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What makes finnish so hard?

  Tags: Finnish
 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
16 messages over 2 pages: 1
Chung
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 Message 9 of 16
04 July 2012 at 1:17am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
Chung wrote:
I don't fully agree with Serpent about Finnish diglossia being overatted since it is an important aspect to learn for any foreign student of Finnish. It must be learned simply because it is how Finns communicate despite its distinctiveness and there being a standard language backed by a language planning body. I've had to devote some time already for passive knowledge of colloquial Finnish since the standard language doesn't normally appear in native speech and there are noticeable differences in inflection which aren't immediately transparent to foreigners raised only on the standard language (e.g. passive present is used to mark the standard 1st person plural present tense; long vowels replace certain diphthongs; dropping or occasional assimilation of standard final -n). However the difficulty for beginners is often reduced by natives often using standard language on foreigners and this probably leads to Serpent's comment about the diglossia being overrated. It's not impossible to learn, but it's not a cakewalk either, and will take some study and practice to become comfortable.
I'm almost offended lol :P
As for diglossia, I've explained this elsewhere. Finns just use a more informal language in general, so what's used only between friends in other countries can be used to strangers. IDK it's just not been a big deal in my case. After years of study, I find the English dialects (especially UK) much harder than the Finnish ones.


Ai kuin nii? ;-) It's not a huge deal, partially through what I explained in that Finns normally talk to foreigners (or foreign learners of Finnish) using standard language unless they're confident that using colloquial Finnish will not confuse anyone. This kind of accommodation would make the internal diglossia less apparent or relevant for at least the beginning learner who's being addressed by Finns. However I don't think that it's as trivial as I'm picking up from your post (unless of course, I'm overreacting). When I first came upon the difference between puhekeli and yleiskieli, it reminded me a lot of the distinction between colloquial and standard Czech. Even though Finnish and Czech developed independently of each other, the similarities in their development leading to what happens among Czechs and Finns in 2012 are interesting.

CZECH: Modern Standard Czech is derived from what was used in Bohemia (especially Prague) in the 17th and 18th centuries
FINNISH: Modern Standard Finnish is derived from what was used in Eastern and Western Finnish dialects from the 16th to 19th centuries (thank mainly Agricola and then Lönnrot for this).

CZECH: (General) Colloquial Czech is derived from what has been used in Bohemia (especially Prague) from the 19th century onward.
FINNISH: (General) Colloquial Finnish is derived from what has been used in Uusimaa (especially Helsinki) from the 19th century onward.

CZECH: Morphological distinctions between colloquial and standard forms which foreigners must learn consciously as they're not necessarily simple truncations which might be easily guessed anyway.
FINNISH: Morphological distinctions between colloquial and standard forms which foreigners must learn consciously as they're not necessarily simple truncations which might be easily guessed anyway.

e.g.

English: "I work / We work in Prague"
Standard Czech: Pracuji / Pracujeme v Praze.
Colloquial Czech: Pracuju / Pracujem v Praze.

(i.e. different verb endings for 1st person singular/plural present for the -ovat class of verbs)

English: "Who are you?" (informal singular)
Standard Czech: Kdo jsi?
Colloquial Czech: Kdo seš?

(i.e. 2nd person singular present of "to be" looks and sounds different)

English: "Are you going with friends?" (informal singular)
Standard Czech: Jdeš s kamarády?
Colloquial Czech: Jdeš s kamarádama? (this isn't even slangy as Czechs could use kámošema or felákama (< kámoš, felák "buddy", "friend") for kamarády)

(i.e. ending for instrumental plural differs entirely between standard and colloquial)

English: "I am / We are at home"
Standard Finnish: Olen / Olemme kotona
Colloquial Finnish: Mä oon / Me ollaan kotona

English: "What does (s)he / do they want?"
Standard Finnish: Mitä hän haluaa? / he haluavat?
Colloquial Finnish: Mitä se haluu? / ne haluu? (N.B. for those who don't know Finnish, what Finns often use here is literally "What does it want? / What does they [inanimate] want?"; 3rd person singular and plural present tense forms have merged)

English: "Are you going home?"
Standard Finnish: Menetkö kotiin?
Colloquial Finnish: Meetsä kotii?

***

Dialects in both languages are a different story altogether, and it's quite common for members of a speech community to be befuddled by forms used in regions of the speech community other than their own. As a foreign learner of Finnish I can get befuddled by a native speaker of Savonian using fairly simple sentences as much as I could as a native speaker of English by a fellow native speaker using Geordie.
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jdmoncada
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 Message 10 of 16
04 July 2012 at 1:54am | IP Logged 
This discussion of Finnish diglossia made me feel unsure of myself. I never noticed any huge differences between written and spoken Finnish, so I wondered if perhaps I hadn't learned as much as I thought I had. That is a distressing thought.
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Chung
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 Message 11 of 16
04 July 2012 at 2:49am | IP Logged 
A couple of ways to get an idea of how much colloquial Finnish you understand is to overhear several conversations among Finns, or listen to the dialogues (or read their transcripts) in "Colloquial Finnish", "FSI Conversational Finnish" (the colloquial variants, that is) or "Kato hei!". "FSI Conversational Finnish" is available online so you could test yourself for free if you'd like.

Edited by Chung on 04 July 2012 at 2:51am

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Serpent
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 Message 12 of 16
04 July 2012 at 12:47pm | IP Logged 
Oh Kalakukko! I miss Kuopio... Perhaps spending a lot of time in the heart of Savo has helped me more than I think :) (don't you want to try my Finnish challenge btw? it's Savo too:))

Do you use Finnish forums btw? Now that I think of it, seeing the colloquial forms in writing must've helped a lot as well.

In fact, nowadays I suppose my main problem with Finnish is that I haven't had any pakkoruotsi so I don't understand the slang coming from Swedish.
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tarvos
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