Why aren’t Finns very chatty?

Why aren’t Finns very chatty?

Ever spent any time with us Finns? If you have, then you are no doubt aware of the joke that points at the stereotype of the introspective, introverted Finn:

Q: How do you know if a Finn likes you?
A. They stare at your shoes instead of their own.

Is it the cold weather that stops us talking? Social conditioning?

Who knows, but one thing is for certain, the Finnish language doesn’t help. While most European languages evolved to ditch case endings for nouns (current score: Latin 6/7, German 4, French/Spanish/English; 0) us Finns thought it was a great idea and decisively upped the ante to a massive 15 cases.

If the amount of noun endings wasn’t enough, we also have clictics, which are added to the nouns for emphasis or questioning, for example. The net result being that, technically speaking, Finnish has can have as many as 2253 noun forms for each noun (someone counted: http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~fkarlsso/genkau2.html).

No wonder we top the education tables and simultaneously have very high suicide rates. Readers of Douglas Adams may well be reminded of the phrase “Here I am, brain the size of a planet….”

Case English Singular Plural
nominative school koulu koulut
genitive school’s (e.g. school’s roof) koulun koulujen (kouluin)
partitive (object, incomplete;
e.g. paint school)
koulua kouluja
accusative (object, whole;
e.g. paint the [whole] school)
koulu; koulun koulut
inessive in the school koulussa kouluissa
elative from the school (inside) koulusta kouluista
illative into school kouluun kouluihin
adessive at the school koululla kouluilla
ablative from the school (outside) koululta kouluilta
translative [transform] into school
e.g. house was transformed into school
kouluksi kouluiksi
abessive without school koulutta kouluitta
instructive with school kouluin
comitative with their school kouluine-

 

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