We celebrate The Day of the Finnish Language (Suomen Kielen Päivä) on the 9th of April. It is interesting to know that the Finnish language was only spoken during the Middle Ages, and official written Finnish language did not exist until it was created by Mikael Agricola, who was a bishop in the 16th century. Mikael Agricola is known as the father of written Finnish language, who produced the first comprehensive writing system for Finnish.
Another Flag Day
Before talking about the Finnish-Language-Day, let's first talk a little bit about what the flag-days are, and what it means.
There are official and national flag days marked and nominated in the Finnish calendar; these are the days in which the flag is flown. Flying the flag is by law performed from the public buildings on the official flag days. There are also other dates for which the flag is suggested to be raised like the official ones; these dates are also listed and written in the Finnish State Calendar.
Usually, the Ministry of the Interior also recommends other occasions to be the flag-day, which are not marked on the calendar. There are also occasions during the year when the Sámi people and the Åland Islands (Ahvenanmaa) have their flying flag dates. For more information, visit Flag Days 2020.
It is an excellent and gracious way to highlight and differentiate an occasion with respect and honor, to celebrate and to communicate or manifest grief.
History & Developments
As for other languages, also Finnish has evolved during history. According to Wikipedia, the first known written example of Finnish is found in a german travel journal dating back to c.1450. The Finnish language was only spoken when Finland was under Swedish rule during the Middle Ages, which means that Finnish speakers used their mother tongue only in everyday life, but not in any official situation.
Mikael Agricola and Elias Lönnrot both performed an essential and significant contribution to the development and improvement of the Finnish language. However, Mikael Agricola is recognized as the father of literary Finnish, and he translated books into Finnish. And Elias Lönnrot (1802–1884) compiled Kalevala (the Finnish national epic) and had an enormous impact on the progress of modern vocabulary in Finnish. The Day of the Finnish Language honors both of them.
There is much discussion by expert linguists about external influences on the Finnish language in modern times. Some such as Riitta Eronen believe that Finnish must adopt new words from other cultures in order NOT to stay isolated, and grow in the globalized world. It is evident that throughout history, some words have been taken from different sources and languages such as English as a dominant language nowadays, or Asian words such as a tsunami. There are also loan words borrowed from other languages, which they are then often modified and made easier to pronounce, such as "bank" to pankki. There are also invented words Finn-glish, such as kompuutteri instead of tietokone (knowledge-machine).
According to Eronen, the language is not formed by them in the Language Office to the New Modern Finnish Dictionary officially, but this is made by people who are creatively using the language.
However, linguistic integration is for sure naturally existing, and a modest opinion is to try to use the original authentic words and keep the language 'pure' when it is possible.
"Sauna" is undoubted, the most known Finnish word, and has made its way to the world. Perhaps we all agree to enjoy a nice hot sauna today in the Finnish-Language-Day and celebrate it.
Written by: Mehri Riviere