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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Finnish Language

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- Hey! Paul when are you gonna finish? - What do you mean?

- When are you gonna finish talking about Italki? - Oh i'm already finished

Okay good, because you have a language video to make

- Oh that's right, what language is it today? - Finnish!

Yeah, yeah, I'm finished ?!

The Finnish language.

Hello every one, welcome to LangFocus channel and my name is Paul.

Today, i'm going to talk about the Finnish language.

As you probably know, Finnish is the majority language spoken in Finland.

It has about 5.4 million native speakers with 4.9 million of them living in Finland, which is 90% of the population of Finland

It's one of the 2 official languages in Finland, along with Swedish which is spoken by 5% of the population.

And there are also Finnish-speaking minorities across the border in Russia, Norway and in Sweden.

You may have seen my video on the North-Germanic languages.

It's this one right here.

and you may remember that I specifically excluded Finnish from that video.

That's because even in Finland is a Nordic country, with geographic and historical connections to Scandinavia,

the Finnish language is NOT a North-Germanic language.

In fact, it's not even an Indo-European language.

It is part of the Finnic language group which is a branch of the Uralic language family.

Others members of Finnic group are: Estonian, Karelian, Ludic, Veps, Ingrian, Votic and Livonian.

But Finnish is most widely spoken language in the Finnic language group.

All the Finnic languages developed from Proto-Finnic, which was spoken in around 3.000 years ago.

The first stage was early Proto-Finnic.

Then during the Middle Proto-Finnic period, some changes took place in that language and it's split into two:

Proto-Samic, the ancestor of the Samic languages (Rem: Samic l. = languages of "Lappish" people)

and late Proto-Finnic, which, ultimately, became the most recent ancestor of all the Finnic languages.

It's worth noting that Finnish contains a significant number of Germanic loanwords,

some of them which are clearly ancient in origin.

For example: - kuningas, which means King;

- tuoli, which means "chair" and it comes from the same root as "stool";

- and kuolu, which means "school".

From words like these, we can see that the ancient Fins had extensive contact with Germanic peoples.

Late Proto-Finnic diverged into three dialects: Eastern Proto-Finnic, Northern Proto-Finnic and Southern Proto-Finnic.

These three dialects of late Proto-Finnic mixed with each other and the resulting mixes of influences developed into the dialects that make up the Finnish language.

Around the 12th century and 13th century CE, Sweden conquered Finland and made it a province of their country.

And for the next few hundred years, Swedish was the language of administration.

And during this time, Middle Low German was the lingua franca of commerce in the area

and Latin was the language of religion

Swedish and Middle Low German left an additional Germanic influence on Finnish,

which during that time was strictly a language daily communication.

Finnish did not really become a written language until the 16th century when a Finnish bishop, named Mikael Agricola created the first comprehensive writing system for the language.

He based that system on the orthography of German, Swedish and Latin.

And it still forms the basis of the Finnish writing system today, although there have been changes since then.

In 1809, Russia seized Finland from Sweden in a war and made it an autonomous state as part of the Russian Empire.

The official language and the language of the elite remained Swedish,

but Finnish national feeling and a desire to make the Finnish language dominant began to increase.

In 1835, these feelings were amplified by the publication of "Kalewala",

a work of epic poetry written by Elias Lönnrot, with stories from Karelian and Finnish folklore and mythology.

Lönnrot also played an important role in the development of Standard Finnish.

In 1863, Finnish became an official language in Finland, alongside the Swedish language.

And they both remain official languages today.

And, with a new sense of national identity emerging, Finland eventually gained independence from Russia in 1917.

Before standard Finnish was created, the Finnish language consisted of a number of dialects that could be roughly divided into Eastern and Western dialects.

The Western dialects are the ones upon which Standard Finnish was largely based.

From what I understand, these days, the dialects mostly consists of differences in accent.

But, outside of Finland, there are a few interesting dialects that are officially considered to be different languages,

even though they are intelligible with standard Finnish.

This includes the Karelian language in Russia, Mëankieli, which is spoken by a Finnish minority in Sweden and Kven, which is spoken by a minority in Norway.

So what is the Finnish language like? Well, it shares some features with the other members of the Finnic language group.

Some of those features are:

- no grammatical gender; there is no distinction between masculine, feminine or neuter.

