Online Language Courses  


  • Finnish belongs to the Baltic-Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages, being most closely related to Estonian, Livonian, Votic, Karelian, Veps, and Ingrian.
  • Finnish is spoken by around 6 million people, mainly in Finland; there are small Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia. In addition, a few hundred thousand Finnish immigrants live in Sweden. Also there are communities of Finnish speaking immigrants in North America.
  • It is believed that the Baltic Finnic languages, a group to which Finnish belongs, evolved from a proto-Finnic language. Sami language, for example, separated around 1500–1000 BC. This proto-Finnic language had three dialects: northern, southern and eastern. It is the Baltic Finnic languages that separated around the 1st century.
  • The first written form of Finnish language was created by Mikael Agricola, a 16th century Finnish bishop. He based his writing system on Swedish (which was the official language of Finland at the time), German, and Latin.
  • During the Reformation major literary achievements belong to artists such as Paavali Juusten, Erik Sorolainen, and Jaakko Finno - and of course by Mikael Agricola. In the 17th century books were written in Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Estonian, Latvian, German, and Swedish, though the most important works were still written in Latin. Swedish became, in the late 17th century, the official language (of government).
  • Finnish is today one of the official languages of Finland. It also enjoys the status of an official minority language in Sweden.
  • Finnish dialects are divided into two distinct groups, the Western dialects and the Eastern dialects.
  • Over the course of many centuries, the Finnish language has borrowed many words from a variety of languages. Some estimates put the core Finno-Ugric vocabulary surviving in Finnish at only around 300 word roots! More recently, but still very old, there are borrowings from Baltic and other Indo-European languages. The usual example quoted is "kuningas" = "king" from Germanic kuningaz, but another example is "äiti" = "mother" - interesting because borrowing of close-kinship vocabulary is a rare phenomenon. The original Finnish word for mother is 'emo', which still exists, though its use is now confined to animal species, as is the variant 'emä'. This latter is also used in compounds in a figurative sense, such as 'emälaiva' = 'mothership' and 'emävale' = 'huge lie' ('a mother of lies'). There are other close-kinship words that are loaned from Baltic and Germanic languages ('morsian' = 'bride', 'armas' = 'dear').
  • More recently, Swedish has been a prolific source of borrowings due to the fact that the present-day Finland was part of the kingdom of Sweden from the 12th century A.D. until ceded to Russia in 1809. About 6% of Finnish nationals use Swedish as their mother tongue. The Swedish speaking citizens are known as 'suomeruotsalaiset' (Swedes of Finland). A range of words was acquired from Russian - especially in older Helsinki slang - but not to the same extent as was the case with Swedish. Borrowing has been partly a result of geographical proximity.
  • Most recently, and with increasing impact, English has been the source of new loanwords in Finnish. Unlike previous "geographical" borrowing, the influence of English is largely "cultural" and reaches Finland by many routes including: international business; music; film (except for the very young, foreign films are shown subtitled); literature; and, of course, the Internet -- this is now probably the most important source of exposure to English. The importance of English as the language of global commerce has led many non-English companies, including Finland's Nokia, to adopt English as their official operating language. Recently, it has been observed that English borrowings are not only ousting existing Finnish words, but also previous borrowings, for example the switch from "treffailla" = "to date" (from Swedish) to "deittailla" from English.
Online Dictionaries
Online Newspapers
Online and Satellite TV & Radio Stations
Other resources
© Copyright 2002-2007 Language Directory All Rights Reserved.

The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL