Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Beginners' Finnish

Last night was my first Finnish class. I am taking Finnish at the tyovaenopisto, the worker's institute. And now a plea for help...does anyone know how to set my computer key board so that I type the Finnish alphabet? Those 2 little dots are very important.

My friend, Keisha, and I are the only Americans in the class. Please hum "It's a small world after all" as I report that we are also both from Georgia! That's right! Georgia, home of Coca Cola. They don't teach you how to say "y'all" until you get to Advanced Finnish. I am quite sure that "All y'all" is the formal of "y'all" not just the plural.

Finnish is spoken by 5 million people. It is not an Indo-European language. It is part of the Finno-Ugric family. The Finno-Ugric family would have a very intimate family reunion if they were to get together. It would be the Estonians, the Hungarians, the Sami, some inhabitants of Russia, and, of course, the Finns. I am not sure that they would get along at the reunion.

Over 320,000 Finns emigrated to the US and Canada during the years 1864-1914. According to my Finnish phrase book, the Finnish emigrants tended to stay in areas of the US similar to Finland. Thus their descendants are found in Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and New Hampshire. You can drive around Newport to see some Finnish family names. There was even a Finn Hill in Penacook.

The difficulty with learning Finnish is that the vocabulary is not recognizable to Indo-European family members. And it doesn't help that there are 15 different grammatical cases. Chris has been studying the vocabulary for months, but I predict that Sophia will speak the most Finnish by the time we leave. She is already dropping the final vowel in words. Instead of saying yksi (one) she is saying yks. This is apparently a Turku specialty.

Hei hei!


  1. Go to control panel. There you will find Regional and language settings. If you are using XP there will be languages option and over there you have to click on to information. If you are using Vista there is Keyboards and languages option. There you van change keyboards. If you have troubles with keyboard layout, you can find help from Wikipedida.

  2. If you don't want to mess with your control panel settings or changing keyboard layouts etc etc I have a cheat sheet of alt+(numpad) combinations that might help.... for example Alt + 132 (on the numpad) is ä

  3. I would love a copy of the cheat sheet. Kiitos!

  4. It was so nice to read your new findings here in Turku! Hope to see you again and have fun in Finnish lessons!