Translation:Many African children speak French.
shoudn't the finnish sentence be: "moni afrikkalainen lapset puhuvat ranskaa"?
feels weird that I combine the word "many" with "child". So if I am doing a literal translation it would be: "many african child speaks french" instead of the correct one: "many african children speak french"
is this a finnish speciality or did I stumble on to a mistake?
Thank you! I've never heard "many a child" but I will check it out. The Wiktionary article is nice. I particularly like this explanation:
- In formal Finnish, moni is the plural marker and the following noun (if any) and verb are in the singular.
- In informal Finnish the plural form "monet" is used and the modified noun and the following verb are plural.
so mani "makes" the singular to a plural version. Where as you have to use the plural form with the informal "monet" version.
Yeah, that seems to be the case. We have something similar in Welsh where sawl "several" is used with a singular noun although "several" obviously refers to a plural. I'm sure other languages have funny exceptions like this too. "Many a child" is quite formal in English.
Wiktionary is great, isn't it? Especially for Finnish it seems. Someone has obviously volunteered their time and worked hard to include a huge amount of info on the language there.
Yep, you both are correct: Moni uses the singular grammar but it still is understood as a plural. Apparently Wiktionary says using "monet" is used in informal Finnish and yup, that definitely is a thing so you could basically say this also in plural, "monet afrikkalaiset lapset" and it would still mean the same as "moni afrikkalainen lapsi"!
Moni is bit like when English has these words like "people" that basically means more than one but has no singular form to it.
I'm also learning something new here, because I also didn't know "many a child" is proper English. Is that more common in maybe poetry or lyrics? Somehow I get a feeling that I would heard something like that either in something poetic/lyrical or maybe in movies or tv series that use/are made to sound like old formal English.
"Many a child" is definitely not something you would say in casual conversation in a pub, maybe in a gentleman club in Oxford but that makes you sound more posh than anything else. Still it is used in, as you correctly guessed, written forms such as poetry.
Somehow not surprised this thread started, this form of moni and a singular noun isn't something I ever came across before...
As far as I know, this is a common feature of the Finno-Ugric language group.
We in Hugarian say "sok cica"~'many cat' instead of "sok cicák"~'many cats'. The same with numerals: "három cica"~'three cats'. If a word has already shown that we have more of something, we don't use plural, because we would feel it superfluous.
Similar in Finnish, but a bit more complicated, because they use partitiivi and because nouns have to agree with things like adjectives. So I feel like the case of monet lapset is a strange exception like many a in English, and the colloquial use "corrected it" to fit the usual grammar to moni lapsi.