I've been wanting to write a proper blog post about kpt-changes for ages, and I have a question in my inbox that is the perfect excuse!
First though, a word about kpt-changes in general.
In Finnish, words tend to morph in different ways depending on the meaning you want to convey. For example, cake in Finnish is kakku. Now, say your friends have suprised you with a cake on your birthday. In English, we just stick stuff in front, to get with a cake.
In Finnish, however, we stick stuff at the end of the word:
with a cake
= kakku + lla
(= cake + with)
Pretty simple so far. But, with the addition of -lla, the word itself also changes. One k goes away, and we get kakulla, with just the one k.
This is what I'm talking about when I'm talking about kpt-changes. These are a pretty weird and intricate part of Finnish grammar, and they're one of the reasons why we have memes like this:
The good part about Finnish is that compared to the so called soft little kitty languages like Swedish, there's often a method behind the madness, and that's true for kpt-changes also. Languages like Swedish can require much more learning by heart. Also, I've seen that same meme with English grammar pictured as that soft little kitten. I'm pretty convinced that the person who made that choice has never really had to study English grammar, which is actually ridiculously complicated once you get past beginner level. The thing is, with English, people are much more confident of speaking less than perfectly, so it can feel like it's just easy soft kitty going all the time.
Kpt-changes usually come up pretty quickly when you're just starting out with Finnish, and so they can seem like a basic thing that needs to be mastered properly right away.
With the help of Latrice Royale:
This is not true! KPT-changes are an inevitable part of Finnish, but they do not need to be mastered perfectly, not by a long shot.
I'm a native Finnish speaker, I have 12 years of studying and researching Finnish grammar under my belt, plus 11 years of teaching Finnish as a second language, and I still make the occasional kpt-mistake! I promise you, there is not a single Finnish speaker, native or non-native, who hasn't blundered their kpt-changes when they've come accross a word that they don't know. So it's a completely unrealistic expectation that you should have all of it down right away.
A lot of the time, what you're trying to say can easily be understood even if you make a mistake. However, sometimes kpt-changes do matter quite a lot. For example, a carpet, matto, can accidentally become a worm, mato. Which one you mean is usually pretty obvious from the context, but I don't think it would be fair if teachers just pretended that kpt-changes don't exist. So we usually bring them on right away so you know what you're in for.
Personally, I'm a big grammar nerd and all for understanding the logic behind what can seem like a muddle of random rules, so there's kpt-explanation post coming up very soon! I'll also finally be answering a reader question, thank you so much for them and thank you so much for your patience!
In the comment section of my YKI tips, reader Harry pointed out that my number one textbook recommendation for YKI prep (Hyvin menee 2) doesn't include answers to the exercises, which makes it a bit tricky for self study. Thank you so much Harry, I hadn't thought of this pretty crucial aspect of self study!
The answers and lots of extra material for Hyvin menee 2 are available in a separate teacher's guide (Opettajan opas). Also, the audio has to be obtained separately as well, and listening comprehension is a pretty important part of YKI prep, so you need to get your hands on that as well. If you're in Finland, all of this is available for free via your local library, but if you want to buy it new, it'll cost something in the neighborhood of 150-200 euros altogether.
Another, much cheaper textbook option is Suomea paremmin by Susanna Hart, which includes the answers to the exercises and the audio for about 40 euros. I don't think that Suomea paremmin is nearly as good as Hyvin menee 2 for YKI prep (for one, the audio includes Finnish actors pretending to be learning Finnish as a second language, which... cringe!), but it has many advantages for self study. It's much more concise so it can be a lot clearer and less overwhelming to study with, but that can be a mixed blessing - a less overwhelming textbook may mean a much more overwhelming test experience, so it's super important that you supplement it with more demanding online materials.
I'm currently 7 months pregnant, finishing a textbook of my own, teaching my regular students and classes, running my small business and napping at least two hours a day, so it's been slow going when it comes to blogging (not to even mention my PhD thesis!). I haven't forgotten about the blog though and will get back to your excellent questions as soon as possible!
First snow! Sometimes, winter arrives in October. Hei hei syksy, tervetuloa talvi!
Picture by Raili Ahonen
Last night I came accross this meme from Very Finnish Problems:
This meme hit such a nerve that the next day, I can't help but blog about it. I can't remember how many times I've been asked by eager students to explain the meaning of järjestelmällistyttämättömyydelläänsäkäänköhän and the even longer negative version epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydelläänsäkäänköhän. These words make me let out a heavy sigh every time. It's impossible.
