HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

Finnish (
endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, ''native'' name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, group, ...
: or ) is a
Uralic language The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family of 38 languages spoken by approximately 25million people, predominantly in Northern Eurasia. The Uralic languages with the most native speakers are Hungarian (w ...
of the Finnic branch, spoken by the majority of the population in
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, 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 Both ...
and by ethnic Finns outside of Finland. Finnish is one of the two
official languages An official language is a language given supreme status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary, ...
of Finland (the other being Swedish). In
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic country located on ...
, both Finnish and
Meänkieli (literally 'our language') 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 recog ...
(which has significant
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 a ...
with Finnish) are official
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 (as of 2019) and ...
s. The
Kven language The Kven language ( or ; or ; fi, kveeni or ; no, kvensk) 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 m ...
, which like Meänkieli is mutually intelligible with Finnish, is spoken in the Norwegian county
Troms og Finnmark Troms og Finnmark (; sme, Romsa ja Finnmárku ; fkv, Tromssa ja Finmarkku; fi, Tromssa ja Finnmark, lit. Troms and Finnmark in English), is a county in northern Norway that was established on 1 January 2020 as the result of a regional reform ...
by a minority group of Finnish descent. Finnish is typologically
agglutinative 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 lang ...
and uses almost exclusively suffixal affixation.
Noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Living creatures (including people, alive, d ...
s,
adjective In linguistics, an adjective ( abbreviated ) is a word that generally modifies a noun or noun phrase or describes its referent. Its semantic role is to change information given by the noun. Traditionally, adjectives were considered one of the ma ...
s,
pronoun In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun ( abbreviated ) is a word or a group of words that one may substitute for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the parts of speech, but some modern theorists would not c ...
s, numerals and
verb A verb () is a word ( part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descri ...
s are
inflected In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) 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 def ...
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 In linguistics, information structure, also called information packaging, describes the way in which information is formally packaged within a sentence.Lambrecht, Knud. 1994. ''Information structure and sentence form.'' Cambridge: Cambridge Univer ...
.
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 striv ...
uses a Latin-script alphabet derived from the Swedish alphabet, and is
phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Linguists who specialize in studying the physical properties of speech are phoneticians. ...
to a great extent.
Vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is duration. In some languages vowel length is an important phonemic factor, meaning vowel length can change the meaning of the word, ...
and consonant length are distinguished, and there are a range of
diphthongs 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 (and/or other parts of the speech ...
, although
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 (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, me ...
limits which diphthongs are possible.


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 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. The sea stretches from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from ...
and in Russia's
Republic of Karelia The Republic of Karelia (russian: Респу́блика Каре́лия, Respublika Kareliya; ; krl, Karjalan tašavalta; ; fi, Karjalan tasavalta; vep, Karjalan Tazovaldkund, Ludic: ''Kard’alan tazavald''), also known as just Karelia (ru ...
. Finnish demonstrates an affiliation with other
Uralic languages The Uralic languages (; sometimes called Uralian languages ) form a language family of 38 languages spoken by approximately 25million people, predominantly in Northern Eurasia. The Uralic languages with the most native speakers are Hungarian (w ...
(such as Hungarian) in several respects including: *Shared morphology: **case suffixes such as
genitive In grammar, the genitive case ( abbreviated ) 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 a ...
,
partitive In linguistics, the partitive is a word, phrase, or case that indicates partialness. Nominal partitives are syntactic constructions, such as "some of the children", and may be classified semantically as either set partitives or entity partitives ba ...
/ ( <
Proto-Uralic Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is believed to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differenti ...
*-ta, originally
ablative In grammar, the ablative case (pronounced ; sometimes abbreviated ) 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. T ...
), essive / ( < *-na, originally
locative In grammar, the locative case (abbreviated ) is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by". The locative case belongs to the general local cases, together with the ...
) **plural markers and ( < Proto-Uralic *-t and *-j, respectively) **possessive suffixes such as 1st person singular ( < Proto-Uralic *-n-mi), 2nd person singular ( < Proto-Uralic *-ti). **various derivational suffixes (e.g. causative < Proto-Uralic *-k-ta) *Shared basic vocabulary displaying regular sound correspondences with the other Uralic languages (e.g. "fish" ~
North Saami North is one of the four compass points or cardinal directions. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west. ''North'' is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography. Etymology The word ''north'' is ...
~ Hungarian ; and "disappear" ~ North Saami ~ Hungarian '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 Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is believed to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differenti ...
somewhere in the boreal forest belt around the
Ural Mountains The Ural Mountains ( ; rus, Ура́льские го́ры, r=Uralskiye gory, p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈɡorɨ; ba, Урал тауҙары) or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western ...
region and/or the bend of the middle
Volga The Volga (; russian: Во́лга, a=Ru-Волга.ogg, p=ˈvoɫɡə) is the longest river in Europe. Situated in Russia, it flows through Central Russia to Southern Russia and into the Caspian Sea. The Volga has a length of , and a catchm ...
. 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. The
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 f ...
in
Monterey, California Monterey (; es, Monterrey; Ohlone: ) 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 b ...
, United States, classifies Finnish as a level III language (of 4 levels) in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers.


Geographic distribution

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% ) speak Finnish as their
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 tongu ...
. The remainder speak Swedish (5.42%), one of the
Sámi The Sámi ( ; also spelled Sami or Saami) are a Finno-Ugric-speaking people inhabiting the region of Sápmi (formerly known as Lapland), which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and of the Murmansk Oblast, Ru ...
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. The varieties of Finnish found in Norway's
Finnmark Finnmark (; se, Finnmárku ; fkv, Finmarku; fi, Ruija ; russian: Финнмарк) was a county in the northern part of Norway, and it is scheduled to become a county again in 2024. On 1 January 2020, Finnmark was merged with the neighbouri ...
(namely
Kven KVEN (1520 AM, "La Voz 1520 AM & 96.3 FM") is a commercial radio station that is licensed to Port Hueneme, California and serves the Ventura County area. The station is owned by Gold Coast Broadcasting and broadcasts a Spanish-language news/ta ...
) and in northern Sweden (namely
Meänkieli (literally 'our language') 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 recog ...
) have the status of official minority languages, and thus can be considered distinct languages from Finnish. However, since all three are
mutually intelligible 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 a ...
, 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 and in America, where American Finnish is spoken by
Finnish Americans Finnish Americans ( fi, amerikansuomalaiset, ) 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. M ...
. There are 8,500 speakers of Finnish in
Karelia Karelia ( Karelian and fi, Karjala, ; rus, Каре́лия, links=y, r=Karélija, p=kɐˈrʲelʲɪjə, historically ''Korjela''; sv, Karelen), the land of the Karelian people, is an area in Northern Europe of historical significance fo ...
.


