Learning Finnish. Problem.............

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GT3RS
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri May 29, 2015 7:54 pm

Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by GT3RS » Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:31 pm

Hi all!!

I've lived in Rovaniemi just over a year now and I've been on an "integration program" where the main focus is Finnish language.

The course started in March, and obviously, my Finnish has improved a huge amount.

However, I have a VERY specific problem, and I was wondering if anyone else has encountered the same thing. And more importantly, did you find a way around it!!??

I can very often manage to convey what I want to say. It won't be exactly how I want to say it, but the general meaning will be there. It won't be grammatically correct, but a Finn will understand me.

However, when someone talks back to me, I genuinely can only understand less than 5% of what they say! [The exception to this is speaking with my girlfriend, because she knows the words I understand].

You can't begin to understand how frustrating and de-motivating this is!

I recently decided that the problem is simply a lack of vocabulary. However, we did an exercise at "school" the other day where a recording was played to us, and then after that, we looked at a transcript of the recording.

Just listening, my understanding was less than 5%. But when I read the same words, I was able to understand MUCH more. There were still plenty of words I didn't understand, but I certainly got the general idea of what was going on. My comprehension of individual words was 50% or even more.

So! What the HELL is going on here!!

I know I need to improve my vocabulary [and I work on that daily!], but that clearly isn't the only problem. I just don't hear and understand the words [not helped by the fact that words change with astevaihtelu, and then take any number of different endings].

Anyone else had this problem? Did you find a solution?

Or do I have to just continue my studies and hope it all comes together with time? I really hope not, because I'm finding it incredibly difficult to motivate myself at the moment. I'm just not interested!

So, any hints or tips are extremely welcome!

Thanks in advance!!

Learning Finnish. Problem.............

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interleukin
Posts: 2360
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Location: Stockholm

Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by interleukin » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:00 pm

What you are experiencing is the difference between the written language and the spoken one. It can be quite huge.

I would suggest that you watch TV, and listen to radio. Just to train your ears & brain in hearing puhekieli.
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leisl
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by leisl » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:11 pm

It's 100% normal I'm afraid. Absolutely everybody gets to that point where they can construct sentences, go into a shop and successfully rattle off five sentences of what you want and need, and then the shopkeeper asks you one question and you don't understand a single thing they said. In terms of how your brain works, constructing is faster than identification - that's just the way brains are, it's always easier to make a sentence than to decode one and when you're reading a transcript you can take your time, unlike when listening to full speed Finnish.

The solution is to spend more time hearing Finnish. Ideally, in conversation. The absolute best way to do this is with your classmates during lunch, as they are unlikely to ask you questions that are five miles past your vocabulary level, but even so will be excellent practice speaking and responding.

What tends to happen is that in groups that began at level 0, the socialising is established in English (or Russian, or whatever language you were all able to introduce yourselves in on the first day). Make an effort to break this. Sit with the people who don't speak a common language with you and force yourselves to use only Finnish. It starts off awkward but it will advance your oral and aural skills immensely.

Even though spoken Finnish is so different to written, once you are able to speak at a certain level of formal (written) Finnish, your brain will be fast enough to pick up the meaning in the spoken Finnish you hear. Practice listening to the simple Finnish news every day on YLE (selkosuomea) as while it's not really typical spoken language, it will get you used to hearing passiivi, which is the main hallmark of spoken Finnish.


007
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by 007 » Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:40 pm

GT3RS wrote:I can very often manage to convey what I want to say. It won't be exactly how I want to say it, but the general meaning will be there. It won't be grammatically correct, but a Finn will understand me.

However, when someone talks back to me, I genuinely can only understand less than 5% of what they say!
let's look at it this way. You can utter a word (or more) and native will most probably understand your situation. For example, if you say 'nälkä', 'kylmä' or any such word, native will most probably respond you in a way that their response will be related to the topic. On the other hand, native will use a whole sentence (many words, in any case) whenever they communicate with you even if they try to speak slowly and use simple words. Now, if you don't understand what they are saying, there are a number of possibilities: a) you don't have adequate listening comprehension skills b) your vocabulary is not adequate c) on a given social setting, due to anxiety, rush, disturbances, one may not be able to hear/listen what other person is saying.