Here's the thing: in Finnish, it's possible to construct endlessly long words. These aren't even words, really, but theoretically correct forms that don't actually mean much. In English grammar, a similar classic that you may or may not have heard of is Colorless green ideas sleep furiously, a grammatically correct sentence that doesn't really mean much when you look at it more closely. Epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydelläänsäkäänköhän is similar, it's composed of parts that all mean something, but the meaning of the entire thing is really slippery and nonsensical. Like a poem or abstract painting.
So, what are the parts that make up this modernist poem of a word?
First, we have to verb järjestää, 'to organize'. From that, we get the noun järjestelmä, which means 'system' or literally something that is organized. Then, we make it a verb again. We get järjestelmällistyttää 'to make into a system'. And then we make it a noun again! Because why not! Järjestelmällistyttämättömyys is 'the act of not making something into a system'. See how we're wading into Jabberwocky territory? I'll stop here, but feel free to keep going in the comments!
But yeah, the meme does have real point. Finnish words are often really long, which can be super confusing and annoying when you're starting out. We like to stick stuff together to make new meanings, and then we stick stuff at the beginning and end to convey things like tone, negation or asking. What are your favorite or most hated long Finnish words?
I'm happy and honored to be a guest blogger on the awesome Random Finnish Lesson today!
The post is about practicing pronunciation and our book Fonetiikka suomen kielen oppijoille.
The post is in simple Finnish, so if you already know some Finnish, you'll be able to understand at least some of it.
I teach Finnish in Helsinki and online, mainly private lessons but also at Helsingin työväenopisto, which is a non profit adult education institute funded mainly by anyone who pays their taxes to Finland. Organizing a course in Helsinki costs a few thousand euros depending on things like the length of the course, how many people are attending, the venue, the study materials, the teacher's salary and how much VAT you need to pay, so for profit private courses can get pretty expensive for the student. However, at Helsingin työväenopisto you can do a semester long course, twice a week, for 47 euros, and a four week course for as little as 8 euros. We have a variety of Finnish courses for different levels as well as many other languages, philosophy, cooking, yoga, music and art history, just to name a few. So if you're in Helsinki, be sure to sign up!
I have four courses coming up this autumn:
Suomi 2: Finnish for those who already know the very basics
This group started from 0 with me in September 2017. We've covered all of Suomen mestari 1 so far and will be doing chapters 1 to 4 from Suomen mestari 2 this autumn. The group has evolved along the way, with lots of new faces in January, so don't worry if you weren't there last year! There will be lots of communicative exercises as well as music and movement to help you learn, and as with me always, a focus on speaking and spoken language, pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. But of course we'll also be digging into writing, reading comprehension and grammar.
Place: Opistotalo, Helsinginkatu 26, room 405
Time: Tuesdays from 16.45 to 19.15 and Thursdays from 16.45 to 18.15
Suomi 4: Intermediate Finnish
This is a brand new group for me, and our starting level will be B1.2. At B1.2, you're able to communicate quite fluently in basic situations, like buying a coffee, having a simple one on one conversation in Finnish or writing a simple e-mail in Finnish. Following a rapid conversation between native speakers may still be really confusing, but you should be able to catch words and phrases here and there and make educated guesses about what's going on. Same goes for reading a newspaper - you might not understand everything yet, but your guesses about what the article is about are usually right. The news in simple Finnish, Selkouutiset, is quite easy to understand at this point. You're also able to do some more complex stuff, like expressing your opinion in Finnish in both written and spoken contexts. You might still make lots of mistakes and have complete blackouts every now and then, but you can usually make yourself understood.
In this course, we'll be covering chapters 1-4 from Suomen mestari 4. We'll be looking at the more advanced grammar structures found in written Finnish as well as diving more deeply into spoken Finnish. As we'll only be meeting once a week and covering quite a lot, make sure you have time to study at home, to do a lot of homework and to practice your Finnish regularly.
Place: Opistotalo, Helsinginkatu 26, room 405
Time: Thursdays 18.30-21.00
Suomen kielen ääntämiskurssi: Finnish pronunciation
These are two mini courses that I'm especially happy about, which will be pretty much identical in content. But you're very welcome to attend both if you really want to practice your pronunciation and don't mind repeating some of the same exercises!
