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Eugene Holman: Despre finlandeză și despre finlandezi

Eugene Holman: Despre finlandeză și despre finlandezi.

Finnish characterized

The home pages for the Usenet newsgroup soc.culture.nordic

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Image published without permission.

S-ar putea ca autorului să nu i se pareă cea mai potrivită fotografie, dar așa l-am cunoscut eu la Universitate.

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Eugene Holman despre finlandeză și despre finlandezi

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… one of those languages (like Turkish) where one cannot pronounce two consonants in a row, unless they come in separate syllables?

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Finnish has strict phonological constraints on syllables, morphemes, and words, but that does not preclude two successive consonants in the same syllable.

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At the margins of words, Finnish allows at most one consonant word initially, and at most one dental consonant from the set /t, s, n, l, r/ word finally. Recent loans and neologisms do not necessarily conform to these constraints, e.g. kriisi ‘crisis’, spurgu ‘drunken bum’, prameileva ‘gaudy’. stidi ‘match’

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Between syllables in root morphemes Finnish allows numerous consonant clusters,, some of them articularily complex, e.g. mels‑ke ‘noise, din’, kort‑su ‘condom’, mark‑ka ‘mark’, palt‑tu ‘blood pudding’.

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These examples are sufficient to refute your hypothesis. Please excuse being compared to Turkish. Apparently this is a sore spot. I met a Frenchman in Helsinki who said that he had also remarked a similarity between Finnish and Turkish. He mentioned this to his Finnish girlfriend who became quite angry at the thought.

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During the 19th century many reputable scholars entertained the hypothesis that Finnish was the westernmost representative of a group of languages which stretched across Eurasia and included Mongolian, the Turkic languages, Yukaghir, Korean, Ainu, and perhaps Japanese.

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The great Finnish linguist C. J. Ramstedt (1873‑1950) was one of the scholars who investigated the question seriously. His research was inconclusive, but he seems to have been in favor of this idea. The Swedish linguist Björn Collinder, and the recently deceased American linguist Robert Austerlitz are among the modern scholars to have the knowledge of Eurasian languages and linguistic methodology to have tackled the question seriously.

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I once attended a paper given by prof. Austerlitz on the topic. While not wanting to claim that an actual relationship could be demonstrated, he pointed out that Finnish and Lappish form the westernmost arm of a large group of languages which are united by numerous structural features. These include vowel harmony, agglutination as the favored grammatical strategy, lack of grammatical gender, use of the singular with numbers larger than one, a preference for SOV word order, a strict phonological constraints on the shape of syllables, morphemes, and words, etc. stretching from Scandinavia across Eurasia to the Northern Pacific, the Aleutian Islands and Alaska, and possibly including Korean, Japanese, Ainu, and Gilyak (Nivkh).

 

The methodology developed during the 19th century to demonstrate that languages were genealogically related was based on the assumption of regular sound change. The evidence for these assumptions was usually culled from written records produced by relatively settled populations interacting with a small number of languages. These methods have successfully been used in the study of American Indian and African languages, that is to say, of languages lacking continuous written records. The conditions in which the northern Eurasian languages are spoken ‑ vast tracts of sparsely inhabited land in which many small have languages coexisted and intermingled over the centuries, confronts traditional historical linguistics with challenges that it has not been able to deal with satisfactorily. Specifically, what weight is to be given to structural similarity when trying to determine whether two languages are genealogically related? Personally I don’t see any connection between Turkish and Finnish other than what I mentioned, as well as both being of Asiatic origin. ‑‑

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Hungarian and Finnish have numerous structural similarities, even if the number of roots they can be demonstrated to hold in common numbers no more than a few hundred. Turkish, Hungarian, and Finnish all share numerous structural similarities, but, Finnish and Turkish, at least, do not appear to have a significant number of roots in common. (With Hungarian the story is different because of a long period of historical contact between speakers of Hungarian and Turkish.) In any case, speakers of Turkish and Finnish learning each others languages are surprised by the large number of organizational similarities. Just to name a few: vowel harmony, consonant gradation, a strong tendency towards haplosemia (= bidirectional one‑form one‑meaning relationships for morphemes), a system of local cases based on a tripartite division into ‘motion towards’, ‘location at’, ‘separation from’, opposing definite to indefinite by using different cases, a tendency to express more subtle local relationships by postpositions, use of the singular form of nouns in conjunction with numbers higher than one, lack of any trace of grammatical gender, sentence structure characterized by heavy premodification. If structural features which are known to have been abandoned due to contact with Indo‑European languages are admitted, the list must be lengthened to include a preference for SOV word order (largely given up in Finnish, still the norm in the non‑Baltic‑‑Finnic Uralic languages and Turkish), and no case agreement between adjective and noun (Finnish has recently acquired agreement on the model of neighboring languages, agreement is not even fully implemented in Estonian). I should finally add that millennia of contact between the Uralic (Finno‑Ugric + Samoyed) and Turkic languages have resulted in languages which show the features of both: Mari (also known as Cheremis) is a strongly Turkicized Finno‑Ugric language, while Chuvash is a strongly Finno‑Ugricized Turkic language.

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Concluding, then, the hypothesis of a genealogical relationship between Finnish and Turkish has not been demonstrated, and the present methods used for determining the answer to questions of this type are incapable of providing a definitive answer. Given that our knowledge of the languages and movements of peoples in prehistoric northern Eurasia is sketchy, we can neither fully support nor fully debunk the hypothesis. The structural relationships we see between Finnish and Turkish can thus be attributed to chance ‑ languages which have invested heavily in agglutination as their primary grammatical strategy can be expected to develop certain kinds of organizational strategies, borrowing ‑ language long spoken by primarily nomadic populations inhabiting vast, sparsely populated areas which come into contact with other languages of the same type through trade, spouse exchange, warfare, will borrow words, expressions, and organizational strategies, to common origin, or to some combination of the above.

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With best regards,

Eugene Holman

University of Helsinki

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Personally I don’t see any connection between Turkish and Finnish other than what I mentioned, as well as both being of Asiatic origin. I think this question has already been concluded in some former discussion. In any case, Finnish at least is not of Asiatic origin, its original source (like, thousands of years ago) was near Volga a good way west of the Urals mountains. And, I think that every form of historical linguistics places Finnish in its own ‘camp’ of Fenno‑Ugric languages, which Turkish isn’t a part of.

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The answer to the question is more complex.

