Finnish is difficult?

Adam   Monday, May 03, 2004, 20:45 GMT
Not at all. Finnish is easy. English is difficult.

1) Finnish has an absence of gender, whereas English has gender. ("Han" means both "he" and "she."

2) It has no articles. (English has a(n) and the)

3) It has NO long words. Unlike English.

4) It has no equivalent of the verb "to have."
Adam   Monday, May 03, 2004, 21:03 GMT
The English language has 3 gender - male, female and neutral. Finnish has no gender whatsoever.

The same can be said with Arabic. The word "huwa" means "he", "she" and "it".
Adam   Monday, May 03, 2004, 21:08 GMT
That's why the Arabic word for Allah cannot be referred to as "it" in English, because Allah has no gender and is also not neutral.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 02:36 GMT
Finnish has those lovely eye-popping umlauts. However Finnish does have long words. I have a very cool Finnish product made by <<Suojeluskuntain Ase-ja Konepaja Osakeyhtio >> (SAKO), which is long enough for me.

English does not have grammatical gender. A house, a dog, a cat, or a pencil is grammatically neutral (we don't have masculine, feminine, and neutral articles and adjectives which decline in agreement with them). An example of a language that *does* have grammatical gender is German, where "the" is either "der", "die", or "das" (in the nominative case) depending on the gender of the noun.

In Arabic, "huwa" is "he", "hiya" is "she" when referring to people. Arabic has no grammatically neuter nouns, so either huwa or hiya is used where English speakers would used "it". "It" cannot be used for beings, and that includes people and al-Lah.

Hungarian, however, truly has no "he", "she", or "it" -- they have o" (an o with a double-acute accent).

I have both Hungarians and (Syrian) Arabs in my family, so I speak from experience.
Jacob   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 11:30 GMT
1) Finnish has an absence of gender, whereas English has gender. ("Han" means both "he" and "she."

English has gender only for the pronouns, so it's not a great difficulty. (Not like languages that have gender for all nouns.) In fact, lack of gender is generally cited as an advantage of English.

And Finnish discriminates between animate / inanimate in both the singular and plural (hän - se and he - ne).

>2) It has no articles. (English has a(n) and the)

It's forced to compensate with word-order and case rules that are at least as difficult. Learning the difference between "Tuula kirjoitta kirjeen" and "Tuula kirjoittaa kirjettä" is of the same order of difficulty as learning the difference betwen "a letter" and "the letter."

>3) It has NO long words.

Are you crazy? Finnish is the poster child for long words.

>4) It has no equivalent of the verb "to have."

Of course it does. Minulla on koira, I have a dog.

5. Finnish has consonant gradation.

6. Finnish has a highly irregular genitive plural.

7. Finnish verbs have more than one infinitive, and there's no universal marker for an infinitive (as in English (to +) is the universal infinitive marker).

Etc. Etc. Finnish is a very beautiful and fascinating language, but it's no simpler than English.
Adam   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 20:31 GMT
Finnish has no equivalent for "to have."

"Minulla on koira" might translate as "I have a dog" but, obviously, "minulla" doesn't literally mean "I have" or "to have."
Adam   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 20:32 GMT
Obviopusly, you will have to translate things from Finnish into English and use "to have" because English has the verb "to have." But it doesn't mean hat Finnish has the verb "to have." It just translates as "to have" in English.
Jacob   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 21:31 GMT
"Minulla" might not translate as "I have", but "minulla on ..." does.

But in any event you should explain why this Finnish system for expressing posession is easier than the English one. The English version has only two forms ("have" and "has") that you need to remember (in the present tense). I have a dog, you have a dog, he/she/it has a dog, we have a dog, they have a dog.

In Finnish I have to remember
Minulla on koira
Sinulla on koira
Hänellä on koira
Sillä on koira
Meillä on koira
Teillä on koira
Heillä on koira
Niillä on koira

And if I want to say something like "My son has a dog" I have to remember what order the endings go in: Pojallani on koira. (+lla+ni, instead of +ni+lla, for entirely arbitrary reasons; Hungarian does it the other way 'round.)

So I don't believe that 'to have' makes things more complicated.

Besides that there is the verb 'omistaa' does mean 'to have' or 'to own'. Hän omistaa ruokakaupan.
English   Tuesday, May 04, 2004, 23:15 GMT
The Finnish language is finished. It's done with. That's why it's called ''Finnish''. I'm the best language in the world.
Dulcinea del Toboso   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 02:44 GMT
As a linguist once stated "no language is superior or inferior to any other; all languages have the same work to do". Different languages accomplish the same things in different ways.

In the example of "I have a dog", languages that lack the traditional "to have", such as in Hungarian "ez a kutyam" or Russian "u menya yest sobaka", the construct is neither easier nor more difficult.

Perhaps the only difficulty is one of perception by those speakers of languages which are structurally different.
Tom   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 05:48 GMT
Any idea how to translate "to have or to be?" into Finnish or Russian?
Jacob   Wednesday, May 05, 2004, 11:27 GMT
"Ez a kutyám" would be "This is my dog."
"Kutyám van" or "Van egy kutyám" is "I have a dog".

Tom, what's the context for this "to have or to be"? It's not a natural opposition.

In Russian, "Imet' ili imet'cya" might do.

In Finnish, "Omistaa vai olla," perhaps.

But if it actually means something philosophical then a less literal translation is probably the way to go.
Tom   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 14:21 GMT
It refers to the choice between seeking material wealth and improving one's mind and soul.

Does Russian have the word "to be"? I can't recall reading any Russian sentences with the verb.
Jacob   Thursday, May 06, 2004, 19:33 GMT
Russian has byt', which is "to be", but it's perfective, so there's no present tense form; only past and future.

For those of us that aren't Russians, this is a little hard to get used to.