Characteristics of the Finnish language in AX Semantics

Fundamentals

Finnish has no genders for nouns. It distinguishes between animate and inanimate, which only plays a role for personal pronouns. There are two numbers: singular and plural. Additionally, Finnish has fifteen cases for nouns.

grammatical namevaluesexamples
animacy (pronoun)animatehän
(he/she)
inanimatese
(it)
numbersingularyksi vanha auto
(one old car)
pluralviisi vanhaa autoa
(five old cars)
cases (noun)nominativetalo
(house)
accusativeMaalaan talon.
(I paint the house.)
genitivetalon väri
(house's color)
partitiveMaalaan taloa.
(I'm painting the house.[part/incomplete object])
essivekäyttää leiriä talona
(use the camp as the house)
translativeMuutan sen taloksi.
(I'll turn it into a house.)
adessiveNähdään talolla!
(See you at the house!)
ablativeKävelin talolta toiselle.
(I walked from the house to another.)
allativeKoska saavut talolle?
(When will you be arriving to the house?)
illativetaloon
(to the house)
elativetalosta
(from the house)
inessiveAsun talossa.
(I live in the house.)
abessiveOn vaikeaa elää talotta.
(It's difficult to live without a house.)
instructivetalon kanssa
(with the house)
comitativetaloineen
(with their house(s))
[comitative case is always followed by a possessive suffix (e.g., "en" in this example)]
adjectives (noun)before nounpunainen omena
(red apple)
verb tensespresenthän ostaa
(he buys)
pasthän osti
(he bought)

The standard order of a noun phrase in Finnish is the following: preposition + determiner + numeral + adjective + noun.

See for example:

ilman    näitä  kolmea  suosittua  laulajaa
without  these  three   popular    singer[sg,part]
PREP     DET    NUM     ADJ        NOUN
"without these three popular singers"

Lexicon

Nouns

Finnish nouns are inflected for number and case. Lexicon entries for nouns may also be necessary for inflecting determiners, adjectives and pronouns correctly. They are omitted, if a lexicon entry is required, but missing.

Examples

The basic lexicon entry for talo (house) contains:

  • inflection table for case and number:
SingularPlural
Nominativetalotalot
Genitivetalontalojen
Accusativetalotalot
Partitivetaloataloja
Essivetalonataloina
Translativetaloksitaloiksi
Adessivetalollataloilla
Ablativetaloltataloilta
Allativetalolletaloille
Illativetaloontaloihin
Elativetalostataloista
Inessivetalossataloissa
Abessivetalottataloitta
Instructive-taloin
Comitative-taloine

note

If you need lexicon entries for countries, write to the support about that and you will get them for Finnish with automatic handling of prepositions.

Adjectives

In the lexicon, the inflection table encodes case and number. For adjective position, the default is "before noun".

Verbs

Finnish verbs inflect for person, number and tense. The most common verbs are encoded in our software. If a verb inflects incorrectly, you should add it to the lexicon.

There is no need to use verb containers for passive and negative forms because they do not inflect. Therefore, they can be included in the plain text. Take lukea(to read)for example, lue is its negative present form , and luetaan is its passive present form. Both will not inflect while changing number, person, or tense.

Container settings

Numerals

The noun will automatically agree with the numeral number when a numeral variable is used. Four types of numerals are possible on the AX NLG platform: cardinal, cardinal as digit, ordinal, and ordinal as digit.

As the example below shows, cardinal numerals other than 1 require the partitive case in the singular number for the following noun (e.g., päivää).

cardinalordinal
textyhdeksän päivää
(nine days)
yhdeksäs päivä
(the ninth day)
digit9 päivää
(9 days)
9. päivä
(the 9th day)

If the numeral is not in nominative case, the numeral and the noun agree in case, but notice that they are still in singular number:

kahdella [ade sg] autolla [ade sg]
(by two cars)

If determiners are included in the numeral phrase, they are plural:

nämä [nom pl] kaksi [nom pl] autoa [par sg]
(these two cars)
näillä [ade pl] kahdella [ade pl] autolla [ade sg]
(by these two cars)

For Finnish, both cardinal and ordinal numerals are written out until 12, otherwise (above 12) the output is in digit form. Take cardinal numerals for example:

kaksitoista autoa
(twelve cars)
13 autoa
(13 cars)

Determiner

The AX NLG platform supports the following determiners for Finnish: demonstrative, distal, proximal, possessive, and quantifier (every). Besides, possessive determiners require possessive suffixes that are added to the noun after the case ending, for example:

laukku
(bag)
tämä laukku
(this bag)
[hänen] laukkunsa
(his bag)

Prepositions

Finnish prepositions normally require the noun to be in the partitive case, for example, ilman (without), ennen (before), etc.

käsi [nominative]
(hand)
ilman kättä [partitive]
(without hand)

Finnish uses both pre- and postpositions, though often what is elsewhere expressed by a preposition is expressed by case. In Finnish containers only prepositions can be set, postpositions have to be put after the container as plain text.

Case Switch

On the AX NLG platform, in the following example the case setting in the container for Australia is elative and for Pariisi it is illative:

He matkustivat Australiasta Pariisiin.
(They traveled from Australia to Paris.)

A case switch happens for some countries like Malta, for which not the elative case but the ablative is needed. See for example:

He matkustivat Maltalta Pariisiin.
(They traveled from Malta to Paris.)

Such case switches are saved in the lexicon for the countries that need them. This means that in the container for both Australia and Malta we have set the elative case and if the input is Malta, the inflected form automatically switches to ablative, if the corresponding lexicon entry exists.

Vowel harmony

The AX platform applies vowel harmonies automatically. Vowel harmony means that many inflection suffixes have different variants, that are used depending on what kind of vowels a word contains. For Finnish this means that a word doesn't combine back vowels (u, o, a) with front vowels (y, ö, ä) and vice versa. The rest (i, e) are considered neutral.

Therefore if a letter with an umlaut is in the word, the suffix will also take an umlaut. For example, the noun lemma pöly needs to take the suffix -sta in the elative case. Since pöly contains the umlaut ö, the suffix -sta will automatically change into stä.

pöly (dust) -> pölystä (about dust)

Consonant gradation

The AX platform applies consonant gradation automatically. This involves that consonants alternate between a strong grade (e.g. kk/pp/mb/…) in some inflection forms of a word and a weak grade (e.g. k/p/mm/…) in others. It can only take place at the border between the last and the one-but-last syllable.

The following example shows a consonant gradation from pp to p:

lippu (flag, nom sg) -> liput (flags, nom pl)