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THE ORIGIN OF FINNISH

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Finnish originated in Finland. The mixture of Finno‑Ugric, Baltic, Slavic, and Germanic elements out of which the Baltic‑Finnic dialects which provided the input out of which modern Finnish developed consolidated itself in the territory of what is now Estonia and northern Latvia some 3,000 years ago, and was introduced to what is now Finland over the Baltic and, in a version which came to be somewhat more heavily influenced by Slavic, up along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland across the Neva, and upwards and outwards into the wildernesses of Karelia and the isthmus separating Lake Ladoga from Lake Ladoga.

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Fifteen hundred years ago there was a continuum of dialects covering most of the southern part of the interior of present day Finland, Karelia, the shores of the Neva, the isthmus between Lakes Onega and Ladoga, the southern shores of the Gulf of Finland, modern Estonia, and extending well into modern Latvia (at least down to the River Dvina). The territory which is now Finland also had a considerable Germanic‑speaking population on the Aaland Islands as well as in at least a few scattered settlements in the archipelagos and the western shore. In the northern parts of the country extending well down into modern Savo there was a small nomadic population, the ancestors of the modern Saami. Increased influx of Baltic‑Finnic population across the Gulf of Finland, the Karelian Isthmus, and, to a lesser extent, the forested areas of Karelia resulted in the consolidation of locally differentiated regional dialects. An influx of Scandinavian population during and after the Crusades influenced those dialects spoken in the western part of the country, particularly those in the area of the medieval center Turku/Aabo, contact with and the gradual assimilation of the Saam‑speaking population left their imprint on the dialects in the north, while increased cultural influence from speakers of Old Russian began to leave their imprint on the dialects of the east. With the severance of the Protestant West from the Orthodox East during the early 14th century (1323, treaty of Nötteborg, if I remember correctly) the prerequisites were lain down for the centripetal development of a relatively uniform set of dialects influenced to varying degrees by Swedish and Saami in the Protestant province of Finland, and the continued centrifugal development of a more heterogeneous set of dialects which eventually differentiated to such a degree that they have to be regarded as separate languages, i.e. Karelian, Olonetsian (Ludic), Vepsian, and Votian. The expansion of the Teutonic knights to the south in what are now Estonia and Latvia resulted in a weakening of contacts between southern Finland and northern Estonia, allowing for more differentiation, as well as in the erection of cultural and administrative boundaries which allowed the dialects of southern Estonia and Livonia to develop each in its own manner.

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At the time of the Reformation ‘Finnish’ was thus a group of closely allied but distinct dialects. The Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola forged a written language based primarily on the heavily Suedicized speech of the Turku/Aabo area, but also incorporating a few more typically Finnish elements from the Häme and south‑eastern dialects. As is well known, this written standard saw only limited use, and it was rejected during the 1820s (the period of the ‘Battle of the Dialects’) in favor of a compromise standard which was more oriented towards the Eastern dialects then popularly regarded as the source of Finnish culture and national identity. It took several generations before this standard ‑ which either selects obviously eastern (e.g. tie ‘road’, yö ‘night’, suo ‘swamp’ or than western tiä, yä, sua) with obviously western (e.g. pää ‘head’, maa ‘land’ rather than peä, moa) features, or allows a choice with sylistic differentiation (e.g. talossansa (W) or talossaan (E) ‘in his house’, lähdin (W) or läksin (E) ‘I left’) had established itself to the extent that it could seriously replace the dialects. Even today it is difficult to say precisely how successfully this artificial written standard and its spoken variants have been at replacing the long established historical dialects.

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It cannot be emphasized too much that Finnish is spoken by people of several ethnic backgrounds. An experiment I have conducted in my classes several times over the years seems to indicate that only for a distinct minority of Finns were all eight great-grandparents Finnish speaking Finns, in the Helsinki region slightly more than half of the more than hundred students I’ve asked had four grandparents who were Finnish‑speaking Finns. Finnish‑speaking Swedes, Swedes, Russians, Estonians, Germans, Lapps, Tartars, Poles, Gypsies, not to mention the occasional immigrant from further afield have all contributed to the genetic makeup of the current Finnish population. There is no reason to assume that the gene‑pool was ‘purer’ at some earlier period, if anything, the evidence of loanwords from Baltic languages such as morsian ‘bride’, sisar ‘sister’, tytär ‘daughter’, heimo ‘tribe, clan’; hammas ‘tooth’, reisi ‘thigh’ seem to indicate the reverse to be true. Ideas of some primitive Pekka Lehtinen leading a tribe of round-faced, blond-haired, blue-eyed proto‑Finns from the Volga to the Baltics and through them to Finland are to be dismissed as unscientific nonsense.

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THUS. Finnish originated in Finland.

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BUT. The elements out of which its fundamental structure derives originate ‘in the East’.

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THE ORIGIN OF THE FINNO‑UGRIC ELEMENTS IN FINNISH

Efforts to trace the place where these elements originated assume that such a place actually existed. We have to remember that posing the question in this way is very much a product of the romanticist inspired historiography of the 19th century, which viewed nations as having racial and linguistic continuity as well as some original homeland.

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If we accept these assumptions we can make some tentative conclusions as to where the original homeland would have been. The methods used include the study of cognates. The fact that the Finno‑Ugric languages all share the same root for the tree called ‘spruce’, for example, would have us restrict our search to the area where the spruce (and mutatis mutandis the other flora and fauna, the names of which are common to all or most of the F‑U languages) are or have been indigenous.

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Another method would involve the study of loanwords. Without going into details, we can say that the two Mordvin languages (spoken over a large area around Saransk near the lower reaches of the Volga) have a lexical structure which appears to indicate that their borrowed words are superstratic (= have been taken from peoples who have passed through the area) rather than (substratic = taken from people who inhabited the area before they did). If, then, we entertain the idea that Mordvin is to Finno‑Ugric like Italian is to Latin ‑ the modern version of a language which has been spoken in the same area since time immemorial ‑ then the area inhabited by the Mordvins would be approximately the place where the Finno‑Ugric elements of Finnish (but not the Finns themselves) originated.

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However, the fact that we cannot find any substratum elements in Mordvin only means that there is no evidence of there having been a population in the area before the pre‑Mordvins arrived.

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Thus, trivially, the area where Mordvin is now spoken seems to be the most likely candidate for the ‘homeland’ of where the original Finno‑Ugric language was spoken.

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Let us assume that this is so.

It is obvious that this ‘original Finno‑Ugrian languyage’ was not the product of spontaneous generation.

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All evidence points to the fact that the Finno‑Ugric languages and the Samoyedic languages ‑ spoken much further to the north and east ‑ are also related, they form the Uralic family of languages.

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We do not know enough about the prehistory of these languages to be able to reliably reconstruct their history. As I wrote in a previous posting, the fact that we are dealing with languages that share organizational strategies, seem to have been spoken by small populations which wandered, traded and freely intermingled with one another means that the entire question ‘what do we mean when we say that two languages are geneologically affiliated?’ takes assumes an entirely different aspect within the Eurasian context.