In any case, it just shows that your need more practice. Everyone goes through that stage. Take it easy and practice more :wink:

Oh, by the way, puhekieli can be drastically different from kirjakieli, esp if the person speaks a dialect.
“Go where you are celebrated – not tolerated."
"Aina, kun opit uuden sanan, opettele samalla sen monikko!"


GT3RS
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Joined: Fri May 29, 2015 7:54 pm

Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by GT3RS » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:10 am

Thanks for all the answers everyone! Much appreciated.

I'm aware that puhekieli is very different to kirjakieli, and then there's the Lapland dialect on top of that. Damn! It's like learning THREE different languages!!

It's comforting to know that what I'm experiencing is normal, although I was hoping there might be a quick fix!! Of course, there isn't! It's just about hard work and time.

I can practice Finnish any time I want with my girlfriend. The problem is that I'm mentally exhausted by the end of the school day, so I really don't want to!! Speaking with classmates, I have found that they feel the same.....

We actually tried to to speak Finnish for one entire weekend, but only lasted 2 hours!! We both found it SO tiring, because I was trying desperately to understand her, and when I didn't, she had to repeat in different words to try to explain. Then I used loads of mental energy to construct what I wanted to say.

Reading what I've just written, it sounds ridiculous, but I assure you, it's incredibly tiring to try SO hard, with so much focus. Never experienced that before!!

It just feels to me, at this stage, that I'll NEVER be able to do it! Having studied pretty much every day for 6 hours, for 8 months, and not be able to understand ANYTHING when someone speaks to you is incredibly disheartening!

I've noticed that the non-English speakers in my class have advanced way beyond my personal level [from definitely being "behind" me] over the last couple of months. Guess this is because they either HAVE to speak Finnish, or they simply can't communicate.

Something else I've realised is that lots of people are scared to speak Finnish to a Finn, for fear of getting it wrong. This has the unfortunate effect of preventing them from speaking Finnish. Well, fortunately, I'm not in that category! I'm used to making an idiot of myself in English, so why should I be worried about doing it in Finnish!!??

However, what I have recently began to understand is that I don't speak Finnish to Finns because I'm "scared" of the ANSWER that will come back to me!! I know there's a high probability that I won't understand, so that prevents me from trying!

I need to continue expanding my vocabulary [I use Anki, and I'm currently doing 30 new words per day!], and practice listening - a LOT!

No matter how hard someone tells you it is to learn Finnish, you will never truly understand until you try it for yourself..............

Would be interested to hear stories of non-native speakers who have reached fluency. How long did it take you? How much study time did you put in? Was there a sudden "Eureka!" moment when you suddenly found you could understand/speak? I'm hoping for some motivational stories here guys! Please help me out!!!

Thanks again everyone!


leisl
Posts: 422
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by leisl » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:44 am

Puhu rauhallisesti mulle. Speak simply to me. This is one you need for when you find the courage to try our your Finnish and the Finn is too difficult for you to understand.

Anteeksi. Hitaasti. I think you'll know what that is.

Since you've just indicated that you're already mentally exhausted, I'm going to change what I said earlier - don't add to that by piling in practice and listening to more Finnish. Patience, grasshopper. Just do your homework and it'll come eventually.

Oh and as for practicing with your girlfriend - as you've figured out, it's not a good idea. Seems awesome to have a built-in teacher in your home, but the relationship is more important than Finnish and it is critical that the two of you are able to communicate effectively. In Finnish, you can't yet do this. This is a case where the relationship has its history in English, and it should stay this way for quite a while yet. Do not feel guilty or lazy for sticking with English, it's actually the correct choice with her.

When you do your work placement at the end of the course, you'll hear of classmates picking easy jobs. Don't do this. Pick one that will force you to speak. You will be beyond exhausted, but that time of using it non-stop will see your comprehension grow in leaps and bounds.

