Some overlap with stupot's writeup due to
historical reasons, but maybe the
extra details make this worthwhile...
Finnish uses exactly the same
alphabet as Swedish, namely:
speakers will note that this is looks very familiar, except for the extra vowels ä
at the end. So, if you have to look up something in
a Finnish phone book or dictionary, the order is exactly the same as in English (except that phonebooks do not
distinguish between v
, for reasons explained below).
Now, the actual phonology of the language is a bit more difficult. The following letters are found in native Finnish words:
...with the following caveat
- d was added somewhat artificially, some dialects still use t instead
- g only occurs in the cluster ng, which is
actually a single sound, the velar nasal
The remaining letters
come from various sources:
- c has been used interchangably with k, but modern Finnish uses it only for loanwords
- b, f, q, x and z (and g outside ng) are found only in loanwords
- w has been used interchangably with v, but is only retained in personal names; this is why phonebooks do not distinguish between Virtanen and Wirtanen
- å is used exclusively for spelling some Swedish names
And courtesy of Gritchka
the ever pedantic, a historical footnote: in accordance with the "one phoneme
, one grapheme
" principle used to systemize modern Finnish spelling, there was a school that thought the sound "sh" (as in sh
ell) should be written as š (s-hacek
However, this sound is only found in a few rare loan words and the combination s + h does not exist in Finnish, so there is no real need for it; the sound is these days almost always written with the two letters "sh".
As for long/short vowels and consonants, the full story is rather complex and too long to be explained here. Finnish orthography really deserves its own node...