The image of Finnish on English-language infotainment websites and YouTube

Maciej Rataj


Foreigners tend to know rather little about the Finnish language: to many of them Finnish is an exotic and overly complicated system which seems to have nothing in common with languages such as English. Nowadays, in order to find data people turn to the Internet, which functions both as a source of reliable, academically-oriented information and as a vehicle for subjective expressions of stereotypes and linguistic myths; it is also worth pointing out that a considerable percentage of such content is written in English. The body of the paper begins with a brief description of the connections between Finnish and English and the reasons why English speakers may regard Finnish as peculiar, i.e. the major disparities between the two languages. The main aim of the paper is to analyse four web articles and six YouTube videos dealing with Finland and Finnish which are informal in tone and unconnected to scholarly journals or university websites. All of these sources are meant to be informative, hence videos with parodies of Finns or humorous ‘language challenges’ have been omitted. It emerges that the sources analysed can be divided quite neatly into less formal list-based articles and videos where facts, opinions and myths blend together, and more formal language documentaries which present selected aspects of Finnish linguistics for the non-linguist viewer. As a result, there appear two rather different images of Finnish: one of an exotic, extremely complex language, and the other of an interesting language which may differ from English but is worth studying and exploring.
Author Maciej Rataj (FL / IEAS)
Maciej Rataj,,
- Institute of English and American Studies
Other language title versions
Publication size in sheets0.3
Book Wojan Katarzyna (eds.): Obszary fennistyki: język, kultura, naród: tom wydany z okazji 100-lecia niepodległości Finlandii, Studia Północnoeuropejskie, no. 6, 2019, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdańskiego, ISBN 978-83-7865-829-0, 346 p.
Keywords in Englishlanguage stereotypes, the Internet, popular science, infotainment
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)20
Score sourcepublisherList
ScoreMinisterial score = 20.0, 05-02-2020, MonographChapterAuthor
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