Finnish is easy!

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Finnish is easy!

Postby michaelingleton » 2014-05-12, 19:55

READ THIS ON MY BLOG --> and please comment :)

Hi! If you want to learn Finnish then I suggest you read this blog. This is my first post explaining why Finnish is very easy to learn. The point of the blog is to give you the information I wish I had had before I started learning Finnish, because (even though I learned it very quickly) it would have made the whole process much easier.

If you type "Learn Finnish" or "Finnish language" into a search engine, usually you'll see loads of stuff about Finnish being the world's second or third most difficult language, and there is a small amount of truth to that. Finnish words don't typically derive from Latin or Greek or other languages that the rest of Europe seemed to take notice of and say "We like that word, we'll use it too". In fact it seems that the Finns of old decided to ignore everything going on around them and just sort of... make it up on their own, just to be different I guess.

People say that the best way to learn a foreign language is to move to the country where it is spoken and just pick it up as you go along. Just have your little pocket travel book with you for the first year or so. That's fine if you're moving to, say, Germany or Italy, but If you try this with Finland, then 2 years later you'll still be asking "I'm sorry do you speak English" when you reach the front of the queue at the TE-office. It's a pain in the teeth I know, but this is a language you're going to have to go back to school for.

And that's why we generally think of Finnish as a language almost impossible to learn.

But that's not the case!

Because once you've got the basics, you'll start to notice the following things about Finnish that make it the most logical language in the world. I'll list them first and then go through each one in a little more detail:

Every word in Finnish is pronounced exactly as it's written
There are simple rules for everything, with hardly any exeptions
The Finnish alphabet is tiny
You have a larger vocabulary than you think.

1. Every word in Finnish is pronounced exactly as it's written

This is the best thing about Finnish. It's a completely unique trait for a language that makes the learning process a thousand times easier. Let's take a look at some English words that would make a foreiner say "What's up with this fucking language"... in foreign obviously:

receipt, asthma, colonel, Wednesday...

Then there's these words that should sound the same but don't:

cough, tough, dough, boughheard, beardgreat, threat, meatloose, choosechose, lose, dosework, cork

seriously... I've tried teaching English to foreigners, it's a nightmare!

In Finnish however, once you've learnt the alphabet, you're good to go. There are some words that can have 2 or 3 meanings but that's not a problem when you hear them in context. You'll even be able to pronounce words like
lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas. Give it a try!

As the great Roy Walker would say "Say what you see".

2. There are simple rules for everything with hardly any exceptions

And I mean everything!
There is a lot of grammar to learn in Finnish, and it will be daunting at first. However, once you have learnt a new grammatical rule, you won't forget it. At first you might find yourself asking questions like "What's the difference between sinua and sinut?", "Why is it partitiivi" and "Can I go home now?", but soon you'll realise, that it's all actually rather simple, if you just follow the rules.

Here's a simple example of what I mean. One of the first things that you'll learn is that there are 6 verb types, each with it's own rule of how to conjugate it. The ending of the verb depends on the persona. The verb "puhua" (to speak) is verb type 1. We know that it is verb type 1 because if the verb ends with 2 vowels, that means it is verb type 1. The rule of verb type 1 says that we have to remove the last letter (which is always "a") and add the relative suffix.

Minä puhun --> I speakSinä puhut --> You speakHän puhuu --> He/She speaksMe puhumme --> We speakTe puhutte --> You (plural) speakHe puhuvat --> They speak

And if we want to use "puhua" in the past tense..... just add the letter "i" after the "u". How simple is that?! Basically, if 2 words look the same, the rules are the same.

Let's try that theory in English. Here's 4 English verbs that look and sound similar:

to make, to bake, to take, to wake

So if we want to use them in the past tense, they should still all look and sound similar right?

I made, I baked, I took, I woke

Once again, English = Nightmare. But if you're studying Finnish, you don't have to worry about any of this. Once you learn the rules of the tenses, you can apply them you almost every Finnish verb, even if you don't know what a word means you'll know how to conjugate it.

