Saturday, 11 December 2010

Finnish is Easy!

When I complain to Finns that their language is tricky to learn, they often reply that I am mistaken and that Finnish is, in fact, easy. "Two year-old Finnish kids can speak it!", they say.


1. Finnish is written phonetically, and is fairly easy to pronounce. That means that within a matter of minutes, a complete novice can read out loud a newspaper, a novel, or (as I discovered) a pizza menu, in such a way that a Finnish speaker could understand.Of course the reader would have no clue what they were reading, but it’s still, it’s a satisfying start!

2. Finnish does not have any genders. No masculine, no feminine, no neutral. Everything is equal. This is so much simpler than, say, German where “cat” is feminine but “girl” is neutral; or French where “love” (amour) is masculine when singular, and feminine when plural; or even English, where “ship” is feminine (“she sails”), despite being an inanimate object.

3. Finnish does not have articles. Whereas in many languages one has to chose the right article (e.g. “el”, “la”, “un” or “una” in Spanish), in Finnish one just uses the noun. That’s it. Even English, with the relatively simple “the” and “a”, isn’t as straight forward.

Clearly Finnish is a breeze!

Unfortunately, as far as I can work out, those are pretty much the only things about Finnish that are really easy. The rest is, well, tricky.

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