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A Few Finnish Questions

  Tags: Finnish | Grammar
 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
feanarosurion
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2509 days ago

217 posts - 99 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish, Norwegian

 
 Message 1 of 7
27 July 2010 at 1:13am | IP Logged 
I've got a couple of relatively advanced grammar questions relating to Finnish. Maybe not incredibly advanced, but very specific. They're just some things that I haven't been able to figure out on my own and that have been bugging me lately.

First off, I'm wondering about the usage of "vaan." Every dictionary I check and that I have available to me lists it as "but," usually as in "instead of something else," and in many situations that makes perfect sense. For example: "Se ei ole musta, vaan punainen." I understand the usage in that case. However, there are times where I can't figure out why "vaan" is there, or what the exact use of the word is in those cases. Primarily, my confusion occurs when "vaan" is at the end of the sentence or phrase, "Paljon onnea vaan" being the most pronounced example that I can think of. I also recently watched a movie where one character says "Hyppää kyytiin," to another character, then says "Hyppää kyytiin nyt vaan," a few seconds later. Now, the only thing I can think of is that "vaan" functions in this case as meaning "Jump in instead of not jumping in," or something similar. In other words, that it functions as emphasis that a person should do something instead of something else, or that some statement is true instead of not true, etc. That's my take on its usage, and I realize that I may be extremely off the mark here, but that's the only thing I can think of. This is the one that's really bugging me, so any help would be appreciated.

My other question has to do with certain pronouns that function as groups of nouns such as "kaikki," "moni," and "muutama." In many/most/all cases, these pronouns work as substitutes for multiple nouns, making them inherently plural in nature even in the singular form. Therefore, my question is what the difference is between the singular and plural forms for these pronouns. I understand that the difference is subtle, and each implies different things about the nouns these pronouns refer to, but that's about it. I can't find a good explanation anywhere, so I'm wondering if anyone can help me here. Thanks very much for any help, I really appreciate it.

Edited by feanarosurion on 27 July 2010 at 8:53am



Thatzright
Diglot
Senior Member
Finland
Joined 2900 days ago

202 posts - 109 votes 
Speaks: Finnish*, English
Studies: French, Swedish, German, Russian

 
 Message 2 of 7
28 July 2010 at 2:18pm | IP Logged 
"Vaan" is a multipurposed word that can be a little confusing. The "primary use" is probably "but" as the dictionaries you have checked have said, but it can also be used in other situations indeed. "Hyppää kyytiin nyt vaan" basically means "Just get in!" or "Just jump in already!". The "nyt vaan" implies that the guy has already been told to get in. "Nyt" does not mean "now" here, by the way. "Vaan" can actually used as "just" in many situations, for example "Sinä vaan luet kaiket päivät" --> "You just read the entire day." In this use, it's almost the same word as "vain", but it has some sort of subtle difference that I can't quite point out. "Sinä vain luet kaiket päivät" would also mean "You just read the entire day", as you probably know.

Other examples: "Tule nyt vaan": "Just come." "Ota nyt vaan se" "Just take it". And yet I wouldn't put "vaan" in a dictionary as an equivalent for "just" :-) Complex.

"Paljon onnea vaan" is of course from the "Happy Birthday" song, and literally means "A lot of luck/joy". Here, "vaan" really has no purpose at all, it definitely does not mean "only" or "just" or anything. When wishing somebody happy birthday using this, you just typically say "Paljon onnea!" (or, of course, "hyvää syntymäpäivää"). Eli en osaa sanoa miksi "vaan" on siinä, se nyt vaan on :-)

Another word that probably can be confusing is "kyllä", which also has certain uses aside from the typical "yes" where I probably couldn't explain why it's used. These are not very common, though.

Now the second question, to my great embarassment I must admit I don't really understand it... :-D What's the difference between the singular and plural forms? Do you mean as in what the singular forms of those pronouns are? "Jokainen" could be used as a singular form of "kaikki", for example "Kaikki halusivat" --> "Jokainen halusi". "Monet halusivat" --> "moni halusi", "muutamat halusivat" --> "muutama halusi". This is probably not what you were asking at all but yeah...

2 persons have voted this message useful



feanarosurion
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2509 days ago

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Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish, Norwegian

 
 Message 3 of 7
29 July 2010 at 1:48am | IP Logged 
OK, I think I understand the usage of "vaan" a bit better now. Thanks for your help! I see that sometimes it's very much for emphasis, like "just," but not quite to the dictionary definition there. I've definitely seen similar things with "kyllä," and I think I see how the two are related. I just need more practice I guess for it to sink in a little more. As far as the other one, I don't mean what the singular forms are of those pronouns, I'm just wondering what the difference is between the singular and plural forms of those pronouns. As in, what the difference in meaning would be between "moni" and "monet," or "muutama" and "muutamat." Sorry if I was confusing earlier. Either way, thanks for your help. I'll use this thread for any more Finnish questions I have, and I'll also open it up for anyone else to post Finnish questions if they want to.



