Appendix:Finnish pronunciation

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page details the pronunciation of Standard Finnish (Standard Spoken Finnish), which is, unless otherwise specified, the spoken variety used to document Finnish pronunciations on the English Wiktionary.

See the Wikipedia article on Finnish phonology for a more complete description.


IPA Examples English approximation Notes
d voida do [* 1]
h hyvä ham [* 2]
j joki yellow [* 3]
k koira tukka sky [* 4]
l lumi tulla lake [* 5]
m muu kumma much
n nuori mennä no
ŋ nki rengas king [* 6]
p poika seppä speak [* 4]
r ranne purra [* 7]
s silmä kissa see [* 8]
t talvi katto stay [* 4]
ʋ vesi view (Indian English) [* 9]
Non-native consonants
b baari lobbari bite [* 10]
d disko additio do [* 10]
f fiksu leffa Finnish [* 11]
ɡ geeli bloggari get [* 10]
ʃ šakki pašša shoe [* 12]
IPA Example Explanation Notes
ː viisi, tukka long vowel or geminated consonant [* 13]
. liuuttaa syllable boundary [* 14]
ˈ sana primary stress [* 15]
ˌ yhdyssana secondary stress [* 16]
ˣ sade‸, jonne‸kin final gemination
() optional
IPA Examples English approximation Notes
Short Long
ɑ askel saada hot (GA), palm (RP) [* 17]
e että tekee pay, best; bed (AU) [* 18]
i ilma viisi beat
o oksa kutoo yawn [* 19]
u sulka uusi boot
y sydän tyyni few (some varieties)
æ käsi ääni cat (GA)
ø näkö säilöö bird (some varieties) [* 20]
Diphthongs (closing)[* 21]
IPA Examples Rough English approximation Notes
ɑi̯ maito light
ei̯ seistä vein
oi̯ koivu boy
ui̯ kuiva who is
yi̯ lyijy few eat (RP)
æi̯ päi had it (with silent -d-)
øi̯ öinen stir it
ɑu̯ kausi cow
eu̯ neuvo the "oops"
iu̯ hius few (Wales, GA)
ou̯ lounas boat
ey̯ leyhyä [* 22]
iy̯ kääriytyä [* 23]
æy̯ täysi
øy̯ löyly
Diphthongs (opening)[* 24]
ie̯ kieli be ending
uo̯ Suomi who owes
yø̯ p few erred (RP)


  1. ^ 'Native' /d/ is only found root-medially as a weak grade of /t/ under consonant gradation. The realization of this phoneme varies by dialect and speaker.
  2. ^ Only ungeminated, except for one word: hihhuli. Exact realization varies slightly depending on the environment.
  3. ^ Only ungeminated.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Finnish plosives are always unaspirated.
  5. ^ Clear /l/, similar to Spanish, French and German, but unlike the dark /l/ of American English.
  6. ^ In native words always word-medial, and only in nk /ŋk/ (before k as a short consonant) or ng /ŋː/ (long, weak grade of nk). In foreign borrowings the phoneme may also occur before another consonant (in which environment it is always ungeminated) or word-finally.
  7. ^ Realized as a trill [r] ("rolled R"), like in Spanish rr, Italian and many Slavic languages. When ungeminated and intervocalic, it may also be a tap [ɾ], especially in faster speech.
  8. ^ Usually somewhat retracted: [s̠] (voiceless alveolar retracted sibilant).
  9. ^ Only ungeminated. Realized as an approximant, not a fricative; roughly something between an English v and w.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The foreign voiced plosives are pronounced as such in standard Finnish, at least by educated speakers. Pronouncing them as unvoiced, while considered rustic or folksy, is common among monolingual Finnish speakers (e.g. outside major cities).
  11. ^ Realized as [f] in Standard Finnish. In idiolects without [f], it is usually realized as /ʋ/ when ungeminated and /hʋ/ when geminated.
  12. ^ Not reliably distinguished from /s/ by all speakers for most words (when ambiguity is not a risk).
  13. ^ Follows the vowel or consonant it modifies.
  14. ^ Usually marked between vowels with an apostrophe, especially when representing the weak grade of k.
  15. ^ Falls on the first syllable.
  16. ^ Falls on the first syllable of later words as part of a compound.
  17. ^ A back vowel. The Finnish /ɑ/ is not necessarily quite a cardinal [ɑ]. Depending on the description, it might be near-open [ɑ̝] or central or near-back [ɑ̈]. It is also possible that the exact realization varies somewhat.
  18. ^ Mid vowel (mid front unrounded vowel), between [e] and [ɛ].
  19. ^ Mid vowel (mid back rounded vowel), between [o] and [ɔ].
  20. ^ Mid vowel (mid front rounded vowel), between [ø] and [œ].
  21. ^ Diphthongs ending in i can be present in any syllable. Diphthongs ending in u or y are in standard Finnish only present in root-initial or open syllables, while later closed syllables have a hiatus.
  22. ^ Rare in initial syllables.
  23. ^ Very rare in initial syllables and fairly uncommon in general.
  24. ^ Opening diphthongs are only present in root-initial syllables.