Official status

Today, Finnish is one of two
official language An official language is a language given supreme status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically the term "official language" does not refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government (e.g. judiciary, ...
s of Finland (the other being Swedish), and has been an official language of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been ...
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 The Grand Duchy of Finland ( fi, Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta; sv, Storfurstendömet Finland; russian: Великое княжество Финляндское, , all of which literally translate as Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecess ...
, and against the backdrop of the
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. History After the Crimean War, Fennoman ...
, the language obtained its official status in the Finnish Diet of 1863. 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. 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.


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 Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is believed to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differenti ...
, spoken sometime between 8,000 and 2,000 BCE (estimates vary) in the vicinity of the
Ural mountains The Ural Mountains ( ; rus, Ура́льские го́ры, r=Uralskiye gory, p=ʊˈralʲskʲɪjə ˈɡorɨ; ba, Урал тауҙары) or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western ...
. Over time, Proto-Uralic split into various
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 ...
s, which themselves continued to change and diverge, yielding yet more descendants. One of these descendants is the reconstructed
Proto-Finnic Proto-Finnic or Proto-Baltic-Finnic is the common ancestor of the Finnic languages, which include the national languages Finnish and Estonian. Proto-Finnic is not attested in any texts, but has been reconstructed by linguists. Proto-Finnic is ...
, from which the
Finnic languages The Finnic (''Fennic'') or more precisely Balto-Finnic (Balto-Fennic, Baltic Finnic, Baltic Fennic) languages constitute a branch of the Uralic language family spoken around the Baltic Sea by the Baltic Finnic peoples. There are around 7 m ...
developed, and which diverged from Proto-Samic (a reconstructed ancestor of the
Sámi The Sámi ( ; also spelled Sami or Saami) are a Finno-Ugric-speaking people inhabiting the region of Sápmi (formerly known as Lapland), which today encompasses large northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and of the Murmansk Oblast, Ru ...
languages) around 1500–1000 BCE. Current models assume that three or more Proto-Finnic dialects evolved during the first millennium BCE. 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 . This vowel was found only in the southern dialects, which developed into Estonian, Livonian, and Votian. The northern variants used third person singular pronoun instead of southern (Est. ). 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 < *''kaloi-ten''), the western dialects of Proto-Finnic (today's Estonian, Livonian and western Finnish varieties) used the non-plural stems (e.g., Est. < *''kala-ten''). Another defining characteristic of the east–west split was the use of the reflexive suffix , used only in the eastern dialects.


Medieval period

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: (Modern Finnish: "" English: "I want to speak Finnish, utI am not able to"). According to the travel journal, the words are those of a Finnish bishop whose name is unknown. The erroneous use of (Modern Finnish ) in the accusative case, rather than in the partitive, and the lack of the
conjunction Conjunction may refer to: * Conjunction (grammar), a part of speech * Logical conjunction, a mathematical operator ** Conjunction introduction, a rule of inference of propositional logic * Conjunction (astronomy), in which two astronomical bodies ...
are typical of foreign speakers of Finnish even today. At the time, most priests in Finland were Swedish speaking. During the Middle Ages, when Finland was under Swedish rule, Finnish was only spoken. At the time, the language of
international commerce International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories because there is a need or want of goods or services. (see: World economy) In most countries, such trade represents a significant ...
was
Middle Low German Middle Low German or Middle Saxon (autonym: ''Sassisch'', i.e. " Saxon", Standard High German: ', Modern Dutch: ') is a developmental stage of Low German. It developed from the Old Saxon language in the Middle Ages and has been documented in ...
, the language of administration Swedish, and religious ceremonies were held in
Latin Latin (, or , ) 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 (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
. 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.


