khovanshchina

Khovanshchina is an opera in five acts by Modest Mussorgsky. The work was written between 1872 and 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. The composer wrote the libretto based on historical sources. The opera was almost finished in piano score when the composer died in 1881, but the orchestration was almost entirely lacking.

Language examples

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Kaikki ihmiset syntyvät vapaina ja tasavertaisina arvoltaan ja oikeuksiltaan. Heille on annettu järki ja omatunto, ja heidän on toimittava toisiaan kohtaan veljeyden hengessä.
'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."[50]

Excerpt from Väinö Linna's Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier); these words were also inscribed in the 20 mark note.

Hyväntahtoinen aurinko katseli heitä. Se ei missään tapauksessa ollut heille vihainen. Kenties tunsi jonkinlaista myötätuntoakin heitä kohtaan. Aika velikultia.
"The sun smiled down on them. It wasn't angry – no, not by any means. Maybe it even felt some sort of sympathy for them. Rather dear, those boys."

(translation from Liesl Yamaguchi's 2015 "Unknown Soldiers")

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Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings. Drafted by a UN committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, it was accepted by the General Assembly as Resolution 217 during its third session on 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France. Of the 58 members of the United Nations at the time, 48 voted in favour, none against, eight abstained, and two did not vote.

Väinö Linna

Väinö Linna

Väinö Linna was a Finnish author. He gained literary fame with his third novel, Tuntematon sotilas, and consolidated his position with the trilogy Täällä Pohjantähden alla. Both have been adapted to a film format on several occasions; The Unknown Soldier was first adapted into a film in 1955 and Under the North Star in 1968 as Here, Beneath the North Star, both directed by Edvin Laine.

The Unknown Soldier (novel)

The Unknown Soldier (novel)

The Unknown Soldier or Unknown Soldiers is a war novel by Finnish author Väinö Linna, considered his magnum opus. Published in 1954, The Unknown Soldier chronicles the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union during 1941–1944 from the viewpoint of ordinary Finnish soldiers. In 2000, the manuscript version of the novel was published with the title Sotaromaani and in 2015, the latest English translation as Unknown Soldiers. A fictional account based closely on Linna's own experiences during the war, the novel presented a more realistic outlook on the formerly romanticized image of a noble and obedient Finnish soldier. Linna gave his characters independent and critical thoughts, and presented them with human feelings, such as fear and rebellion.

Finnish markka

Finnish markka

The markka was the currency of Finland from 1860 until 28 February 2002, when it ceased to be legal tender. The markka was divided into 100 pennies, abbreviated as "p". At the point of conversion, the rate was fixed at €1 = Mk 5.94573.

Basic greetings and phrases

Sample sound of "Hyvää huomenta"
Finnish Translation Notes
Greetings
(Hyvää) huomenta! (Good) morning!
(Hyvää) päivää! (Good) day! used on greeting and also when taking farewell
(Hyvää) iltaa! (Good) evening! used on greeting and also when taking farewell
Hyvää yötä!

Öitä!

Good night!

Night!

Terve lit. 'Health!' Used on greeting, modified as Terve vaan! ('health continue!')
Moro

Hei(ppa)

Moi(kka)

Hi! / Bye! Used on greeting and also when taking farewell
Moi moi!

Hei hei!

Bye! Used when taking farewell
Nähdään See you later! Lit. the passive form of nähdä 'to see'
Näkemiin Goodbye! Lit. 'Until seeing', illative of the third infinitive
Hyvästi Goodbye/Farewell
Hauska tutustua!

Hauska tavata!

Nice to meet you! Hauska tutustua is literally 'nice to get acquainted', and

hauska tavata is literally 'nice to meet'

Mitä kuuluu?

Miten menee?

How are you?

How's it going?

Mitä (sinulle/teille) kuuluu is literally 'what (to you) is heard?' or 'what concerns you?'
Kiitos hyvää

Kiitos hyvin

Fine, thank you.

Well, thank you.

Kiitos hyvää is an appropriate response to Mitä kuuluu?, whereas

Kiitos hyvin is an appropriate response to Miten menee?

Tervetuloa! Welcome! Tervetuloa is used in a broader range of contexts in Finnish than in English;

for example to mean 'looking forward to seeing you' after arranging a visit

Important words and phrases
Anteeksi Excuse me
Kiitos

Kiitoksia

Thanks/Please Kiitos/kiitoksia are literally 'thanks', but are also used when requesting something,

like 'please' in English

Kiitos, samoin Thank you, likewise Lit. 'thank you, the same way' (used as a response to well-wishing)
Ole hyvä You're welcome Lit. 'be good', also used when giving someone something to mean 'here you are'
Kyllä Certainly/yes
Joo Yeah More informal than kyllä
Ei No/it is not
Voitko auttaa? Can you help?
Apua! Help!
Totta kai!