Not even in the personal pronouns! hän" means both "he" and "she".

And interestingly, Finland was one of the first countries to grant women the right to vote. And it was one of the first to have a female president!

So maybe gender equality is just built into the language and way of thinking.

Hey, you never know!

Next: no articles. Articles are the words like "a" or "the" in English.

English speakers often wonder how you can communicate without those articles,

but the context usually provides enough meaning that you don't actually need the articles.

Next: Finish has some prepositions. In English, those are words showing location or relationship like "to" or "at" or "on"

But Finnish has many more postpositions. These are similar to prepositions in function,

but they come after the word that they add meaning to, rather than before.

Here's an example sentence with the postposition.

This sentence means : "The market is in the center of town"

"Tori" means "market", "on" is similar to "is",

"kaupungi" is town, the "n" of the end of "kaupungi" is the genitive case showing possession

And then after , we have "keskellä" which is the postposition which means "in the middle"

So it's a postposition, because it comes after the noun "kaupungin".

Next : lots of grammatical cases. 15, to be precise.

That means that nouns, personal pronouns and adjectives have 15 different forms, depending on their function in the sentence.

We can't look at all 15 right now, but let's look at an example.

Finnish has the accusative case, which marks a direct object; and that's common in lots of languages.

It can be shown with an "n" at the end of the word or it can be shown with nothing, just left blank at the end of the word.

But there's also something called the partitive case.

This also marks a direct object, * if the object is only part of a whole ; or * if the action is incomplete ; or * if the action is negative.

This sentence means : "will you eat the fish?"

"Syöt" means "you eat" ; "kö" is a question marker ; "kala" is "fish",

and the "n" at the end of "kala" is the accusative case showing that the action will be completed and that the whole fish will be eaten.

means "Do you eat fish?". So again, "Syöt" means "you eat" ; "kö" is a question marker ; "kala" is "fish",

and the "a" at the end of "kalaa" is the partitive case which shows that there's no completed action.

There's no completed action, because there's no specific fish being eaten. This is just a general question.

Next : you may have noticed, in the above example sentences, that the present and future tense are the same.

That's right: in Finnish, there is no future tense. But the future can be indicated in a couple of ways.

When you see a present tense verb with an accusative case object like this: "...",

that indicates the future because it shows that the action will be complete at some point.

When you see a present tense verb with the partitive case like this: "...",

that indicates present tense because the action is not a completed action. So it must be happening now!

The future can also be clarified with a time expression.

Here's an example demonstrating that there is no future tense in Finnish:

this means "I read"

this means "I will read tomorrrow"; "huomenna" means "tomorrrow".

and that time expression is what indicates that this action will take place in the future.

Next: there are a lot of long words in Finnish because of agglutination and because of compound words.

Finnish is an agglutinative language meaning that words can be formed by attaching together pieces that add meaning to the word.

Without those pieces changing; you just attach them together.

In English, we might use separate words like conjunctions and prepositions.

But in Finnish, special endings can be added to a word stem. Here's an example starting with the word for "house".

And a few additional features of Finnish:

Number one: the main stress always goes on the first syllable of the word.

Number two: there is no equivalent of the verb "to have" in Finnish.

Number three: Finnish has negative verb conjugations. That means that :

instead of using a negation word like "not", it has an entirely different form of the verb to show that it's negative.

Finnish is clearly a very interesting language that might be quite different from the languages that you're used to speaking and learning.

But, is Finnish as hard to learn as people say it is? Well, I can't tell you from personal experience

but it seems to me that if you've never learned a language from the Finnic group or from the Uralic language family before, then...

you'll probably have to bend your mind a little bit to understand how that language works

and that will probably take more focus and effort than learning a language that's more similar to your own.

But, as is always the case, your passion for any language or culture will carry you through the challenges of learning that language.

So if you're fascinated by Finnish, you really should go for it.

Okay, the question of the day for Finnish-speakers: how noticeable are the Finnish dialects today?

Can you tell where a Finnish speaker is from, just by hearing them speak?

And then, different question for people who studied Finnish:

How challenging is Finnish to learn? Did you find it quite tough or did you just find it different?

Let us know in the comments down below.

Thanks again to all my Patreon supporters for your continued support.

And to everyone else, thank you for watching and have a nice day!

The Description of The Finnish Language