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This article is about Finnish mixed with English. For Persian (Farsi) mixed with English, see Fingilish.

The term Finglish was introduced by professor Martti Nisonen in the 1920s in Hancock, Michigan, to describe a linguistic phenomenon he encountered in America. As the term describes, Finglish is a macaronic mixture of the English and Finnish languages. In Finglish, the English lexical items are nativized and inserted into the framework of Finnish morphology and syntax. The Finnish immigrants to the United States and Canada are one group that speak Finglish, but Finglish is also found in any place in Finland, where international contacts and popular culture exists, including Finnish language learners.


Finglish originated amongst the first and second generation Finnish immigrants in US and Canada. Since few of them had any higher education or language skills, many of them ended up in menial and industrial jobs, where they learned English through practice. The language skills of the first generation American Finns remained always limited; second and third-generation American Finns usually were more or less bilingual. Finglish emerged as a pidgin with something they already knew (Finnish) and something they were bound to learn (English).

Most of the Finnish immigrants were from the provinces of Savonia, Tavastia and Ostrobothnia, and the grammar also reflected those dialects.

The most common characteristic of historical Finglish were (in descending order of frequency):[citation needed]

Phenomenon Finglish Finnish English
almost all voiced consonants in English are replaced by their voiceless counterparts in Finglish; /f/ is likewise replaced with /v/ lumperi puutavara lumber
piiri olut, kalja beer
rapoli ongelma trouble
karpetsi roska(t) garbage
vörnitseri huonekalu furniture
three contiguous vowels are not allowed. They are broken up by inserting either a back or front glide depending on the phonetic environment leijata pelata, soittaa to play
sauveri suihku shower
syllabic consonants are modified by inserting a vowel in front of them: kaluna gallona gallon
hanteli kahva handle
words should end in a vowel (the preferred word-final vowel is /i/ but /a/ is also encountered) reimi kehys frame
kaara auto, vaunu, kärry car
heerkatti hiustyyli haircut
loijari lakimies lawyer
when the word in English begins with two or three consonants, all but the last consonant are dropped before the word is acceptable for Finglish raikki isku, lakko strike
touvi hella, liesi stove
rosseri kauppa grocery
vowels are written phonetically, as in Finnish reitti suora straight
raippi raita, juova stripe
disappearance of possessive suffix, as in spoken Finnish meitin haussi meidän talomme our house

Words used in US Finglish often have completely different meanings in Finnish, especially when the Finglish terms are borrowings from English; they have become expressive loans: ruuma (from and meaning 'room'; in Finnish meaning 'cargo hold'"), piiri ('beer'; 'district'), leijata ('to play'; 'to hover'), reisi ('crazy'; 'thigh'), and touvi ('stove'; 'halyard'). US Finglish compound words can produce combinations completely incomprehensible to native Finnish speakers, like piirikäki ('beer keg'; 'district cuckoo') or the somewhat less incomprehensible ilmapiika ('flight attendant'; 'air maid').

These older Finglish usages may not be bound to survive, and their original users are now in their 80s and 90s. The descendants of most American Finns are today either completely monolingual, or, if they have kept their ties to their grandparents' and great-grandparents' speech, use ordinary Finnish beside English.

Example of old-style Finglish:

Frank ja Wilbert oli Saran kanssa kaaralla käymäs vilitsis. Ne kävi haartveerstooris ostamas loonmouverin ja Sara kävi ottaan heerkatin piutisaluunasa. Kun ne tuli haussiin, niin mamma laitto äpylipaita.

which translates as

Frank and Wilbert were with Sara visiting the village by car. They went to hardware store to buy a lawn mower, while Sara had a haircut at beauty salon. When they came back to home, mom served apple pie.

For comparison, standard Finnish without anglicisms:

Frank ja Wilbert olivat Saran kanssa käymässä autolla kylässä. He kävivät rautakaupassa ostamassa ruohonleikkurin ja Sara kävi laitattamassa kampauksen kauneushoitolassa. Kun he tulivat kotiin, äiti laittoi omenapiirakkaa.