As for me, I barely use it anymore so I'm sure I've lost a lot of functional Finnish. I got to about B2.1 level, which is allegedly not far off "native" although I have my doubts! The first eureka moment was somewhere around A2.2 (with classmates) and about B1 in general, the point where you can sort of make yourself understood in the wider world. In my case, I "look" Finnish and I have barely any accent so if I manage to get my first sentence grammatically correct, Finns will answer back at full speed and full difficulty, leading to a LOT of conversations which I'd just "niin" my way through, with them oblivious, or conversations where I'd have to forcefully stop them to explain that they'd lost me.

I think it's a bit related to confidence too, because you need to be tough enough to ask them to slow down and then when they switch to English, to persevere and continue to answer back in Finnish, and ask them to do the same.


Rosamunda
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by Rosamunda » Mon Nov 28, 2016 10:42 am

For listening practice many people posting on here in the past have said that watching Finnish soaps on TV can be very helpful. I've found watching the Uutiset useful too because the newsreaders speak a 'proper' Finnish which helps with listening comprehension but not so useful for eavesdropping on the bus or in bars and cafés. As you say, a completely different language.

I also really struggle with listening. I think one reason is the lack of emphatic stress or prominence in Finnish pronunciation where all the words in a sentence carry equal phonic weight. In Finnish it's harder to hear the important words which is also partly due to much of the grammar being embedded in the nouns. In English, the important words are stressed (louder, longer, stronger) so they hit you harder. As long as you understand those important nouns/verbs in a sentence, the other words (often weak words that are more about grammar and don't carry a lot of concrete meaning) are mostly guessable. So you only need to get maybe 20% of the vocab in English to grasp the basic meaning of a sentence. In Finnish, this is not the case: you need to understand a higher percentage of a spoken turn before you can grasp the meaning.

At least, that's my excuse. :lol:
Last edited by Rosamunda on Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:32 am, edited 1 time in total.


007
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by 007 » Mon Nov 28, 2016 5:05 pm

Would be interested to hear stories of non-native speakers who have reached fluency. How long did it take you? How much study time did you put in? Was there a sudden "Eureka!" moment when you suddenly found you could understand/speak? I'm hoping for some motivational stories here guys! Please help me out!!!
10 years in Finland, yet at a stage where I cannot confidently claim that I can speak Finnish fluently. Damn grammars. Well, I don't have a 'kielipää', that's for sure. And, it might be that I didn't employ the right techniques. I basically went head on with Finnish language on a brute-force mode. :D I listened/watched only Finnish stuffs. I read Finnish stuffs only. I avoided other languages. But I hated dry grammar exercises.

Speaking does not really help me much in regards to learning the language. I started speaking in Finnish only with my wife since 2008. On the other hand, writing helped me a lot. I always ask my wife to correct my texts, and that way, I have improved a lot. These days, I can produce pretty decent texts on my own, with a little bit help from google, of course. :lol:

Eureka moments:
1) At a shop, I understood what a kassagirl said for the first time.
2) At some school, I understood almost everything written on kitchen room.
3) Initial days at a new job, every Finn there understood what I was saying.
4) I asked my wife to correct my text before I could post it online. No corrections needed!
“Go where you are celebrated – not tolerated."
"Aina, kun opit uuden sanan, opettele samalla sen monikko!"


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sinikala
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by sinikala » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:56 pm

@ the OP ... you just keep plugging away at it.

Good answers in this thread.
Me? I think fluency is beyond most of us.
You need several planets to align;
- Finnish as the primary home language
- Finnish as the primary workplace language
- a bit of talent or a background in learning / teaching other languages doesn't go amiss.
I can't tick any of those three boxes, I've spent about 13 years here since 2000 and no matter how much effort I put in, fluency is almost certainly out of my reach. :lol:

