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Language Reference Guide For Finnish
Posted on Monday, October 15 @ 05:31:29 EDT
Topic: Lingustics

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1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender and Articles: The language makes no distinction as to gender, and has no articles, either definite or indefinite.

2. Cases: The number of case forms for nouns is staggering - whereas German has four cases, Latin five, and Russian six, Finnish has no fewer than fifteen cases! In addition to the familiar nominative, genitive, partitive, andablative, there are also the elative, allative, illative, essive, inessive, adessive,abessive, and several others, e.g. tämä kaunis talo = this beautiful house; tältä kauniilta talolta = from this beautiful house; tässä kauniissa talossa = in this beautiful house, etc.

3. Plurals: There is no easy way of identifying the plural form, but the 't' ending shows plural in a basic form (when not declined in cases), e.g. kauniit talot = beautiful houses. It gets very complicated when nouns, adjectives and pronouns are declined, e.g. näissä kauniissa taloissa = in these beautiful houses. 'I' marks the plural, but it is difficult for a non-speaker to identify it as it is part of the declension, and there are cases where 'i' is changed to 'j', e.g. talojen (houses).

4. Capitalisation: Each sentence begins with a capital letter. Names, like surnames, cities, rivers etc. are capitalised, e.g. Lontoo, Matti, Thames. Holidays and historical periods are lower case, e.g. joulu = Christmas. If a name consists of several parts, only the first part is capitalised: Helsingin yliopisto = Helsinki University.

There is a polite form which uses upper case in writing, e.g. Sinun, Teidän, but it is rarely used nowadays. The third case plural (Te) can be used as a polite form in spoken language e.g. when addressing elderly people and in customer service. It is also used in written language, e.g. in customer correspondence, but increasingly rarely.

There are no one-letter words.

Section Two - Punctuation

1. Speech Marks: Speech marks are used as in English but the comma which separates the quoted part of the sentence is never inside the speech marks.

The sentence: "I'm so tired", he said, "I just want to go home." would be split into 2 sentences: "Olen niin väsynyt", hän sanoi. "Haluan vain mennä kotiin."

2. Full Stops: Full stops are used only after a complete sentence. No full stops after headings, titles, or bullet points, unless the bullet points are all complete sentences. There is a full stop after the last bullet point as it is considered the end of the sentence. For example:

A message can be

- significant
- insignificant

Viesti voi olla

- merkityksellinen
- merkityksetön.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurement: Metric is the official system of measurement.

Time: 10am = 10.00; 3pm = 15.00

Date: 25/8/2004 = 25.8.2004

Decimal commas are used, e.g. = 3,7 %
Note also the space between the numeral and the percentage sign.

Numbers are divided in groups of three from the end and separated with a space: 2 000;16 000

A space is normally left between numbers and the measurement, e.g. 25 cm, 48 g, 34 C etc. Temperature is written: 38 °C.

2. Currency:

1 euro / 23 euroa
€ 1 / € 23
1 Yhdysvaltain dollari or USD 1 or 1 dollari / 23 dollaria
1 Ison-Britannian punta or GBP 1 or 1 punta / 23 puntaa

3. Abbreviations:

N/a = no abbreviation
No. = nro
e.g. = esim.
Q&A = kysymyksiä ja vastauksia [no abbreviation]
WxLxHxD = leveys x pituus x korkeus x syvyys
Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
Viikonpäivät: ma, ti, ke, to, pe, la, su

Titles such as Mr/Mrs/Ms/Miss or their abbreviations are not used in written language. Honorary titles are used. Letters are started with no address or with the addressee's full name and with the honorary title if applicable.

E.g. Dear Matti Turunen - Hyvä Matti Turunen
The ordinal numbers are marked with a full stop after the numeral:

1st, 2nd, 3rd
1. 2. 3.

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphenation is very common. It is used especially when linking different words together, such as names.

As a general rule, a hyphen is used with no space e.g.

This is split as follows:

When there are 2 or more words preceding a noun, there is a space and hyphen, e.g. LaserJet 840 -tulostin. This is split: LaserJet 840

End-of-line hyphenation: Finnish can be hyphenated before or after a single letter, e.g. a-voin, but stylistically it is not recommended. Never hyphenate monosyllabic words; do hyphenate between 2 consonants; do try and hyphenate between grammatical elements of the word.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

The correct translation for 'technology' is often tekniikka, NOT teknnologia, as in Finnish, technology primarily refers to the theory and study of technology.

Nouns, adjectives and pronouns decline in 15 cases in plural and singular.

Verbs decline too, depending on personal pronouns.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

There are approximately 6 million speakers of Finnish. Besides being the national language of Finland, where it is spoken by around 5 million people or 94% of the population, it is spoken by about 300,000 people in Sweden, approximately 12,000 people in the northern parts of Norway, 70,000 people in the United States and 50,000-100,000 people in north-western Russia.

Finnish is one of the few languages of Europe not of the Indo-European family. Like Estonian, spoken across the Gulf of Finland, it is one of the Finno-Ugric languages, which constitute the main branch of the Uralic family.

Finnish is undoubtedly an exceedingly difficult language to learn. Aside from foreign borrowings (mostly from the Germanic languages), the long, often compound words bear no similarity whatever to their counterparts in the Indo-European languages.

Finnish is spoken/used in the following countries:
Finland, Sweden, Russia, Norway, Estonia, United States of America.

Language Family
Family: Uralic
Subgroup: Finno-Ugric
Branch: Finnic

http://www.worldlanguage.com/Languages/Finnish - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.
http://www.kotus.fi/kielet/suomi/- Research Institute for the Languages of Finland

Section Seven – Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

a ä [0228]A Ä [0196]
d D
l L
n N
o ö [0246]O Ö [0214]
r R
s S
t T
u U

By Wordbank Ltd,
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7903 8800, FAX: +44 (0) 20 7903 8888,


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