Finnish language, also called Suomi, member of the Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric languages. These languages form a subdivision of the Uralic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages (see Uralic and Altaic languages). Finnish is spoken by about 5 million people in Finland. Additional speakers totaling close to 1 million live in neighboring areas of Sweden and Russia and also in the United States. There are several dialects. In Finnish the first syllable of a word is stressed. The language has 15 cases for nouns, personal pronouns, and adjectives. It lacks grammatical gender and the article. There is a negative conjugation for the verb. Like the other Uralic and Altaic languages, Finnish has vowel harmony and agglutination. Postpositions are employed instead of prepositions. Suffixation is used to form derived nouns and verbs. The Finnish vocabulary has been enriched by words borrowed from the Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic languages. A modified Roman alphabet is used for writing Finnish, which has been recorded since the 16th cent.
See F. Karlsson, Finnish Grammar (tr. 1983); E. Holman, ed., Finnish Verb Handbook (1984).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on Finnish language from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Language and Linguistics