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Lesson Transcript

Tiina: Hey everyone, I'm Tiina and welcome back to FinnishPod101.com's All About Finnish series. This is lesson 2: Cracking the Finnish Writing System. In this lesson, Reeta and I are going to explain a little bit more about a very interesting feature of Finnish – its spelling!
Reeta: That’s right! Hi everyone, I'm Reeta . There are a couple of things we need to cover in this lesson.
Tiina: Definitely. Well, in our last lesson, we told you that Finnish is written in Roman script. So it should be easy to read and pronounce, right?
Reeta: That’s right. Tiina, let’s take a look at some different sounds in Finnish, and how to write them. Tiina, how do you spell the “k” sound in Finnish?
Tiina: Easy, it’s spelled with the letter "k"! Like in the word kukka,which means “flower”.
Reeta: That’s right. Now, here’s a letter that can be slightly tricky – the letter "j"! It is a little bit like the y in the word “yes”.
Tiina: Yes, that’s how it’s pronounced. Give us an example, please?
Reeta: The word juusto, which means “cheese”, actually starts with a “j”.
Tiina: Ooh, I like that word. Say it one more time?
Reeta: Juusto, “cheese”.
Tiina: Another example using this letter is järvi, which means “lake”. You find this word in many Finnish words, like places names and last names.
Reeta: Ah yes, that’s an important word in Finnish.
Tiina: One more different sound is [ng] in Finnish. It shows up in words like kengät and langat. The first one means "shoes", and the second one means "threads."
Reeta: It's a bit similar to the English "-ing" ending, for example, in the word "running."
Tiina: That’s right. Can we hear the words in Finnish again?
Reeta: kengät, “shoes”, and langat, “threads”
Tiina: Thanks! Next, let’s take a look at some vowels that are a little bit different than they are in the English alphabet.
Reeta: Oh, yes, we're talking about the 3 last vowels in the Finnish alphabet. They are å, ä and ö.
Tiina: Yes, that's right. The first one, å, is read as the ruotsalainen o in Finnish. This translates to “Swedish o” in English. It's basically an "a" with a small circle above it. This vowel is not used in Finnish words, but it's included in the alphabet because Swedish is the second official language of Finland.
Reeta: Yes, and it is often seen in Swedish place names in Finland, like Åbo or Åland. The first one means Turku and the second one means Ahvenanmaa, the autonomous island between Finland and Sweden.
Tiina: So it is actually pronounced exactly the same way as the Finnish "o", right?
Reeta: That’s right. So what do we have next?
Tiina: We have ä, the second last vowel of the Finnish alphabet. It is an "a" with two dots above it.
Reeta: It is pronounced ä, ä. Like the "a" sound in the word “that” in American English.
Tiina: Some words that use this vowel are äiti and käsi. Äiti means "mother," and käsi means "hand."
Reeta: The last vowel is ö, ö.
Tiina: Right, the pronunciation is similar to the "e" sound in the English word “the”. We can find it in words like yö, löytää, köyhä. Yö means "night." Löytää means "to find", and köyhä means "poor."
Reeta: Exactly. So these three, å, ä and ö, are actually three more vowels, so let’s not confuse them with vowels with accents on them.
Tiina: Yes, that’s a good point. As the last point of this lesson, let’s go through the Finnish vowels. They all differ a little bit from the English pronunciation.
Reeta: Right. Let’s start! “a” like in the word "auto."
Tiina: This is similar to the English pronunciation of the "a" in “car” for example.
Reeta: Exactly. Then we have e. This is pronounced like the "e" in "let’s". You'll find it in the words hei or ei in Finnish, which mean "hello" and "no" respectively.
Tiina: Then we have i. This is pronounced like the "e" in the word “we” in English. Some Finnish words that include i, are, for example, kiitos and minä, which are "thank you" and "I".
Reeta: The next one is o. This is pronounced like "London." Finnish words that include this o are orava, which means "squirrel", or koulu, which means "school".
Tiina: Ok, so far, so good. We have two more to go: U and Y. U is like the diphthong 'ou' in the English words “could” and “should”. Finnish words that include this are uida, "to swim", and kuinka, which means "how".
Reeta: Next up, Y is similar to the "y" sound in the English “you”, and some Finnish examples include ystävä, which means "a friend", or yksin, which means "alone".
Tiina: Well, there it is. The spelling system of Finnish might be a little complicated, but it’s not as complicated as English spelling – phew! Wouldn’t you agree, Reeta?
Reeta: Yeah, all it takes is some practice!
Tiina: So please, join us next time when we explore more about the Finnish language in the All About Finnish series at FinnishPod101.com. Bye everyone!
Reeta: Hei hei!