Relatively few words from Finglish have become standard Finnish, but note kämppä 'log cabin' or "(temporary) accommodation', from English camp; and mainari 'miner'. These may, however, be direct borrowings from English in Finland.

Later Finglish[edit]

A new wave of Finglish has originated in Finland. Its sources are technology, popular culture, various sub-cultures, and fandom. It differs from slang in the sense that it also uses some English linguistic structures. Examples of some popular-culture Finglish expressions include vörkkiä ('to work'), biitsi ('beach'), spreijata ('to spray'), hengailla ('to hang out'), kruisailla ('to cruise in an automobile') and hevijuuseri ('heavy user'). While the earlier, North American Finglish was distinctively a working-class adult immigrants' language, the newer sort of Finglish is used by native Finnish youth in contact with the English language through mass and social media. Finglish terms of today are a transitional phase of absorption of new terms and ideas from English into mainstream Finnish before the full nativization of the words, especially in situations where English (a very productive yet compounding language) expresses a concept with one word, while Finnish would require several of them, or has no native term. This Finglish is not to be confused with Helsinki slang, though the latter has absorbed some English loan words, too, in recent times.

The characteristics of current Finglish, in descending order of frequency, are:[citation needed]

Phenomenon Finglish Finnish English
preservation of voiced consonants /b/, /d/ and /g/ and /f/ biitsi hiekkaranta beach
bugi bug, as programming error
dellata poistaa to delete
delata kuolla to die
digata tykätä to dig, in sense "to feel affection"
giikki geek
fleimi an Internet flame, a nasty Internet reply
fleimata to write/send a nasty Internet reply or to burn
preservation of consonant clusters in the beginning of the words as in Southwestern Finnish dialects kreisi hullu crazy
printteri tulostin printer
skipata jättää väliin to skip, to pass something
trabeli ongelma trouble
word ending in a vowel as in Old Finglish, almost exclusively in /i/. Duplication of the English final consonant before the final /i/ keissi tapaus case
disketti levyke diskette
floppi flop, failure
Vowels written out phonetically as in Old Finglish, umlaut denoting frontal vowel staili tyylikäs, tyyli stylish, style
bändi yhtye band, orchestra
nörtti nerd
räppi rap music
nevöhööd never heard
replacement of English
  • /c/ with /k/ or /s/
  • /ch/ with /ts/
  • /th/ with /d/
  • /x/ with /ks/
  • /j/ as /ds/
  • /w/ with /v/
klikata napsauttaa to click
tsekata tarkistaa to check
fiksata korjata to fix
biifdsööki kuivaliha beef jerky
pätsätä paikata to patch, as in updating software
vörkkiä toimia to work, to function
conceptual switch of Finnish instructive "mene" (go with) as "ota" (take) ota juna mene junalla
ota itäreitti mene itäreittiä
you-impersonal (sinä-passiivi); using sinä (you) as the formal subject of an impersonal sentence. This may actually be an older phenomenon than English influence, as it also has appeared in certain Karelian dialects. Jos sinä et syö, sinä et elä. Jos ei syö, ei elä. If you don't eat, you don't live.

An example of today's Finglish might be:

Mä lainasin faijan autoo ja me mentiin Mikan, Jennin ja Hannan kanssa kruisaamaan. Ensin haettiin gasoo, sitten käytiin syömässä Mäkissä bögöt ja lopulta mentiin biitsille.

which translates as

I borrowed Dad's car and we went together with Mika, Jenni and Hanna cruising around. We first went to get some gasoline, then went to McDonald's (Mäkki < Mäkdonalds < McDonalds) to have burgers and in the end we went to the beach.

