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5 Things You Should Know About the Finnish Language

Updated on November 3, 2017
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Niina is a language nerd who likes to play with words. In her spare time she studies Estonian, Lithuanian and Welsh.

Most difficult language in the world

Learning a new language can be great fun and open new possibilities. However, some languages are easier to learn than others. Finnish language is considered to be one of the most difficult languages to learn. If you study Finnish language pat yourself to the shoulder. It was not until I started to teach Finnish I realized how difficult it can be to change one´s mindset from one language to another. Here are five things you should know about the Finnish language. Let´s begin.

1. Lack of artickles

Finnish language does not have any articles. In English definite articles "a" and "the" are used in front of a noun when reader/hearer knows exactly what they are referring to. In German articles are "der" "das" and "die". In French "la" and "le". In Finnish there are no articles. This can confuse those who are used to use articles but often in the context where the word is explains enough.

2. Finnish is gender-neutral language

Finnish has only gender-neutral pronouns and completely lacks grammatical gender. Third person singular pronoun hän can refer to any gender. Using basic word for all genders is the norm. For example word näyttelijä means both actor and an actress. There are some professions where the word mies (man) is integral part that are not considered gender-specific. For example puhemies (chairperson) and palomies (fireman).

There is a high degree of equality between the sexes in Finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society. Finland was the first country in Europe to grant women rights to vote in 1919. One of the campaign slogans for the early Finnish suffragettes was the fact that in Finland women have always been working and building their careers same way as men. Gender equality and model of two providers is applied to everything from law making to sociological constructions.

3. Grammatical cases

Are you ready for the challenge? Finnish language has 15 grammatical cases. But do not feel despaired only 13 of them are used in every day spoken language. Grammatical cases reflect grammatical functions performed by the word. For example in English language grammatical cases are most often prepositions such "in" "on" "at" which tell the location of something.

In Finnish language there are some prepositions but post positions are more common. In Finnish post positions are suffixes that come behind the words. For example:

In the house in Finnish is:

Talossa

Talo meaning house +

-ssa (in)

She went into the house

Hän meni taloon

Hän (she)

went (meni)

talo = house

-oon (into)

Use of each grammatical case depends on the context.

4. Phonetic language

Finnish is very phonetic language. For each letter there is only one way to pronounce them. Pay attention to the short and long sounds. Sometimes words can sound similar but they have completely different meaning. For example:

tapaan = I meet

tapan= I kill

tuli = fire

tuuli = wind

For native English speakers it is recommended to pay special attention to Finnish pronunciation. When in spoken English stress is in the last syllable. In Finnish stress is always in the first syllable.

5. Great deal of compound words

Finnish language has great amount of compound words. Two or tree words together create a one new word.

maa+ilma = maailma / world (earth +air)

posti+merkki=postimerkki/stamp (post+stamp)

tieto+kone= tietokone/computer (knowledge+machine)

pankki+automaatti=pankkiautomaatti/atm (bank+automat)

Welcome to study Finnish

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