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Lesson Transcript

Tiina: Hello everyone! Welcome back to FinnishPod101.com’s Pronunciation Series! This is lesson 4: Finnish Accents. My name is Tiina!
Reeta: And I’m Reeta! How is it going? Are you getting the hang of Finnish pronunciation? Starting to feel more confident?
Tiina: This time we’re going to go over some regional variations on pronunciation.
Reeta: Up until now, you have learned that Finnish has a set number of consonants and vowels – 13 native consonants, eight native vowels, and various diphthongs.
Tiina: Right. But we also want to tell our listeners that depending on where you go in Finland – remember, it’s a large and diverse country – people might say things entirely differently.
Reeta: So, how are we going to cover this?
Tiina: Well, we’re going to focus on two dialects – Western Finland and Eastern Finland. Why? Because these are the biggest two dialect groups in Finland. Let’s start with Western Finland.
Reeta: Okay, so in West Finland there is one distinct difference you’ll notice quite early on; the abbreviation of word final vowels.
Tiina: Yeah, the final vowel sound might just drop sometimes. Another distinguishable difference is the “d” that might change to fully trilled “r”. Like “meidän” changes to “meirän”.
Reeta: Right, many Finns find the “d” sound to be a little difficult, and in sometimes it might be pronounced as a “t” to make it easier. In this dialect though, they pronounce it as a very strong “R” sound.
Tiina: That’s right.
Reeta: Another thing quite special to each dialect is minor changes in vowels, diphthongs and rhythm. Some samples of the vowel changes are for example “tie”in standard Finnish and “tiä”, both meaning “road”, in the Western dialect. Another example is “miekka” in standard Finnish and “miakka”, both meaning “sword”, in the western dialect.
Tiina: That’s right. And what are some major changes between the Eastern Finnish dialect, and the Western dialect?
Reeta: First of all to not confuse our listeners: The Western Finnish Dialect has been influenced by Swedish and Estonian languages. Some words sound like Estonian words. The Eastern dialect has been mostly influenced by the Karelian language (in Finnish Karjala), some of the Eastern-most areas have noticeable quantities of borrowed words from Russian.
Tiina: Oh, yes that’s true.
Reeta: As for the difference in the pronunciation, the Eastern dialect has a double consonant in front of a long vowel, for example osuus, meaning “portion”, or “share”) is “ossuus”.
Tiina: I see, and do you have another example ofr that?
Reeta: Yes, sanoo in Standard Finnish, meaning “he/she says” in the Eastern dialect becomes sannoo.
Tiina: Are there any other changes in Eastern dialects?
Reeta: Yes, for example a D sound might drop off, or change to another sound. For example, pudota, in English “fall down”, is “puota”, so the d sound drops off. Or “saada” meaning “to get”, changes to “saaha”. In some cases the diphthongs change a little bit, like for example “poika” becomes “poeka” this means “boy”.
Tiina: Great! Quite a difference there. Almost like a different language. Speaking of which, some dialects can sound even more alien to foreigners.
Reeta: Yes, the dialects can have some quite distinct differences from the standard language. However the “twisting the vowels” would be very familiar to someone that speaks with an Eastern dialect.
Tiina: Sure, and the [R] sound can be slightly stronger in the western dialects and to foreigners it might even obscure the rest of the word.
Reeta: Yes, Western Finnish has a thick [R].
Tiina: So, to continue, let’s see how the pronouns change in dialects..
Reeta: Yes, to take “I” as an example again, it can be pronounced as either [minä] in standard; [mä] in Southern parts of Western dialect or Helsinki dialect (slang); [mää] in Central parts of the Eastern dialects and [mie] in many areas of the Eastern dialect.
Tiina: Hmm, notice the difference?
Reeta: Yeah. The are quite different. Then we have words like [sinä] which is the standard word for “you”.
Tiina: Right.
Reeta: [sä] is in the dialect of the Southern part of the Western dialect, as well as in a Helsinki dialect, or slang.
Tiina: (“sää) is in the Central parts of the Eastern dialects.
Reeta: And [sie] is in the dialect of many areas of the Eastern dialect.
Tiina: Yep, those are different. But they basically follow the same rule with “minä”.
Reeta: That’s true.
Tiina: Yeah, and don’t worry about learning to speak and pronounce the dialects as it is not at all necessary to make yourself understood.
Reeta: Learning to understand some of the dialects could be an advantage though.
Tiina: Well, certainly!
Reeta: Alright, well that ends our lesson on regional pronunciations!
Tiina: Make sure to keep practicing – listen over and over again if you have to!
Reeta: Let us know if you have any questions at FinnishPod101.com!
Tiina: See you next time!
Reeta: Hei hei!