They sometimes say that Dutch, for example, is not an easy language, but Finnish is also quite difficult to tackle. There are an infinite number of complicated grammar rules. The language has 16 (!) cases, long words (as in really long), an abundance of vowels and few consonants. The odds are that you will want to outsource your Finnish translation instead of figuring it out yourself.
As a Finnish translation agency that collaborates with native translators, we sometimes pick up on fun peculiarities of the language in question. To give you an idea of what a Finnish translator should take into account (and because they are really fun facts), we have listed the 9 things you didn’t know about Finnish.
1. The language is gender neutral
Did you learn French or Spanish at school? You may remember that nouns in these languages have a gender. Was it “la mujer” or “le mujer”? Don’t worry about this in Finnish as all pronouns are gender-neutral. “Hän” can mean both “she” and “he”.
2. Some of the letters are seldom used
The Finnish alphabet consists of 29 letters, but not all of them are used on a regular basis. Finnish consists mainly of vowels and has, in addition to a, e, i, o, u and y, also the vowels ä, å and ö. The “å” only occurs in Swedish loan words. B, c, f, q, w, c, z only occur in loan words and “g” and “d” are not common in the Finnish language either.
3. There is no future tense
The future tense does not exist in Finnish. You just use the present tense and give directions in the sentence. Such as “tänään” (today), “huomenna” (tomorrow), “nyt” (now).
4. The Finns indeed take it too literally
Many Finnish words have been translated very literally. A refrigerator is an “ice cabinet” (jääkaappi), a computer is a “knowledge machine” (tietokone) and dice are “lottery cubes” (arpakuutiot).
5. One Finnish word says more than… eh, many other words
The Finns are not only very happy, they are also very efficient. One Finnish word can express a whole sentence.
6. “Please” does not exist
They don’t know “please” in Finnish. If the situation calls for something like that, they say “kiitos” – which means “thank you”.
7. There is one Finnish word we use worldwide
That Finnish sauna? It’s named that way for a reason. Per every two Finnish residents there is one sauna and the word itself is used worldwide. The sauna was invented in Finland and is considered a cultural commodity. In most other languages it’s also written as “sauna”. One of the few words that even made it into English.
8. You pronounce it exactly as you write it
Good to know; you pronounce Finnish exactly as you write it. There is almost 100% conformity between letters and sounds, so any diacritical mark is important. You run the risk of saying something completely different if you pronounce it incorrectly. And by leaving out certain punctuation marks, you could change the meaning of the entire sentence.
For example, the letter “ä” is certainly not the same as the “a”. They are actually individual letters in the alphabet, you pronounce them differently and they have entirely different meanings. For example, “säde” means ray of light and “sade” means rain.
9. The longest Finnish word has 61 letters
Finnish is made up of many compound words; two or more words put together to form a new word with a whole new meaning. The longest Finnish word? Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas. (Knowing that you pronounce it exactly as you write it helps a lot here. ;-)) Oh, and the meaning? Aircraft Jet Engine Assistant Engineer Non-commissioned Officer Student. Let us know if you have submitted it to Wordfeud!
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