How did the Finnish language develop

Where does Finnish come from?

People often mistakenly assume that the languages ​​of neighboring countries are closely related.

Finns are often asked: "Is Finnish like Swedish?" or “Does everyone in Finland speak Russian?” The simple answer to both questions is "No!" Swedish, although one of the two official languages ​​in Finland, and Russian belong to the Indo-European language group, while Finnish belongs to the Finnish-Ugric language group, which includes Hungarian, Estonian, Sami (spoken by the indigenous people in northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and in the north-west of Russia ) and some lesser-known languages ​​spoken in Russia.

That the Finnish-Ugric languages ​​have a common origin is sufficiently proven by common lexical and grammatical features. Although these languages ​​have diverged over thousands of years, common traits can be identified. Including:

1) absence of gender (the same Finnish pronoun “hän” denotes both “he” and “she” and “it”)
2) Missing articles (der, die, das in German)
3) long words due to the structure of the language
4) numerous grammatical cases
5) Ownership is expressed by suffixes
6) Postpositions in addition to prepositions
7) no equivalent for the verb "haben"

There are various speculative theories about the time and place of origin of the so-called proto-Finnish-Ugric language group. According to the most popular theory, Hungarian and Finnish are only separated by a six thousand year separate development.

How long Finnish-speaking people have settled in Finland is a question that has always interested Finnish scholars. Today it is assumed that since at least 3000 BC People of the Finnish-Ugric language lived in the region of today's Finland, who in the following millennia expanded their contacts with neighboring Indo-European languages ​​(e.g. Baltic, Germanic and Slavic dialects).

Numerous loan words in Finnish, Estonian and other Baltic-Finnish languages ​​(Karelian, Lüdisch, Wepsisch, Wotisch and Livisch) attest to the existence of contacts between people of the Finnish language group and Indo-Europeans. But not only vocabulary was borrowed, but also numerous grammatical forms. Most of the borrowings in today's Finnish language come from the Germanic and Scandinavian languages, especially Swedish.

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By Hannele Branch, Lecturer in Finnish at the University of London

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