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Lesson Transcript

Tiina: Hi everyone, and welcome back to FinnishPod101.com. This is the Pronunciation Series, lesson 2: The Pronunciation of Vowels in Finnish. I’m Tiina.
Reeta: And I’m Reeta. Listeners, did you practice the sounds from lesson one?
Tiina: We hope so, because we have a few more sounds for you this time! Eight vowels – and the most common diphthongs.
Reeta: And these are very easy!
Tiina: Yes, they are not that different from English sounds, actually. Okay, shall we get started?
Reeta: All right!
Tiina: Now, if you’ve got the lesson notes, it’s probably a good idea to read them as you listen so that you can see what sounds we are talking about.
Reeta: The first thing to remember is that there are eight different vowels in Finnish. Yes, eight!
Tiina: That’s correct. There is also one more vowel in the Finnish alphabet, the å, called the “ruotsalainen o” in Finnish, or the “Swedish o” in English. However, this is used only in Swedish words. Now, let’s focus on the Finnish vowels. Keep in mind that there are some tricky vowels and diphthongs in Finnish.
Reeta: So make sure to practice and remember them well!
Tiina: What we’ll do is compare them to sounds in English. Okay, the first one is the letter "-A."
Reeta: /a/
Tiina: "-A" is pronounced like the [ah] in "father." Some examples are “kaappi”, meaning “closet” in English, or “aika”, meaning “time” in English. Next is the letter "-E."
Reeta: /e/
Tiina: "-E" is pronounced like the [eh] in "best." Finnish words like “peli”, meaning “game” in English or “televisio”, meaning “TV” in English have this sound. Ok, next is the letter "-I."
Reeta: /i/
Tiina: It’s pronounced like the [i] in "fit." The Finnish words “kiltti”, meaning “nice” in English, and “silittää” meaning “to iron” have th i-sound. Moving on, next is the letter "-O."
Reeta: /o/
Tiina: It’s pronounced like the [o] in “soft”. Now, be careful you don’t make a [u] sound here. We just want a round “o”. Sample words with this o sound are “koti”, meaning “home” or “koulu” meaning “school” in English. The next letter is “-U.”
Reeta: /u/
Tiina: This is pronounced like the [oo] in "book." It can also be like the [oo] in "look." This is included in words like “tuuli”, meaning “wind” and “lumi”, meaning “snow”. The next letter is “-Y”
Reeta: /Y/
Tiina: This is pronounced like the [y] in "syrup." Make this sound a bit stretched. The Y-sound is in words like “kyllä”, meaning “yes” or “tylsä”, meaning “boring”. Let’s go to our next letter.
Reeta: Alright, here is where Finnish gets a bit tricky with the letters. There are basically two letters you most likely haven’t encountered before.
Tiina: Oh, the “Æ” (ä) and “Ø,” (ö) right?
Reeta: Yes, don’t worry though, these sounds do exist in the English language.
Tiina: Great! So shall we go on? Our seventh vowel is “-Æ.”
Reeta: /æ/
Tiina: This is pronounced like the [a] in "sad," or “band.” Easy right? Finnish sample words are for example “äiti”, meaning “mother”, or “täällä”, meaning “here”. Next letter “-Ø.”
Reeta: /ø/
Tiina: This is pronounced like the [u] in "burn," or “sun.” Finnish words that include this are “löyly”, meaning “heat and steam of a sauna”, and “pöllö”, meaning “owl” in English.
Reeta: Right. Let’s use another lesson to explain that, now, let’s talk about Finnish diphthongs. What is a "diphthong?" you might be asking.
Tiina: Well, a "diphthong" is when you have "two vowel sounds acting as a single vowel."
Reeta: And Finnish has many of them.
Tiina: Yes, maybe the most common of these are "-ai" and "-au," "-ei," “ou” “oi”, "-yø," Let’s begin with the first one – "-ai." How is this pronounced?
Reeta: It’s like the [i] in "like." [Ai]. An example of this is in the word "aita," which means "fence."
Tiina: And then "-au." How is this pronounced?
Reeta: This is like the [au] as in "sauerkraut" [Au]. An example of this is in the word "auto," which means "car."
Tiina: And then “-ei.” Let’s hear how it’s pronounced.
Reeta: It sounds almost like the [a] in “wave” [Ei]. As for an example of this in a word... “hei” which means “hello” is a good one.
Tiina: Ok, the next one is “ou”. This is a similar sound to (o) in “vowel”.
Reeta: Yes, an example with this sound is “outo”, meaning “strange” or “odd”.
Tiina: Then we have “oi” which is similar to the ‘oi’ sound in “voice”.
Reeta: In Finnish some examples are voida meaning “can” and soida meaning “to ring”.
Tiina: And finally we have “-yø.” Let’s hear it.
Reeta: Absolutely. It is maybe the only sound that does not really exist in English. A very common Finnish word that contains it is “yø”... Yes the diphthong itself, meaning “night”. Let’s get another sample too, syödä. This means “to eat”.
Tiina: Right. I guess this basically covers the most common sounds that exist in Finnish.
Reeta: Yes, that’s right, and that’s about all the time we have for this lesson. Thanks for joining us everyone!
Tiina: Keep practicing that pronunciation, and we’ll see you next time!
Reeta:Nähdään taas~ hei hei!

