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  5. how hard is finnish to learn.


how hard is finnish to learn.

I know Finnish is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, but I was wondering how difficult it really is compared to other germanic or nordic languages. I've learned a bit of Norwegian and I know just a little of Icelandic, Swedish and German, how does it compare to those or other languages?

July 1, 2020



No harder than Hungarian :-) And much easier than Arabic or Madarin. Here's an earlier post - https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/39893883?comment_id=39906295

Basically, according to the FSI Finish, a category III language, is 1100 professional class hours plus over 2200 hours self study for "working proficiency" - B2/C1.

Compare to Norwegian and Swedish at 600 +1200 and German at 900 + 1800.


It depends on your native language how hard/easy it it comared to other languages. But I agree that its very possible to learn! Good luck with your language studies


FSI is based on their experience with native English speakers.


The US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute disagrees with your information source, Judit.


According to this Finnish is a tad harder than Hungarian. But anyway less hard than Estonian, the number one language on the list that is based on the Latin alphabet.


My information source is the US State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Also it comes from their latest information - https://www.state.gov/foreign-language-training/


The difficulty of learning any language depends entirely on how similar or different the language is compared to the language or languages that you've already mastered. A native speaker of Estonian, a very closely related language, is going to have a significantly easier time learning Finnish than a native speaker of Swedish, which is structurally quite different.


Totally agree Kristian!


Yes, I totally agree, too.
I found that knowing German helps for the pronunciation, especially for ä ö y j and h.
Knowing a language that has non-aspirated k, p, and t helps also a lot.
Knowing Russian helps with some structures, for instance with the absence of articles, with "have" (it is done the same way in Russian) and also with the -ko in questions, which corresponds nicely to the Russian -ли .
And, of course, there are many loanwords from German, English other Germanic languages and Russian, too. :)


I should note that knowing German is actually a hinderance specifically when it comes to the pronunciation of Ä letters. At least the standard variety of German that I'm learning doesn't have the /æ/ phoneme of Finnish, which is represented by the letter Ä. The German Ä is usually pronounced as /ɛ/, which sounds more like an E to Finnish ears.


Interestingly I find that personally, knowing Japanese helps with the phonology, because geminate consonants, long vowels and unaspirated plosives (p, t, k) are all there. :p (For the front vowels, help came from knowing French.)


Finnish is so full of Swedish and pre-Swedish Germanic loan words that there are probably more words of Germanic than Finnic origin in almost any given text. However, very few of these words are fully transparent. You must look them up in a dictionary to see their resemblance (e.g. kana < höna). But once you have done that they are easy to remember. At least this is my experience.


In my opinion, if one speaks Turkish, it is easy to understand, to grasp the context of Finnish language, because of the similarities in the language structure. I see the grammar rules or things like that and I say "Oh come on! Do you have this in Finnish too?" But this does not mean that it is easy for us, it is only as difficult as Turkish, if not more :-)

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