1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Finnish
  4. >
  5. "Onko tämä murre vai kieli?"

"Onko tämä murre vai kieli?"

Translation:Is this a dialect or a language?

July 21, 2020



Depends--does it have its own army and navy?


Classic definition from Uriel Weinreich concerning Yiddish.

I'm really wanting the Yiddish course to get out of the incubator.


"Is this a dialect or language?" Could it read this way?


I think it has to be "Is this a dialect or a language?" because you are comparing two things that have something in common.

I have tried to think of ways to leave out the second "a" but I have not, although I have found ways to omit the first "a".

"Is this gibberish or a language?"


I'm a native speaker of English and I think it's totally fine to leave out the second article. It would be more usual to include it, but because it's the same article, the sentence can be parsed, with "or" either linking two noun phrases (A) or linking two nouns within a noun phrase (B).

(A) Is this {[a dialect] or [a language]}?

(B) Is this a {[dialect] or [language]}?


In addition to a few of the other comments, the word Language in itself isn't always singular. In English at least, it can be used more broadly, not always necessarily referring to a specific language. I agree that since there is already indefinite article with "dialect" that the article before language isn't really necessary, and probably should still be accepted, but I believe Duolingo attempts to make the translations as specific as possible.


I was wondering if "vai" means that the dialect and language are specified using the article in english, and if the question was generallised (so: without the articles in english) you would use "tai"


The different between "vai" and "tai" in this context is as follows: "Onko X murre VAI kieli?" means that it must be either or. If the question was "Onko X murre TAI kieli?" the correct answer could be dialect, language or neither of the two, i.e. some third option that wasn't mentioned in the question. So if you say "vai" there are only two options, but "tai" means there are several, all of which are not mentioned. "Vai" is only used in questions to indicate that the choice is only between the mentioned options.

If the question "Do you want coffee or tea?" was translated "Haluatko kahvia tai teetä?" you could choose either one of those, ask for some water instead, or politely decline the offered drink altogether. If you were asked "Haluatko kahvia vai teetä?" you can only choose between the two (and refusing to drink either might not be an acceptable option).


I often ask this about Karelian

Learn Finnish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.