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Transcript
Introduction
About the Finnish Language
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Finnish belongs to the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric family of languages.
Its closest relative is Estonian; Hungarian is a distant cousin.
It is spoken by approximately 5.2 million people, mostly in Finland, and by some in Sweden
and Russia as well.
There are three varieties of standard Finnish which are spoken throughout the country:
o kirjakieli ("book language") - used in official documents, official speeches and the
daily news,
o yleiskieli - the standard language used in schools; it is formal and correct, though
more relaxed than the "book language," and
o puhekieli ("spoken language") - more casual variety used in everyday conversation,
which changes frequently.
Finnish phonetics
Pronunciation
One helpful thing when studying Finnish is the regular pronunciation; we use to say, that "Finnish is
always pronounced like it's written". In ideal case each letter corresponds to one and the same
sound, and each sound corresponds to one and the same letter.
Here are all the sounds and letters in Finnish. There are 8 vowels: a, e, i, o, u, y, ä and ö; and 14
consonants d, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v. They are similar to other European languages, but some
consonants are left out, and there are two extra vowels, ä and ö. Other sounds (or letters) appear
only in the loan words, such as "byrokratia".
Notes:
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Stress is always on first syllable.
Y is a vowel, not a consonant, and it sounds a bit like German ü.
You must pronounce every letter: nothing should be left out.
Most sounds in Finnish may be either short or long.
Borrowed consonants
The following consonants may occur in words borrowed recently into Finnish from other
languages:
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b : banaani
f : filmi
g: golf
Consonants c, q, w, x, and z don't exist in Finnis words.
Diphthongs
A diphthong is an entity of two vowels together. In many other European languages, such as
English, that is interpreted as a single vowel, in Finnish usually as a combination. It means, that
both vowels are pronounced.
Diphthongs in Finnish language are:
ai, ei, oi, ui, yi, äi, öi, au, eu, iu, ou, äy, öy, ie, uo, yö
Length and double letters
The length of the sound is important in Finnish. The word can have a separate meaning depending
on the length.
Examples:
tuli : tulli : tuuli
Tule tänne!
Pekka tulee.
Ulkona ei tuule.
Ulkona tuulee.
Tuli polttaa.
Tulli pysäytti miehen.
fire : customs : wind
Come here!
Pekka is coming.
Wind doesn't blow outside.
Wind blows outside.
Fire burns.
The customs stopped a man.
Vowel harmony: with or without dots
Vowel harmony is a very typical phenomenon in Finno-Ugric languages. It comes into play when
you add endings or suffixes.
There are 2 kinds of vowels in Finnish: back vowels (a, o, u) and front vowels (ä, ö, y) depending
where they are articulated in your mouth (you can try this at home). You also recognize them from
the dots: front vowels have dots (”umlauts”), back vowels don't. Also y is a front vowel, but you
can think it as an ü (because it's pronouced like ü in German).
Vowel harmony means, that both front and back vowels cannot be in the same word. That's why
many endings have two forms with alternative vowels, for example: -nut /-nyt, -ko/kö , -ssa/-ssä,
la/lä. The vowels in endings must follow the vowels in the stem
The rule of thumb: when adding an ending, if the word already has dots, the ending will have
them too (again, think y as ü).
I and e are neutral, and they can mix with both front and back vowels. When they are alone, they
are usually counted as front vowels (therefore, the ending will have dots, for example, teetä~ "some
tea".) If there are both back vowels and neutral vowels, back vowels will win (therefore, no dots, for
example, lasissa ~ "in the glass" )
Examples
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Inessive: Minä asun Turussa, but Hän asuu Jyväskylässä
Ko-question Tuletko mukaan? but Lähdetkö pois?
Nut-participle: En ole nukkunut hyvin but, Olen syönyt paljon
Other suffixes: Hän on ammatiltaan taitelija, but Minä olen piirtäjä
Consonant gradation: weak and strong
consonants k, p and t
Adding endings is normally quite straight forward: the stem and the ”basic form” (nominative) are
the same, so you just add the ending after the word. Sometimes there are some changes in the stem,
and one very common change happens with the consonants k, p and t (in phonology they are called
plosives).
Sometimes these consonants are ”strong” and sometimes adding an ending ”weakens” the sound. It
means, that double consonant (strong) becomes one consonant (weak) or a single consonant
becomes its weak counterpart or disappears.
The basic rule: strong grade is used in the syllable, which is open (ends with a vowel), weak grade
when syllable is closed (ends with a consonant). Usually, this means, that when you add an ending
which closes the syllable (for example, the genitive ending, -n) you must use weak grade.
This rule applies to both verbs and nominals.
Consonant gradation with nominals
Basic gradation
Strong grade
kk/pp/tt
kukka
pappi
matto
k/p/t
jalka
suku
koti
Weak grade
k/p/t
kukan
papin
maton
-/v/d
jalan
suvun
kodin
Other gradations
Strong grade
mp
lampi
nt/lt/rt
santa
santa
nk
kenkä
lke/rke/hke
kärki
Weak grade
mm
lammen
nn/ll/rr
sannan
rannan
ng
kengän
lje/rje/hje
kärjen
Consonant gradation with verbs
Consonant gradation happens only with some verb types namely type 1, type 3 and type 4. The
basic idea is the same is with nominals and affects k, p and t sounds.
