Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Finnish Pronunciation

The first syllable of a word is always stressed in Finnish. Long vowels are generally indicated with two letters ('tuuli' - wind). With double consonants, it may be easier to have a very small pause between syllables (Jus-si).

ä like 'a' in bad
a as in laugh
å like 'o' in more
i like 'e' in these
e like st 'e' in there
o like 'o' in holy
ö like 'u' in burn
j like 'y' in yes
ng like 'ng' in thing


There are three types of vowels in Finnish:

back-vocals (a,o,u)

front-vocals (ä,ö,y)

neutral vocals (e,i).

Back-vocals and front-vocals cannot exist in the same word in the Finnish language. Neutral vocals can exist with either group so 'Mäkela' is a spelling mistake (ä and a in same word) but 'Mäkelä' is correct. Similarily, 'aurinköinen' or 'ayrinkoinen' would be wrong, but aurinkoinen is correct. This rule means that Finns are likely to mispronounce words of foreign origin such as Olympialaiset (Olympic Games), where there is a 'y' with back-vocals. 'Olympialaiset' is easily changed to 'Olumpialaiset' in common speech. The rule does not apply to words composed of two individual words but it applies to the component parts. For example, jääkuutio (jää - ice, kuutio - cube) is valid.

There is some similarity to Latin and other such languages, so that most forenames ending in 'a' (Marja, Katja, Laura, Elina) are feminine but this only applies to the nominative case as Finnish is a synthetic language and makes extensive use of suffixes.

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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