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Special Features of the Finnish Language
Finnish is spoken by approximately five million people, mostly in Finland but also in the United States and Sweden. The Finnish language belongs to the Finno-Ugrian group of languages, which is spoken in a region that extends from Norway into Siberia and the Carpathian Mountains. This language group also includes the Hungarian and Estonian languages.
The Finnish language, like many languages, has been greatly influenced by other cultures over a long period of time and is still in the process of evolution. Until recently, it was thought that ancestors of the modern Finnish people arrived approximately two thousand years ago from the East; however, current theories indicate that Finland has been populated since the last Ice Age; some 9,000 years ago!
The Finnish language appears to be rooted in the distant past. Standard Finnish, however, is quite new, the written language having been established only in the 1500s. Modern Standard Finnish arrived in the 19th century, as the result of a strong nationalist movement. With the independence of Finland in 1917 came the realization that Finland was a nation with two languages: Finnish and Swedish. The country is now considered to be bilingual.
Finnish (suomi) is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland (92%) and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. It is also an official language in Finland and an official minority language in Sweden in the form of standard Finnish as well as Meänkieli.
The first written form of Finnish was created by Mikael Agricola, a Finnish bishop in the 16th century. He based his orthography on Swedish, German, and Latin. Later the written form was revised by many people.
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