Consonant phonemes
Labial Dental
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Plosive p (b) t d k (ɡ)
Fricative (f) s (ʃ) h
Approximant ʋ j
Rhotic r
Lateral l
Front Central Back
Closing Opening
_i _u _y _e _o _ø
Back ɑ_ ɑi̯ ɑu̯
o_ oi̯ ou̯
u_ ui̯ uo̯
Front æ_ æi̯ æy̯
ø_ øi̯ øy̯
y_ yi̯ yø̯
Neutral e_ ei̯ eu̯ ey̯
i_ iu̯ iy̯ ie̯


Final gemination[edit]

See also: Finnish phonology § Sandhi on Wikipedia

Some Finnish words or word roots feature final gemination (also called boundary lengthening, Finnish: rajakahdennus), which is usually marked with /ˣ/ (Finnish: jäännöslopuke; see also the entry for this symbol). This feature (argued to be morphophonetic) originates from the loss of some final consonants (primarily -k or -h) always follows a vowel, and its realization depends on what follows it:

  • If /ˣ/ is followed by a consonant, the consonant becomes geminated if it isn't already.
  • If /ˣ/ is followed by a vowel or the end of the utterance, it usually manifests as a glottal stop [ʔ], which may or may not be geminated, and may even be completely omitted in rapid speech.

This feature is not indicated in the Finnish orthography, but results in minimal pairs (albeit marginal). It can at times even surface within words due to clitics (jonnekin) /ˈjonːeˣkin//ˈjonːekːin/ (respelled jonnekkin), even though final gemination does not affect possessive suffixes. However, there are cases in which final gemination has in effect become grammaticalized, such as the partitive singular of hamehametta, in which the geminated consonant is spelled with gemination.

In standard Finnish, final gemination occurs primarily in the following cases:

  • nominals:
    • (the nominative singular forms of) nominals belonging to type 48 ("hame")
    • allative singular and plural forms of nominals
  • verbs:
    • first infinitive forms (dictionary forms)
      note that the third-person singular present indicative does not have final gemination even if it is a homograph
    • connegative forms of verbs (except for conditional, in all persons, and imperative, in all other persons than the second-person singular)
    • second-person singular imperative forms of verbs (identical with the indicative connegative)
  • adverbs:
  • the third-person possessive suffix -nsa

The following features may or may not have final gemination depending on the idiolect:

  • nominals:
    • comitative forms of adjectives (i.e. when not followed by a possessive suffix)
  • verbs:
    • past passive participles (-ttu)
    • conditional connegative
  • numerals:
    • the numeral kolme (three)
  • pronouns:
    • the pronoun itse (self)

Furthermore, in some dialects, final gemination is completely absent.

See also[edit]