Talk:Finnish orthography

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W and V[edit]

Does the Finnish alphabet skip the W, as does the Swedish? Egil 12:24, 11 March 2003 (UTC)

Well, it's usually listed in the alphabet, but only used in foreign names, just like Å.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 12:31, 11 March 2003 (UTC)
The same could be said about the letters B,Q,Z and X. Only used in foreign names and load words such as "banaani". :) JNi 12:57, 11 March 2003 (UTC)
The letter W is considered to be the same as the letter V (as in Swedish). But they can be separated in a multilingual contex. Acording to the standard SFS 4600. Source [[1]]. JNi 13:22, 11 March 2003 (UTC)

Clarification needed[edit]

I have three queries about this page, which I just edited. I didn't want to make any changes about these without getting input from Finnish experts/speakers.


* In collation "W" is equivalent to V.

What is "collation"?

It means "assembling in proper numerical or logical sequence" (WordNet). Basically when you put names in alphabetical order W is equivalent of V. -- Lakefall 19:59, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)


The characters "Ä" and "Ö", although composed of A or O plus an umlaut diacritic, nevertheless are considered independent letters, even though "Ä" and "Ö" represent represent sounds similar to the corresponding sounds in German. In the German system, the umlaut often correlates with distinctions of plurality (such as Rad 'wheel', Räder 'wheels'), tense, mood, etc. No such correlations occur in Finnish.

I'm puzzled by this, because Finnish has vowel harmony. Various suffixes come in pairs containing the vowels Ä/A or Ö/O. Would this not show that the umlaut is a meaningful diacritic in Finnish just like it is in German?

You would think that there would be a transliteration system, even if unofficial. Like we substitute ñ with ny.Cameron Nedland 20:32, 26 December 2006 (UTC)


The reason is that in Finnish orthography, each sound corresponds to one letter, and each letter corresponds to one sound.

Yet the long vowels and consonants of Finnish are spelled with two (identical) letters in sequence. Native speakers, do you feel that aa and tt are one sound or two?

--Opus33 16:59, 2 Mar 2004 (UTC)

As a native speaker, I feel that the long wovels & consonants in Finnish are one sound and essentially the same as the short ones, just prolonged in pronunciation. I don't really understand how they could be "two" sounds, as the letters are identical and the language phonetically spelled. --Vesa Sihvonen 17:52, 2 March 2004 (UTC)
I'm puzzled by this, because Finnish has vowel harmony. Various suffixes come in pairs containing the vowels Ä/A or Ö/O. Would this not show that the umlaut is a meaningful diacritic in Finnish just like it is in German? No, they're certainly not "letters with diacritics" in Finnish. If we followed this principle in English, G would be called "C with a hook", R and Q would be "P and O with a descender", and so on. The forms Ä and Ö are copied from Swedish, but this can't change the fact that Ä and Ö are distinct, not modified vowels. "Kylmä" (cold) and "kulma" (corner, angle), "päätös" (decision) and "paatos" (pathos) are distinct words, but fot, fötter in Swedish aren't.
Long sounds are pronounced atomically (they are one sound), but in syllablication, long vowels are one unit, long consonants two. Ta-ju-at-te-ko? Long consonants can only appear between two vowels inside words, as consonant pairs, and thus it is consistent to syllablicate katko, katto and Kakko equally (kat-ko, kat-to, Kak-ko). See spoken Finnish on pronounciation. Long vowels form the syllable nucleus, so they're atomic. In cases where a long vowel is followed by a short vowel, after K disappearing in consonant gradation, an apostrophe is added, e.g. raaka -> raa'an. In compound words, a hyphen is added (e.g. maa-ala). --Vuo 03:11, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Bad redirects[edit]

The content of the page was recently moved to Finnish language. That might not be a bad idea in itself, but it was replaced by a pointless article containing just a single link. I think there is a point in having a separate article on the Finnish alphabet, not least since it enables easy comparison with other existing alphabet articles. The alphabet part of the article has been restored, but the segment on ortography remains in the language article.-- Mic 20:37, 31 May 2004 (UTC)

Alright, fair enough. Sorry, I was the culprit. Was just trying to resolve the repetition of data in both articles. This works too.--[[User:HamYoyo|HamYoyo (Talk)]] 20:43, May 31, 2004 (UTC)

Alphabet redesign?[edit]

I recently heard that the Finnish alphabet in use today is a recent invention, deliberately to make the alphabet code more transparent (one sound - one letter). Is there any truth in this rumour? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Athertonmi (talkcontribs) 09:52, 16 April 2007 (UTC)


I've been told that the Finnish alphabet was redesigned in the 1970's to make it simpler. Is there any truth in this rumour?

