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Finnish Language Facts and Information

Information About Finnish Language

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Finnish speakers in the Phrasebase community
Extinct: no
Family: Uralic
Branch: Finnic
Continent: Europe
Country: Finland
Region: FINNISH: Also spoken in Canada, Estonia, Norway, Russia (Europe), Sweden, USA. FINNISH SIGN: None KVEN: Northern Norway, Tromso and Finnmark counties, Ruija, Kveeniland; city of Tromso, and in Oteren, Skibotn, Storslett, Kvaenangsbotn, Nordreisa, Alta, Borselv, Neiden, Bygoynes, Vadso. TORNEDALEN: Northeast Sweden, County of Norrbotten, municipalities of Gellivare, Kiruna, Pajala, Övertorneä, and Haparanda. Also spoken in Finland.
Countries Where Spoken: FINNISH: 4,700,000 in Finland, 93.5% of population (1993), including 30,000 speakers of Tornedalen Finnish. Population total all countries 6,000,000 (1999 WA). FINNISH SIGN: 5,000 users out of 8,000 deaf persons (1986 Gallaudet Univ.) KVEN: 5,000 to 8,000 (1998 The Federation of Norwegian Kven People). TORNEDALEN: 60,000 to 80,000 in Sweden, including 40,000 to 70,000 in the main region (1997), and including 20,000 who speak it in the home (1996). Population total both countries 90,000 to 110,000. Finland.
Countries Where Official: Finland, Sweden
Native Speakers: 4,700,000
Speakers Total: 6,000,000
Phrasebase members who speak Finnish at a native level: 260
Phrasebase members who speak Finnish at a conversational level: 260
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Finnish: 527
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Finnish: 1,089
Three Letter Code: FIN
Summary: FINNISH: Southeastern dialects called "Karelian" in colloquial Finnish are distinct from true Karelian (T. Salminen). Finnish is closely related to Karelian and Olonetsian. About 300,000 are bilingual in Swedish. National language. Grammar. SVO. Christian. Bible 1642-1991. FINNISH SIGN: 2 major dialects from the Finnish (17 schools) and Swedish (1 school) communities. Apparent influence from Swedish Sign Language merged with local indigenous varieties. Not intelligible with Danish Sign Language. The government pays interpreters to accompany the deaf to hospitals, college, church, etc. Signed interpretation required in court. Sign language instruction for parents of deaf children. Many classes for hearing people. There is a committee on national sign language. The first deaf school was founded in the 1850s. Signed Finnish is distinct, but used by some teachers of the deaf. Dictionary. Grammar. Films, TV, videos. Bible portions 1989. KVEN: Standard Finnish speakers generally understand most of it, except for some vocabulary. Closer to Tornedalen Finnish (see Sweden) than to Standard Finnish. Various dialects: northern west coast varieties differ from eastern ones. Kven has integrated Norwegian loans, whereas Tornedalen has integrated Swedish loans. Bilingualism in Norwegian, Finnish. Only older people, most in their 70s, speak Kven. There are a few books about Kven culture. Study at the University of Tromso, Institute of Finnish. Accepted from 1997 as a second language in Norway. It is now taught in schools 3 hours a week. The language and culture have been suppressed until the recent past, and are endangered. Considered to be "Old Finnish". Speakers of Tornedalen and Kven recognize the differences between the two. Literacy rate in second language: Over 90% in Finnish. Newspapers. Christian: Laestadian. TORNEDALEN: Standard Finnish is not entirely intelligible to speakers of Tornedalen, especially abstract and complex discourse. Swedish is used as second language, and some speak Standard Finnish. The dominant mother tongue speakers are 30 years and older. Quarterly magazine in Finnish, Tornedalen Finnish, and Swedish. 30 children"s books. There is a Swedish Tornedalian Association with 5,000 members. Many Saami speak it as second language. Torne Valley dialect has the highest prestige because of its size and closeness to Finland. Gellivare dialect has the lowest prestige because of its high percentage of Swedish and Saami loan words and deviant morphophonology. Somewhat negative attitudes toward Standard Finnish, and weak motivation to learn it, although it is partially intelligible to Tornedalen speakers. Some speakers refer to it as "Finnish". It has influences from Swedish. Finnish speakers settled here in the 12th century. Dictionary. Grammar. SVO, postpositions, genitives after noun heads, articles, adjectives, numerals before noun heads, question word initial. Literacy rate in first language: 20% to 30%. Christian: Lutheran, Laestadian. Bible portions 1993-1995.

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