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These questions have to be studied with scholarly objectivity, and any findings have to be evaluated in the light of new facts. Regarding the pained expressions one often sees on the faces of Finns when the question of the Asian origin of Finnish is discussed, I’d like to remind those of you who have stuck it out to this point of the fate of the Hungarian linguists J. Gyarmathyi and M. Sajnovics. Gyarmathyi spent a year in Lapland and, having nothing better to do, he learned Saami. He discovered that the resemblences between Hungarian and Saami were so striking that they could not be the result of chance. He wrote a book about his findings ‑ inappropriately titled ‘Demonstratio. Idioma ungarorum et lapponum idem esse’ (‘A demonstration that that the language of the Hungarians and of the Lapps is the same’). The Hungarians regarded such a claim as so outrageous (‘Es stinkt nach Fischtran’) that they refused to publish it, and poor Sajnovics had to have it printed in Copenhagen in 1770. Sajnovic, who supplemented Gyarmathi’s findings with systematic comparisons of phonology, morphology, and semantics, published a more modestly entitled ‘Affinitas…’ (‘The Affinity of the Hungarian and Finnish Languages’) in 1799. The book was hostily received, and in his obituary he was said to have done his country a greater service by having introduced two strains of potato than by having demonstrated beyond any doubt that Hungarian, Finnish, Saami and numerous minor tongues spoken in the depths of Russia were related.

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So, I’d like to stop here, but the history of the basic elements of Finnish obviously extends back a long time before the (possible) settlement of a tribe of Neolithic nomads along the uninhabited shores of the Volga. The history of a people and the history of a language are intertwined, but nevertheless distinct. As far as the history of the basic vocabulary and structural organization of Finnish goes, all available evidence points towards the northeast…

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(This essay was written off the top of my head, but the material can be found in ‘Jazyki narodov SSSR’, volume III (1966), V Lytkin (ed.) ‘Vvedenie v finno‑ugorskoe jazykoznanie’, 1970 ff. vol. 1‑3, A. Laanest, ‘Sissejuhatus läänemeresoome keeltesse’,1980, B. Collinder, Survey of the Uralic Languages, 1960, A. Anttila, An Introduction to Historical and Comparative Linguistics, 1974, E. Itkonen Kieli ja sen tutkimus,1966, E. Kivikoski, Suomen esihistoria, 196?, T. Vuorela The Finno‑Ugric Peoples, 196?, Gy. Decsy ‘Einfuerung in die finnisch‑ugrische Sprachwissenschaft, 196?, L. Hakulinen Suomen kielen rakenne ja kehtys 1980, and T. Sebeok, Portraits of Linguists, 196?.)

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With best regards,

Eugene Holman

University of Helsinki

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Changing the clock last night has taxed my attention span.

The paragraph about Sajnovics and Gyarmathi should have read:

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I’d like to remind those of you who have stuck it out to this point of the fate of the Hungarian linguists J. Gyarmathyi and M. Sajnovics. Gyarmathyi spent a year in Lapland and, having nothing better to do, he learned Saami. He discovered that the resemblances between Hungarian and Saami were so striking that they could not be the result of chance. He wrote a book about his findings ‑ inappropriately titled ‘Demonstratio. Idioma ungarorum et lapponum idem esse’ (‘A demonstration that that the language of the Hungarians and of the Lapps is the same’). The Hungarians regarded such a claim as so outrageous (‘Es stinkt nach Fischtran’) that they refused to publish it, and poor Sajnovics had to have it printed in Copenhagen in 1770. GYARMATHI, who supplemented SAJNOVICS’s findings with systematic comparisons of phonology, morphology, and semantics, published a more modestly entitled ‘Affinitas…’ (‘The Affinity of the Hungarian and Finnish Languages’) in 1799. The book was hostily received, and in his obituary he was said to have done his country a greater service by having introduced two strains of potato than by having demonstrated beyond any doubt that Hungarian, Finnish, Saami and numerous minor tongues spoken in the depths of Russia were related.

Sorry about the slip‑up,

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Regards,

Eugene Holman

University of Helsinki

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Finnish

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  • Pronunciation: Easy in the sense that it uses a small number of sounds which are subject to a surprisingly small amount of allophonic variation; difficult in the sense that the ability to speak and understand Finnish is crucially dependent on having learned to distinguish between long and short vowels and consonants, and learning to articulate unstressed syllables crisply without the slightest trace of slurring or reduction, this being the exact opposite of what an English speaker is likely to do.All Finnish words have their main stress on the first syllable, and the basic intonation patterns are easily learned.
  • Grammar: First the good news: no grammatical gender, almost no irregular nouns or verbs, there is usually a simple one-to-one mapping relationship between ending and function or meaning.The bad news is an extremely complex set of morphophonemic alternations known as „consonant gradation” which results in most lexical morphemes having at least two highly divergent forms:

    varvas „toe”,
    varpaat „the toes”;käsi „hand, arm”,
    kädet „the hands, the arms”;

    joki „river”,
    joet „the rivers”;

    aikoa „to intend”,
    aion „I intend”,

    Although not as difficult as it appears at first glance, consonant gradation has to be mastered before even the simplest Finnish sentences can be constructed.

    Finnish has fifteen cases, an elaborate system of possessive suffixes, infinitives, participles, and enclitic particles. These allow for an economy of expression which allows complex ideas to be expressed in the form of a few long, morphologically complex words: Kirjoittauduttuamme hotelliin menimme kolmannessa kerroksessa sijaitsevaan huoneeseemme. „registered-after-having-our hotel-into went-we third-in floor-in situated-being-in room-into-our” = After having registered into the hotel we went to our room, which was on the third floor.

    The grammar of written, standard Finnish differs in many important respects from that of colloquial Finnish, for which reason the student has to learn two variants of the grammar:

    (Standard)
    „Eilen tapahtunut onnettomuus…”
    [yesterday happened accident]
    (Colloquial)
    „Onnettomuus, joka tapahtui eilen…”
    [accident which happened yesterday]

    Of particular interest in Finnish grammar is the manner in which the notion of definiteness is linked with the semantics of the verb and the case of the object:

    Luin kirjaa.
    „I was reading a book”
    [object in partitive case, indicates indefiniteness and/or lack of a result],
    Luin kirjan.
    „I read the book.”
    [object in accustive case, indicates definiteness and/or a specific result.]

    Overall, you will find that Finnish grammar is quite complex, but it is also logical and consistent once you understand the underlying principles.