Writing system

The first comprehensive writing system for Finnish was created by
Mikael Agricola Mikael Agricola (; c. 1510 – 9 April 1557) was a Finnish Lutheran clergyman who became the de facto founder of literary Finnish and a prominent proponent of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden, including Finland, which was a Swedish territo ...
, 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, but first he had to develop an
orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing a language, including norms of spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, and punctuation. Most transnational languages in the modern period have a writing system, and mos ...
for the language, which he based on Swedish, German, and Latin. The Finnish
standard language A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) 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 ...
still relies on his innovations with regard to spelling, though Agricola used less systematic spelling than is used today. Though Agricola's intention was that each
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west ...
(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 . Likewise, he alternated between ''dh'' and ''d'' to represent the allophonic
voiced dental fricative The voiced dental fricative is a consonant sound used in some spoken languages. It is familiar to English-speakers as the ''th'' sound in ''father''. Its symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is eth, or and was taken from the Old Engli ...
(like ''th'' in English ''this''), between ''dh'' and ''z'' to represent the
geminate In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin 'doubling', itself from ''gemini'' 'twins'), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonant. It is distinct from ...
voiceless dental fricative The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is familiar to English speakers as the 'th' in ''think''. Though rather rare as a phoneme in the world's inventory of languages, it is en ...
(like ''th'' in ''thin'', but longer in duration), and between ''gh'' and ''g'' to represent the allophonic
voiced velar fricative The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound that is used in various spoken languages. It is not found in Modern English but existed in Old English. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , ...
. Agricola did not consistently represent
vowel length In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived length of a vowel sound: the corresponding physical measurement is duration. In some languages vowel length is an important phonemic factor, meaning vowel length can change the meaning of the word, ...
in his orthography. Others revised Agricola's work later, striving for a more systematic writing system. Along the way, Finnish lost several
fricative consonant A fricative is a consonant produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate in t ...
s in a process of sound change. The sounds and disappeared from the language, surviving only in a small rural region in Western Finland. In the standard language, however, the effect of the lost sounds is thus: * became . The sound 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 , , , or instead (depending on dialect and the position in the word). However, Agricola's spelling ⟨d⟩ prevailed, and the pronunciation in Standard Finnish became through
spelling pronunciation A spelling pronunciation is the pronunciation of a word according to its spelling when this differs from a longstanding standard or traditional pronunciation. Words that are spelled with letters that were never pronounced or that were not pronoun ...
. * became . 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 (, , , , , or ), the standard language has arrived at
spelling pronunciation A spelling pronunciation is the pronunciation of a word according to its spelling when this differs from a longstanding standard or traditional pronunciation. Words that are spelled with letters that were never pronounced or that were not pronoun ...
(which is treated as a consonant cluster and hence not subject to consonant gradation). * became but only if the appeared originally between
high High may refer to: Science and technology * Height * High (atmospheric), a high-pressure area * High (computability), a quality of a Turing degree, in computability theory * High (tectonics), in geology an area where relative tectonic uplift t ...
round Round or rounds may refer to: Mathematics and science * The contour of a closed curve or surface with no sharp corners, such as an ellipse, circle, rounded rectangle, cant, or sphere * Rounding, the shortening of a number to reduce the numbe ...
vowels and , otherwise it was lost entirely (cf. 'kin, family' : enitive formfrom earlier *suku : *suɣun, and : 'ability, skill' ominative and genitive, respectivelyfrom *kükü : *küɣün, contrasting with : 'pig, pork' ominative and genitivefrom *sika : *siɣan). (A similar process explains the /f/ pronunciation for some English words with "gh", such as "tough".) Modern Finnish punctuation, along with that of Swedish, uses the colon (:) to separate the
stem Stem or STEM may refer to: Plant structures * Plant stem, a plant's aboveground axis, made of vascular tissue, off which leaves and flowers hang * Stipe (botany), a stalk to support some other structure * Stipe (mycology), the stem of a mushro ...
of a word and its grammatical ending in some cases, for example after
acronym An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase. Acronyms are usually formed from the initial letters of words, as in ''NATO'' (''North Atlantic Treaty Organization''), but sometimes use syllables, as ...
s, as in "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 Johan Vilhelm Snellman (; 12 May 1806 – 4 July 1881) was an influential Fennoman philosopher and Finnish statesman, ennobled in 1866. He was one of the most important 'awakeners' or promoters of Finnish nationalism, alongside Elias Lönnrot ...
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
Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German philosopher. He is one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of modern Western philosophy. His influence extends ...
ian
nationalistic Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (as in a group of people), Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Th ...
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, and between 1866 and 1880
Elias Lönnrot Elias Lönnrot (; 9 April 1802 – 19 March 1884) was a Finnish physician, philologist and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry. He is best known for creating the Finnish national epic, ''Kalevala'', (1835, enlarged 1849), from shor ...
compiled the first Finnish-Swedish dictionary. In the same period, Antero Warelius conducted ethnographic research and, among other topics, he documented the geographic distribution of the Finnish dialects. The most important contributions to improving the status of Finnish were made by
Elias Lönnrot Elias Lönnrot (; 9 April 1802 – 19 March 1884) was a Finnish physician, philologist and collector of traditional Finnish oral poetry. He is best known for creating the Finnish national epic, ''Kalevala'', (1835, enlarged 1849), from shor ...
. His impact on the development of modern vocabulary in Finnish was particularly significant. In addition to compiling the ''
Kalevala The ''Kalevala'' ( fi, Kalevala, ) is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology, telling an epic story about the Creation of the Earth, describing the controversies and ...
'', 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. The first novel written in Finnish (and by a Finnish speaker) was '' Seven Brothers'' (), published by
Aleksis Kivi Aleksis Kivi (; born Alexis Stenvall; 10 October 1834 – 31 December 1872) was a Finnish author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, '' Seitsemän veljestä'' ("Seven Brothers") in 1870. He is also known for his 1864 ...
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'' ( : / orest : forest'sinstead of : ) and the Eastern disappearance of ''d'' ( 'I know' instead of ) and the simultaneous preference to abandon the more visible dialectal features. Some scientists have also reported the
low Low or LOW or lows, may refer to: People * Low (surname), listing people surnamed Low Places * Low, Quebec, Canada * Low, Utah, United States * Lo Wu station (MTR code LOW), Hong Kong; a rail station * Salzburg Airport (ICAO airport code: LO ...
front Front may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''The Front'' (1943 film), a 1943 Soviet drama film * ''The Front'', 1976 film Music *The Front (band), an American rock band signed to Columbia Records and active in the 1980s and ea ...
vowel æ.html"_;"title="Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel.html"_;"title="nowiki/>Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel">æ">Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel.html"_;"title="nowiki/>Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel">æ(orthographic_⟨ä⟩)_moving_toward_[Open_back_unrounded_vowel.html" ;"title="ear-open_front_unrounded_vowel">æ.html" ;"title="Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Near-open front unrounded vowel">æ">Near-open_front_unrounded_vowel.html" ;"title="nowiki/>Near-open front unrounded vowel">æ(orthographic ⟨ä⟩) moving toward [Open back unrounded vowel">ɑ] (orthographic ⟨a⟩), theorising that the Finnish speakers would start to pronounce even more distantly from the changing in order to preserve the system of
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 (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, me ...
.


Dialects

The dialects of Finnish are divided into two distinct groups, Western and Eastern. 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 The voiced dental fricative is a consonant sound used in some spoken languages. It is familiar to English-speakers as the ''th'' sound in ''father''. Its symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is eth, or and was taken from the Old Engli ...
found in the
Rauma dialect Rauma dialect (''"rauman giäl", "language of Rauma"'') is a Southwestern dialect of Finnish spoken in the town of Rauma, Finland. The written form of the dialect was preserved by the writer and doctor Hj. Nortamo, and is currently practiced ...
, 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 Karelian (North Karelian and Livvi Karelian: ; Ludic: ; Tver 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 ...
in Russia and
Meänkieli (literally 'our language') 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 recog ...
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.


