Finnish Language Day – A 5 min Crashcourse

So, today is the day. The great day of the Finnish Language! I hope you are as excited as I am 🙂

To be honest, I didn’t know a single Finnish word before starting this post, so don’t expect anything elaborate and if you know more about Finnish than I do and find any mistakes, let me know 😉

Buuut, I love languages and this is the perfect opportunity to get to know a new one!

First, let’s start with what I could come up with on my own:

  • Finnish is a difficult language to learn (the reason why I haven’t tried it until now)
  • It is somehow distantly related to Hungarian (I don’t know Hungarian either so that won’t do me any good)
  • It is a language with very long words (there are compound words in German, too, but Finnish is in a league of its own)
  • There’s lots of double letters (consonants and vowels – to make to words even longer I suppose?)
  • Finnish conversations include much more silence than most others (when in doubt just remain silent – I can do that… probably)

So, the good news is people won’t think you’re strange if you skip small talk but it can’t hurt to now some basic words and phrases. Here I’ll let you know some (very basic!) conversational Finnish to make a good first impression when your Finnish friends come to visit:

  • Hi/HelloHei (informal; or Moi for close friends)
  • How are you?Mitä kuuluu?
  • Fine, thank you. Kiitos, hyvää.
  • Nice to meet you.Hauska tavata.
  • What’s your name? – Mikä sinun nimesi on?
  • My name is ____ – Nimeni on  ____
  • I don’t speak Finnish. – En puhu suomea.
  • Do you speak English?Puhutko englantia?
  • Yes Kyllä 
  • No Ei
  • Maybe Ehkä
  • I don’t knowMinä en tiedä
  • I don’t understandEn ymmärrä
  • Good byeHei hei (informal)
  • See you later Nähdään myöhemmin
  • Please ole kiltti (when asking for something)
  • Thank youKiitos (it can also mean please, when you answer someone. “Tea or coffee?” – “Coffee, please.”
  • Reindeer Poro
  • Northern LightsRevontulet
  • I love youMinä rakastan sinue

If you’re wondering about the pronunciation, you’re not alone. Here is the Finnish (Suomi) alphabet and how to pronounce the letters:

If you really want to impress, you should learn the numbers – I haven’t seen many words this long. Can you guess what 38 would be?

If you’d like to know the numbers in between, too, take a look at this fun website. Type in the numeral or the word and click on “Finnish” below. (It just occured to me that there have to be so many puns for Fin(n)ish! Why didn’t I realize this sooner?) I must be really slow today… or everyday. Maybe I should do more brain jogging in addition to the regual jogging.

Did you find out what the Finnish word for 38 is? (without cheating;))

38 = kolmekymmentäkahdeksan

Other things I found during my research:

  • Suomi is the Finnish word for Finland or the Finnish language
  • The Day of the Finnish Language is celebrated in honor of Mikael Agricola, the Finnish Martin Luther. He actually went to Germany, studied under Martin Luther and later helped translate the Old Testament into Finnish.
  • If you want to know more about the Finnish language, I think this page is good point to start. (It’s also where I found the alphabet.)
  • Apparently, in Finnish you don’t say “he” or “she“. There’s just “hän” which you use for both.
  • They must be a very altruistic and generous people because they don’t “have”. I read on this website managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (so it should be true, right?) that the Finns don’t have a direct translation for “to have”. Can you imagine that?
  • Apparently there are lots of words that are very similar to those in other European languages (although grammar-wise they don’t have much in common at all). For example delfiini means dolphin and elefantti is elephant. So you mostly just have to add i at the end. The colleague who first told me about this said that she tried this strategy with a roommate from Finland for a while and was semi-successful. You just have to get the pronunciation right et voilà, you’re a Finnish-genius in the making 😀

Did you manage to Finnish in 5 minutes? (Bad pun, I know, but I had to try at least once!)

Hei hei and until next time!

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