Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Vowel Fest

As a finnophile, I often find myself surfing the Web for information about Finland or the Finnish language.

What I find generally veers between the sublime and the ridiculous. If I am honest, it is more often ridiculous than sublime, as regular readers of this blog will no doubt testify. But it keeps me amused, so I keep surfing.

Cyberspace is where I discovered that the Finnish language holds the world record for the longest palindrome in every day use. Today, I would like to share some bizarre trivia about vowels in Finnish words that I have found while travelling on my cyber-surfboard.

The first bit of trivia concerns words with many consecutive vowels. Now English does quite well with the word "queueing" (5 consecutive vowels), but that pales into insignificance compared to Finnish – though it has to be said that Finnish has the advantage of allowing compound nouns to be created more or less at will.

So here are some of the Finnish candidates:

Hääyöaie – 7 consecutive vowels
Wedding night intention

Riiuuyöaie – 9 consecutive vowels
Dating-night intention

Hääyöaieoionta – 10 consecutive vowels
Correction of the intention of spending a wedding night

Hääyöaieuutinen – 10 consecutive vowels
News of the intention of spending a wedding night

Admittedly, those words might not be in the Finnish dictionary nor indeed in every day use. But they *could* be used, if the circumstances were right (ahem, any suggestions as to what those circumstances might be?).

Finnish also holds the bizarre distinction of having a word with a large number of consecutive dots:

Pääjääjää – 14 whopping consecutive dots
The main person who stays, in the partitive case

OK, that's another artificial word. But if could happen, like, if there were many people in a room, and everyone left, but the two most important remained... I say two, because it would trigger the partitive case . Oh, I am taking this all to seriously, aren't I? Again.

Speaking of dots, how about this tongue-twister dots-fest?

Älä rääkkää kääkkää kääkänrääkkääjä!
En mä kääkkää rääkkääkkään. Älä kääkätä kääkänrääkkäämisestä.

Don't torment the old man, you old-man-tormentor!
I am not tormenting the old man. Stop quacking on at me about the tormenting of old men.

Anyhow, enough ridiculous nonsense. Time for me to go surfing for some sublime content for my next post.

Don't hold your breath though...



  1. As you might know, Finnish language is the most vowel rich language in the world. However those examples you gave us are merely curiosities that are created merely as toungue twisters and are not in use.

    You should also be aware that there are three vowels in Finnish alphabets that are not included in English alphabets. Namely Ä (pronounced somewhere between A and E), Å (known as swedish o. Basicly only used in names. Legacy of 500 years of Swedish occupation) and Ö (pronounced somewhere between O and E). Those dots are not diaeresis. They are there to separate Ä and Ö from A and O.

  2. Another funny finnish tongue-twister, appropriate for the mid-summer.

    Poltetaanko kokko? Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko!

  3. Brilliant!
    I love your tongue-twister (and also the one that Anonymous posted above).

  4. Speaking of tongue-twisters one of my favorites is

    Hilja sanoi Hiljalle hiljaa niin hiljaa ettei Hilja kuullut kuinka hiljaa Hilja sanoi Hiljalle hiljaa.

  5. Kokoo kokoon koko kokko! Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko.

  6. Vesihiisi sihisi hississä.

  7. That Älä rääkkää thing is just too much fun :D

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  9. I had a really hard time trying to day the "älä rääkkää" thing. And I'm supposed to be Finnish.

    Anyway, another still tongue twister that I know is:
    Ärrän kierrän orren ympäri ässän pistän taskuun.
    I spin r around the straw, and put s in the pocket.