Western dialects

The
Southwest Finnish dialects Southwest Finnish dialects ( fi, Lounaismurteet) are Western Finnish dialects spoken in Southwest Finland and Satakunta. The Southwest Finnish dialects have pitch accents and Swedish influences, as well as features from other dialect groups ...
() are spoken in
Southwest Finland Southwest Finland, calqued as Finland Proper ( fi, Varsinais-Suomi ; sv, Egentliga Finland), is a region in the southwest of Finland. It borders the regions of Satakunta, Pirkanmaa, Tavastia Proper (Kanta-Häme), Uusimaa, and Åland. The re ...
and
Satakunta Satakunta (in both Finnish and Swedish, ) is a region ( / ) of Finland, part of the former Western Finland Province. It borders the regions of Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa, South Ostrobothnia and Ostrobothnia. The capital city of the region ...
. Their typical feature is abbreviation of word-final vowels, and in many respects they resemble Estonian. The Tavastian dialects () 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 ( → , → , → ), the change of d to l (mostly obsolete) or trilled r (widespread, nowadays disappearance of d is popular) and the personal pronouns ( (we: our), (you: your) and (they: their)). The South Ostrobothnian dialects () are spoken in
Southern Ostrobothnia South Ostrobothnia ( fi, Etelä-Pohjanmaa; sv, Södra Österbotten) is one of the 19 regions of Finland. It borders the regions of Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, Central Finland, Pirkanmaa, and Satakunta. Among the Finnish regions, South O ...
. Their most notable feature is the pronunciation of "d" as a tapped or even fully trilled . The Central and North Ostrobothnian dialects () are spoken in Central and
Northern Ostrobothnia North Ostrobothnia ( fi, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa; sv, Norra Österbotten) is a region of Finland. It borders the Finnish regions of Lapland, Kainuu, North Savo, Central Finland and Central Ostrobothnia, as well as the Russian Republic of Karelia. ...
. The Lappish dialects () 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 (literally 'our language') 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 recog ...
, 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 Annexation (Latin ''ad'', to, and ''nexus'', joining), in international law, is the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state, usually following military occupation of the territory. It is generally held to be an illegal act ...
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. The
Kven language The Kven language ( or ; or ; fi, kveeni or ; no, kvensk) 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 m ...
is spoken in
Finnmark Finnmark (; se, Finnmárku ; fkv, Finmarku; fi, Ruija ; russian: Финнмарк) was a county in the northern part of Norway, and it is scheduled to become a county again in 2024. On 1 January 2020, Finnmark was merged with the neighbouri ...
and
Troms Troms (; se, Romsa; fkv, Tromssa; fi, Tromssa) is a former county in northern Norway. On 1 January 2020 it was merged with the neighboring Finnmark county to create the new Troms og Finnmark county. This merger is expected to be reversed by ...
, in Norway. Its speakers are descendants of Finnish emigrants to the region in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Kven KVEN (1520 AM, "La Voz 1520 AM & 96.3 FM") is a commercial radio station that is licensed to Port Hueneme, California and serves the Ventura County area. The station is owned by Gold Coast Broadcasting and broadcasts a Spanish-language news/ta ...
is an official minority language in Norway.


Eastern dialects

The Eastern dialects consist of the widespread Savonian dialects () spoken in
Savo Savo may refer to: Languages * Savo dialect, forms of the Finnish language spoken in Savonia * Savo language, an endangered language spoken on Savo People * Savo (given name), a masculine given name from southern Europe (includes a list of people ...
and nearby areas, and the South-Eastern dialects now spoken only in Finnish
South Karelia South Karelia ( fi, Etelä-Karjala; sv, Södra Karelen) is a region of Finland. It borders the regions of Kymenlaakso, South Savo and North Karelia, as well as Russia (Republic of Karelia and Leningrad Oblast). Historical province ''For h ...
. The South Karelian dialects () were previously also spoken on the
Karelian Isthmus The Karelian Isthmus (russian: Карельский перешеек, Karelsky peresheyek; fi, Karjalankannas; sv, Karelska näset) is the approximately stretch of land, situated between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga in northwestern R ...
and in
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 ...
. The Karelian Isthmus was evacuated during World War II and refugees were resettled all over Finland. Most
Ingrian Finns The Ingrians ( fi, inkeriläiset, ; russian: Ингерманландцы, translit=Ingermanlandts'i), sometimes called Ingrian Finns, are the Finnish population of Ingria (now the central part of Leningrad Oblast in Russia), descending from Lu ...
were
deported Deportation is the expulsion of a person or group of people from a place or country. The term ''expulsion'' is often used as a synonym for deportation, though expulsion is more often used in the context of international law, while deportation ...
to various interior areas of the Soviet Union.
Palatalization Palatalization may refer to: *Palatalization (phonetics), the phonetic feature of palatal secondary articulation *Palatalization (sound change) Palatalization is a historical-linguistic sound change that results in a palatalized articulation ...
, 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. "water", cf. standard . The language spoken in those parts of Karelia that have not historically been under Swedish or Finnish rule is usually called the
Karelian language Karelian (North Karelian and Livvi Karelian: ; Ludic: ; Tver 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 ...
, 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.


Example Helsinki slang (Stadin slangi)

The first known written account in
Helsinki slang Helsinki slang or ('Helsinki's slang', from Swedish , 'city'; see etymology) is a local dialect and a sociolect of the Finnish language mainly used in the capital city of Helsinki. It is characterized by its abundance of foreign loan words no ...
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 ''italics''):
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''.


