It was a fun day today, although I got up at 10 am (which is pretty late) and had only one class. But it was a Finnish class and I finally learned about the peculiarities of the language. And it was really nice, because I recognized many grammar-related things that are familar to Polish-speaking person. I also noticed, that for some reasons it may be a little bit easier for me to learn Finnish than for a number of other international students.
I guess it’s because there are a lot of similarities between Finnish and Polish grammatical systems. For example the fact that Finnish has so many suffixes and the use of them depends on a particular case is not that shocking for me as we have the same situation in Polish. We also have many cases (well, maybe not that many as Finns, but still…). Also the pronunciation is similar in many ways and the agglutinative nature of Finnish (meaning there are many compound words and you can always add something to the ending of the word) is something I know from my own experience with Polish.
It seems that my philological background (in Poland I study Polish philology) is considered by some people as an advantage. Well, I could agree, more or less. Thanks to some linguistic courses I had at my home university I may be able to understand right away how different languages “work”. Basically everything that is said about Finnish is something I already knew and something I can pick up very easily, because I find connections between those facts and what I learned in the past.
But of course it all depends on one’s ability to learn languages. I’m a philologist, I like to dissasemble the language, know how everything inside it works. Only after that I can start using it. I hate to rote, I want to know the language inside out, so I could understand it and that way be able to speak it. Not by remembering whole sentences or even dialogues, but building my own.
And today I got to share my views and opinions about Finnish language with a Finnish student who’s doing a research (it’s a part of her Bachelor’s thesis) about exchange students’ impressions about settling to a new language environment. She posted a message in uni’s mailing list that she’s looking for some international students to help her and I replied to her ad.
We met today for the interview. She had a lot of different questions like: why I chose Finland to study in, how does Finnish sound to me, what did I know about the language before, how can I compare Finnish to other languages I know/speak and lots of others like that. She also wanted me to draw a picture about Finnish language. Something that comes to my mind when I think about the language. And so I draw a hill covered with trees and a lake next to it. I explained that for me Finnish has a lot of words and expressions connected with nature, also some of those words are very old and Finns were always really close to nature, so this is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the language and Finland itself.
The interview was very fun and I enjoyed it very much. Tanja — the Finnish student — told me that she also liked our conversation. She was very well prepared and she smiled a lot which only made it easier for me to speak freely (although I don’t have problems with speaking whatsoever ;P). She was also very happy to hear about my linguistic background since it made her research even more interesting. She only has four exchange students whom she interviewed, so I guess this a very narrow company. She will send me her research results after she’s done analyzing them (I guess it’ll be April/May), but before that I think we’ll meet again :).
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*The title of this post means: Do you speak Finnish?