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Why Finnish is less difficult than it seems

The Finnish language is universally acknowledged as one of the most difficult languages in the world. I’m not going to bust this myth – it’s hard as hell. However, in fact, the devil is not as black as it is painted.

I started learning Finnish many years ago but only last year actually became a more decent learner (although even the Finns I’ve met told me to give up this idea – everyone speaks English there). I’ve already mentioned the reasons why I decided to do it in my previous post: I travel to Finland very often, love the Finnish music and find the language truly beautiful.

When I realized for the first time how much grammar stuff, which is a lot different from what I had already encountered, I had to learn, I was freaking out a lot. The biggest stress, I guess, was when I found out there’re no prepositions in the language. They just use various postfixes, loads of them, for all goddamn situations. What is worse, there are alterations. I hate them so much; seriously, guys, why? I know that it will be much easier, when I get used to them, but I haven’t yet and it’s annoying. All the other stuff, like multiple cases, is okay 🙂

Well, enough of the strong feelings. Let me get to the pleasant part 🙂 Finnish is easier than it may seem and than people present it! I promise 🙂

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

  • It terms of vocabulary, at first it may seem the words are so unique and unlike any other language so that no associations will be able to help you. Wrong! In fact, there’re lots of borrowings and words that provide very effective associations. There are also a lot of compound words so you need to learn less.

For example:

Borrowings: drinkki, grilli, auto, bussi, lamppu, elefantti, sipuli (this one is tricky: according to my grandfather “onion” in Belorussian is very similar to this word), kartta (almost like a Russian word for “map”), kauppa (a shop; “kaufen” in German means “to buy”), etc.

Good (for me) associations: papu (beans; looks like a word for “dad”), puu (a tree; you can guess the association 🙂 ), sairas (sick; looks like a Russian word for saury, so I think that if I eat this fish, I’ll get sick), helppo (easy; it’s easy to do something with some help), etc.

 

  • The pronunciation is easy. It’s literally read as it’s written. You just need to learn the rules. It’s not like French where 4 letters are pronounced as one or English where there’re more exceptions than rules 🙂 One disadvantage here is that sometimes the words are so long that you can’t divide them correctly (järjestyssäännöt – just split the doubled “s” and you’ll get the list of rules 🙂 )

 

  • You may wonder how I can possibly present the grammar as a more or less easy thing. Well, let me try. First of all, it’s very logical. Speaking of postfixes, you should simply learn the usage. Each postfix kind of represents a preposition so you’ll get used to it. It’s almost like the Spanish thing with adding pronouns to the words (ayudame/help me, conmigo/with me). The same thing relates to cases. I’m not saying it’s easy, there’re so many things to learn, but once you do it, it’ll be a very natural thing. Secondly, there’re no genders and the future tense. Isn’t it a relief? Fewer things to learn, yay!

 

As you see, I’m still very enthusiastic and hopeful about learning Finnish 🙂 Have you tried doing it? What languages do you consider the most difficult to learn? Tell me in the comments 🙂

 



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