For comparison, without anglicisms, but still colloquial:

Mä lainasin faijan autoo ja me mentiin Mikan, Jennin ja Hannan kanssa ajelulle. Ensin haettiin löpöö, sitten käytiin syömässä [pikaruokalan] purilaiset ja lopulta mentiin rantsuun.

And, in more literary Finnish:

Lainasin isäni autoa ja menimme Mikan, Jennin ja Hannan kanssa ajelulle. Ensin haimme polttoainetta, sitten kävimme pikaruokalassa syömässä hampurilaiset ja lopulta menimme rannalle.

Technical speech[edit]

Finglish is today used most commonly in technology-related speech, where the majority of the loanwords originate in English. Since the English and Finnish language morphologies are vastly different and English pronunciation seldom fits in the Finnish speech immediately, the loan's orthography and pronunciation are nativized. Direct Finglish teknopuhe ('techspeak') expressions include printteri ('printer' – it is currently being ousted by the native word tulostin), modeemi ('modem'), and prosessori or prossu ('processor' – there is even a puristic word, suoritin, which is heard often enough, but is still less common than the borrowings). Reified initialisms in Finglish include seepu from English CPU, and dimmi from DIMM. Finglish is usually considered a transitional phase from literal loans into translationary loans (calques). Examples of Finglish calques are emolevy ('motherboard'), näyttö ('display'), ulkoistaa ('to outsource'), and sähköposti ('electronic mail' - the Finglish words eemeli [which, capitalized, is also a male name, the finnish version of Emil], iimeili or meili are still quite common). An example of a word where the transition is partial, is webbiselain ('Web browser'), where the word web has not yet been translated into Finnish verkko (and may never be).

An example of Finnish techspeak:

Mä tsekkasin sen serverin. Siinä oli täys snafu päällä. Siitä oli poveri kärtsännyt ja se oli sitten krässännyt totaalisesti. Kun sitä ei oltu ajettu hallitusti alas, siitä oli käyttispartitio korruptoitunut eikä se enää buutannut. Mä fiksasin siihen uuden poverin ja buuttasin sen korpulta.

which would translate in English:

I checked the server. It was in a complete SNAFU. Its power supply had burnt out and it had then crashed totally. As it was not shut down in an orderly manner, its operating system partition was corrupted and it no longer booted. I fixed it with a new power supply and booted it from a floppy disk.

and a less anglicised, but still colloquial Finnish:

Mä tarkistin sen palvelimen. Se oli täysin hajalla. Siitä oli virtalähde kärtsännyt ja se oli sitten mennyt aivan jumiin. Kun sitä ei oltu ajettu hallitusti alas, siitä oli käyttisosio pilalla eikä se enää käynnistynyt. Mä hoidin siihen uuden virtalähteen ja käynnistin sen korpulta.

An approximation in literary Finnish:

Tarkistin sen palvelimen. Se oli täysin hajalla. Siitä oli virtalähde kärähtänyt ja se oli sitten mennyt aivan jumiin. Kun sitä ei ollut ajettu hallitusti alas, siitä oli käyttöjärjestelmäosio pilalla eikä se enää käynnistynyt. Hoidin siihen uuden virtalähteen ja käynnistin sen levykkeeltä.


Sometimes English words are used as the basis of Finnish conceptual neologisms, like nörtti, 'computer enthusiast', from English nerd; or nyypiö,'nyyppä, or noobi, 'newbie', i.e. 'beginner' (the first two variants influenced by the native Finnish hyypiö meaning a 'freak' or 'eccentric person').

Since most current Finglish user are fluent in Finnish and to some extent English, direct translations are sometimes used in humorous or oxymoronic concepts, such as julkinen talo (literally 'public house') for pubi (borrowed long ago from English), or käytännöllinen pila (lit. 'practical joke') for native Finnish kepponen ('prank', 'shenanigan').

English loanwords that originate in Latin are usually amalgamated in Finnish by using the Latin and not English orthography and grammar.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]