  • Vocabulary: Finnish is a non-Indo-European language and thus has a vocabulary which, by definition, is unrelated to that of English. Surprisingly, though, Finnish and the languages from which it has evolved have been in contact with Indo-European languages for more than four thousand years. This means that Finnish has a surpringly large number of loanwords borrowed from present and erstwhile neighboring languages.These include words like
    • porsas „piglet” and sata „hundred” from some ancient Indo-Iranian langauge,
    • sisar „sister”, tytär „daughter”, hammas „tooth”, and herne „pea” from ancient Baltic,
    • patja „matrass”, tupa „living room”, ruhtinas „prince”, kuningas „king”, kaunis „pretty”, rikas „rich”, leipä „bread”, and ja „and” from various ancient Germanic languages,
    • vapaa „free”, tuska „pain”, määrä „amount” from Old Russian,
    • thousands of words such as sänky „bed”, renki „farmhand”, piika „servant girl”, maanantai „Monday”, tiistai „Tuesday”, lauantai „Saturday”, söötti „cute, sweet”, mummo „grandmother”, from older and contemporary dialectal and standard Swedish.

    Thus, more than might be expected, the Finnish vocabulary is a linguistic musueum containing many words in much the same form they were when borrowed thousands of years ago, e. g. patja „matrass” is almost identical with the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *badja(n), the progenitor of Modern English „bed”, Swedish „bädd”, etc.

    During the past century and a half Finnish has shown a strong tendency to favor derivation and calquing over borrowing. Thus

    • valo „light”, valokuva „photograph” [„light picture”], valokuvaaja „photographer”, valokuvata „to photograph”, valokuvaus „photography”;
    • kirja „book”, kirjoittaa „to write”, kirje „letter [epistle]”, kirjain „letter [of the alphabet]”, kirjasto „library”, kirjallinen „written”, kirjailija „author”, kirjoittaja „writer”;
    • taitaa „to possess a skill”, taide „art”, taiteilija „artist”.
  • Overall usefulness: Finnish opens the door to the culture and turbulent history of Finland and the surrounding areas. It is close enough to Estonian to allow easy acquisition of that language. Finland’s recent accession to the European Union has resulted in a considerable demand for people fluent in it and other official Union languages; we can assume that the same will hold for Estonian in a few years time. On a more intellectual plane, Finnish is probably the most accessible non-Indo-European language for speakers of English, so it offers a unique opportunity to consider the manner in which human languages have evolved the strategies necessary for structuring their universe. Of particularl interest is the manner in which it has used its own resources to find equivalents for the concepts and terminology of Western European culture.

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Eugene thanks a lot.
I hope, I understood you correctly, therefore as control:
is this correct?

yksi poikaa pelaa. (one boy plays)
Correct
kaksi poikaa pelaa. (two boys play)

Correct, the verb is ih the singular because the subject of the sentence is kaksi ‘two’, compare ‘a twosome of boy[s] plays’; in English the subject is ‘boys’

yksitoista poikaa pelaa. (11 boys play)

Correct.

Luen yksi apostoli.  (I read about one apostle)

Incorrect. The verb lukea ‘to read’ requires EITHER a direct object in the partitive (durational aspect) or the accusative (resultative aspect) OR a complement in the elative case, in which case it means ‘about’:

Luen yhdestä apostolista. ‘I am reading about one apostle.’

Compare:
Luen kaksi kirjaa. <accusatve direct object
‘I am going to read (and finish) two books.’

Luen kahta kirjaa. <partitive direct object
‘I am reading two books (at the moment).’

Luen kahdesta kirjasta. <elative adverbial complement
‘I am reading about two books.’

Luen kaksi apostolia.   (I read about two apostles)

Incorrect. This sentence would mean ‘I will read (and finish) two apostles.’

To say ‘I read about two apostles.’ the words for ‘two’ and ‘apostles’ must be in the elative case:
Luen kahdesta apostolista.

Luen yksitoista apostolia.   (I read about 11 apostles)

Incorrect. To say what you want to say the numeral and the noun phrase subordinated to it must be in the *elative case* because they are not a direct object, but rather an adverbial complement:
Luen yhdestätoista apostolista.

Additional question:
I read a book,

This is bad English. In English we distinguish between a progressive and a general aspect:

Progressive:
I *am reading* a book right now.
Luen kirjaa paraikaa.

I *read* a book every day.
Luen kirjaa joka päivä = ‘I do some reading in a book every day.’
Luen kirjan joka päivä. = ‘I read a complete book every day.’

you read a book,

Luet kirjaa. ‘You are reading a book.’
Luet kirjan. ‘You are reading a book and will finish it/will completely
read a book.’

Mutatis mutandi:

he reads a book,

Hän lukee kirjaa/kirjan.
(In colloquial Finnish: Se lukee kirjaa/kirjan)

we read a book,

Me luemme kirjaa/kirjan.
(In colloquial Finnish: Me luetaan kirjaa/kirja.

you read a book,

Te luette kirjaa/kirjan.

they read a book

He lukevat kirjaa/kirjan
(In colloquial Finnish: Ne lukee kirjaa/kirjan)

do you use in Finnish the personal pronome? With other words do you say: I read a book or you say: read a book?

Both options are possible.
In *formal* Finnish the pronoun is normally omitted:
Luen kirjaa. ‘I am reading a book’.
The pronoun emphasizes the subject:
Minä luen kirjaa, sinä taas kuuntelet.
‘I’m the one reading the book, you, on the other hand, are the one listening.’

In *informal* Finnish the pronoun is used, usually in the contracted form:
Mä luen kirjaa/kirjan. ‘I’m reading/’ll read the book.’

Regards,
Eugene Holman

Thanks for your comments, but even though teh translation uses the progressive, Finnish does not have progressive forms, rather it has aspectual contrasts:

Luen kirjaa.
‘I am reading the book, I read the book (regularly), I shall be reading the book.’
This sentence, with the object in the partitive case, means that the reading does not take place in the past, and that the action of reading referred to is not thought of from the standpoint of its producing a result.
The past tense, ‘Luin kirjaa’, stresses the same irresultativity: ‘I was reading the book, I read the book (regularly, but not with the intention of finishing it), I used to read the book, etc.’¨

Luen kirjan.
‘I shall read the book, I am reading the book and do not intend to stop reading until I have finsished it.’
This sentence, with an object in the accusative case, means that the reading did not take place in the past, and that the action of reading referred to is thought of from the standpoint of the book being read to the end when the reading ceases.
In the past tense it is ‘Luin kirjan’, and, like the non-past form, it stresses the reult: ‘I read (and finished) the book.’