In four two hour sessions, we'll be covering the basics of Finnish pronunciation: intonation (also known as the melody of speech), rhythm, vowels, consonants and combinations of sounds, especially diphthongs (ie, ei, äi, iä, ou, uo, öy, yö...). There will be lots of exercises to to both in class and at home. We'll also be doing a lot of listening to help you with your listening comprehension. No prior knowledge of Finnish needed, but I'm hoping to make this a very useful course for anyone struggling with pronunciation or listening comprehesion, regardless of level. We'll also be using music and movement to help you learn as efficiently as possible.
Place: Opistotalo, Helsinginkatu 26, room 405 (we'll also be using the language studio, room 316)
The first course will be on Tuesdays from 15.00 to 16.30 starting on the 11th of September.
The second course will be on Tuesdays from 13.00 to 14.30 starting on the 30th of October
Enrollment begins on the 17th of August at 11 am, and you can find more info about all my courses at Työväenopisto here at ilmonet. Hope to see you in my classes in September!
Picture by arunas68
I want to know how to say and use "anything", "anywhere", "something", "somewhere" and the like. For example, "Ask me anything", "you can sit anywhere". Kiitos!
What an interesting question! I've been sitting on this for a while, as this is quite a big question that is a bit tricky to answer in a comprehensive way. Here's my best shot at it!
If we look at the English words in your question, we can see that there are two groups there: words that start with any: anything, anywhere and words that start with some: something, somewhere.
For the any-words, the Finnish equivalent is mikä vain (more formal, written language) and mikä vaan (more informal, spoken language). You have at least two options that also mean the same thing: mikä tahansa and mikä hyvänsä. As we're dealing with Finnish, we of course need to transform the word according to which form we need for a given sentence. In other words, mikä vain comes in a variety of cases to express different meanings. As for the choice between vain or vaan, hyvänsä and tahansa, they all mean the same thing coupled with mikä. So here we go!
nominative (also known as the basic form or perusmuoto)
Mikä vain on mahdollista!
Anything is possible.
partitive (also known as the Finnish learner's nightmare)
Kysy mitä vaan!
Ask me anything!
- Minkä jätskin sä haluut?
- Ihan minkä vaan!
- Which ice cream do you want?
- Any one of them!
- Missä sä haluut istuu?
- Missä vaan!
- Where do you wanna sit?
The same goes for all the rest of the local cases, so we get
millä vain/ vaan
When we're referring to a person, we'll usually use kuka:
genitive 'whose ever'
accusative 'whom ever'
inessive in who(m?) ever
and so on.
Then we come to the second group, the words with some: something, somewhere and so on.
jokin, in spoken language usually joku (which also means someone, to make matters more confusing)
Jokin muuttui suomalaisessa politiikassa.
Something changed in Finnish politics.
Jokin also changes according to which case you want or need to use, giving you a whole bunch of new meanings.
and so forth. To make sure that things don't get too simple, we also have some shorter versions to express the same meanings, for example:
As you can see, there are quite a lot of options for expressing these kinds of meanings in Finnish, and I feel like I could just go on making lists about more and more subtle variation for the advanced learner who really wants to cover the whole topic. But I'll stop here this time, let me know in the comments if I've missed something that you'd like to hear more about!
EDIT 8.8.2018 at 19.07 Finnish time:
My colleague Kati kindly pointed out a pretty crucial mistake in my text. I had written that the essive of mikä vaan is mikä vaan, but it's of course minä vaan. I've made the correction in the text also!
I had a lovely, hot and sunny month of July and am back! This is Part 2 of my answer to Boglárka. Part one lives here.
I haven't really found a good translation for mennä puihin, could you help me out with that?
The literal translation for mennä puihin would be "to go into the trees", and it means more or less to fail completely or to go very wrong:
Projekti meni puihin.
'The project failed.'
A quick googling revealed an interesting second meaning that I don't personally remember ever hearing before, but that my spouse Janne says is the primary meaning for him:
Menin ihan puihin hänet nähdessäni
'I froze completely when I saw him'
In this context, mennä puihin means being unable to speak or do anything in an important situation, like meeting someone you admire for the first time. Basically a deer in headlights moment. So my suggestions for translating mennä puihin would be to fail, to go wrong or to have a deer in headlights moment, depending on context.
Mennä puihin seems to me to be closely related to another tree themed expression of failing, mennä metsään "to go into the forest":
Mun arvaus meni ihan metsään.
Literally: My guess went completely into the forest.
'My guess was totally wrong.'
Happy July everyone! I'm off to my very own mökki were I plan to focus on sleep, sauna and swimming.
