Language facts: Finnish

Finnish is a member of the Finno-Ugric language family (Uralic languages) and is closely related to Estonian and Saami (also known as Lapp). It is one of the two official languages in Finland (the other being Swedish) as well as one of the official EU languages. Additionally, it is used by Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden and Estonia. The majority (more than 90%) of Finland’s population speaks Finnish, while the remainder speaks Swedish and Sami. Overall, Finnish is spoken by a little more than 5 million people.

Thanks to the existence of Nordic Language Convention, Finnish-speaking citizens can interact with governments and official bodies in other Nordic countries in their native language.

A language with a few relatives but many phonemes

Finnish is related also to some other of the few Uralic languages (such as Hungarian for example) in many aspects, including shared morphology, similar grammar, as well as basic vocabulary. The origin of Uralic languages is not entirely clear even today, but the most widely accepted theory is that this branch originated in the boreal forests around the Ural mountains and around the middle Volga river. Actually, Uralic languages, such as Finnish, are believed to be the proto-language of the area.

The Finnish language gained its official status no sooner than in 1863, after the rise of the Finnish nationalistic movement. The first Finnish writing system was, however, created already in the 16th century by a Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola, who wanted to translate the Bible, and thus needed to standardize the Finnish dialects into a comprehensive system. He failed to do so, as he wasn't able to unify the signs with different phonemes (the intent was for each phoneme to have a corresponding one letter). Later, Finnish actually lost several phonemes from the standardized language due to this unification.

Alphabet

In the Finnish alphabet, 'Å’ is carried over from the Swedish alphabet and is redundant in Finnish; it is merely retained for writing Finland-Swedish proper names.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z Å Ä Ö

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v x y z å ä ö

Language facts: Hungarian

Hungarian (Magyar) is an official EU language and has about 14.5 million native speakers, mostly in Hungary and the diaspora – mainly in seven neighboring countries (e.g. Romania, Serbia, Ukraine or Slovakia, the latter where Hungarian even has a status of second language in the areas inhabited by Hungarian minority), but also worldwide. 

Hungarian is a non-Indo-European language, a member of the Finno-Ugric group (like Finnish and Estonian, though not mutually intelligible) and Uralic family of languages. Hungarian is therefore related to languages like Khanty or Mansi, used by people living in Western Siberia, Ural region or around the Ob river (Russia). 

Nomadic language

Ural is in fact considered the homeland of Hungarians, who (although formerly settled) slowly turned into nomadic people. Because of the history of Hungarian people (nomadic background plus the era of the Hungarian empire), the Hungarian vocabulary has borrowed quite a lot of words from Turkic languages, Slavic languages, German and even old Persian (possibly due to early contacts with Iranian nomads).

Hungarian is an agglutinative language – words consist of morphemes determining the meaning, but remain unchanged after forming a word – opposite to fusional languages represented by most of the European languages. Hungarian uses suffixes and prefixes extensively instead and features vowel harmony. 

Alphabet 

Hungarian uses the Latin alphabet, with several extra letters: accented vowels (á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, ű), digraphs – two characters representing a single letter (cs, dz, gy, ly, ny, sz, ty, zs) and even a trigraph (dzs). Characters with diacritical marks are considered separate letters. Vowels that differ only in length are treated the same when ordering words. Example: O and Ó are not distinguished in ordering, neither are Ö and Ő, but the latter two follow the O's. 

 

A Á B C Cs D Dz Dzs E É F G Gy H I Í J K L Ly M N Ny O Ó Ö Ő P (Q) R S Sz T Ty U Ú Ü Ű V (W) (X) (Y) Z Zs a á b c cs d dz dzs e é f g gy h i í j k l ly m n ny o ó ö ő p (q) r s sz t ty u ú ü ű v (w) (x) (y) z zs

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