For this verb the Finnish system is quite analogous to the Russian aspectual system:

Luen kirjaa.  Ya chitayu knigu.
Luen kirjan.  Ya prochitayu knigu.
Luin kirjaa.  Ya chital knigu.
Luin kirjan.  Ya prochital knigu.

Estonian has the same system in principle, but phonological changes have made it impossible for Estonian nouns to signal the differences as systematically as Finnish does, so additional particles are used.

Ma loen raamatut.         [partial object]
Ma loen raamatu ära.      [total object]
Ma lugesin raamatut.      [partial object]
Ma lugesin raamatu ära.   [total object]

Thus, Russian makes the difference by opposing different aspectual forms of the verb, Finnish by opposing different case forms of the noun, and Estonian by opposing different case forms of the noun supplemented by aspectual particles. Noje of these three languages can be said to have progressive forms, at least here, even if the progressive forms of English have to be used to capture the sense of the sentences.

Regards,
Eugene Holman

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Standard Finnish:
lintu laulaa ‘the bird sings’  linnut laulavat ‘the birds sing’
lintu lauloi ‘the bird sang’   linnut lauloivat ‘the birds sang’

Many varieties of non-standard Finnish:
lintu laulaa ‘the bird sings’  linnut laulaa ‘the birds sing’
lintu lauloi ‘the bird sang’   linnut lauloi ‘the birds sang’

The generalization of -vat, originally only a present marker, as the plural ending in both tenses is a relatively recent (19th century) innovation imposed from above in conjunction with language standardization.

Estonian retains what appears to be a more chaotic system, but it is historically more conservative:

Standard Estonian:
lind laulab ‘the bird sings’  linnud laulavad ‘the birds sing’
lind laulas ‘the bird sang’   linnud laulasid ‘the birds sang’

The third person singular ending was originally *-pa, which was weakened to *-Ba (*-va *-w@ assimilation with the preceding vowel) in Finnish due to suffixal gradation (B = beta):

*laulapa *laulaBa *laulava *laulaw@ laulaa

This -va ending is also associated with the present participles:

laulava ‘singing’   laulettava ‘to be sung [by someone]’

The plural form -vat retains the consonant and vowel that have been lost in the singular. Monosyllabic Finnic verbs have a variant ending -pi: voi ~ voipi ‘(s)he can’ that retains older consonantism. Note also the existence of lexicalized forms of older present participles with stronger consonantism: [hyvin]voipa ‘well-doing’ vs, voiva ‘being able to [pres.
active participle]’; syöpä ‘cancer. lit. eating’ vs. syövä ‘eating [pres.
active participle]’,

This -pi (~ -pa) is historically the same ending that Estonian has in the third person singular present: laulab, võib ‘(s)he can’. The -vad of the plural is also the result of suffixal gradation.

Unlike Finnish, Estonian has not generalized -vad as a third person plural marker in the past tense; thus laulavad ‘sing 3 pl present’ but laulasid ‘past sang 3 pl past’.

I understand that the -k ending for imperatives in Lithuanian is due to FU influence.

*laulak laula ‘sing 2 sg’ The older -k shows up in modern Finnish as initial doubling: laula ‘sing’ + se ‘it’ = laula se, phonetically [‘laulas se].

Otherwise:
laulakoon ‘may he/she sing’
laulakaamme ‘let us sing’
laulakaa ‘sing [pl.]’
laulakoot ‘may they sing’

Strange that it didn’t happen in Latvian as well.

Languages tend to pick and choose when in contact situations. And the development of latvian has been characterized by a strong tendency towards both monosyllabism and massive word-final consonant clusters (e.g.
dzirksts ‘spark’), vilks ‘wolf’), thus making it far more difficult for endings that are sounds such as [k] with relatively low energy acoustically to establish themselves.

Regards,
Eugene Holman

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Cine sunt finlandezii?

Subject:               Re: Who are Finns

Date:                    Thu, 28 Nov 2002 23:54:40 +0200

From:                   Eugene Holman <holman@elo.helsinki.fi>

Organization:       University of Helsinki

Newsgroups:       soc.culture.nordic

References:

In article <Xns92F2DFE59DFF1hopo@192.89.123.233>, Tomi <tomir@invalid.inet.fiwrote:

The following is from the scn faq written by Eugene Holman: http://www.lysator.liu.se/nordic/scn/nordicrace.html

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„The Finns … have developed from peoples who entered the country from the south (what is now Estonia and northern Latvia) and the south east (over the Karelian Isthmus), partially as a consequence of the northward expansion of the Slavs during the early Middle Ages.”

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The ancient „ethnogenesis” of Finns is pretty much anybody’s guess (as is the case with most peoples) but this ‑‑sorry Eugene‑‑ seems to be, if not incorrect, something that would need a bit more in depth explanation.

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Note the word „partially”. Finnic‑speaking people were indeed moving west during the early Middle Ages as a consequence of Slavic incursions into the area inhabited by Finno‑Ugric speakers, often followed by language shifts to Slavic. The Crusades of the Swedes to western Finland were matched by missionary work done by Slavs in the east among the ancestors of the Karelians, Vepsians, and Lydians, many of whom are also the ancestors of today’s easternmost Finns and Ingermanlandians. Thus the presence in Finnish of ancient Slavic loanwords such as pappi ‘priest’, risti ‘cross’, tuska ‘pain’, and vapaa ‘free’.

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The pressure from Slavs is relatively late, however (hence the „partially”). Finnic‑speakers have been continuously entering what is now Finland across the Karelian Isthmus and the Golf of Finland for more than 2000 years. On the other hand, the borders between Catholic Finns, Orthodox Finns (= Karelians), and Slavs first became relatively stable only during the 14th century (Treaty of Pähkinäsaari), and it has remained quite unstable, last having been officially revised, and moved further westward, consequent to WW II. The evacuation of Finns from former south‑eastern Finland, coastal islands, and Petsamo after WW II, the gradual assimilation of indigenous Karelians and Ingrian Finns into the Russian ethnos, the near extinction by assimilation into the Russians of the Izhorians, Vodians and, to a lesser extent, Vepsians, as well as the postwar demographic development in Estonia, which has seen a drop from 98% in 1944 to the present 68% (62% in 1991), with a corresponding exponential increase in the Russian and Russian‑speakining population during the past six decades, is the latest phase of a millennium of Slavic expansion at the expense of Finnic‑speaking populations in this area.

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Now, I’m no professional „pre‑historian” just hobbyist so the following remarks must be taken with caution.

1) There is a cultural continuum in Finland from the end of the Ice Age to today. That means, perhaps, that Finns have been in the country from the „beginning”.