See you in August, nähdään elokuussa!
Here's the view I'll be looking at all month.
Note: This post contains discussion of the human body and genitalia. I'll try not to gross you out too much, but proceed at your own caution!
Moikka! My Finnish teacher recommended your awesome blog and it indeed seems terribly useful, so thank you for writing it! I also have a question, I've come across the word munaskuu lately and looking it up in several dictionaries I've become quite confused about how exactly it's used. it seems like the translations ranged from guts (like in gut feeling) to kidney and testis. are all of these correct? also, I haven't really found a good translation for mennä puihin, could you help me out with that? thanks a bunch in advance and also for your great work with the blog!
Thank you for your kind words and really interesting questions! I'll start with the first one and save "mennä puihin" for another post, so this one doesn't become much too long.
You've got the general meaning right: munaskuu can refer to vague anatomy, hence the translations kidney and testis. Munaskuu doesn't directly refer to the gut, but that's also one possible translation. In English you'd say that you feel something in your gut, but in Finnish you could say that you feel it in your kidneys, tunnen sen munaskuissani. However, it's much more common to feel something in your gut in English than it is to feel something in your kidneys in Finnish.
The original meaning of the word seems to be 'kidney', but to me personally the primary meaning is definitely 'testis' or 'testicle', and a quick google search reveals that this is not just a personal quirk of mine. Before receiving your question, I thought that the standard written form of the word was munasku, with just one u, and this form yields a lot more male genitalia than munaskuu on google. You've been warned!
When I look at the search results for munasku and munaskuu, I'm also no longer that confident that munasku and munaskuu are even the same word - I mean, they certainly come from the same origins, but they're written differently and seem to have surprisingly different meanings. Munaskuu, according to Institute for the Languages of Finland, is definitely kidney and invokes biblical and generally old fashioned literary connotations. The first written instances are from Agricola. Munasku, on the other hand, primarily seems to mean testis and is much more vulgar - maybe old fashioned, also, but not in a high brow let alone biblical way. It's more like something that an older man might say while drinking Koskenkorva by the wood pile (a time honored Finnish tradition).
What does the word maku maku mean?
The short answer: maku means taste. Just like in English, it can mean the taste of food as well as a person's taste or sense of style.
Kielitoimiston sanakirja is a wonderful, free Finnish dictionary published by the Institute for the Languages of Finland. If you haven't yet, check it out! It's all in Finnish and geared towards advanced speakers, but it can be useful from the very beginning.
According to Kielitoimiston sanakirja, maku has four distinct meanings or uses:
1. It's the experience of flavor. Maku is what you feel when you are eating: sweetness, saltiness, acidity, but also coffee, bread, grapefruit or cucumber.
Tässä on palaneen maku.
Tämä+inessive be+3rd person singular palanut+genitive maku+nominative.
Literally: There's the taste of burnt in this.
This tastes burnt.
However, a more frequent way to express this meaning is by using the verb maistua, 'to taste', which can be used with both the ablative (Miltä?) and allative cases (Mille?), which mean the exact same thing:
Ruoka maistuu hyvältä.
Ruoka+nominative maistua+3rd person singular + hyvä+ablative.
Literally, it would be something like: Food tastes of goodness.
The actual translation: The food tastes good.
The choice between ruoka maistuu hyvältä and ruoka maistuu hyvälle depends on one's unique use of language or idolect. Some Finns stick strictly to one or the other, some use both. Originally, it was a regional difference, with one version in eastern Finland and the other in the west.
2. A metaphorical experience of flavor. In English, you might say that something left a bad taste in your mouth, perhaps after a job interview with a sketchy company or a meeting with an unpleasant person. In Finnish, we use maku in pretty much the same way.
Haastattelusta jäi huono maku suuhun.
Haastattelu+elative jäädä+past tense huono+nominative maku+nominative suu+illative
Literally: From the interview, a bad taste remained in my mouth.
Actual translation: The interview left a bad taste in my mouth.
3. A person's individual sense of flavour or taste.
Lisää suolaa maun mukaan.
Lisätä+2nd person imperative suola+partitive maku+genitive mukaan.
What the words mean: add salt taste according
Actual translation: Add salt according to taste.
4. A person's individual sense of style. This is another meaning that is pretty much the exact equivalent of how we would use the English word taste.
Ihabilla on hyvä maku.
Ihab+adessive olla+3rd person hyvä+nominative maku+nominative
Ihab has good taste.
Tastes spicy, literally "tastes fiery."