Finnish pronunciation

Finnish is a phonetic language

Phonetic means means that there is a one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds. A listener who doesn’t speak the language can immediately make two observations of finnish pronunciation: on one hand, there is a certain softness to it (due to the high proportion of vowels), but, on the other hand, it has a monotonous rhythm (due to the consistent stress on the first syllable of every word).

Does grammar effect Finnish pronunciation?

Grammatically, the defining feature of finnish pronunciation is its inflecting character. Suffixes and case endings are added to words to signal their grammatical function. The expression of complex grammatical relationships requires several suffixes.

For this reason, Finnish words can get very long. Check for example our post about the longest words in Finnish. If you have looked at a Finnish website or newspaper you no doubt have noticed that a text typically consists of a series of long words with no short words in between.

Why Finnish words are so long?

The reasons for this are that Finnish lacks articles and prepositions and is very fond of compound nouns. Moreover, most words carry at least one, but often several suffixes. These suffixes fall into 15 groups, depending on their grammatical function and, by the time you have worked your way through this book, you will be familiar with most of them.

finnish woman reading by the sea

This lady cracked the code for Finnish words.

How to read Finnish?

Pronunciation in Finnish is very consistent with the written form. Everything is pronounced the way it is written, and every letter is always pronounced in the same way. There are no silent letters. All of the vowels and most of the consonants have both short and long variants. Therefore, it is very important to make a clear distinction between short and long sounds. Long sounds simply need to be articulated for more time, except in the case of p. t and k, where it is impossible. With these letters. you need to insert a short pause before pronouncing these sounds.

This dog is thinking about Finnish pronunciation.

How to pronounce Finnish words?

The main stress is always on the first syllable of every word. This is an absolute rule. Try to resist the temptation of stressing long vowels—a common mistake of English speakers. Sen-tence intonation is falling in both statements and questions.

There are two important phonetic rules in Finnish, one affecting vowels and the other consonants. Both of them impact the grammatical system on several different levels. Therefore, you need to be aware of them in order to understand certain regular patterns in the inflectional system. Read next about the vowel harmony.

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