Dialect chart of Finnish

* Western dialects **
Southwest Finnish dialects Southwest Finnish dialects ( fi, Lounaismurteet) are Western Finnish dialects spoken in Southwest Finland and Satakunta. The Southwest Finnish dialects have pitch accents and Swedish influences, as well as features from other dialect groups ...
***Proper Finnish dialects **** Northern dialect group **** Southern dialect group ***Southwest Finnish middle dialects ****Pori region dialects ****Ala-Satakunta dialects ****dialects of Turku highlands ****Somero region dialects ****Western Uusimaa dialects ****
Helsinki slang Helsinki slang or ('Helsinki's slang', from Swedish , 'city'; see etymology) is a local dialect and a sociolect of the Finnish language mainly used in the capital city of Helsinki. It is characterized by its abundance of foreign loan words no ...
\dialects **Tavastian dialects ***Ylä-Satakunta dialects ***Heart Tavastian dialects ***Southern Tavastian dialects ***Southern-Eastern Tavastian dialects ****Hollola dialect group ****Porvoo dialect group ****Iitti dialect group ** South Ostrobothnian dialects ** Central and North Ostrobothnian dialects ***Central Ostrobothnian dialects ***North Ostrobothnian dialects ** Lappish dialects ***Torne dialects (''"
Meänkieli (literally 'our language') 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 recog ...
"'' in Sweden) ***Kemi dialects ***Kemijärvi dialects *** Gällivare dialects (''"Meänkieli"'' in Sweden) ***Finnmark dialects (''"
Kven language The Kven language ( or ; or ; fi, kveeni or ; no, kvensk) 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 m ...
"'' in Northern Norway) *Eastern dialects **
Savonian dialects The Savonian dialects (also called Savo Finnish)( fi, Savolaismurteet) are forms of the Finnish language spoken in Savonia and other parts of Eastern Finland. Finnish dialects are grouped broadly into Eastern and Western varieties; Savonian diale ...
***North Savonian dialects ***South Savonian dialects ***Middle dialects of Savonlinna region ***East Savonian dialects or North Karelian dialects ***
Kainuu dialect {{Short description, Dialect of Finnish Kainuu dialect is a dialect of Finnish spoken in Kainuu, Vaala, Koillismaa, Posio and Ranua. It belongs to the Savonian dialects, or more broadly, the eastern dialects of Finnish. Due to the region's close ...
s ***Central Finland dialects ***Päijänne Tavastia dialects ***Keuruu-Evijärvi dialects *** Savonian dialects of Värmland (Sweden) ** South Karelian dialects ***Proper South Karelian dialects ***Middle dialects of Lemi region *** Dialects of Ingria (in Russia)


Linguistic registers

There are two main registers of Finnish used throughout the country. One is the "standard language" (), and the other is the "
spoken language A spoken language is a language produced by articulate sounds or (depending on one's definition) 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 s ...
" (). The standard language is used in formal situations like political speeches and newscasts. Its written form, the "book language" (), is used in nearly all written texts, not always excluding even the dialogue of common people in popular prose. 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 The Institute for the Languages of Finland,, from which the shortened name ''Kotus'' is derived, smn, Päikkieennâm kielâi tutkâmkuávdáš, se, Ruovttueatnan gielaid guovddáš, sms, Dommjânnmlaž ǩiõli kõõskõs, rom, Finnosko tšimbe ...
and is the language used in official communication. The Dictionary of Contemporary Finnish ( 1951–61), with 201,000 entries, was a
prescriptive Linguistic prescription, or prescriptive grammar, is the establishment of rules defining preferred usage of language. These rules may address such linguistic aspects as spelling, pronunciation, vocabulary, syntax, and semantics. Sometimes i ...
dictionary that defined official language. An additional volume for words of foreign origin (, 30,000 entries) was published in 1991. An updated dictionary, The New Dictionary of Modern Finnish () was published in an electronic form in 2004 and in print in 2006. A
descriptive In the study of language, description or descriptive linguistics is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is actually used (or how it was used in the past) by a speech community. François & Ponsonnet (2013). All a ...
grammar (the Large grammar of Finnish, , 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 In linguistics, an elision or deletion is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase. However, these terms are also used to refer more narrowly to cases where two words are run toge ...
of
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 ...
s 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. → ("I come"), while others remain identical to the standard language 'he comes', never *). However, the longer forms such as 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" (); 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 , as this pattern was originally (1940) found natively only in the dialects of the southern Karelian isthmus and
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 ...
. It has been reinforced by the spelling "ts" for the dental fricative , 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/ (). In the spoken language, a fusion of Western /tt : tt/ () and Eastern /ht : t/ () has resulted: /tt : t/ (). 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 Sandhi ( sa, सन्धि ' , "joining") 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 near ...
– especially internal – may occasionally amongst other characteristics be transcribed, e.g. . This never occurs in the standard variety.


Examples

: 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.


Phonology


Segmental phonology

The phoneme inventory of Finnish is moderately small, 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 Morphophonology (also morphophonemics or morphonology) 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 (mi ...
below. Long and short vowels are shown below. 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 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 , and the suffixed ''-eme'', which is analogous to the ''-eme'' in ''phoneme'' ...
, 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
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 (and/or other parts of the speech ...
s. 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 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 (using the tip of the tongue), laminal (using the b ...
s. Consonants are as follows, where consonants in parentheses are found either only in a few recent loans or are allophones of other phonemes. Almost all consonants have phonemic short and long (
geminate In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin 'doubling', itself from ''gemini'' 'twins'), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonant. It is distinct from ...
d) 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 coda A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often considered the phonological "b ...
s, e.g. "rs" in . However, because of a number of recently adopted loanwords that have them, e.g. from Swedish , 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 and . All other fricatives are recognized as foreign, of which Finnish speakers can usually reliably distinguish and . The alphabet includes "z", usually pronounced s While standard Finnish has lost
palatalization Palatalization may refer to: *Palatalization (phonetics), the phonetic feature of palatal secondary articulation *Palatalization (sound change) Palatalization is a historical-linguistic sound change that results in a palatalized articulation ...
, which is characteristic of Uralic languages, the Eastern dialects and the Karelian language have redeveloped or retained it. For example, the Karelian word , with a palatalized , is reflected by in Finnish and
Savo dialect The Savonian dialects (also called Savo Finnish)( fi, Savolaismurteet) are forms of the Finnish language spoken in Savonia and other parts of Eastern Finland. Finnish dialects are grouped broadly into Eastern and Western varieties; Savonian diale ...
is in standard Finnish. A feature of Finnic phonology is the development of labial and rounded vowels in non-initial syllables, as in the word .
Proto-Uralic Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is believed to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differenti ...
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 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 (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, me ...
and an
agglutinative 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 lang ...
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. 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.