In another thread I touched on the difficulty of real-time comprehension of native speakers, won't retype it all, it can be found here...
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=93869&p=566761#p566761
GT3RS wrote: Something else I've realised is that lots of people are scared to speak Finnish to a Finn, for fear of getting it wrong. This has the unfortunate effect of preventing them from speaking Finnish. Well, fortunately, I'm not in that category! I'm used to making an idiot of myself in English, so why should I be worried about doing it in Finnish!!??
Exactly. You just have to get on with it, not be worried about making mistakes, just have a stab... nobody cares if you get it wrong, mostly.
I've heard foreigners from all over the world butchering English. It's perfectly ok to do the same with Finnish. They just aren't used to it.
GT3RS wrote:We actually tried to to speak Finnish for one entire weekend, but only lasted 2 hours!!
We both found it SO tiring, because I was trying desperately to understand her, and when I didn't, she had to repeat in different words to try to explain. Then I used loads of mental energy to construct what I wanted to say.
Reading what I've just written, it sounds ridiculous, but I assure you, it's incredibly tiring to try SO hard, with so much focus. Never experienced that before!!
Not ridiculous. Know exactly what you mean.
I worked in a company for a decade where the official company language was English (almost all documents were produced in English), but meetings where there were no outsiders (clients or people from overseas branches) were conducted in Finnish. In my native English I can sit in a meeting letting other people's contributions waft over whilst concentrating on another task and still take in 99% and chime in when needed.
In Finnish I have to pay 100% attention for fear of missing something vital; and it is really quite exhausting.
Similarly dinner with the in-laws ... really hard work.

But remember the same may well be true for your girlfriend in English unless she's bilingual.

If going 100% Finnish is impossible for you, just do what you can in Finnish...
If she is clearly better in English than you are in Finnish, switch to English if you are struggling, until your vocab on that subject improves.
But remember to switch back to Finnish when you are able for the simpler things.
Don't just give up.
GT3RS wrote: However, what I have recently began to understand is that I don't speak Finnish to Finns because I'm "scared" of the ANSWER that will come back to me!! I know there's a high probability that I won't understand, so that prevents me from trying!
You also need to challenge yourself.
If it was a situation where you understood 100%, sure, that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling & boosts your ego, but doesn't teach you much.
Challenging situations where you don't understand everything... that's getting you out of your comfort zone and helps you improve.
The next time you are in a similar situation you'll prlly do a bit better ...
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macora
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by macora » Sun Dec 25, 2016 2:04 pm

I found the CD to the book "Kato Hei" a good entrance into puhekieli. I used to listen to the CD first, and later check the book if necessary. Other, mostly puhekieli textbooks have CDs too, like "Suomea paremmin", reading the texts they are a bit on a higher level, though. Another good source are the YLE videos: http://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2015/12/15/asiointisuomea - again after a certain level, though. I used a couple other sources on the web, too, but I think best is really where you CAN have the text printed, if all else fails. In general, I try to download sound files, so I can use them wherever on my iPod. I use the free program "audacity" to bring them in shape, at times. That program also lets you choose speed without changing pitch, and similar tricks. Mind the copyrights, though! As always on the web.

In my experience, in general, try to get material that is not overly demanding, first. Granted, Kato Hei also thinks explaining everything in Finnish in the textbook is a good idea. But the sound material starts at a low level, and is building up. When you meet material that gets you to that exhaustion state (or even before getting there!), best is to find the printed version, work through that without the sound files, and a couple days later try the sound files, only, again. When working through them, I use a program where I can move the position freely. Just plain listening before or after the intense workthrough, happens on my iPod. Putting the sound files on my iPod lets me use time spent in lines, or commuting, etc. Plus the repeat, and random functions add to the learning value, IMO.
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eiltanen
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by eiltanen » Thu Jan 05, 2017 10:46 pm

There are many resources and books pages about the topic. Like usually in Finnish teaching, the idea is to pour examples to the reader and assume they learn at some point. What is lacking from the process is any kind of insight.

The first thing to understand is that, more or less universally, in speech people usually shorten and leave out words. Also in Finnish it is typically to use less energy to articulate everything perfectly. Especially vowels often fuse with other vowels or drop out. You can try which one of the following is easier to say:
taloa -> taloo
junia -junii
kadulla - kadul

Especially partitive forms have simply extensions of the previous vowel. matto , matto-o, matto-i. ( i doesn't change to j since it isn't between vowels ( matto-J-a) )

Also there are dialectal differences, some pronounce "uo" as "ua", "aa" as "ua", "ää" as ""iä" ( äänestä vs iänestä ) or whatever. The key is that speech delivers information. There are two important things: word and case. As long as both can be interpreted, you are quite free to shorten words or change vowels.

