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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What is Finglish?
Kati: And in what other ways is Finnish evolving?
Michael: At FinnishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following situation: Mark Lee asks his neighbour, Kari Karhu, about Finland's population.
"What is the current population of Finland?"
Mark Lee: Mikä on Suomen tämänhetkinen väkiluku?
Mark Lee: Mikä on Suomen tämänhetkinen väkiluku?
Kari Karhu: Minun täytyy Googlettaa se.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Mark Lee: Mikä on Suomen tämänhetkinen väkiluku?
Michael: "What is the current population of Finland?"
Kari Karhu: Minun täytyy Googlettaa se.
Michael: "I have to Google it."

Lesson focus

Michael: If we had to choose a modern lingua franca, English comes out on top. No other language has as many non-native speakers as English does. In modern times, English is used for international businesses, for diplomatic purposes, and also to bring people from different countries together. It's one of the most influential languages, so it's no wonder that it influences other languages. This can, for example, be observed in Finnish, with the rising number of English loanwords. This development is called
Kati: Finglish.
Michael: The word 'Finglish' is a fusion of the words 'Finnish' and 'English.' Many consider the adoption of English loanwords into Finnish not to be proper Finnish, but rather a language in-between. However, this use of loanwords and code-switching among bilingual speakers is typical in communities experiencing a language shift.
Finglish is a variant of Finnish language that was originally spoken by descendants of Finnish immigrants to North America back in the late 1800s to mid 1900s. It was distinctively a working-class adult immigrants' language. Because English and Finnish are so different from one another, the Finns battled to learn English at first—even more so because they tended to live and work together in their own communities. By the second generation, though, Finglish emerged as a pidgin with the Finnish they already knew and the English they were bound to learn.
In old Finglish, you might have heard words such as
Kati: piiri
Michael: meaning "beer," or phrases like
Kati: Kun ne tuli haussiin, niin mamma laitto äpylipaita!
Michael: "When they came back home, mom served apple pie!"
One of the most common characteristics of the older-style Finglish is that words should end in a vowel, like this word:
Kati: kaara
Michael: meaning "car," or this one
Kati: heerkatti
Michael: meaning "haircut."
Michael: An interesting example of the old Finglish is, for example,
Kati: coconut palmu
Michael: which means "coconut palm." This is a great example of a hybrid that starts off English, but takes the Finnish ending. If you are wondering how the original Finnish word sounds, just listen to this:
Kati: kookospähkinäpalmu
These days, Finglish is still spoken in the US and Canada, but also in any place in Finland where international contacts and popular culture exists, including among Finnish language-learners. In Finland, though, it is a separate phenomenon from the North American Finnish. The adaptation of English words into Finnish language within Finland started in the 60s, when movies and TV-series spoken in English started to appear on Finnish TV. Since then, the amount of English words in the Finnish society has rapidly increased, and you can hear and see English on a daily basis on TV, radio, advertisements, music, and social media.
Examples of some pop-culture Finglish expressions include:
Kati: vörkkiä
Michael: meaning "to work,"
Kati: biitsi
Michael: meaning "beach," and
Kati: hevijuuseri,
Michael: which means "heavy user."
And then, words used in US Finglish often have completely different meanings in Finnish. Sometimes, things get amusing—like when U.S. Finglish compound words are completely incomprehensible to native Finnish speakers! For example, the word
Kati: piirikäki
Michael: which means "beer keg" in US Finglish, but in Finnish it means "district cuckoo!"
As I mentioned, the Finglish spoken in the US and Canada is quite different to that spoken by Finland's millennials and Generation Z. The new wave of Finglish that young Finns are using comes from contact with the English language through social media and pop culture. So, what are some of the characteristics of current Finglish? Let us hear some examples!
Kati: giikki
Michael: is the word for "geek."
Kati: wörtti
Michael: means "worth it," and
Kati: peetee
Michael: meaning "personal trainer"
