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Finnish language

Finnish Language


Finnish is a member of the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic language family (which also includes Hungarian). Finnish is a synthetic language of the agglutinative type. Some fusion is found in spoken Finnish. It modifies noun and verb forms depending on their role in the sentence.

Finnish is spoken by about 6 million people, mainly in Finland. There are Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden, Norway, Russia and Estonia. A few hundred thousand recently emigrated Finns live in Sweden. Significant emigration took place in the 1970's, with Finland struggling under unemployment but Sweden providing jobs in e.g. the car industry. In the Americas, there are also immigrant communities. In North America, these are found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and adjacent areas around Lake Superior. In South America small communities are found in Argentina and Brazil.

The number of the Finnophone population is stable and growing. The Finnophone population of Finland grows faster than the Swedophone population, and some language exchange to Finnish occurs (although the decline of Finland-Swedish is projected to cease in the near future). In Finland, Finnish has become dominant in previously Finland-Swedish areas, e.g. Kauniainen. Furthermore, immigration to Finland — which usually integrates immigrants relatively well — also increases the population of Finnish-speakers.

Finnish is one of two official languages of Finland (the other being Swedish, spoken by a 5% minority) and thus an official language of the European Union. It enjoys the status of an official minority language in Sweden.

The Finnish dialects are divided into two distinct groups, the Western dialects and the Eastern dialects. The dialects are entirely mutually intelligible and characterized only by minor changes in vowels, diphthongs and rhythm, and as such, they are better classified as accents. For the most part, the dialects operate on the same phonology, grammar and vocabulary. There are only marginal examples of sounds or grammatical constructions isolated to some dialect, not found in standard Finnish. Two examples are the voiced dental fricative found in Rauma dialect and the Eastern excessive case.