3. The Finnish alphabet is tiny

Well... actually it has 29 letters in it. However, it really shouldn't. Because some letters in the alphabet are never even used. If you don't know the Finnish alphabet. It's the same as the English one plus Å Ä Ö, the same as most (or maybe all... dunno) Scandinavian languages. Let's eliminate the words that are never used in Finnish... B, C, G, Q, W, X, Z, Å. Ok, some of them are used in borrowed words like banaani and G is used but only in the conjugated form of words with "nk" in them like "Helsinki", but Finnish is made simpler than other languages by cutting out letters that are not needed. For example, in English the letter C sometimes makes the same sound as an S and sometimes makes the same sound as a K.... So why do we need it? Why can't we just use an S or K? The Finns realised the logic in this and just cut out the letter C completely. X is replaced by KS, because it does the same job (taxi in Finnish is taksi). Q and W make Finnish people's tongues hurt so you can forget about them. Å is a Swedish letter that sounds the same as O is Finnish so they just declared it ruotsilainen O and set it to one side. This only leaves us with 21 letters, and there's no messing about with all that sh, ch, ph, and th, nonsense either. Basically, you just have to learn what the vowels sound like.

4. You have a larger vocabulary than you think

Over the years as languages develop, new words appear and end up in a dictionary. For example somebody notices that there is no way to convey a certain feeling. Somebody says "I want food, I had food earlier but now I have a feeling that I want food again, I shall call this feeling that I have right now "hungry")... I imagine it goes something like that. When you're learning Finnish, you'll notice that there are words that have been created from other Finnish words. Of course this happens in all languages, but in Finnish they do it a lot.
Here's an example:

The word for "probably" is "todennäköisesti".

Tosi = true näköinen = looking näköisesti = this shows that it is an adverb in the same way that we use "ly" in English

You can also "luultavasti" from the verb "luulla" (to believe). It literally translates to "believably" but it's used as "probably".

You'll find yourself asking "what's this word in Finnish?" and when you hear the answer you'll say "Oh yeah, that makes sense".

Another example: employer = työnantaja (literally meaning "work-giver")
employer = työntekijä (literally meaning "work-doer")

It saves a lot of time and explaining. Instead of coming up with a new fancy-pants word like "employee", just say "work-doer" then we don't have to learn a new word.

Then there are the suffixes like -sto and -la that make learning Finnish a fucking breeze compared to most languages. They both do pretty much the same thing, turn a simple noun into a place that contains lots of that said noun. For example:

Kirja = book Kirjasto = LibrarySairas = sick/sick person Sairaala = HospitalKahvi = coffee Kahvila = CafeRavinto = meal Ravintola = RestaurantSana = word Sanasto = Index/Vocabulary
I could go on for ages...

I hope this gives you a bit more confidence and motivation to learn Finnish. It's really not as difficult as everybody says it is. It's logical, it makes sense. If you ask a teacher of Finnish "Why is is said like that" they will explain it clearly and concisely, using the rules of Finnish grammar. When studying Finnish you'll very rarely hear "because it just is". There is almost always an explanation.

Here are some really good sites for studying Finnish: ... kielioppi/

I studied Finnish for 9 months in 2012/2013. I have spent the last few months in work experience teaching Finnish to foreigners alongside an amazing Finnish teacher. The Finnish language absolutely fascinates me. I'm still learning more and more every day.

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Re: Finnish is easy!

Postby Mercader » 2014-06-25, 5:48

I am surprised that this post doesn't have any responses yet. Overall I'm trying to improve at Finnish, and a mate of mine is from Kotka who has somewhat helped me at times with the language. I tried listening to a lot of Finnish hip hop to get more of an idea regarding phonology, but the immense amount of slang confused me when it came to vocabulary. Is a lot of slang used everyday in Finland? :hmm:

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Re: Finnish is easy!

Postby Iván » 2014-06-26, 14:34

Mercader wrote:I am surprised that this post doesn't have any responses yet. Overall I'm trying to improve at Finnish, and a mate of mine is from Kotka who has somewhat helped me at times with the language. I tried listening to a lot of Finnish hip hop to get more of an idea regarding phonology, but the immense amount of slang confused me when it came to vocabulary. Is a lot of slang used everyday in Finland? :hmm:

Well, it depends on what you consider slang. As you probably already know, there are "two Finnish languages": puhukieli and kirjakieli. The former is what you hear in the streets, while the latter is the one you hear on the tv and used on the newspapers. In addittion to this, there are several Finnish dialects spread all over Finland, so it means that the slang used in Helsinki won't likely be the same slang used in Oulu. So, to answer your question: Slang is mostly used by youngsters nowadays, so yeah it's commonly used everyday in Finland.
Minkä nuorena oppii, sen vanhana taitaa.

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