Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Transcript

Michael: How do Finnish dialects differ from standard Finnish?
Kati: And can you communicate with locals using standard Finnish?
Michael: At FinnishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Let's imagine the following situation. Karen Lee is always willing to learn something new about Finnish. She asks Salla Salo,
"What is "mie?""
Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
Dialogue
Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
Salla Salo: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
Michael: "What is "mie?""
Salla Salo: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.
Michael: "It's "I" in the eastern Finnish dialect. "

Lesson focus

Michael: In this conversation, Karen Lee says,
Kati: Mikä on "mie?"
Michael: which means, "What is "mie?"" In response, Salla Salo says,
Kati: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.
Michael: It's "I" in the eastern Finnish dialect."
Michael: In this lesson, we'll talk about Finnish dialects and how those dialects deviate from standardized Finnish,
Kati: suomen yleiskieli.
Michael: The dialects spoken in Finland are divided into two main groups, the eastern and the western dialects,
Kati: länsimurteet ja itämurteet,
Michael: which are then further divided into seven or eight different dialect areas, depending on how you count. The western group has five different dialects, and the eastern group has two. In addition to these, there is also the spoken language and slang spoken in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.
The biggest differences between the dialects and standard Finnish are clear in the way the dialects pronounce the sounds "d"
Kati: d
Michael: "ts"
Kati: ts
Michael: and the variations of the sounds "lk"
Kati: lk
Michael: and "rk"
Kati: rk.
Michael: Say, for example, the verb "to get" in standard Finnish would be
Kati: saada
Michael: but, in the western dialects, it's
Kati: saara
Michael: and, in the eastern dialects, it's
Kati: saaha.
Michael: Whereas the word "traces" in standard Finnish would be
Kati: jäljet,
Michael: in the western dialects, it also remains as
Kati: jäljet
Michael: but, in the eastern dialect, it changes to
Kati: jälet.
Michael: Western dialects also use a lot of the "f" sound, and they can have two consonants in the beginnings of words. For example, the word "platter" in standard Finnish and the eastern dialect is
Kati: vati,
Michael: but, in the western dialect, it's
Kati: fati
Michael: and the word for "glass" in standard Finnish and eastern dialect is
Kati: lasi,
Michael: but, in the western dialect, it's
Kati: klasi.
Michael: There are also some differences in the vocabularies between these two groups. For example, a beloved part of Finnish sauna culture, the "bath whisk," is called
Kati: vihta
Michael: in the west, and
Kati: vasta
Michael: in the east.
Michael: And when a western Finn says
Kati: en kehtaa,
Michael: it means "they are shy or embarrassed to do something," whereas when an eastern Finn says the same thing,
Kati: en kehtaa,
Michael: it means "they aren't bothered to do something, or that they are feeling lazy."
Michael: There are of course many more detailed differences, if you look deeper into the seven or eight dialect groups. Finally, let's talk about the
Kati: stadin slangi,
Michael: the "Helsinki slang." This is a local dialect spoken in the Helsinki area, the capital. It was developed in the late 19th century and is known for its numerous loan words taken especially from Swedish, but also Russian, German, English, and, lately, even Arabic and Somalian.
For example, the Finnish name for the Helsinki dialect is
Kati: stadin slangi,
Michael: literally meaning "the slang of the city." The word
Kati: stadi
Michael: is a loan word from the Swedish word,
Kati: stad,
Michael: meaning "a city." In Helsinki slang, the word only refers to Helsinki however—not just any city in general.
---
Expansion/Contrast (Optional)
Michael: Let's talk about Finnish dialects spoken outside of Finland.
The most well-known dialect of Finnish spoken outside of Finland, which is sometimes considered its own language, is the
Kati: kveeni
Michael: dialect, Kven language in English. This dialect is most prevalently spoken in Northern Norway by a Finnish minority. Since 2005, it's also been known as an independent language with a minority language status.
Another dialect that is sometimes considered its own language is called
Kati: meänkieli.
Michael: This is spoken most widely in Sweden's northern region, especially along the Torne River valley. Colloquially speaking, the dialect is also referred to in Swedish as
Kati: tornedalsfinska,
Michael: which translates to "Torne Valley Finnish."
Michael: Some of the biggest discrepancies between standard Finnish and dialectical Finnish, that a language learner may notice, include vocabulary differences. Some of these words, that exist in
Kati: meänkieli
Michael: but not standard Finnish include words like
Kati: äpyli,
Michael: which means "apple"
Kati: fruukosti,
Michael: which means "breakfast," and
Kati: flakku,
Michael: which means "flag."
Michael: We can also look at differences in pronunciation and spelling. In many cases, a Finnish "v" is replaced with an "f" in
Kati: meänkieli,
Michael: such as in words like
Kati: färi
Michael: or
Kati: väri,
Michael: meaning "color."
Michael: Other common letter swaps, which therefore also constitute pronunciation differences, include
"y" in meänkieli for a "u" in Finnish, "o" in Finnish for a "u" in meänkieli, and a "d" in Finnish for a "t" in meänkieli. This is especially true of loanwords.
So, after all this, the answer to the question, "Can you communicate with locals using standard Finnish?" is
Kati: kyllä - Yes, you can.
Michael: All Finns learn standard Finnish in schools, and it's also used in the media and literature. As all Finns also learn Swedish and English, they will also understand loanwords from other dialects fairly easily.
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then, repeat after the native speaker focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how Karen Lee says "What is "mie?""
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Kati as Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Kati as Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Kati as Karen Lee: Mikä on "mie?"
Michael: And do you remember how Salla Salo says "It's "I" in the eastern Finnish dialect. "
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Kati as Salla Salo: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Kati as Salla Salo: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Kati as Salla Salo: Se on "minä" Itä-Suomen murteella.

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Kati: Hei hei!
Michael: See you soon!

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