Thatzright
Diglot
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Finland
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Studies: French, Swedish, German, Russian

 
 Message 4 of 7
01 August 2010 at 3:53pm | IP Logged 
There is actually no real difference between them. "Moni halusi" and "monet halusivat" are essentially the same thing, the same goes for "Muutama näki" and "muutamat näkivät", just to give a few examples. Hard to say which way is more common.



feanarosurion
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Canada
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish, Norwegian

 
 Message 5 of 7
30 August 2010 at 4:40am | IP Logged 
First of all, thanks for the reply, Thatzright, I hadn't checked this thread in a while. That helps me a lot, now I'm not worried about the different implications from the different usages. Thanks.

Secondly, I have another question. I'm wondering what the main difference is between the two past participles. I understand that they both denote something in which the action is finished, but the main difference between them seems to be much more subtle than I've been able to detect. On uusikielemme.fi, they say that the passive past participle "Denotes an action that is over, with no subject mentioned - either because it is not known, or because it isn't important." Likewise, they say that the active past participle either simply "Denotes an action that is over" or "Denotes a situation that started earlier and is still relevant." Those descriptions are rather vague, and the examples given aren't very helpful either. My main theory is that, in the case of the active participle, the noun that the participle modifies was doing the action, and in the case of the passive participle, the action was done to the noun it modifies. That would make relative sense to me, but I'm not sure, as in some cases, it seems like the two are interchangeable based on the current descriptions and explanations I've been able to find. Thanks for any help, I really appreciate it.



j0ma
Tetraglot
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 Message 6 of 7
01 September 2010 at 10:39pm | IP Logged 
Greetings,

Since there is no way to really standardize the spoken language/dialects of Finnish, I
will assume you are studying the written form, kirjakieli.

With that in mind, I think we should clarify the different usages of “vaan”:
• The actual standardized word “vaan” – which translates to the English “but      
(instead)”
       o    ;  ; E.g. “Ei punainen, vaan ruskea.” => “Not red, but brown.”
•The colloquial “vaan”, which in fact is a dialectical form of the word “vain”
(translates to the English “only/just”), and is found in many areas of Finland
       o    ;  ; E.g. “Tule tänne vaan.” -> “Just come here. (i.e. don’t be afraid)”

Some examples:
1.Standard “vaan”
a.“Hän ei tullut kouluun, vaan jäi kotiin.” -> ”He didn’t come to school but stayed at
home.” (corresponds to ”but” in English)
b.”En lue kirjaa, vaan kirjoitan blogiini.” -> ”I’m not reading a book but writing a
blog post”

2.Colloquial “vaan” (in reality “vain”)
a.Three cases:
      i.   &nbs p;&nbs p;“vaan” as “only”
                1.     “Luin vaan/vain yhden kirjan.” -> ”I only read one book.”
                2.     ”Kävin vain Saksassa.” -> ”I only visited Germany.”
     ii.”vaan” as ”just”
                1.     ”Hyppä� � kyytiin vaan/vain.” -> ”Just get in.” (don’t be
afraid)
                    -> in a way a filler word, used as encouragement
     iii.Ambiguous cases
                1.     “Ota vaan/vain se.”
                    -> two meanings: depending on the intonation either “Just take
it.”
                       or "Take only that."
                2.     “Sinä vain luet kaiket päivät.” -> ”You just read all day.” or
                   ”You only read all day.” -> difference small even in English

I hope this post helped in some way or gave some intuition on the different subtleties
of Finnish. I tried to present everything as systematically as possible, for clarity’s
sake.

Best,
Jonne Sälevä

Edited by j0ma on 05 September 2010 at 2:06pm

5 persons have voted this message useful



feanarosurion
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2509 days ago

217 posts - 99 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish, Norwegian

 
 Message 7 of 7
02 September 2010 at 2:34am | IP Logged 
Paljon kiitoksia, Jonne! That definitely clarifies the usage of "vaan" for me. And in terms of what I'm studying, I'm working with "kirjakieli" as you put it, but I'm also wanting to learn to talk as puhekieli. In other words, I don't want to sound like a foreigner who has learned everything by the book and sounds rather robotic. I know there's no true standardization, but there's some fairly good explanations of the Helsinki dialect that I'm using as a basic guide. Either way though, your clarification of "vaan" was definitely helpful. I'd mostly only come across the colloquial variety in movies (Rööperi in particular was where it stood out) but now it makes a lot more sense to me. Thanks very much! I really appreciate it.



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