Morphophonology

Finnish has several morphophonological processes that require modification of the forms of words for daily speech. The most important processes are
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 (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, me ...
and consonant gradation. Vowel harmony is a redundancy feature, which means that the feature �backis 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 �backin any part of the word, they can derive �backfor the initial syllable. For example, from the stem ("product") one derives ("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
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west ...
s, not interchangeable or
allophonic In phonology, an allophone (; from the Greek , , 'other' and , , 'voice, sound') is a set of multiple possible spoken soundsor '' phones''or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, (as in '' ...
. Finnish front vowels are not umlauts, though the
grapheme In linguistics, a grapheme is the smallest functional unit of a writing system. The word ''grapheme'' is derived and the suffix ''-eme'' by analogy with ''phoneme'' and other names of emic units. The study of graphemes is called ''graphemics' ...
s ⟨ä⟩ and ⟨ö⟩ feature dieresis. Consonant gradation is a partly nonproductive
lenition In linguistics, lenition is a sound change that alters consonants, making them more sonorous. The word ''lenition'' itself means "softening" or "weakening" (from Latin 'weak'). Lenition can happen both synchronically (within a language at a pa ...
process for P, T and K in inherited vocabulary, with the oblique stem "weakened" from the nominative stem, or vice versa. For example, "precise" has the oblique stem , as in "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+ → Va, e.g. * → .


Grammar

Finnish is a
synthetic language A synthetic language uses inflection or agglutination to express syntactic relationships within a sentence. Inflection is the addition of morphemes to a root word that assigns grammatical property to that word, while agglutination is the combin ...
that employs extensive
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 langu ...
of affixes to verbs, nouns, adjectives and numerals. However, Finnish is not generally considered
polysynthetic In linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages, formerly holophrastic languages, are highly synthetic languages, i.e. languages in which words are composed of many morphemes (word parts that have independent meaning but may or may not be able to ...
, its morpheme-to-word ratio being somewhat lower than a prototypical polysynthetic language (e.g., Yup'ik). The
morphosyntactic alignment In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the grammatical relationship between arguments—specifically, between the two arguments (in English, subject and object) of transitive verbs like ''the dog chased the cat'', and the single argument of ...
of Finnish is nominative–accusative, but there are two
object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** Object (abstract), an object which does not exist at any particular time or place ** Physical object, an identifiable collection of matter * Goal, an ai ...
cases: accusative and partitive. The contrast between accusative and partitive object cases is one of
telicity In linguistics, telicity (; ) is the property of a verb or verb phrase that presents an action or event as having a specific endpoint. A verb or verb phrase with this property is said to be ''telic''; if the situation it describes is ''not'' hea ...
, where the accusative case denotes actions completed as intended ( "I shot the/an elk (dead)"), and the partitive case denotes incomplete actions ( "I shot (at) the/an elk"). Often telicity is confused with perfectivity, but these are distinct notions. Finnish in fact has a
periphrastic In linguistics, periphrasis () is the use of one or more function words to express meaning that otherwise may be expressed by attaching an affix or clitic to a word. The resulting phrase includes two or more collocated words instead of one inf ...
perfective aspect The perfective aspect ( abbreviated ), 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 i ...
, 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 The pluperfect (shortening of plusquamperfect), usually called past perfect in English, is a type of verb form, generally treated as a grammatical tense in certain languages, relating to an action that occurred prior to an aforementioned time i ...
(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, "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, "I eat a fish (not yet complete)" denotes a present event by indicating ongoing action. Finnish has three grammatical
persons A person ( : people) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally established form of social relations such as kinship, ownership of propert ...
;
finite Finite is the opposite of infinite. It may refer to: * Finite number (disambiguation) * Finite set, a set whose cardinality (number of elements) is some natural number * Finite verb Traditionally, a finite verb (from la, fīnītus, past particip ...
verbs agree with subject nouns in person and number by way of suffixes. Non-finite verb forms bear the infinitive suffix (often
lenited In linguistics, lenition is a sound change that alters consonants, making them more sonorous. The word ''lenition'' itself means "softening" or "weakening" (from Latin 'weak'). Lenition can happen both synchronically (within a language at a pa ...
to due to consonant gradation). There is a so-called "passive voice" (sometimes called impersonal or indefinite) which differs from a true passive in various respects. Transitivity is distinguished in the derivational morphology of verbs, e.g. "to solve something" vs. "to solve by itself". There are also several
frequentative In grammar, a frequentative form (abbreviated or ) 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 ...
and momentane affixes which form new verbs derivationally. Nouns may be suffixed with the markers for the aforementioned accusative case and
partitive case The partitive case ( abbreviated , , or more ambiguously ) 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 n ...
, the
genitive case In grammar, the genitive case ( abbreviated ) 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 a ...
, 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. , literally "big-in house-in". Possession is marked with
possessive suffix In linguistics, a possessive affix (from la, affixum possessivum) is an affix (usually suffix or prefix) attached to a noun to indicate its possessor, much in the manner of possessive adjectives. Possessive affixes are found in many languages o ...
es; these suffixes appear on nouns and pronouns alike (Finnish
possessive pronouns A possessive or ktetic form (abbreviated or ; from la, possessivus; grc, κτητικός, translit=ktētikós) is a word or grammatical construction used to indicate a relationship of possession in a broad sense. This can include strict owne ...
are thus not
suppletive In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregular" or eve ...
like English ''her'').


