Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gettin’ Curious - Still Learning

Got another mail from northern Europe. Still written in Finnish, I have to put that text into the translation engine. Some words are so long that even Google can’t do it. Or what would you think of a word like this: määräaikaistehtävi

Some people say it’s like Japanese spoken backwards. That might just serve to illustrate how difficult it is. So all this Finnish made me curious. I wanted to know where this language comes from. Are there any related languages around which at least sound or look similar?

Hopefully, this is not too boring for you:

Fimageinnish ( suomi, or suomen kieli) is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is one of the two official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a Finnish dialect, are spoken. The Kven language, a dialect of Finnish, is spoken in Northern Norway.

Finnish is the eponymous member of the Finnic language family and is typologically between fusional and agglutinative languages. It modifies and inflects nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs, depending on their roles in the sentence.

Finnish is a member of the Finnic group of the Uralic family of languages. The Finnic group also includes Estonian and other minority languages spoken around the Baltic Sea.

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

The Finns are more genetically similar to their Indo-European speaking neighbours than to the speakers of the geographically close Uralic language Sami. It has been argued that a native Finnic-speaking population absorbed northward migrating Indo-European speakers who adopted the Finnic language, giving rise to the modern Finns.

The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, classifies Finnish as a level III language (of 4 levels) in terms of learning difficulty for native English speakers

Finnish is spoken by about five million people who reside mainly in Finland. There are also notable Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden, Norway, Russia, Estonia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. The majority of the population of Finland, 90.37% as of 2010, speak Finnish as their first language. The remainder speak Swedish (5.42%) Sami (Northern, Inari, Skolt) and other languages. It has achieved some popularity as a second language in Estonia.

The Finnic languages evolved from the Proto-Finnic language after Sámi was separated from it around 1500–1000 BCE.[citation needed] Current models assume three or more hypothetical Proto-Finnic proto-dialects evolving over the first millennium BCE.  The greatest divergence between Finnic languages is centered south of the Gulf of Finland[citation needed]. Thus, linguists agree[weasel words] that the Proto-Finnic language itself was never spoken in Finland[citation needed], but in an urheimat somewhere south of modern St. Petersburg[citation needed]. Its daughter languages, which spread north, then developed into Finnish. The Finnic languages separated around the 1st century, but continued to influence each other[citation needed]. Therefore the Eastern Finnish dialects are genetically Eastern Proto-Finnic, with many Eastern features, and the Southwestern Finnish dialects have many Estonian influences.

Medieval period

Prior to the Middle Ages, Finnish was an oral language. Even after, the language of larger-scale business was Middle Low German, the language of administration Swedish, and religious activities were held in Latin, leaving few possibilities for Finnish-speakers to use their mother tongue in situations other than daily chores.

The first known written example of Finnish comes from this era and was found in a German travel journal dating back to c.1450.

Looking around, I found another blog with a posting about the Finnish language.

You should check it out. It is quite funny, – and thanks for trying to hang in here!





  1. I have trouble with English - can't even imagine trying to learn a language like Finnish. And with so many dialects - good grief.

  2. We are currently in a Finnish area of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The street names in Hancock are in both Finnish and English. The area is hosting FinnFest 2013 next weekend. It will be interesting.

  3. Looks like an interesting and confusing language.


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