Since all the funny stuff ( case/tense endings etc) happen at the final of the word, the limiting factors are :
A) style ( how it sounds )
B) distincting the ending ( mainly case / tense)

For example in verbs the past tense marker -i cannot really be changed. But for example case ending -sta can easily be shortened to -st without losing any information. And many others.

kaupast(a) - kaupalt(t)
kaupal(la) - kadul(la)
kauppaa(n) - autoo(n)

The context and other words tell whether "kauppaa" is partitive or ... kauppaan ( how was it called...), E.g. in "Menen kauppaa" it's clear there is movement to so it is not partitive.

So basically reduce until the word is not understandable or it sounds bad. Of the that style part cannot be taught in a minute but that comes with time. Messy post but better than nothing...


AldenG
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by AldenG » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:38 am

If you're already at a point where you can read normal Finnish (but often not comprehend it live through your ears), I think the specific difficulties you and Rosamunda describe can be helped by listening to texts you're already familiar with.

An ideal but difficult-to-arrange way to do that would be to dig up scripts for movies, plays, or TV series, study those, and then watch and re-watch them on video.

Another way, which will exercise you in more complex language (good language but often less everyday), is more easily arranged -- so easily that you could start tomorrow: Read part of a book either on paper or online and then listen to that part of the audiobook version. It's the reverse of what happened in your class, and it's highly effective. You can greatly vary the sizes of the chunks you treat this way for various purposes. You want the material to be fresh enough to have primed your brain, but not so fresh that you're merely remembering it and not doing any actual aural recognition and parsing of what you hear. So maybe listen to a paragraph or a page right away at first, then as you get a little better, wait overnight between reading and listening, etc. Re-listen to earlier bits when you've had enough time to clear them from recent memory... days, weeks, whatever it takes. At first you may need to re-read old bits, but then a time will come when you don't need to re-read before listening. If you're using your own copy of a paper book, you can mark the time codes at the tops of pages or before strategic parts, or at points in the text where the recording advances to a new "audio chapter."

A variation is to pause frequently and repeat a sentence, possibly even put it into a different order, different voice (indicative/passive), or different tense. That way your brain is more actively processing the material. But sometimes you just want to focus on recognizing what you hear, and the key is to find the right size of text to pre-read and the right amount of time to wait before listening for the first time. (Always review what you've heard and understood before. This cements the pathways you're forming.)

In the reading phase, it's important to really understand how each sentence works, not just to recognize the root words and think "then some funky endings happen and it means something about X". There are certainly constructs in Finnish that feel unnatural to English-speakers, but even a complex sentence can be broken down into a handful of separate constructs (templates) it combines, and with the help of a friend you can put together a small batch of sentences illustrating only one or two of the constructs and practice Q&A-ing around those sentences. And once you focus for a bit on one particular construct to the point that you can Q&A with it, you've got it. Instead of being flustered by it each time it goes by you, it can start to be second nature for you.

++++++++

One of the useful exercises you can additionally do with the help of a native or high-level speaker (which you've probably already been doing in classes) is pick apart sentences, especially complex ones, and restate the pieces in a different tense or voice (indicative, passive), plug in new details, etc.

From near the top of a search for the classic pidätettiin epäiltynä we get:

Ison osan aivoistaan menettänyt mies pidätettiin epäiltynä murhan yrityksestä Floridassa.
Floridalainen Mr X, 31, on pidätetty maanantaina epäiltynä tuhopoltosta ja ensimmäisen asteen murhan yrityksestä.

If you break these two down into component bits of information, you get.

Mies pidätettiin
Pidättäminen tapahtui Floridassa
Pidättäminen tapahtui maanantaina
Miestä epäillään tuhopoltosta
Miestä epäillään ensimmäisen asteen murhan yrityksestä
Mies oli aikaisemmin menettänyt ison osan aivoistaan

...you can also restate those pieces in a different tense or voice. But you can also change the suspected crimes and the lost body part, and put original sentence back together with new pieces.

