By Håkan Ringbom

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If the stem of a word has any of the vowels a, o, u, the ending must also contain one of these vowels, but if the stem contains no back vowel, the ending must have a front vowel ä, ö, or y. Except for loanwords, Finnish tolerates clusters of consonants only medially, but in neither initial nor final positions in words. The most striking morphological difference between Finnish and the Germanic languages lies in the large number of endings attached to word stems in Finnish. Thus, where English or Swedish have independent words (prepositions, pronouns, auxiliaries, adverbs), Finnish very often makes use of case endings, verb endings, possessive suffixes, or enclitic particles.

When you learn an item, its form is uniquely linked to some other form or a unique referent, while the learning of systems means commutation of some forms or referents while holding some (other) form constant. See further below, p. 134f. It will not be possible to deal with all these aspects here. Too little is known as yet about many of these relations and exactly how they interact with one another. Even the basic meaning of similarity causes problems, especially if the approach of focussing on the learner is adopted.

Previous page page_22 next page > < previous page page_23 next page > Page 23 15. Swedish Finns living in predominantly Swedish-speaking rural areas may not wholly conform to the general pattern of the urban Swedish-speaking population, which in most towns is much smaller than the Finnish-speaking population. In such rural areas, knowledge of another language (Finnish) tends to be less of a necessity. On the whole, the more urban the environment, the more important it is for Swedish speakers to be competent in Finnish as well, while few Finnish speakers, either urban or rural, have much contact with Swedish.

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