Best wishes, Mary —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 19:12, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Certainly not. The alphabet has been copied "as is" from Swedish, and it has been so since Mikael Agricola began writing Finnish. Fortunately the Swedish alphabet contains enough sounds like Ä and Ö that Finnish speakers didn't have to design any new letters. Then again, unused letters like Q and Å remain. The last changes to Finnish orthography with respect to the alphabet were the changes from 'C' to 'K', 'X' to 'KS', 'TZ' to 'TS' and 'W' to 'V', in the 18th and 19th century. 'C', 'X', 'Z' and 'W' remained in the alphabet but were no longer used. --Vuo (talk) 14:55, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Š and Ž in Finnish orthography[edit]

The article mentions the presence of "Š" and "Ž" in the list of differences between the Finnish alphabet and other Latin based alphabets, but in the actual alphabet given, they don't appear. Should they be in there somewhere, or not? If not, they don't really belong in the list of differences... -- Oliver P. 14:16 24 May 2003 (UTC)

They do hardly belong in the listed alphabet, although you might see that exceptionally. Their inclusion in the list of differences is of course disputable, and that on two levels. The first being your point, the second that the digraph-issue isn't undisputed in Finland. But maybe this is the best place to put it, and the best way to express it, given that the expected reader isn't particularly familiar with Finland and Finnish. -- Johan Magnus 02:27 28 May 2003 (UTC)
Letters "Š" and "Ž" are never listed in Finnish alphabet in Finland. I think they are treated as S and Z respectively when putting things in alphabetical order. They are used in some words such as šakki (chess), which can also be written shakki (or sometimes sakki, which can be confused with another word). The problem with these letters is Finnish keyboards don't have them and neither does ISO 8859-1. (ISO 8859-15 does, but it's quite new.) -- Lakefall 20:20, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm no language expert, but as a finnish native I'm suprised to see "Š" and "Ž" characters placed on the finnish language alphabet. Why are they there? I don't remember ever seeing them on the alphabet tables back in school :).

Shouldn't be enough if they are just meantioned as they now are in the article, but removed from the actual line presenting the finnish alphabet? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tommitus (talkcontribs) 10:14, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

This site is all wrong, typical wikipedia.Lots of alphabets that are not even part of finnish language..š & ž. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Onund (talkcontribs) 12:47, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

Well I've never seen the letter ž in any Finnish word, but š is not uncommon. Words like Sasha and Shamaani are often written using it, but I don't think anyone would write šoppailla.. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
The haceks 'š' and 'ž' are part of an official recommendation that is a source of the article. Certain newspapers and especially encyclopedias use them. However, I don't recall them being taught at schools or anywhere else. --Vuo (talk) 15:20, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Parts of this discussion were moved to #Pronunciation of non-native letters, see below.

Pronunciation of non-native letters[edit]

Maybe it should be mentioned that in Finnish language W is pronounced as V and Å is pronounced as O. -- Lakefall 19:59, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

From the article: "Z is always pronounced identically to TS."

Is this correct? I don't always say Tsorro and it sounds rather silly.

Anyhow, this is my understanding of the pronunciation of some of the rarer letters:

  • I think C is pronounced identically to either K or S.
  • I think Q is pronounced identically to K.
  • Š is sometimes pronounced as SH, but that's not the correct pronunciation.
  • W is always pronounced identically to V.
  • X is always pronounced identically to KS.
  • Z is often pronounced identically to TS, but I might also pronounce it like the English Z.
  • I'm not quite sure how I'm supposed to pronounce Ž.
  • Å is always pronounced identically to O.