Consonant gradation with verb type 1
Some verbs belonging to type 1 undergo consonant gradation. Then the infinitive (basic form) is in
strong grade, 1st and 2nd person in weak grade and 3rd person in weak grade.
Infinitive (strong grade) 1st person (weak grade)
lukea
luen
tietää
tiedän
ampua
ammun
Consonant gradation with verb type 3
Verbs ending with -la can undergo consonant gradation. Then the infinitive is in weak grade,
personal forms are in strong grade.
Infinitive (weak grade) 1st person (strong grade)
ajatella
ajattelen
kuunnella
kuuntelen
Consonant gradation with verb type 4
Verbs ending with -la can undergo consonant gradation. Then the infinitive is in weak grade,
personal forms are in strong grade.
Infinitive (weak grade) 1st person (strong grade)
hakata
hakkaan
pelätä
pelkään
Meeting people, Lesson 1
Tavatessa
In the following dialog, two guys Matti and Antti run into each other. Read the dialog, and learn
how they greet each other.
Matti ja Antti tapaavat kadulla.
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Matti: Hei!
Antti: No, mutta hei! Tämäpä yllätys! Mitä kuuluu?
Matti: Minulle kuuluu hyvää! Entä itsellesi?
Antti: Mikäpä tässä.
Matti: Onko sinulla kiire? Mennäänkö kahville?
Antti: Ei ole. Mennään vaan!
Lexicon
No, mutta hei!
Tämäpä yllätys!
Mitä kuuluu?
hyvä
Entä itsellesi?
Mitäpä tässä
Onko sinulla kiire?
Ei
Mennäänkö...?
kahville
Mennään vaan!
Oh hi!
What a surprise!
How are you doing?
good, fine
How about you?
I'm fine, nothing special
Are you busy?
No
Shall we go...?
to drink coffee
Let's go!
Tervehdykset - Greetings
Here are some common greetings in Finnish.
Hei!
Terve!
These are neutral or informal ways to say Hello! or Hi!.
Moi!
Moro!
Informal greetings you can use with your friends.
Päivää
Hyvää päivää
Formal greetings.
Hyvää iltaa
Formal, after 6 pm (~ Good afternoon).
Hyvää huomenta!
Good morning!, at morning, before 12.
Nähdään!
See you! informal.
Näkemiin
Good bye! formal.
Hauska tutustua!
Nice to meet you! when you meet someone for the first time.
Mitä kuuluu? Miten menee?
There are two ways to ask "How are you?"
Mitä kuuluu?
positive answer
neutral answer
negative answer
Hyvää kuuluu! Hyvää, kiitos!
Ihan hyvää. Mikäpä tässä...
Huonoa.
Miten menee?
positive answer
neutral answer
negative answer
Hyvin menee! Hyvin, kiitos.
Ihan hyvin.
Huonosti.
Other useful words:
Kiitos!
neutral (thank you!)
Kiitti!
Informal (thanks!)
Kiitoksia!
Paljon kiitoksia!
Formal (thank you very much).
Ole hyvä!
You say Ole hyvä when you greet someone or give something. Finnish language does not have a
word equivalent to "please!" or "bitte!" or "s'il vôus plait!". You can use "kiitos" or "ole hyvä" in
some situations, but it's not very polite. More polite is to say "Saisinko..." (May I have..).
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Eipä kestä
Answer to kiitos! (you're welcome).
Cultural notes
Finns use kiitos quite often. It's normal to say it after any phrase and repeat it often. That's perhaps
because there's no word for 'please' in Finnish.
Finns shake hands more rarely than many other nationalities. It happens mainly in formal settings
and official events. If you meet someone for the first time, it's good manners to shake hands, but
friends very rarely shake hands. So don't be offended if your Finnish friends don't shake hands all
the time!
Kissing on the cheek in South European style is considered as too girlish. Finnish men don't usually
kiss each other, women only if they are friends. Do not kiss a Finn without warning! :)
Personal pronouns
personal pronouns
singular plural
minä
me
sinä
te
hän
he
Sinä is "you" in singular, te in plural. In formal speech, te is used intead of sinä. There's only one
word for "he" and "she", hän. This refers to male and female.
In a formal context plural pronoun te is usually used instead of sinä. (Like in French: tu/vous).
Exercises
Quiz based on the lesson 1
Select the right answer in Finnish.
1. How do you say ’Hello!’ in Finnish?
1. ? Kiitos!
2. ? Päivää!
3. ? Näkemiin!
4. ? Tervetuloa!
2. How do you say ’Good bye!’ in Finnish?
1. ? Mitä kuuluu?
2. ? b) Hyvää kiitos!
3. ? Näkemiin!
4. ? Huomenta!
3. How do you say ’Good morning!’ in Finnish?
1. ? Hyvää päivää
2. ? Hyvää iltaa
3. ? Hyvää huomenta
4. ? Näkemiin
4. How dou you answer, when someone says ’Ole hyvä!’?
1. ? Päivää
2. ? Kiitos
3. ? Moro!
4. ? Eipä kestä!
5. How do you answer, when some says ’Kiitos’?
1. ? Ole hyvä
2. ? Eipä kestä
3. ? Mitäpä tässä...
4. ? Näkemiin!