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Folk Dance Federation of California, South, Inc.

By Dick Oakes

A a, D d, E e,
H h, I i, J j, K k, L l, M m, N n, O o, P p,
R r, S s, T t, U u, V v,
Y y, Ä ä, Ö ö

Finnish (or Suomi) is a Finno-Ugric language, bearing no resemblance to other existing languages, even those thought to be remotely related in Lapland, west of the Ural Mountains, and in Estonia and Hungary. It is spoken by over five million people. Finland is officially bilingual in Finnish and Swedish.

Finnish is mainly phonetic, with the pronounciation stress always on the first syllable of the word. The language has no articles, no genders, and no future tense.

Double letters represent long sounds which are pronounced about twice as long (or twice as slowly) as the corresponding short sounds of single letters. This is important to know because the length of the vowels can change the meaning of words. For example, vaja means "shed," vaaja means "wedge," and vajaa means "scant."

The letters b, c, f, q, w, x, and z are found only in words from foreign languages, and are pronounced as in the country of origin.

Letters not listed below are pronounced approximately as in English.

A, a   - a as in father; a as in about
E, e   - e as in let
I, i   - i as in pin
O, o   - as in cord
U, u   - u as in full
Y, y   - ew as in view
Ä ä   - a as in hat
Ö, ö   - eu as in fleur
J, j   - y as in yes
R, r   - always slightly rolled (rr)
aa   - a as in father but longer
ä   - a as in hat but longer
ee   - e as in let but longer
ii   - i as in machine
uu   - u as in duke

In Finnish, dipthongs usually occur in the first syllable of a word. The exceptions are those ending in the letter i, which can occur anywhere. In the first set, the accent is on the first letter; in the second, it is on the second letter.
ai   - AHih
au   - AHoo
ei   - EYih
eu   - EYoo
ey   - EYew
iu   - IHoo
oi   - OHih
ou   - OHoo
ui   - OOih
yi   - EWih
äi   - AAih
äy   - AAew
öi   - EUih
öy   - EUew
ei   - ihEY
uo   - ooOH
  - ewEU