We were actually thinking of a wizard called Väinämöinen. He is much more powerful than Harry, but nowhere near as nice, I'm afraid. Nor is his name as easy to spell. ;)
In everyday Finnish velho is used as a compliment for people who are good at something, especially good at fixing things or good at tech in general. If someone fixes your car or your computer, you can call them a wizard. :)
Actually, the word "velho" was not used to describe Väinämöinen. He was more of a "tietäjä". Traditionally, in the time of the folk poems, "velho" had a different, more negative, connotation. A "velho" would, in fact, be someone against whom Väinämöinen would sing.
Sources: SKVR (Suomen Kansan Vanhat Runot) poetry database search for collected poems with both "väinämöinen" and "velho":
where I couldn't find a single one where he is described as one, but rather it is used as a parallel alternative to "noita" - "witch", and to "kade" - "jealous person".
and this excerpt from Kalevala, poem 43 :
399 Siinä vanha Väinämöinen 400 itse tuon sanoiksi virkki: - 407 Varjele vakainen Luoja, 408 kaitse, kaunoinen Jumala, 409 miesten mielijuohtehista, 410 akkojen ajatuksista! 411 Kaa'a maalliset katehet, 412 ve'elliset velhot voita !
where he sings for protection against "velho" people.
Both tietäjä and noita should be accepted in sentences with velho that include the name Väinö. Please report them if they are missing. The first is hard to explain to a beginner and the latter is potentially confusing to English speakers, since "witch" has completely different connotations in English, so we thought it safer to go with velho. We also use the word shamaani for similar reasons later on in this course. But don't worry, both tietäjä and noita will be taught in future versions of the course. :)
Depends on the context asked. Generally speaking, a witch or a wizard is a "gadget wizard", they have magical sense and minor aptitude, but they require wands, foci, et.c. to cast spells. This also holds true for warlocks, but they predominantly hold negative connotations, similar to a witch.
A sorcerer is from german, zauberer, which means a wizard.
A mage is someone with natural aptitude for magic, and does not (often cannot) use foci or trinkets for magic.
If we were to wrongly compare väinämöinen to any of these, mage would be the closest.
Sorry, but "velho" is not a finnish word, but a loanword. Väinämöinen is a tietäjä (a learned man). While no doubt imbued with some amount of magic, such as singing hard enough to nearly drown a seasoned warrior in a swamp, he cannot be called a wizard or a warlock.
Those terms would be similar to "witch", which is what Louhi is. Someone far more powerful than Väinämöinen could ever be.
As wonderful as this is to say, why would it be near the beginning of the Finnish course? Most of the words so far seem uber polite and friendly, which sounds culturally apt, but being a wizard seems like it wouldn't actually come up in beginner Finnish. Is wizardry as culturally popular as friendliness?
While true, wizardry and witches are scarcely part of finnish culture. The only wizard, witch or mage in Kalevala whatsoever is Louhi, a wicked, cunning witch from the frozen north. She is the antagonist.
Culturally Finnish are more inclined to worship woodspirits and nature. You give thanks to Ukko Ylijumala for felling his deer in the forest, and give living space to the gnomes that protect your hens from the foxes of the woods and instead feed them berries which makes them full.
Well, 1. It's a short, easy to remember and relatively easy to pronounce word that can be found in a major world language (it means "old" in Portuguese). 2. It can be used of both men and women. 3. We needed a noun that ends in O, so that we can teach certain grammar things to you. 4. Other Duolingo courses opt for bananas or apples in this situation and we didn't want to teach you to say "I am a banana" like some other courses on Duolingo. 5. It's used in everyday Finnish. Yes, really. velho is used as a compliment for people who are good at something, especially good at fixing things or good at tech in general. If someone fixes your car or your computer, you can call them a wizard. :)
It's about how stress doesn't affect the quality of sounds in Finnish, unlike in English and Russian. Native English speakers often like to turn the O into OU, for instance, because that's how English does things. But in Finnish O is always pronounced the same regardless of its position in the sentence, whether it appears in the beginning (onnea), in the middle (kiitos), or in the end (velho), and whether the syllable is stressed or not. Some of the related grammar stuff only becomes relevant later, because words that end in O that don't have K, P, or T in them are often very easy to inflect in the most common cases. :)