That depends on how you define Finns. I could argue that there have been people in America since the end of the Ice Age and, at least in some areas, there is a cultural continuum. That does not mean that Finns or Americans as presently understood are the direct descendants of these earlier people.

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Concentrating on the Finns, there is clear archeological and genetic evidence that the present population of Finland is the result of several waves of immigration, sometimes by quite small „founder populations”. More importantly, the patterns of immigration do not follow the patterns of language introduction. At some point in time various dialects of proto‑Baltic‑Finnic were introduced over the Gulf of Finland as well as over the Karelian Isthmus, and most of the people living in Finland gave up whatever languages thay had been speaking previously and learned one of these dialects. Only during the 19th century did these dialects amalgamate ‑ more precisely ‑ were these dialects amalgamated ‑ into the Finnish we know today. Relicts of the other languages once more widely spoken in Finland are Swedish, the majority of whose speakers trace their origins to the Crusades, but a small subset of which along the coasts and archipelagos, including the Åland Islands, can trace their origins back to the Viking Age, and, Sámi, a language which appears to be the result of a language shift which resulted in some older, possibly Samoyedic, language being abandoned for a realized version of Baltic‑Finnic.

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2) „Suomalainen” (Finn, Suomi, Saami, Häme) is probably a Baltic word from 2500‑2000 B.C. This name was adopted by almost all people living in Finland (and large parts of Scandinavia).

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It is an old word, but it for a long time it designated Sámis rather than Finns. This is evident in the Norwegian name Finnmark, where the term has nothing to do with Finns. In Old English people we would today designate Finns were designated as „Cwenas”, „Finnas” is the designation of the people living to the north of them. Nor should we forget that the use of the word suomalainen/finne to designate the entire Finnish nation as understood today is of relatively recent origin, only finally establishing itself during the early 19th century as a consequence of political rather than demographic changes. We are reminded of this by the survival of the term Varsinais‑suomalaiset/de egentliga finnarna „the Genuine Finns”, for the Finnish‑speaking inhabitants of the south‑west.

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3) Finland has never been depopulated. Cantrary to earlier theories there were people in Finland during also the early Iron Age (500‑0 B.C.) (as a concrete evidence I have here at home a piece of ceramics from that time found in Piikkiö:‑).

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No problem with that. There have been times when Finland has evidently been unable to support anything but a small population owing to sudden climactic changes. This is almost certainly the reason that Finns are gentically more homogeneous than most European nations: most Finns are partially descended from a small founder population, even if they also carry the genes of several subsequent waves of immigrants from the west, south, and east as well.

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4) Germanic peoples (in addition to Baltic and Finno‑Ugric) have also played an important part in the ethnogenesis.

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This is clearly demonstrated by the word äiti „mother, originally ‘oath mother’, i.e. a women who has had the man who impregnated her swear an oath that her child will be allowed to inherit him”, cf. Gothic aithei ‘mother, originally „oath mother”‘.

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For example in Finland proper most names of villages dating from the Iron Age seem to have been originally names of Germanic persons. On the other hand there is evidence (other place names) that these people spoke Finnish from very early on (of course it’s not even sure if they ever spoke a Germanic language, but anyway they had very close ties with the Germanic world). This „Germanic connection can be found also in southern Finland and even in Häme (Tavastland)

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Correct. I originally became interested in Finnish precisely for this reason. I was specializing in Old Germanic languages and took a course in Gothic for which I wrote a lengthy term paper on the ancient Germanic loanwords in Finnish and closely related languages. Most of these words do not seem to have been borrowed into Finnish, but rather were borrowed into proto‑Finnic in Estonia before or during the migrations of large numbers of proto‑Finnic speakers to Finland. The oldest ones, words like rengas ‘circle’ (<*hrengazEnglish ring), patja ‘mattress’ (<*badja(n) English bed), ruhtinas (<*druhtinaz Old English dryhten ‘lord’), kaunis ‘beautiful’ (<*skaunizGothic skauns, Swedish skön, English sheen), etc. are found in Estonian and seem to be from a form or forms of Germanic spoken several centuries before the Christian era. The standard explanation is that there was eastern Germanic expansion before the Viking Age eastward from Gotland to Kurland in Latvia, as well as to Hiiumaa and Saaremaa in Estonia. These early Germanic peoples exacted tribute from their Baltic‑Finnic neighbors (hence Germanic loanwords such as vero ‘tax’, kihla ‘originally hostage, cf. Gothic gizls, Swedish gisla, German Geisel), in addition to which they evidently ruled over some Baltic Finns (kuningas ‘king’, ruhtinas ‘prince’, herttua ‘duke’), and convinced them that they, the Germanic speakers, were somehow superior (kaunis ‘beautiful’, rikas ‘rich’, viisas ‘wise’, hurskas ‘pious’, armas ‘dear’). The specific word äiti ‘[oath] mother’ suggests sexual relationships and financial commitments between the two groups.

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5) In addition to these „steps to Finnishness” there were Finno‑Ugric peoples who entered the country from the south (what is now Estonia and northern Latvia) and the south east (over the Karelian isthmus) during the Iron Age (about 0‑‑1000 A.D).

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Finno‑Ugric is too imprecise a term. Estonia and northern Latvia were inhabited by a subgroup of the Finno‑Ugrians, the Baltic Finns. The area which the Baltic Finns, hunters and gatherers, inhabited received a wave of immigrants from the south‑east starting about 4000 years ago.

These people were Balts, and they were agriculturalists capable of maintaining far larger populations than the Baltic‑Finns could. The Balts did at least four things:

1. they taught the Baltic‑Finns agriculture, hence the large number of Baltic agricultural terms in all the Baltic‑Finnic languages, e.g. herne ‘pea’, hanhi ‘goose’, silta ‘bridge’, heinä’ ‘hay’, härkä ‘ox’, keli ‘driving conditions’, tuhat ‘thousand’ etc.

2. they intermarried with the Baltic‑Finns, hence the large number of Baltic terms pertaining to kinship and family in all the Baltic‑Finnic languages, e.g. sisar ‘sister’, tytär ‘daughter (from which tyttö ‘girl’), morsian ‘bride’, heimo ‘extended family’, kaima ‘namesake’.

3. they established bilingual Baltic/Baltic‑Finnic speaking families, hence a large number of so‑called intimate borrowings, such as designations for body parts, from Baltic into Baltic‑Finnic, e.g. hammas ‘tooth’, napa ‘navel’, reisi ‘thigh’, kaula ‘neck’, as well as some common everyday words such as vai ‘or’ and vielä ‘still (adv.)’.

