LINGUIST List 13.2172

Sun Aug 25 2002

Sum: ESL/Typical Errors Made by Finns/Part 2

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Hammink, John, SUM: Typical "mistakes" made by Finns part 2 of 2

Message 1: SUM: Typical "mistakes" made by Finns part 2 of 2

Date: Wed, 21 Aug 2002 16:20:13 +0300
From: Hammink, John <John.HamminkF-Secure.com>
Subject: SUM: Typical "mistakes" made by Finns part 2 of 2

Continued from Part 1 (Linguist 13.2133)

[Modal Auxiliaries/Politeness Strategies]

Finnish lacks a direct correlate to the English word "please." Also,
in Finnish, one can follow a request with *kiitos*, which is a
multifunctional politeness marker that also means "thank you." That
means that if a Finn translates directly into English from Finnish,
there can be some confusion as to whether to use "please" or "thank
you" in English.

In English, we have to use a modal to ask a request, which we can put
in the conditional tense to soften it:

"Would you please give me the salt?"

In Finnish, a conditional may be used, but the structure of Finnish is
so that there is no modal (i.e., "will" or "would" required):

"Antaisitko suolaa?" 
Give (2nd person, conditional) the salt
Which translates as "Would you give me the salt?"


In Finnish it can be entirely appropriate to make a request consisting
of an imperative or a statement (e.g., Otan kahvia, literally 'I take
coffee.')

Even quite good Finnish writers seem to have trouble with English
conditional constructions due to a different use pattern of the
Finnish conditional (-isi) form (and, I suspect, this is not one of
the patterns stressed in Finnish school English). [Eg. "If I would
have 100 euros, I would lend you 50" for "If I had 100 euros, I would
lend you 50".]

Incidentally, while many Finns went so far as to inform me that
Finnish is a "rude language" without all those "small words," I found
that Finns used other strategies that corresponded with the use of
"please" and modals in English. For example, a higher imposition
request, made of someone a Finn didn't know very well, tended to
contain a verb in the conditional tense, or using the Finnish suffixal
morpheme -han to show "politeness."

The -han suffix is very mysterious for nonnative speakers, since its
function is hard to pinpoint in, for example, English. It can function
as an emphasizer, a mitigator, or a bunch of other stuff (there are
actually entire papers written on this one morpheme and its
functions). In one contributor's data, this suffix showed up with
high-imposition requests, iike asking to borrow someone's cell phone:

Olisikohan mahdollista etta" ma" voisin lainata sun ka"nnyka"si?

Is+conditional+question marker+"-han" possible that I can+conditional
borrow(infinitive) your cell phone+possessive marker

'Is there any way it would it be possible to borrow your phone?'

[Tense/aspect]]

There tends to be an over-use (from the English point of view) of
compound past forms at the expense of the simple past because the
compound form occurs more frequently in Finnish. [Eg. "This book has
been published in 2002" for "This book was published in 2002".]

[Idioms]

 To have / a bath, a shower.. To have lunch / dinner / tea... To have
a look / a try / a walk ... To have trouble To have a baby / a fight
/ a talk are all expressed differently in Finnish: "to shower", "to
eat dinner", "to drink tea", "to look", "to get a baby", "to
fight"... "He was born" is a sentence a Finn can't say at all, if s/he
doesn't know by heart how it is formed in English. In Finnish it would
simply be: "he *borned*"

[Adverbs]

Adverb placement "seems often" to be influenced by Finnish. (I'm told
by teachers of Swedish here in Finland that this is also a problem for
them.)

"Also" is likely to occur before noun phrases much more frequently
than it would for American or British writers.

[Voice]

Because the construction called "passive" in Finnish works differently
than the one called "passive" in English, there are occasionally
unacceptable passives such as "The door was wanted to be opened".

[Gender]

Regarding the 3.p.sg. personal pronoun he/she finns tend to refer to
both sexes as "he", since they have only "h�n" for "he" and "she", or
to simply mix the two

[Contractions]

As for style, Finnish schools seem to be concentrating on a spoken or
fairly informal colloquial. This leads to the use of contractions (eg.
I'll, we've) in styles where (one hopes!) native speakers would use
the full forms.


[Pronunciation]

The Finnish speaker is always saying 'ch' as in "chart" -- even in
words such as "character"

I'm indebted to the following people whose comments comprise this
summary:

Liz Peterson [elpetersindiana.edu]

Ingvar Froiland [Ingvar.FroilandF-Secure.com]

Gordon Brown [gordonbrmicrosoft.com]

Hanna Outakoski [hanna.outakoskisamiska.umu.se]

Johannes Heinecke [johannes.heineckerd.francetelecom.com]

James Haines [jlhainessun3.oulu.fi]

Jason Rudd [rudd.jghc.org]

Katja Hirvasaho [katja.hirvasahorusin.fi]

Marianne Krause [marianne.krausemeigainnovations.com]

Raija Solatie [raija.solatiekolumbus.fi]

Ronald Sheen [Ronald_Sheenuqtr.uquebec.ca]

Werner Abraham [werner.abrahamdirekt.at]

I will also post a discussion of some of the more interesting points
that people have written in since this summary was posted.
	
Subject-Language: Finnish; Code: FIN 
	
	
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