Finnish language, also called Suomi, member of the Finnic group of the Finno-Ugric languages. These languages form a subdivision of the Uralic subfamily of the Ural-Altaic family of languages.
There are several dialects. In Finnish the first syllable of a word is stressed. The language has 15 cases for nouns, personal pronouns, and adjectives. It lacks grammatical gender and the article. There is a negative conjugation for the verb. Like the other Uralic and Altaic languages, Finnish has vowel harmony and agglutination. Postpositions are employed instead of prepositions. Suffixation is used to form derived nouns and verbs. The Finnish vocabulary has been enriched by words borrowed from the Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic languages. A modified Roman alphabet is used for writing Finnish, which has been recorded since the 16th cent.
It is believed that the Baltic Finnic languages evolved from a proto-Finnic language, from which Sami was separated around 1500-1000 BC. It has been suggested that this proto-Finnic had three dialects: northern, southern and eastern. The Baltic Finnic languages separated around the 1st century.
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The first written form of Finnish was created by Mikael Agricola, a Finnish bishop in the 16th century. He based his writing system on Swedish (which was the official language of Finland at the time), German, and Latin. Later the written form was revised by many people.
The Reformation marked the real beginning of writing in Finnish. In the 16th century major literary achievements were composed in Finnish by people like Paavali Juusten, Erik Sorolainen, and Jaakko Finno, as well as Agricola himself. In the 17th century books were written in Finland in Finnish, Danish, Norwegian, Estonian, Latvian, German, and Swedish. However, the most important books were still written in Latin. Finnish and Swedish (which in the late 17th century was decreed the sole language of government) were small languages of lesser importance.