This information might be worth including in the article.. or maybe not. It is already partially there. --Lakefall 10:26, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

None of these sounds are used in Finnish. Thus, their pronunciation is a bit unclear.
  • C ought not to be a part of any Finnish words at all, but unfortunately one word, "cesium", has been adopted. Most people pronounce it as "seessium", but in the original language, it was written "caesium" and is supposed to be pronounced "keesium". Few people know this, and this is just an elitist complication.
  • Q is not a part of any Finnish words, thus it's pronounced as K when encountered.
  • Š is for foreign transcriptions, it's the "shoppailla" SH.
  • Z is always, as in German, "TS". Finnish speakers usually can't even pronounce voiced fricatives (Z and Ž) and certainly voicing isn't significant - I could compare this to English-speakers not caring about the contrast of long and short vowels, or Ä and A. Ž is the voiced version of Š, found in Karelian, e.g. kiža = kisa, kiima "competetion, estrus". Russian is another language that uses this sound.
  • Å is not a Finnish sound and is mapped to O. --Vuo 13:22, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
My impression is that Finnish speakers pronounce Z as any of "TS", "Z", or "S". As for the current wording, maybe "TS" is indeed the way it's supposed to be pronounced (I wouldn't know), but to say simply that Z is always pronounced "TS" is incorrect. --Iceager 03:15, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Am I correct in assuming that Šš and Žž are pronounced like [ʃ] and [ʒ], respectively? 惑乱 分からん * \)/ (\ (< \) (2 /) /)/ * 10:52, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

The following dicussion was split off from #Š and Ž in Finnish orthography, above.

But yes, I agree that this page is ALL WRONG! To say that the letter b, g and f "occur in relatively unestablished loanwords," is a gross lie. Everybody knows and pronunces the words fasaani, banaani, and geeni correctly.
By the way..I Å is listed, then W certainly should be, too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
Finns do pronounce 'š' [ʃ], but usually write it 'sh'. The letter and sound 'ž' [ʒ] is not well-known, and in my impression most people are ignorant of the difference between [s], [z] and [ʒ] (i.e. all the incorrect pronunciations [breesnev], [breeʃnev], [breeznev] are used). As for complaining about "gross lies", WP:BOLD --Vuo (talk) 15:20, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
"To say that the letter b, g and f 'occur in relatively unestablished loanwords,' is a gross lie. Everybody knows and pronunces the words fasaani, banaani, and geeni correctly."
For a Finn, that may appear so, but at least my English-phonetics teacher (who is an Englishman living in Finland) disagrees. According to him, scientific phonetical analysis has shown that in a typical Finnish pronunciation there is practically no difference between voiced and voiceless plosives – even if the speakers themselves think their pronunciation is flawless. This applies especially when speaking Finnish. If somebody really pronounced banaani with fully voiced [b], it would sound rather unnatural and hypercorrect Finnish.
As regards the "gross lie", as the IP so subtly put it, that depends on how you understand the phrase "relatively unestablished". Banaani, geeni and fasaani are easily recognizable as loanwords because each contains a non-native letter. Therefore they are not quite as established as, e.g. sohva (← Swedish soffa 'sofa'), leipä (← Russian хлеб 'bread') or äiti (← ancient Germanic °aithi 'mother'). But I admit that "unestablished" may not be the best way to put it. "Relatively new loanwords" might be a more appropriate formulation. ― Simo Kaupinmäki (talk) 11:16, 11 April 2010 (UTC)
Isn't leipä rather from ancient Germanic, as well (just as xleb, actually)? If it was from Russian xleb, why would it contain a diphtong? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 02:39, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Letter F[edit]

According to this article, F is only used in some loanwords. Wouldn't it be worth mentioning the irony that the language Finnish has an F in its name in pretty much all European and Slavic languages except in Finnish itself? (talk) 19:26, 30 July 2010 (UTC) (lKj)

letters å ä ö[edit]

Reality is that these letters have two conversion rules "å>a ä>a ö>o" and "å>aa ä>ae ö>oe". source for latter is ICAO Doc 9303. Former is defined by noone but used. i don't know what precisely should be in article but saying that other one is only correct one is inappropriate for wikipedia. Zeealien (talk) 13:21, 8 December 2012 (UTC)