Lexicon

Finnish has a smaller core vocabulary than, for example, English, and uses derivational suffixes to a greater extent. As an example, take the word "a book", from which one can form derivatives "a letter" (of the
alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing systems represent language in this way; in a syllabary, each character ...
), "a piece of correspondence, a letter", "a library", "an author", "literature", "to write", "a writer", "a scribe, a clerk", "in written form", "to write down, register, record", "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 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 (thus "in harmony"). Vowel harmony is typically long distance, me ...
. Verbal derivational suffixes are extremely diverse; several
frequentative In grammar, a frequentative form (abbreviated or ) 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 ...
s and momentanes differentiating causative, volitional-unpredictable and anticausative are found, often combined with each other, often denoting indirection. For example, "to jump", "to be jumping", "to be jumping wantonly", "to make someone jump once", "to make someone jump repeatedly" (or "to boss someone around"), "to make someone to cause a third person to jump repeatedly", "to, without aim, make someone jump repeatedly", "to jump suddenly" (in anticausative meaning), "to jump around repeatedly", "to be jumping repeatedly and wantonly". Caritives are also used in such examples as "without jumping" and "without jumping around". The diversity and compactness of both derivation and inflectional agglutination can be illustrated with "I wonder if I should sit down for a while after all" (from , "to sit, to be seated"): * "to sit down" ( "I sit down") * "to sit down for a while" * "I'll sit down for a while" * "I would sit down for a while" * "should I sit down for a while?" * "I wonder if I should sit down for a while" * "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 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, Du ...
. 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 Proto-Uralic is the unattested reconstructed language ancestral to the modern Uralic language family. The hypothetical language is believed to have been originally spoken in a small area in about 7000–2000 BCE, and expanded to give differenti ...
, from very early
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, Du ...
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. (hare), (black), (island), (swamp) and (cape (geography)). Also some place names, like Päijänne and
Imatra Imatra is a town and municipality in southeastern Finland. Imatra is dominated by Lake Saimaa, the Vuoksi River and the border with Russia. On the other side of the border, away from the centre of Imatra, lies the Russian town of Svetogorsk. S ...
, are probably from before the proto-Finnic era. Often quoted loan examples are "king" and "
sovereign prince A prince is a male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary, in some European states. The ...
, high ranking nobleman" from Germanic ''*kuningaz'' and ''*druhtinaz''—they display a remarkable tendency towards phonological conservation within the language. Another example is "mother" (from Germanic ''*aiþį̄''), which is interesting because borrowing of close-kinship vocabulary is a rare phenomenon. The original Finnish and occurs only in restricted contexts. There are other close-kinship words that are loaned from Baltic and Germanic languages ( "bride", "dear", "whore"). Examples of the ancient Iranian loans are "hammer" from
Avestan Avestan (), or historically Zend, is an umbrella term for two Old Iranian languages: Old Avestan (spoken in the 2nd millennium BCE) and Younger Avestan (spoken in the 1st millennium BCE). They are known only from their conjoined use as the scri ...
, and "slave" from ''
arya Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural self-designation by Indo-Iranians in ancient times, in contrast to the nearby outsiders known as 'non-Aryan' (*''an-arya''). In Ancient India, the term ...
'', ''airya'' "man" (the latter probably via similar circumstances as ''slave'' from
Slav Slavs are the largest European ethnolinguistic group. They speak the various Slavic languages, belonging to the larger Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages. Slavs are geographically distributed throughout northern Eurasia, main ...
in many European languages). More recently, Swedish has been a prolific source of borrowings, and also, the
Swedish language Swedish ( ) is a North Germanic language spoken predominantly in Sweden and in parts of Finland. It has at least 10 million native speakers, the fourth most spoken Germanic language and the first among any other of its type in the Nordic cou ...
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 Russian(s) refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries * Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and p ...
(especially in older
Helsinki slang Helsinki slang or ('Helsinki's slang', from Swedish , 'city'; see etymology) is a local dialect and a sociolect of the Finnish language mainly used in the capital city of Helsinki. It is characterized by its abundance of foreign loan words no ...
) 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 ( – , "law";  – , "province";  – , "bishop";  – , "potato"), and many more survive as informal synonyms in spoken or dialectal Finnish (e.g. , from Swedish , "girl", usually in Finnish). Some Slavic loanwords are old or very old, thus hard to recognize as such, and concern everyday concepts, e.g. "bean", "border" and "priest". Notably, a few religious words such as ("Bible") are borrowed from
Old East Slavic Old East Slavic (traditionally also Old Russian; be, старажытнаруская мова; russian: древнерусский язык; uk, давньоруська мова) was a language used during the 9th–15th centuries by East ...
, 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 Russian Orthodoxy (russian: Русское православие) is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, whose liturgy is or was traditionally conducted in Church Slavonic language. Most C ...
mission Mission (from Latin ''missio'' "the act of sending out") may refer to: Organised activities Religion *Christian mission, an organized effort to spread Christianity *Mission (LDS Church), an administrative area of The Church of Jesus Christ of ...
s 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 Nokia Corporation (natively Nokia Oyj, referred to as Nokia) is a Finnish multinational telecommunications, information technology, and consumer electronics corporation, established in 1865. Nokia's main headquarters are in Espoo, Finland, i ...
, 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 "to date" (from Swedish, ) to from English "to go for a date".
Calque In linguistics, a calque () or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language w ...
s from English are also found, e.g. (hard disk), and so are grammatical calques, for example, the replacement of the impersonal () with the English-style
generic you In English grammar, the personal pronoun '' you'' can often be used in the place of ''one'', the fourth-person singular impersonal pronoun, in colloquial speech. In English The generic ''you'' is primarily a colloquial substitute for ''one'' ...
, e. g. "you cannot", instead of the proper impersonal "one cannot" or impersonal third-person singular "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 In linguistics, the grammar of a natural language is its set of structural constraints on speakers' or writers' composition of clauses, phrases, and words. The term can also refer to the study of such constraints, a field that includes domain ...
,
phonology Phonology is the branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds or, for sign languages, their constituent parts of signs. The term can also refer specifically to the sound or sign system of a ...
and phonotactics, discouraging direct borrowing. English loan words in Finnish slang include for example "PlayStation", "hot dog", and "headache", "headshot" or "headbutt". Often these loanwords are distinctly identified as
slang Slang is vocabulary (words, phrases, and linguistic usages) of an informal register, common in spoken conversation but avoided in formal writing. It also sometimes refers to the language generally exclusive to the members of particular in-g ...
or
jargon Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular communicative context and may not be well understood outside that context. The context is usually a partic ...
, 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
calque In linguistics, a calque () or loan translation is a word or phrase borrowed from another language by literal word-for-word or root-for-root translation. When used as a verb, "to calque" means to borrow a word or phrase from another language w ...
d – translated into native Finnish – retaining the semantic meaning.


Neologisms

Some modern terms have been synthesised rather than borrowed, for example: : "telephone" (from the stem "talk" + instrument suffix to make "an instrument for talking") : "computer" (literally: "knowledge machine" or "data machine") : "diskette" (from "disc" + a diminutive ) : "email" (literally: "electricity mail") : "bus, coach" (literally: line-car) : "plastic" (from "to mould, form or model, e.g. from clay"; compare ''plastic'' from Ancient Greek () "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 (computer) or (calculator) when the neologism is widely adopted.


