Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The main features of the Finnish alphabet that make it different from other Latin-based alphabets are:
- The three extra vowel letters, "Å", "Ä" and "Ö", shared with the Swedish alphabet. "Å" is used only in Swedish names of persons and places, but "Ä" and "Ö" are inherent also in Finnish. Unlike the similar looking (and sounding) German umlauts, they are considered letters in their own right and thus alphabetized differently.
- For purposes of alphabetization, "W" is the obsolete equivalent to "V" ("W" is retained in some old Finnish names from the time when it was used instead of "V"). In a Finnish phone book, the following names would be arranged in this alphabetical order: Vaaja, Wellamo, Virtanen.
- "Š" and "Ž" might be seen in transcriptions and a few loanwords from other languages: "Tšaikovski (Tchaikovsky), Gorbatšov (Gorbachev), Tšetšenia (Chechnya), Tšekki (Czech), Azerbaidžan (Azerbaijan), Brežnev (Breshnev), daža, šekki (cheque), pašša". When arranging words alphabetically, these characters are considered equivalent to "S" and "Z", respectively. In less careful typography, they are often replaced with "SH" and "ZH", but this contrasts with the recommended usage and may sometimes cause confusion.
Lesser used letters:
- "B", "C", "F" and "Z" are used only in loanwords. Z is always pronounced identically to TS.
- "G" occurs frequently in combination with "N" (to mark the "ng" sound), but otherwise only in loanwords.
- "Q" (replaced by "K") and "X" (replaced by "KS") are not found in Finnish words. They occur in Swedish (or foreign) names, though.
Accent marks are never added to letters in Finnish words, but "é" occurs in Swedish proper names. (Also "à", a French word, is quite commonly used to indicate pieces per something or cost per piece, though it's often confused with "á".) Generally, diacritic marks and exclusive (Latin-based) characters are retained in foreign names, if possible, but when arranging words alphabetically, diacritic marks are usually ignored. A few foreign characters or glyphs may need closer scrutiny:
- "Œ" is alphabetized as "OE".
- "Æ" may sometimes be replaced with "Ä", but when retained, "Æ" is alphabetized as "AE", not as "Ä".
- "Ø" may sometimes be replaced with "Ö", but even if it is retained, these two letters are considered equivalent to each other.
- "Õ" and "Ő" are alphabetized as "Ö", not as "O".
- "Ü" and "Ű" are alphabetized as "Y", not as "U".
- "ß" is alphabetized as (and usually replaced with) "ss".
- "Ð" is alphabetized as (and usually replaced with) "D".
- "Þ" is alphabetized as (and usually replaced with) "TH".
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