13 Comments

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FinnishPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 06:30 PM
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Do you find the Finnish vowels easy to pronounce?

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 09:21 PM
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Hello John,


Thank you for your comment and elaborating on the American English point of view! We’ll consider your feedback for our future development.


Let us know if you have any questions.

Cheers,

Aarni

Team FinnishPod101.com

John
Sunday at 01:13 AM
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Fit in American Standard English is [fˈɪ̞t], not [fˈit]. The latter pronunciation would correspond to the word "feet"

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 04:00 PM
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Hello Dale E Hella,


Thank you for your valuable comment. Yes, this can be a difficult topic for many students who are studying pronouncing these vowel combinations and listening is always a very good idea. That's why these audio files are introduced.


Let us know if you have any question.

Cheers,

Aarni

Team FinnishPod101.com


Dale E Hella
Tuesday at 07:22 AM
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Although I appreciate this lesson...just as I appreciate all of your lessons...I really don't agree that the English examples of correct pronunciation are always suitable. One example...saying that ou is like the o in vowel is not a good example. It would probably be better to use the word goat or something similar. Perhaps it would also be good to suggest that listening to spoken Finnish is a wonderful way to learn proper pronunciation. Finally...for your listeners who know German...y very much sounds like the German ü...and ö very much sounds like its counterpart in German.

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Sunday at 06:59 PM
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Hi Elsie!


Thank you for your comment and for noticing the discrepancy!

You are absolutely right. The letter 'Ø' does not, in fact, exist in the Finnish alphabet! Instead we have only the 'Ö'.

I believe Norwegian and Danish use the Ø, and it sounds similar to Ö, but as it doesn't exist in the Finnish alphabet I can't therefore say they are interchangeable. Therefore, for example, we only write 'löyly', 'yö' or 'pöllö'.

We will fix the script in this lesson, so thank you again for noticing!


Best Wishes,

Päivi

Team FinnishPod101.com

ELSIE PARKER
Wednesday at 08:29 AM
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Hei!

from the lesson 2 Pronunciation, it lists ø, but examples use ö

____________________________________

(from the lesson)

Next letter

“-Ø.”

Reeta: /ø/

Tiina: This is pronounced like the [u] in "burn," or “sun.” Finnish words that include

this are “löyly”, meaning “heat and steam of a sauna”, and “pöllö”,

and

Tiina: And finally we have “-yø.” Let’s hear it.

Reeta: Absolutely. It is maybe the only sound that does not really exist in English. A

very common Finnish word that contains it is “yø”... Yes the diphthong itself, meaning

“night”. Let’s get another sample too, syödä. This means “to eat”.


______________________________

so are ø and ö interchangable? I had not ever seen night written as “yø”...or “löyly" as "løyly". They don't seem right... "ø" vain ruotsalainen sanoa kanssa?

Help! Apua minulle! Kiitos! ELSIE

FinnishPod101.com Verified
Wednesday at 10:11 PM
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Hei Adam!


Thank you for your feedback! Good ideas there.

I'll pass your message on to your content team, so we can make our content better.


Thank you! :smile: :thumbsup:


Päivi

Team FinnishPod101.com

Adam
Wednesday at 08:57 AM
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I agree with another commenter that the diphthongs should be read each once. They're in the lesson notes, but they're not in the dialogue.


Also, the vowels "E" and "I" are not the vowels in the English words that are used to explain them. For example, "I" is more like the vowel in "Feet" than in "fit", and "E" is like "eight" rather than "best", at least according to the audio of the vowels.

Finnishpod101.com Verified
Monday at 09:12 PM
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Hi Anya!


Yes, some of these double vocals can be a bit tricky at first... But as you said, the best way to practice is going through to audios and trying to repeat after them!


Thank you for your comment!


Paula

Team FinnishPod101.com

Anya
Wednesday at 10:13 PM
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yö is a tricky one as well as some others, but I think, it's easy to learn the pronunciation from words in every audio lesson (or wordbank and flashcards).