Michael: I am sure you would now like to hear a full sentence in Finglish, so here is one I will not expect you to repeat!
Kati: Mä niin fiilaan sua! Se rotsi olis niin fäijöni - miten leimi keissi, et sul ei oo manii just nyt.
Michael: the native speaker said, "I feel you! That jacket would be so fashionable - such a lame case, that you don't have money right now. "
[Recall 1]
Michael: Now, let us take a look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Mark Lee says, "What is the current population of Finland?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Kati as Mark Lee: Mikä on Suomen tämänhetkinen väkiluku?
Michael: Now, let's take a look at our second sentence. Do you remember how Kari Karhu says "I have to Google it?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Kati as Kari Karhu: Minun täytyy Googlettaa se.
Michael: Did you hear how the English word "Google" was adapted into Finnish grammar? This is one of the main features of Finglish. Even if the words come from English, they become part of Finnish speech and have to follow Finnish grammar rules. The ending of the word "Google" was changed to match Finnish grammatical structure. So, the infinitive form of the verb "to Google" is
Kati: [NORMAL] googlettaa [SLOWLY] googlettaa
Michael: Since the verb ends with two vowels, it is verb type 1. Therefore, we can find out the stem of the verb by removing the last vowel. Due to consonant gradation, we will also remove one of the 'T's—this is called the 'weak grade.' The strong grade with the double 'T' will be used in the infinitive and in the 3rd person only. So, the stem for the verb "to google" is
Kati: [NORMAL] googleta [SLOWLY] googleta
Michael: which we can now conjugate. For example, if you want to answer the question: what are you doing right now?
Kati: Googletan kissavideoita.
Michael: meaning "I'm googling for cat videos." Back to work now!
So, what are some other ways Finglish grammar works? Well, firstly there is preservation of the voiced consonants b, d, g, and f. Like in the word
Kati: fleimata
Michael: which comes from the English word "flame" and means to send a nasty internet reply, or to "burn." And what is the relevance? Well, in Finnish, the phoneme 'F' only occurs in loanwords.
Second, Finglish has preservation of consonant clusters in the beginning of the words, like this:
Kati: skipata
Michael: meaning "to skip or pass something." Another popular trend is ending words with the vowel 'i,' like the word for 'case:'
Kati: keissi
Michael: Then, there is the practice of writing vowels phonetically, as in Finnish. Like this word:
Kati: haippi
Michael: meaning "hype." For our last example or Finglish grammar, let us compare a spoken Finnish phrase to its old Finglish counterpart. In Finnish, the phrase
Kati: meidän talomme
Michael: means "our house." In Finglish, the possessive suffix disappears, and you get:
Kati: meitin haussi
Michael: In this lesson, you learned that Finnish speakers tend to adopt English words into their vocabulary. This hybrid language is called 'Finglish' and there are different versions of it spoken in the US and Canada, and also in Finland.
Michael If you encounter Finglish these days, you will most likely hear it in technology-related speech. Because English and Finnish morphologies are vastly different and English pronunciation seldom fits in Finnish speech immediately, the pronunciation is nativized. Some typical 'techy' expressions include
Kati: printteri
Michael: for "printer" and
Kati: modeemi
Michael: for "modem." Sometimes, we find words that have only partially transitioned. Like this one:
Kati: webbiselain
Michael: meaning "web browser," where the word "web" has not been translated into Finnish. The completely Finnish equivalent would be:
Kati: verkkoselain
Michael: Lastly, here is an example sentence of Finnish tech-speak:
Kati: Mä tsekkasin sen serverin.
Michael: "I checked the server."
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: Something else worth remembering is not to confuse Finglish with Helsinki slang, or
Kati: stadin slangi
Michael: which comes from the Swedish word for "city." Helsinki slang has absorbed some English loan words too, in recent times, but the uniqueness of Finglish is that it also uses some English linguistic structures. Helsinki slang is not, strictly speaking, 'slang' in the word's modern definition, but rather a dialect of the Finnish language mainly used in Helsinki. Its characteristics are its richness of foreign loan words not found in the other Finnish dialects.


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