From what you've both (and others) said it's hard to know how much of the difficulty is in aurally recognizing vocabulary and how much is in processing constructs in real time. (I think the latter depends a lot on subconscious templates you build over time, expecting certain kinds of words to be followed by certain other types that clue you in to what's happening before the end of the sentence.) But once you're at an intermediate level, these two things, primed listening and Q/A based on real-life sentences, can go a long way toward bumping you up to the next level. They're much more helpful than just random listening or trying to say things you don't really know how to say. In fact the latter is mostly counterproductive.
Last edited by AldenG on Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As he persisted, I was obliged to tootle him gently at first and then, seeing no improvement, to trumpet him vigorously with my horn.


macora
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by macora » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:24 pm

eiltanen wrote: What is lacking from the process is any kind of insight.
Do you know the book "Kato Hei"? I thought it does exactly that. Albeit, as mentioned, in Finnish. But OP has access to mother-tongue speaking help.
eiltanen wrote: So basically reduce until the word is not understandable or it sounds bad.
Now that is brilliant advice! :D (no sarcasm)
AldenG wrote:
(I think the latter depends a lot on subconscious templates you build over time, expecting certain kinds of words to be followed by certain other types that clue you in to what's happening before the end of the sentence.)
I think you think correctly :) Seriously, we know from learning psychology that is how many things are learned. In spacial recognition some theorists call it a "skript". My prof at the time liked to quote the "toilet finding skript" in an unknown restaurant. We just know where to look for the restroom. Back to language, that is where having learned other languages can help tremendously. Analyzing written Finnish for example is easier when one has learned Latin. Because one is used to "de-coding" sentences starting at the end of the sentence. Spoken Finnish maybe more from the French spoken in Paris (where I also fail pretty badly) Je ne sais pas = J' s' pa. Would be interesting to know whether French speakers from Paris have an easier way with the shortening in spoken Finnish. I remember my first "aha"-experience reminded me of Paris. "mu-(garble)-aoo-aik..." (replace (garble) with ll and it begins to make sense)

Back to OP's question: I personally think it is a bad idea to insist speaking or writing in a way the student has no chance to understand even the gist of what is told. But as you mention, the more he/she is exposed to only slightly taxing material, the skripts are bound to be built. The brain needs to build synapses first, and then broaden the tiny ways into "roads", and then into "highways", so to speak. And any 5 minutes spent using those "Finnish" roads, helps. Music is another good way IMO to build them. Luckily there are lots awesome musicians singing in Finnish in all kinds of styles.
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AldenG
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Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by AldenG » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:14 pm

So that's close to a year of serious studies now. That's the kind of dedication it takes. I remember that the beginning can be frustrating, but you sound serious and I don't doubt that breakthroughs lie ahead for you.

I wouldn't be too concerned about the hearing difficulties at this point. The things I wrote about above will help. I've also observed that in some contexts, particularly some TV shows, Finns are talking faster and in a more clipped fashion than they used to do. You can see this quite clearly by comparing older shows to newer shows. Language researchers have noted in recent years that Danish has become markedly harder to hear than it was in the 1950's and they're not sure why Danes are getting more cryptic, but some think it's deliberate. I don't particularly notice a change in speed or clarity when talking live to Finns these days, but I don't encounter enough fresh-off-the-plane to spot trends. Nor do I hear it in the kind of Finnish radio I listen to on visits or streaming. I do see it in some TV shows. But youth slang and criminal slang have always had as a primary purpose to identify and exclude outsiders, and the same phenomenon may have crept into Denmark as its immigration increased in recent decades. So more cryptic pronunciation may also be coming into everyday Finnish in some regions as a way of maintaining Finnish identity in the face of unpopular surges in immigration. Or it may be a symptom of of generalized stress. Or it may be limited to TV and film, sort of a delayed legacy of the Jouko Turkka school of dramatic expression.

If you would indulge me, I'm curious about how mainstream FSL courses are taught nowadays.

