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Finnish Alphabet

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Alphabet Alphabet
Finnish Alphabet Suomen aakkoset

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The Finnish alphabet is based on the Latin alphabet and consists of 29 letters:

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

In addition, w is traditionally listed after v, although officially it is merely a variant of the latter and can be alphabetized as v. Similarly, š and ž are variants of s and z, but they are often overlooked, as they are only used in some relatively new loanwords and foreign names, and may be replaced with sh and zh, respectively, if it is technically impossible to reproduce š and ž.

== Summary of the main characteristics ==

Finnish denotes the phonemic (meaning-distinguishing) gemination with simple digraphs, e.g. sika "pig" vs. siika "whitefish" and kisa "competition, race" vs. kissa "cat".

The following table describes how each letter in the Finnish alphabet is spelled and pronounced separately. If the name of a consonant begins with a vowel (usually ä [æ]), it can be pronounced and spelled either as a monosyllabic or bisyllabic word.<ref name="Länsimäki" /> In practice, the names of the letters are rarely spelled, as people usually just type the (uppercase or lowercase) glyph when then want to refer to a particular letter.

The pronunciation instructions enclosed in slashes are broad Phonetic transcription|transcriptions based on the IPA system. In notes, more narrow transcriptions are enclosed in square brackets.

Finnish has true mid vowels (e, ö, and o) and thus there exists no distinction between close-mid and open-mid vowels as in e.g. /e/ vs. /ɛ/.

Glyphs
Spelling
Pronunciation
Notes on usage (for more, see Finnish phonology)
A, a
aa
/ɑː/

B, b
bee
/beː/
Occurs in relatively new loanwords, such as banaani 'banana' and bussi 'bus'. Typically pronounced as [b̥] or [p].
C, c
see
/seː/
Occurs in unestablished loanwords, such as curry and cesium. Typically pronounced as [k] or [s].
D, d
dee
/deː/
In present standard language, d stands for [d], but it may be pronounced as [d̥] or [t̪], and the pronunciation in dialects varies greatly. Natively used in Western dialects as [ɾ] and not at all in Eastern dialects.
E, e
ee
/eː/
The precise pronunciation tends to be between [e] and [ɛ].
F, f
äf, äffä
/æf/, /ˈæf.fæ/, occasionally /ef/
Occurs in relatively new loanwords, such as asfaltti 'asphalt' or uniformu 'uniform'. Historically and in dialectal pronunciation (apart from some Western dialects), /f/ is typically replaced with /ʋ/ or medially /hʋ/ (e.g. kahvi /ˈkah.ʋi/ ← Swedish kaffe 'coffee'). Even newer loanwords may have an alternative spelling where v has replaced f (asvaltti, univormu).
G, g
gee
/ɡeː/
digraph ng, which marks the long velar nasal [ŋː] (with no [ɡ] sound). Otherwise g only occurs in relatively new loanwords, such as gaala 'festival|gala' and geeni 'gene'. Typically pronounced [ɡ̊] or [k].
H, h
hoo
/hoː/
breathy-voiced [ɦ].
I, i
ii
/iː/
[i]
J, j
jii
/jiː/
Without exception [j] (English consonant y), as in German and Swedish, never fricative or affricate as in French or English.
K, k
koo
/koː/

L, l
äl, ällä
/æl/, /ˈæl.læ/, occasionally /el/

M, m
äm, ämmä
/æm/, /ˈæm.mæ/, occasionally /em/

N, n
än, ännä
/æn/, /ˈæn.næ/, occasionally /en/

O, o
oo
/oː/
The precise pronunciation tends to be between [o] and [ɔ].
P, p
pee
/peː/

Q, q
kuu
/kuː/
digraph qu has often been replaced with kv). Typically pronounced as [k].
R, r
är, ärrä
/ær/, /ˈær.ræ/, occasionally /er/

S, s
äs, ässä
/æs/, /ˈæs.sæ/, occasionally /es/

Š, š
hattu-äs,
hattu-ässä;
suhu-äs,
suhu-ässä
/ˈhattu.æs/,
/ˈhattu.æssæ/;
/ˈsuhu.æs/,
/ˈsuhu.æssæ/
digraph sh (šampooshampoo) or, in more established loanwords, with plain s (sampoo). In theory pronounced as [ʃ] but in practice often as [s].
T, t
tee
/teː/
dental [t̪] rather than Alveolar consonant|alveolar [t].
U, u
uu
/uː/
The precise pronunciation tends to be between [u] and [o].
V, v
vee
/ʋeː/
Typically pronounced as approximant [ʋ] rather than fricative [v].
W, w
kaksois-vee,
tupla-vee
/ʋeː/,
/ˈkɑk.soisˌʋeː/,
/ˈtup.lɑˌʋeː/
Werner Söderström, a well-known publisher). In collation the letter w is treated like v. Typically pronounced [ʋ].
X, x
äks, äksä
/æks/, /ˈæk.sæ/, occasionally /eks/
taxi or fax, but there is often a preferred alternative where x has been replaced with digraph (orthography)|digraph ks (taksi, faksi). Typically pronounced as [ks].
Y, y
yy
/yː/
The precise pronunciation tends to be between [y] and [ø].
Z, z
tset, tseta
/tset/, /ˈtse.tɑ/
Occurs in unestablished loanwords, such as zeniitti /tse.niːt.ti/ 'zenith' or pizza, but there may be an alternative spelling with ts (e.g. pitsa). Typically pronounced [ts], but sometimes as [s] or [z̥].
Ž, ž
hattu-tset,
hattu-tseta
/ˈhat.tuˌtset/,
/ˈhat.tuˌtse.tɑ/
junk', and foreign proper names, but is often replaced with digraph (orthography)|digraph zh. In theory pronounced as [ʒ] but the actual pronunciation may vary.
Å, å
ruotsalainen oo
/oː/, /ˈruot.sɑˌlɑi.nen oː/
The "Swedish o", carried over from the Swedish alphabet and redundant in Finnish; retained especially for writing Finland-Swedish proper names. Pronounced as [o]. No Finnish words contain a letter å.
Ä, ä
ää
/æː/

Ö, ö
öö
/øː/
The precise pronunciation tends to be between [ø] and [œ].