Over the past few years, the favorite blog subject of all language professionals has been the social media and its impact on the Finnish language. I can't help touching upon this subject either, and adding my piece to the debate.
Laura Niemi discussed this subject on the Kotus blog of the Institute for the Languages of Finland in her post “Oltiin Jarkkon kanssa #lätkämatsi:ssa”, pondering whether the ways of writing used in social media will obscure people's understanding of how Finnish words should be inflected. In Facebook, tagging one's friends leads to the inflectional ending being added directly to the name in the basic form, e.g. Riikkan, Samppan (should be: Riikan, Sampan). Twitter's hashtags, used for identifying particular subjects, furthermore break the inflection rules: “#Siivouspäivä:än osallistui satoja kaupunkilaisia.” (Should be: siivouspäivään.) In another post, Niemi addressed the omission of punctuation, such as full stops, commas and the exclamation mark in social media language. These are examples of how the technical limitations of social media are forcing the Finnish language into a new form.
The Finnish language is enriched by the fact that the standard language, spoken language – and now, the language of social media – greatly differ from each other.
Personally, I think that the Finnish language has, in fact, been rather creatively and successfully adapted to systems originally designed to work in English. As long as expressions such as Jarkkot and the use of hashtags remain in the domain of the social media, there should be no problem. However, if they should begin to creep into school essays, advertisement texts and official reports, we would be walking on thin ice in the mind of someone who appreciates good Finnish.
In the social media, I find most irritating the way new fad expressions spread like wildfire: “Maija kävi kera lasten retkellä – ihan parhautta!” The Finnish language is enriched by the fact that the standard language, spoken language – and now, the language of social media – greatly differ from each other. Let's continue to keep them separated and preserve the varied ways to express ourselves in Finnish!
Do you want to make sure that the text you produce is error-free and clear? Have your text checked by a language expert to ensure that it is in publishable condition. Contact us and our experts will help you find the right solution for your needs.