Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Is Finnish a Scandinavian Language?

This is a question somebody asked me recently and I decided to make a brief post about it.

When talking about Scandinavia, people often seem to have conflicting opinions on which countries are included. Some people refer to Finland, as part of Scandinavia, along with Sweden, Norway and Denmark - are they wrong?

Swedes and Norwegians, I understand, are able to understand one another to a certain degree, as both languages are similar in a number of ways. They are both classified as North Germanic languages (also known as the Scandinavian languages), which in turn is a branch of the Germanic languages. Ask a Swede or Norwegian about Finnish and they will most likely tell you that it is nothing at all like Norwegian and Swedish, that it is in fact entirely different. This is because Finnish is not part of the North Germanic Languages, instead being a member of the Finno-Lappic group. In other words, it is entirely unrelated to the Scandinavian languages.

Distribution of North Germanic languages

I'm not as familiar with Scandinavian and Nordic languages as I'd like to be and I'd certainly welcome any insight or corrections from those who speak them! This is an area I definitely plan on researching properly; it'll be interesting to see just how different Finnish is to the Scandinavian languages.

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