How many hours are you in class each day? Have most of your classmates stuck with it from the time you began? What percentage of them would you say are serious like you, and what are the others like?

What kinds of activities do you have? Is there much prompt-and-response? Explication of texts? Listening to media? Vocabulary lists? Conjugation tables? What other stuff?

Would you tell me if the following constructs have been handled yet and how late or early they were introduced? Some doubtless have been, others maybe not, since you're only 10 months in.

I'm not at all asking you this to test your own knowledge or progress. I just want insights into what state-funded teachers are doing today, since I've just now resumed work on creating a curriculum map and exercises based on what I've seen over the years to work and not to work so well in language instruction.

1. Mies oli onnellinen. Mies vaikutti onnelliselta. Mies oli onnellisen näköinen.

2. Minua janottaa. Minua palelee, minulla on kylmä, minun on kylmä.

3. Minun täytyy, minun pitää, minun on mentävä.

4. Mies oli väsynyt. Miltä hän vaikutti? Hän vaikutti väsyneeltä. Minkä näköinen mies oli? Hän oli väsyneen näköinen.

5. Mistä tiedät miehen olevan väsynyt? Mistä tiesit miehen olleen väsynyt? Hän on/oli yksinkertaisesti väsyneen näköinen.

6. Keneltä kuulit tuon? Kuulin sen väsyneen näköiseltä mieheltä. Kuulin sen väsyneen näköisen miehen vaimolta.
Mitä tiedät hänestä? Mitä tiedät väsyneen näköisestä miehestä? Mitä tiedät väsyneen näköisen miehen vaimosta?

7. Pääkaupunkiin päästyään Jorma rupesi heti hakemaan naisseuraa.

8. Voit tarvittaessa pyytää apua.

9. Ruokaa laittaessani käytän aina merisuolaa.

10. Olin kuulevinani entisen tyttöystäväni äänen.
As he persisted, I was obliged to tootle him gently at first and then, seeing no improvement, to trumpet him vigorously with my horn.


AldenG
Posts: 3333
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:11 am

Re: Learning Finnish. Problem.............

Post by AldenG » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:05 pm

eiltanen wrote:
The first thing to understand is that, more or less universally, in speech people usually shorten and leave out words. Also in Finnish it is typical to use less energy to articulate everything perfectly. Especially vowels often fuse with other vowels or drop out.
One of the more common contractions, and potentially most confusing if it hasn't been explained, is hakemaan -> hakeen, nukkumaan -> nukkuun, sanomaan -> sanoon, etc. You lose a really obvious and unambiguous marker (the -ma-, -maan) and end up with a word you could superficially mistake for a genitive noun or adjective if you don't know the root's meaning. Simply recognizing whether word are verbs, nouns, etc, and what form they are in, helps you recognize the type of phrase. And a critical skill in parsing sentences you see or hear is to recognize particular kinds of phrases even when they contain one or more words whose meaning you don't know. You feel a lot less at sea when you reach that point. In some languages, those that are closer to your own, that's where you START on about week one of learning them. In Finnish, it can take a year or several just to REACH that point.

Presumably contractions and distortions like these get pointed out when the legitimate form is taught, but their prevalence just adds to the complication of decoding all that you see and hear. It's not too much of a leap to change or supply a single letter omitted at the end of a word you hear, but I would think that getting from sanoon back to sanomaan is a bit of a stretch if you have to guess at it. Then there are the forms that are actively evolving, where constructs like sain sen tehtyä (for sain sen tehdyksi, "I got it done") are elbowing their way up the ladder of legitimacy.

BTW, for a neophyte foreigner to imitate all these little things mostly does not add credibility to their speech, it only (for most contractions) sounds a little ridiculous and transparently poserish. What makes an impression is a foreigner speaking Finnish that is correct. If you can be correct and THEN colloquial, that's fine. But merely grafting a few trivial native mannerisms on top of rickety Finnish doesn't make you sound better and may easily sound more amusing than rickety Finnish alone. So if one wants to be a clown...
As he persisted, I was obliged to tootle him gently at first and then, seeing no improvement, to trumpet him vigorously with my horn.


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