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Lesson Transcript

Tiina: Hi everyone, I'm Tiina. Welcome back to FinnishPod101.com's All About Series. This is lesson 4, Finnish Pronunciation Made Easy! In this lesson, we’ll show you how easy it is to start speaking Finnish.
Reeta: That’s because we’ll be focusing on pronunciation! Hi everyone, I'm Reeta.
Tiina: Believe it or not, pronunciation is one of the easiest aspects of the Finnish language. We’ll show you just how easy it is, and give you tips on how to perfect your pronunciation.
Reeta: The first thing we'll talk about in this lesson is the sounds, and then we’ll talk about non-aspiration.
Tiina: Okay, let's take a look at how Finnish sounds work.
Reeta: Finnish has 20 consonants and 9 different vowels. Basically, the Finnish alphabet is like the English one, but there are 3 more vowels, å, ä and ö. Some of the consonants in the English alphabet are not used in Finnish words, like c, q, x and z.
Tiina: Yes, and Finnish is made up of syllables, which are sections of a word that contain at least one vowel. You can also have a consonant preceding the vowel, following the vowel, or even both. But don’t worry – you have one, maximum two, consonants in either position. Let’s hear some Finnish examples.
Reeta: The first one is:
Tiina: Auto, which means "car". This word has two syllables. The first one has two vowels, also known as a diphthong, whereas the second has one consonant and one vowel.
Reeta: au-to
Tiina: Ok, how about another one?
Reeta: The next one is kas-si.
Tiina: Kassi means "a bag". This one has a consonant-vowel-consonant syllable, followed by a consonant-vowel-syllable. Can we have it one more time please, Reeta?
Reeta: kas-si
Tiina: And how about one last example:
Reeta: si-nä
Tiina: sinä is one of the ways of saying "you". This word has two consonant-vowel syllables. So, those are just some examples of the consonant and vowel combinations you can find in Finnish words.
Reeta : That's right, Tiina. Now let’s move on to the next topic – not aspirating your consonants. OK, so what exactly does this mean?!
Tiina: Well, aspiration refers to the puff of air native English speakers have after certain sounds, such as p, t, and k.
Reeta: Oh, yeah, I’ve noticed that about English speakers, but I didn't know that was the technical term!
Tiina: Well, now you do! Yes, English has aspiration after certain consonants. Try saying the word “two” aloud. “TWO”. Notice how there’s a puff of air after the t? Go on, you can hold a piece of paper loosely in front of your face and say “two”. Notice that the paper moves when you pronounce t – this is because of the aspiration. Now, if you are a native English speaker you probably aren’t even aware of this. It just comes naturally. So what can you tell about aspiration in Finnish?
Reeta: Finnish doesn’t have aspiration!
Tiina: There you have it! Finnish consonants usually have no aspiration. The only one with aspiration is h, which is similar to the English "h". For example huomenta, meaning "morning", as in "good morning". You can hear that there is some aspiration in the h. Otherwise, aspirating consonants like we do in English when speaking Finnish will sound unnatural, so be careful!
Reeta: Ok. Let’s compare the pronunciation of a word that is used in both Finnish and English.
Tiina: First, the English pronunciation: tea. (the drink). Never mind about the vowels right now - see how we aspirate after the t? Now, can we hear the Finnish pronunciation?
Reeta: tee.
Tiina: The t doesn’t have that puff of air here.
Reeta: To get good at this, practice copying native speakers!
Tiina: That’s right - keep in mind that listening and repeating is really the key to improving your pronunciation. Listen to and copy native speakers as much as you can. Well, that’s going to do it for this lesson – please join us again when we take a closer look at Finnish – the language of a thousand lakes and northern lights!
Reeta: Thanks for listening!
Tiina: See you all next time, everyone.
Reeta: Hei hei!