Loans to other languages

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


Orthography

Finnish is written with the
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 (such as diacritics), it used to write English and the o ...
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 Sandhi ( sa, सन्धि ' , "joining") 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 near ...
. 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 Sandhi ( sa, सन्धि ' , "joining") 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 near ...
is not transcribed; the spelling of morphemes is immutable, such as . *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. (I limit) vs. (I haul). *Pre-1900s texts and personal names use ''w'' for ''v''. Both correspond to the same phoneme, the
labiodental approximant The voiced labiodental approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It is something between an English / w/ and / v/, pronounced with the teeth and lips held in the position used to articulate the letter V. The sym ...
, a ''v'' without the fricative ("hissing") quality of the English ''v''. *The letters '' ä'' and '' ö'' , although written with
diaereses Diaeresis (dieresis, diëresis) may refer to: * Diaeresis (prosody), pronunciation of vowels in a diphthong separately, or the division made in a line of poetry when the end of a foot coincides with the end of a word * Diaeresis (linguistics), ...
, 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 The voiced velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ''ng'' in English ''sing'' as well as ''n'' before velar consonants as in ''Englis ...
, as in English. When not followed by ''k'', is written ''ng''. The fact that two spellings correspond to this one sound (putting aside the difference in
length Length is a measure of distance. In the International System of Quantities, length is a quantity with dimension distance. In most systems of measurement a base unit for length is chosen, from which all other units are derived. In the Interna ...
) can be seen as an exception to the general one-to-one correspondence between sounds and letters. *
Sandhi Sandhi ( sa, सन्धि ' , "joining") 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 near ...
phenomena at word or clitic boundaries involving gemination (e.g., is pronounced , not ) or the place assimilation of
nasals 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 major ...
( would usually be pronounced as , and as ) * The after the letter ''i'' is very weak or there is no at all, but in writing it is used; for example: . Indeed, the ''j'' is not used in writing words with consonant gradation such as and . * In speech there is no difference between the use of in words (like , but ), 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'' (, "to write song-lyrics", from ''sana'', "word"), and in words that are old-stylish (). The ''i'' is not written in forms derived from words that consist of two syllables and end in ''o'' or ''ö'' ( "to discern, to differentiate" from difference), words which do not clearly derive from a single word ( can be derived either from the stem seen in such adverbs as , or from the related verb ), and in words that are descriptive () or workaday by their style (). 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 , " 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 as an example.) Many speakers pronounce all of them ''s'', or distinguish only between ''s'' and ''š'', because Finnish has no voiced sibilants. The language may be identified by its distinctive lack of the letters ''b, c, f, q, w, x, z'' and ''å.''


Language examples

Article 1 of the
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, ...
: : :"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." Excerpt from
Väinö Linna Väinö Linna (; 20 December 1920 – 21 April 1992) was a Finnish author. He gained literary fame with his third novel, ''Tuntematon sotilas'' ( ''The Unknown Soldier'', published in 1954), and consolidated his position with the trilogy ''Tää ...
's (The Unknown Soldier); these words were also inscribed in the 20
mark Mark may refer to: Currency * Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible mark, the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina * East German mark, the currency of the German Democratic Republic * Estonian mark, the currency of Estonia between 1918 and 1927 * Fin ...
note. : :"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")


Basic greetings and phrases


Phonaesthetics Phonaesthetics (also spelled phonesthetics in North America) 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 during the mid-20th century and ...
and influences

Professor
J. R. R. Tolkien John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (, ; 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer and philologist. He was the author of the high fantasy works ''The Hobbit'' and '' The Lord of the Rings''. From 1925 to 1945, Tolkien was the Rawl ...
, although better known as an author, had a keen interest in languages from a young age, and became a professional
philologist Philology () is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is also defined as th ...
, becoming Professor of
Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group who inhabited England in the Early Middle Ages. They traced their origins to settlers who came to Britain from mainland Europe in the 5th century. However, the ethnogenesis of the Anglo-Saxons happened wit ...
at
Oxford University Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
. 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..."J. R. R. Tolkien (1981), '' Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien'', George Allen & Unwin, letter no. 163 (to W. H. Auden, 7 June 1953), p. 214; Aspects of Finnish, particularly its sound, were a strong influence on
Quenya Quenya ()Tolkien wrote in his "Outline of Phonology" (in '' Parma Eldalamberon'' 19, p. 74) dedicated to the phonology of Quenya: is "a sound as in English ''new''". In Quenya is a combination of consonants, ibidem., p. 81. is a constructed l ...
, one of the languages constructed by Tolkien spoken by the
Elves An elf () is a type of humanoid supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Elves appear especially in Norse mythology, North Germanic mythology. They are subsequently mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's Icelandic Prose Edda. He dis ...
. Within his fantasy writings set in the world of
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 ...
, Quenya is a highly revered language and is to his world as
Latin Latin (, or , ) 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 (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
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.


See also

*
Hungarian language Hungarian () is an Uralic language spoken in Hungary and parts of several neighbouring countries. 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 Hungaria ...
*
Finland's language strife Finland's language strife ( sv, Finska språkstriden, lit=Finnish language dispute) ( fi, Suomen kielitaistelu, lit=Finnish language struggle) was a major conflict in mid-19th century Finland. Both the Swedish and Finnish languages were commonly ...
* Finnish cultural and academic institutes *
Finnish name In Finland, a person must have a surname and at least one given name with up to three given names permitted. Surnames are inherited either patrilineally or matrilineally, while given names are usually chosen by a person's parents. Finnish names come ...
* Finnish numerals *
Finnish profanity Profanity in Finnish is used in the form of intensifiers, adjectives, adverbs and particles. There is also an aggressive mood that involves omission of the negative verb ' while implying its meaning with a swear word.Eero Voutilainen. ''.'' K ...
*
Swedish-speaking Finns The Swedish-speaking population of Finland (whose members are called by many names; fi, suomenruotsalainen) can be used as an attribute., group=Note—see below; sv, finlandssvenskar; fi, suomenruotsalaiset) is a linguistic minority in Fin ...


References


Further reading

* * *


External links


Collection of Finnish bilingual dictionaries

FSI Finnish Language Course (Public Domain)

Finnish phrases for beginners (Public Domain)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Finnish Language Agglutinative languages Finnic languages Languages of Estonia Languages of Finland Languages of Norway Languages of Russia Languages of Sweden Vowel-harmony languages Subject–verb–object languages