4. They split what had been a sparsely populated linguistic continuum extending from the modern‑day Baltics across Belarus to the Volga, thus separating Baltic‑Finnic from the once closely related Mordvin. The Finno‑Ugric peoples in between, the Meryas, Muromoms, and Menshers were absorbed into the expanding Baltic and, later, Slavic populations.

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The Finno‑Ugric sound system of pre‑Finnic was extensively modified as a consequence of contact with Baltic. Essentially it went through what is so-called a Sprachbund filter, and all of the sounds that the two languages did not have in common were lost by Baltic‑Finnic. Thus, the vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture of the speakers of the dialect of Finno‑Ugric that became early Baltic Finnic were extensively Balticized. Much the same thing happened starting about 1500 years later with the establishment of the Germanic contacts, although Kalevi Wiik has recently argues that the influence went in the reverse direction as well. The sound system, grammar, and culture of the Baltic‑Finnic spoken some 2500 years ago was restructured towards a Germanic model, with pronunciation, vocabulary, and culture once again being radically changed as a result of language contact.

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It was these Balticized and Germanicized Baltic‑Finns who eventually started migrating to Finland, evidently in small groups. There they made contact with the Old Sámis, a people who spoke a radically different language. Some of the Old Sámis retreated to the North, but eventually seem to have undergone a language shift, abandoning their language for an imperfectly learned, creolized, Baltic‑Finnic. Others gave up their language and culture and assimilated into the Baltic‑Finnic population, becoming part of the Finnish ethnos.

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The Finnish language as we know it today developed in Finland during the past 2500 or so years out of this mixture. In later centuries it was also influenced by speakers of Old Norse (Old Swedish Swedish) along the western and southern coasts, by speakers of Russian in the east, and by speakers of the easternmost dialects of what by then was a dialect continuum containing „Genuine Finnish”, Häme, and Karelian as Finland’s eastern border was redefined and people moved to the west or east of its new location for a variety of reasons. Further expansion brought Finnish to Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, and Lapland at the expense of Sámi in the north and east, and of (Old) Swedish slong the western coast and immediate hinterlands.

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Most of this information is consistent with what I learned reading Lauri Hakulinen’s monumental *Suomen kielen rakenne ja kehitys*. I have supplemented it with some of my own research, including Cavalli‑Sforza *The History and Geography of Human Genes* as well as the recent publications of Kalevi Wiik.

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Regards,

Eugene Holman

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The correct form is Scridefinnas, as cited in the Voyages of Ohthere and Woilfstan (880‑900 AD). According to this source, the Scridefinnas lived to the north of Halgoland along the Arctic, to the south of them lived the Finnas, whose southern neighbors on both sides of Gulf of Bothnia were the Cwenas. The eastern neighbors of the Sridefinnas were the Terfinnas, the inhabitants of the Kola Peninsula.

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Language and genetics have different histories. Many of the people who are currently regarded (and regard themselves) as Swedes have some Finnish and/or Sámi background. It is only during the past thousand years that Northern Sweden has become Swedish majority, and pockets of the older Sámi and Finnish populations can still be found as one ventures north of Umeå. Finland has a long history of intermarriage over the linguistic and ethnic boundary. Finns and Swedes both typically have Germanic and Finnic [= Baltic‑Finnic] backgrounds, although in different proportions. The Baltic‑Finns were also strongly influenced by the Balts starting some 4,000, and this genetic relationship has also passed on to many Swedes. Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Russia have also interacted in various ways during the past millennium, meaning that Swedes and particularly Finns frequently also have some Slavic connections as well.

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A nation makes a decision to select a single language as its primary means of communication. That does not mean that the language selected represents the genetic makeup or history of the nation. Finns and Estonians in particular are a genetically complex mixture with demonstrable Northern Eurasian, Baltic, East Germanic, Scandinavian, and Slavic strata in their genetic makeup. This has not prevented them from selecting Finnish and Estonian, the former historically a colonial branch of the latter, as their primary means of communication.

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Regards,

Eugene Holman

Eugene Holman despre alte probleme etnice și lingvistice ale zonei baltice.

alt.revisionism

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Sorry, Johannes, but as a person who has lived in Finland for close to half a century, travelled in both the neighboring Baltic countries as well as in the more distant Balkan countries, co-authored books in Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian, taken a universoty-level course in Old Prussian, in addition to having lived as a kid on Baltic Street in Brooklyn, I am not bloody likely to confuse the two.

Sorry, Johannes, but as a person who has lived in Finland for close to half a century, travelled extensively (I’ve visited Estonia more than 100 times, Latvia at least five times, Lithuania two times; Bulgaria five times, Romania once, former Yugoslavia at least ten times, Greece three times) in both the neighboring Baltic countries as well as in the more distant Balkan countries, co-authored books in Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian as well as in Bulgarian, taken a university-level course in Old Prussian, in addition to having lived as a kid on Baltic Street in Brooklyn, I am not bloody likely to confuse the two.

Toad was the one who confused the Balts and the Baltics: Prior to the Teutonic Knights, Prussia and Prussians were not affiliated with Germany at all, they were Balkans ethnically. And then, when, the error was pointed out, apologized, graciously but not without trying to belittle his gaffe, for having done so:

No. They were *Balts* ethnically. The Old Prussian language was a Baltic language, like Lithuanian and Latvian, not a Balkan language. The Balkan languages are spoken in the Balkan countries: Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

My error in trying to rush to finish, I stand corrected, thank you. Yes, I MEANT the BALTS…!!! A bit of a miscue, but you make more of it than it deserves. …Petty grandstanding by you again!

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Pentru că profilul lui Eugene Holman nu mai este accesibil la pagina veche îl reproduc aici fără voia autoarei mai jos menționată.

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Eugene Holman

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Eugene Holman, born in Brooklyn, New York, has been living in Helsinki for almost forty years. Fascinated by the Finnish language, he came to Helsinki in 1966 and never left. He has had a colourful career in Finland as an actor, translator, student, teacher and researcher, now he is a lecturer in English at Helsinki University.

Eugene has a passion for languages. In addition to fluent English and Finnish, he speaks German, Swedish, Russian, Estonian, Vepsian and Japanese, plus has knowledge of both Latin and Gothic. Over the past four decades, Eugene has witnessed a change in attitude towards foreigners in Finland and many changes in the relationship between the US and Europe.

How did you first get interested in the Finnish language and Finland?
My interest in foreign languages was sparked by going to a high school in Bronx where many of the students were children of recent emigrants from Europe. New York is exceptional in that it is more oriented towards Europe than most of the US. I studied German and Russian at high school and university. I eventually became fascinated by Finnish, an unusual language between the Germanic and Slavic worlds. In 1958, I started writing to a Finnish pen friend: she corrected my written Finnish and I corrected her English. In 1966, I was granted a Fulbright scholarship to study at Helsinki University. I came to Finland in August and by November I was able to write exams in Finnish, so I learned the language pretty quickly.

