The Finnish language is called Suomi in Finnish. Suomi comes from the old Swedish somi (mass), as Swedes once classed the Finns as “the masses” or “the plebs”. With about 5 million speakers, Finnish is one of the two official languages of Finland (the other is Swedish) and an official minority language in Sweden. The language has two close relatives, Karelian and Veps, spoken in small numbers in northeast Russia; otherwise its closest relative is Estonian, which is almost similar enough to be mutually intelligible. Nähdään pian! (See you soon!)
Finnish Fun Facts
Get ready to relax. Finland is a country of over 1.8 million saunas. Considering the population’s about 5 million, that makes more than one sauna for every three people.
Perkele is one of the most popular curse words in Finnish, and is usually translated as “devil” or “damn.” It originates from the thunder god Perkele (Perkunas in the Baltic region, known as Perun to the Slavs), similar to the Norse Thor.
J.R.R. Tolkien taught himself Finnish in order to read the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, in the original. Finnish served as inspiration for his Elven language.
The longest word in the Finnish language is epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellän-säkäänköhä, which (of course) means doubtful.
Finnish and the Livemocha Community
- The majority Finnish Livemocha members speak both Finnish and English
- The top 3 countries where Livemocha members are learning Finnish are Russia, Brazil, and the United States
- There is currently only 1 Namibian Livemocha member learning Finnish