Tietysti!

Toki!

Certainly!
(Paljon) onnea Good luck/congratulations
Olen pahoillani I'm sorry
Odota Wait
Pieni hetki

Pikku hetki

Hetkinen

One moment
Otan osaa My condolences
(Minä) ymmärrän. I understand.
En ymmärrä. I don't understand.
Suomi Finland
Suomi

Suomen kieli

Finnish (language)
Suomalainen (noun) Finn; (adjective) Finnish

Phonaesthetics and influences

Professor J. R. R. Tolkien, although better known as an author, had a keen interest in languages from a young age, and became a professional philologist, becoming Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. He described his first encounter with Finnish was:

"like discovering a complete wine-cellar filled with bottles of an amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before. It quite intoxicated me..."[51]

Aspects of Finnish, particularly its sound, were a strong influence on Quenya, one of the languages constructed by Tolkien spoken by the Elves. Within his fantasy writings set in the world of Middle-earth, Quenya is a highly revered language and is to his world as Latin is to modern Europe; he often referred to it as "elf-Latin". However, Quenya lacks consonant gradation and vowel harmony – two remarkable aspects of Finnish grammar.

Discover more about Phonaesthetics and influences related topics

Phonaesthetics

Phonaesthetics

Phonaesthetics is the study of beauty and pleasantness associated with the sounds of certain words or parts of words. The term was first used in this sense, perhaps by J. R. R. Tolkien, during the mid-20th century and derives from Ancient Greek φωνή (phōnḗ) 'voice, sound', and αἰσθητική (aisthētikḗ) 'aesthetics'. Speech sounds have many aesthetic qualities, some of which are subjectively regarded as euphonious (pleasing) or cacophonous (displeasing). Phonaesthetics remains a budding and often subjective field of study, with no scientifically or otherwise formally established definition; today, it mostly exists as a marginal branch of psychology, phonetics, or poetics.

J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer and philologist. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is an epic high-fantasy novel by English author and scholar J. R. R. Tolkien. Set in Middle-earth, the story began as a sequel to Tolkien's 1937 children's book The Hobbit, but eventually developed into a much larger work. Written in stages between 1937 and 1949, The Lord of the Rings is one of the best-selling books ever written, with over 150 million copies sold.

Old English

Old English

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, by Anglo-Norman as the language of the upper classes. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, since during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English in England and Early Scots in Scotland.

Quenya

Quenya

Quenya is a constructed language, one of those devised by J. R. R. Tolkien for the Elves in his Middle-earth fiction.

Languages constructed by J. R. R. Tolkien

Languages constructed by J. R. R. Tolkien

The English philologist and author J. R. R. Tolkien created a number of constructed languages, including languages devised for fictional settings. Inventing languages, something that he called glossopoeia, was a lifelong occupation for Tolkien, starting in his teens. An early project was the reconstruction of an unrecorded early Germanic language which might have been spoken by the people of Beowulf in the Germanic Heroic Age.

Middle-earth

Middle-earth

Middle-earth is the fictional setting of much of the English writer J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy. The term is equivalent to the Miðgarðr of Norse mythology and Middangeard in Old English works, including Beowulf. Middle-earth is the human-inhabited world, that is, the central continent of the Earth, in Tolkien's imagined mythological past. Tolkien's most widely read works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, are set entirely in Middle-earth. "Middle-earth" has also become a short-hand term for Tolkien's legendarium, his large body of fantasy writings, and for the entirety of his fictional world.

Latin

Latin

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area around present-day Rome, but through the power of the Roman Republic it became the dominant language in the Italian region and subsequently throughout the Roman Empire. Even after the fall of Western Rome, Latin remained the common language of international communication, science, scholarship and academia in Europe until well into the 18th century, when other regional vernaculars supplanted it in common academic and political usage, and it eventually became a dead language in the modern linguistic definition.

Source: "Finnish language", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_language.

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See also
References
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Further reading
  • Karlsson, Fred (2008). Finnish: An Essential Grammar. Routledge Essential Grammars (2nd ed.). United Kingdom: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-43914-5.
  • Karlsson, Fred (2018). Finnish – A Comprehensive Grammar. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-82104-0.
  • Whitney, Arthur H (1973). Finnish. Teach Yourself Books. London: Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0-340-05782-7.
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