Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

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Antea
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Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Antea » 2017-12-30, 10:59

I was wondering about that because I am starting to learn Finnish. I don’t know if someone here had an experience about knowing Finnish and also understanding Karelian and Veps, or not :hmm:

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Re: Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Naava » 2017-12-30, 15:40

I don't remember hearing (or reading) Veps, but there's a youtube channel where you can watch local news in Karelian. I can understand about 90-95% of what they say. The biggest problem I've had is the Russian-like accent many of the speakers have.* I don't know if it's part of the Karelian phonology or if it's because most of the speakers seem to be bilingual. I'm thinking it might be the latter because some of the speakers have a stronger accent than others; but well, speakers make the language, so maybe it's not a foreign feature but normal variation in phonology.

*I know Karelian has palatalization that most Finnish dialects lack, which can make it sound more Russian-like; however, that is not what I mean by this.

There are a few examples in Wikipedia, and I can easily understand them all (North, Olonets and Tver Karelian) except the first sentence in the Olonets Karelian sample 1: I don't know the words kai, roittahes or vällinny. There's also a translation into standard Finnish next to the Olonets Karelian sample 2, so you can compare.

Of course the more there are Russian loanwords the harder it is to understand. I also think there were dialects of Karelian that were so different from any Finnish dialect that I couldn't understand but a few words. Sadly, I don't remember what dialect it was.

I think the channel was in North Karelian, so I can't say if Olonets and Tver Karelian would be as easy to understand when heard as it is when read. It's also possible that some people find it harder to understand Karelian than others. Imo Savonian and Karelian dialects in Finland are quite close to the North Karelian, so the speakers of those dialects might understand North Karelian better than someone from West Finland, especially if they're not used to hear other dialects than their own.

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Re: Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Saim » 2017-12-30, 17:42

Naava wrote:I don't know if it's part of the Karelian phonology or if it's because most of the speakers seem to be bilingual.


Given that Karelian is spoken by 36, 000 people in a region where the population is over 600, 000, it seems like it might be the latter. Heavy structural influence from the dominating language is to be expected in cases of advanced language shift.

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Re: Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Antea » 2017-12-31, 10:39

Naava wrote:I don't remember hearing (or reading) Veps, but there's a youtube channel where you can watch local news in Karelian. I can understand about 90-95% of what they say. The biggest problem I've had is the Russian-like accent many of the speakers have.* I don't know if it's part of the Karelian phonology or if it's because most of the speakers seem to be bilingual. I'm thinking it might be the latter because some of the speakers have a stronger accent than others; but well, speakers make the language, so maybe it's not a foreign feature but normal variation in phonology.

*I know Karelian has palatalization that most Finnish dialects lack, which can make it sound more Russian-like; however, that is not what I mean by this.

There are a few examples in Wikipedia, and I can easily understand them all (North, Olonets and Tver Karelian) except the first sentence in the Olonets Karelian sample 1: I don't know the words kai, roittahes or vällinny. There's also a translation into standard Finnish next to the Olonets Karelian sample 2, so you can compare.

Of course the more there are Russian loanwords the harder it is to understand. I also think there were dialects of Karelian that were so different from any Finnish dialect that I couldn't understand but a few words. Sadly, I don't remember what dialect it was.

I think the channel was in North Karelian, so I can't say if Olonets and Tver Karelian would be as easy to understand when heard as it is when read. It's also possible that some people find it harder to understand Karelian than others. Imo Savonian and Karelian dialects in Finland are quite close to the North Karelian, so the speakers of those dialects might understand North Karelian better than someone from West Finland, especially if they're not used to hear other dialects than their own.


Thanks, that is a very clarifying answer :yep: I think that for me it is “easier” the sound of Karelian precisely because their accent is more similar to Russian and also because they use some Russian loan words. And because of that, when they talk I can always more or less understand at least the subject they are talking about, which I cannot do with Finnish (and that’s very frustrating :roll: ).

But as I am starting to learn Finnish, I suppose that it would be more advisable to focuse myself on this language, and in the standard variety, if I don’t want to have problems with vocabulary and accent, later :hmm:

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Re: Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Naava » 2017-12-31, 12:49

Saim wrote:
Naava wrote:I don't know if it's part of the Karelian phonology or if it's because most of the speakers seem to be bilingual.


Given that Karelian is spoken by 36, 000 people in a region where the population is over 600, 000, it seems like it might be the latter. Heavy structural influence from the dominating language is to be expected in cases of advanced language shift.

Yes, sounds very possible. I've also understood that there hasn't been much interest in speaking yourself or teaching your kids to speak Karelian. If you learn to speak a new language as an adult, it's difficult to get rid of the accent.

Antea wrote:And because of that, when they talk I can always more or less understand at least the subject they are talking about

Really? :o

Where have you heard/read Karelian?

Antea wrote:But as I am starting to learn Finnish, I suppose that it would be more advisable to focuse myself on this language, and in the standard variety, if I don’t want to have problems with vocabulary and accent, later

Whether learning standard Finnish is advisable or not depends on what your reasons for learning Finnish are.

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Re: Can Finnish people understand Karelian or Veps?

Postby Antea » 2017-12-31, 13:09

Naava wrote:
Antea wrote:And because of that, when they talk I can always more or less understand at least the subject they are talking about

Really? :o

Where have you heard/read Karelian?

Antea wrote:But as I am starting to learn Finnish, I suppose that it would be more advisable to focuse myself on this language, and in the standard variety, if I don’t want to have problems with vocabulary and accent, later

Whether learning standard Finnish is advisable or not depends on what your reasons for learning Finnish are.


I listened to the news in Russian to practise this language, and because I liked the region, I started to listen to the local news. And then I found there was a local channel in Karelian with different programs, as the news, cultural programs, programs about parcs and nature. And sometimes they provide Russian subtitles in them. So with that and with some Russian loan words they use, it’s easier to follow.
(Not saying it’s easy, just that sometimes I can catch some words I already understand :hmm: But, anyway, I don’t know if this will lead me to any results really :roll: )


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