“ I came to Finland in August and by November I was able to write exams in Finnish.”

How has the attitude towards foreigners changed over the past 40 years in Finland?
In the 1960s there were only handful of foreigners in Helsinki, let alone in rest of Finland and for this reason people were genuinely curious about me. Once, back then, I was on a tram in Helsinki and a little old lady came up and asked me shyly if she could touch my hair! It was very innocent. I didn’t come across any overt racism in the 1960s – people were enthusiastic to meet foreign people.
Now there are lot more foreigners in Finland, around 100,000, so people are more used to them and not so fascinated anymore. It is easy to blame people who look different from you for all sorts of problems and I would say that there is more intolerance in Finland now than forty years ago. Still, I think Finland is quite a tolerant country. I have only experienced one racist incident here. That was a few years ago when I was getting off a bus and a group of skinheads surrounded me saying stuff like, ‘Heil Hitler!’ and they threatened to beat me up. I responded to them in German and commented on how poor their German pronunciation was, managing to get out of the situation unharmed.

You differentiate between prejudice and discrimination. What is the difference?
Prejudice is an abstract thing like, the way you think, like feeling suspicious towards someone who is obviously different from you. In the English-speaking world, the appearance, race, is usually the most important basis for such suspicion, whereas in Finland it has been language, politics, or regional background. Discrimination is a more concrete form of racism, the way you act. I think that prejudice is more common in Finland than discrimination. Open discrimination occurs here as well. For example, some restaurants suddenly have a ‘steady customers only evening’ or the ‘place is full’ when a foreigner tries to get in.

“ Power, money and language are very much interconnected.”

How important is it to learn the language of the country you live in to get integrated in the society?
Extremely important. I think it’s idiotic and an insult for someone to move to a country and not make a serious effort to learn the local language. If you move to Helsinki, you should also pick up some Swedish as there are many Swedish-speaking people in the area. My message to all foreigners in Finland is to learn Finnish, since it is impossible to become a part of the society if you don’t know the language, even if you manage by speaking English. It is sometimes claimed that Finnish is the second most difficult language to learn in the world for English speakers, but I think that such a claim is foolish. There is no absolute criterion for measuring the difficulty of a language. I don’t think that Finnish, with no grammatical gender and very few irregular verbs, is all that difficult to learn.

What are your tips for those wanting to learn Finnish?
There are two things my former language teacher used to say that I think are very important. Firstly, don’t say what you want to say but say what you can say. Be courageous and speak the language, even if you don’t speak it perfectly. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Secondly, don’t learn long word lists, but instead learn entire sentences. It is meaningless to learn words without a context. Once you have learned simple sentences you can start doing more complicated things with them and pretty soon you can form patterns from simple basics. Finnish, where so much of the grammar is based on systematic changes in the shapes of words, has its own difficulties. To help students I have developed a free computer program called Finnmorf, which can help foreigners to understand things, like why in Finnish you say kuva – kuvia and ottaa – otti, but kirja – kirjoja and antaa – antoi. Even most Finns can’t explain this!

“ I would say that there is more intolerance in Finland now than forty years ago.”

English is the global language at the moment. Do you think small languages will survive?
There is a real danger that small languages will disappear. English is the so-called ‘killer language’ of our times, by spreading across the world it destroys smaller languages. But it has to be remembered that English only achieved this dominant position after the end of the Second World War. Before that, German was much more important all over Europe, also being more widely spoken in Finland than English. French also had its period of glory, as the most important language in the civilized world, not to mention Latin. Power, money and language are very much interconnected. The language of the country, or the bloc, that is most powerful at a certain time will spread all over the world. We can’t predict what will happen in twenty years time. It might be that Chinese is the most important language by then.

How do you think the relations between Europe and US changed during your time in Finland?
I think that over the years, relations between the US and Europe have changed considerably. During the Cold War, the US provided a safety umbrella for the European countries against the Soviet Union, but now that it is gone, the US can’t play that role anymore. After the end of the Cold War there was good collaboration between the US and Western Europe during the Clinton era but now with George W. Bush and the Iraq war, the relations have deteriorated. I think that in some ways Europe has grown more powerful over the years and is able to counterbalance the political and economic power of the US. In my opinion, the only thing that matters is that we all live in the same world and share the same limited resources. We should co-operate with each other rather than challenge each other.

How do you see US foreign policy today?
US foreign policy is not laid out by Bush; he is too limited to have one! This is a guy who bewildered Fernando Cardoso, the president of Brazil, with the question ‘Do you have blacks in Brazil, too?’ During the first Bush administration, US foreign policy was first laid down by Colin Powell, a man of integrity who was forced to lie to the United Nations and was eventually marginalized. Now it is the responsibility of Condoleezza Rice, an intelligent woman, but one whose way of thinking still seems to reflect the Cold War. Unfortunately, unilateralism, the way of thinking that the US alone should make all the important global decisions, is very popular in the US at the moment.

What are the main differences between Finnish and US societies?
I think the US has become a very elitist type of society. If you are rich, you get to go to good schools and hospitals. But in the poor areas, you encounter things that are unimaginable in Finland. Right in the centre of big cities in the US you find poverty that would be shocking in any Third World country. Most shocking to me is the number of children who have to live in horrific poverty. I’ve experienced this first hand, since I worked as a kindergarten teacher in a Brooklyn slum in the 1960s, and things have gotten worse since then. I prefer the Finnish system where people pay higher taxes but receive high quality public services in return. The US is much more of a class society than Finland, and there is an increasingly unhealthy distance between the relatively few very rich and the far more numerous very poor.

Facts

Eugene Holman, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1945
BA (Cornell University); HK, FK (Helsinki University)
Teaches English linguistics, phonetics, translation and sociolinguistics at Helsinki University
Several academic publications
Translator
Co-founder of Pangloss, an Estonian company specialising in educational products to teach the languages of the Baltic countries to Russian speakers
Has developed a computer program Finnmorf, which is available as freeware via email:
holman@mappi.helsinki.fi

Text by Anni Haataja
Photo by Henrik Malmström

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© Copyright 1996-2001 by Eugene Holman.

holman@katk.helsinki.fi (Eugene Holman)

holman@mappi.helsinki.fi

http://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugene_Holman

http://www.eng.helsinki.fi/staff/holman.html

http://blogs.helsinki.fi/eng-staff/holman-eugene/

Different Groups

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Introdus  / lisätty 16.2.2010

Actualizat / päivitetty 27.2.2011

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