Why is Finnish so hard

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 17, 2019

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Submitted: April 17, 2019

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Finnish is said to be among the top five hardest languages to learn, and I can agree. It's not a very useful language, unless you live in Finland, Estonia or Sweden. Elsewhere it's not really any use learning. If you want to, go for it. If you manage to learn Finnish without wanting to kill yourself, bravo. If not, then I feel you, and I would love to come to the funeral to eat free food.

Finnish is different from most languages with a few basic things. First of all, there are no prepositions or articles in front of words. There are no feminine or masculine pronouns or words, unlike in English or French, for example. The words are pronounced as they are written, unlike in most languages. Also, there are so many different dialects in Finnish that they sound like different languages. 

It's often said in Finland that Finnish isn't your first language. It's your second language. This applies to the written Finnish. Your first language is the spoken dialect you speak, which differs a lot. Usually you can divide the dialects into ones spoken in the east, south, west or in Lapland, but it gets really complicated after a while. The best way explain this is that I can easily tell the difference between someone who grew up in the center of our town and someone who grew up just less than ten kilometers away. It's not obvious, but locals notice it immediately. 

Everyone understands each other, at least for the most part. I sometimes have trouble understanding people from Savo, which is the central region of Finland, as their dialect is just crazy, but apparently they feel the same way about me. Dialects are so common here, no one realizes it, but they are like their own languages.

It's often said the best way to tell if someone really knows Finnish, is by the word "I". In Finnish, I is "minä", but no one says that. I say "mä", most my friends say "miä", and some people say "mie". There are probably twenty different ways to say I, but no one says "minä" if they can actually speak Finnish. Same is with "kyllä", whic means "yes". No one says that. It's often "joo", or "juu". No one also says "hän", which means he or she. To everyone not living here, it feels disrespectful, but Finns always use the pronoun "it", when speaking about a person. "Se", is the word for that, and using "hän", is often rather sarcastic in speech. That leads to many awkward situations with Finns using the word "it" in English and they get labeled very disrespectful.

Finnish grammar is ridiculous, and I'm glad I'm done with high school so I never have to pretend like I know it. There are 15 grammatical cases for nouns. Yes. 15. For each noun. And they all mean totally different things and getting those wrong will make you sound stupid. I used to be able to name them all, but that was years ago, and I will never want to learn them again. 

Verbs are okay, but not really. There are seven forms for each verb, one for every pronoun, plus passive. There are four tenses, but no future tense. You have to understand the future tense from the context of the sentence. Good luck with that. Each verb also has four grammatical moods, like imperative.

As there are no prepositions and everything is just dumped at the end of the word, "I wonder if we should eat" is in Finnish "söisimmeköhän". The verb is "syödä, is the "söi-" part. "-isi-" is the conditional, meaning should, in this case. The "-mme-" is a weird form of we, which is "me", but you have to put the double m here. "-kö-" means I wonder if and "-hän-" is just something to dump in the end of wondering something. 

The funny thing about grammar here is, that you can make sentences sound reasonable no matter how the words are. In most languages, it's quite strict, but in Finnish, it's okay to say "car there going is where?" It might not always sound the best, but it's completely fine. Honestly, you just might sound a little poetic if anything. It's fine and no one cares. 

There are ridiculously hard words and tongues twisters in Finnish, and in case you have a Finnish friend, they will most likely force you to try to pronounce them and then laugh as you fail miserably. My favourite has to be "Kokko. Kokoo koko kokko kokoon. Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko." It means, "Kokko (as a surname). Build the whole bonfire. The whole bonfire? The whole bonfire."  Another great word that is actually a job title is "lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas" which has 61 letters. It means "airplane jet turbine motor assistant mechanic non-comissioned officer in trianing". If you count words that are inflected, the longest is over a hundred letter so that it still makes sense and can be used. 

If you actually want to learn Finnish, great. I suggest you learn Swedish instead. If you still want to learn Finnish, good luck with that. It's possible, it's just going to be awful and you will want to kill yourself or at least the person who came up with this horrible language. Have fun.


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