How many words to be considered "fluent" in Finnish?

I’ve been reading about word count for different languages and for English it’s about 15.000 and for Slavic languages a lot more from what I understand. How about Finnish? It has more inflections and different conjugations than any language that I’m aware of so it must be a lot of words! I’m at around 28.000 words right now but I would say I’m at around a B1 level. My goal is to hit 60.000 words but I might need more than that in Finnish to be really comfortable and understand pretty much everything. How many words would you guess one would need for Finnish?

Hey Christian, I think I might be able to help a bit because Korean, like Finnish is agglutinative and has more inflections than other languages I’ve seen. I’ve taken the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) practice tests (past ones) on my own, and I score around 65-75/100 on the reading and around 50-60/100 on the listening when I take it. Unfortunately, I can’t really check out the writing sections because I don’t know specifically how they would grade them. These tests supposedly correspond closely to the European framework, but the results that I have received would put me at a solid B2 in listening and closer to a C1 level in reading. I would imagine my writing score to be very low because I never do any formal writing, but I can communicate with friends over text without issues most of the time. If my word count is anything to go by, I’d assume that the known word count for a B2 level of communication would be quite high in Finnish as well. I don’t know how the number of Korean inflections compares to Finnish, but it seems much much higher than the number of inflections present in something like Japanese (very similar structures and language to Korean). Korean doesn’t inflect based on person (I’d imagine that Finish does?), but there are many many inflections for lowering or raising speech based on who is speaking and/or whom is being spoken to. Most of these don’t come up in 99% of everyday life, but they’re common in novels and tv programs (mostly historical ones and formal broadcasts). I am currently attending classes in Korea, and I can tell you that it is quite difficult to follow academic speech, and it’s certainly above me! For now… :stuck_out_tongue: Unfortunately, I still have lots of trouble with more simple novels as well. I am doing Harry Potter currently, and the number of unknown words is higher than what would be comfortable for me to read without LingQ/dictionary dependence. Also, I still find forms of words like “good” that I haven’t run into yet on Lingq… so maybe that speaks to the high number of inflections in the language? hahaha There are forms of words that I’ve probably heard, read, or used hundreds of times that I just haven’t run into yet on LingQ. I imagine at 60,000 you will feel very comfortable in Finnish or another agglutinative language, but you’ll still be able to improve tons! :smiley: Best of luck

1 Like

Hello Christian, I was actually looking for other people studying or tutoring Finnish. The reason being that my queries in Finnish tutor often go unanswered. So, either my questions are highly unusual or trivial, or there just are not any tutors around.

Do you know what the situation is for people learning and teaching Finnish?

Yeah I get it I don’t think there are that many people at LingQ learning Finnish. At least not yet!

I’m not sure actually! I haven’t paid much attention to the forums to be honest. But you can get some really good teachers at iTalki (that’s what I use) unless LingQ has their Finnish own teachers

Thanks for your thorough reply! Yeah in Finnish you conjugate every single verb depending on the person. Every word has hundreds of different ways to conjugate them so maybe 100.000 words would even be needed! But yeah, I’ll start with 60.000 and see how I feel then :slight_smile: I just enjoy reading a lot so I’ll just keep doing that. Korean sounds fun to learn! Always wanted to learn that language.

Yeah, I am not into speech yet, and italki is all about speech. I just hope the Finnish tutors will eventually get around to answering some of my queries.

With less than 2000 words (lingq’s count) a decent conversation is not feasible, so I focus on extending my passive vocabulary. As a swede you probably have more feeling with Finnish (isn’t Finnish one of the minor languages in Sweden?).

Gotcha. Yeah I think I started taking iTalki Finnish lessons after 3-4 months of LingQ. I find it quite different to speak and to read since the spoken language differs quite a bit from the written language. But LingQ definitely has helped with speaking since I understand so much more! But the choice to start speaking can happen at any time whether you choose to do it earlier or later. But when you do, don’t be frustrated if you feel it’s different. It takes some getting used to just speaking the language. They use different cases and conjugations and things are a bit simplified and shortened as well as word choices are different.

Finnish is not a minor language in Sweden and the languages are completely different so there’s not much of an advantage other than a few loan words here and there from Swedish and some similar expressions (not that many but there are some). Swedish is one of the official languages in Finland though but only about 5% speak Swedish there. How come you are learning Finnish? :slight_smile:

I want to live in Finland. The initial reason was cleaner air, but I have come to like the FInnish country and culture. It will still be about 2 and a half years (that is when I retire). By then I hope to speak Finnish understandably and also understand their Finnish.

You say Finnish is not a minor language in Sweden, but I remember reading that a small percentage of Swedes speak Finnish, and I also may have read about “acknowledging” the language. Will let you know if I find it.

EDIT: I found the youtube video that mentions Finnish in Sweden as a minority language called “Meänkieli”. It is in The Finnish Language - YouTube at around 4:15 or such. Not sure whether this was where I first heard of it. And I realize it may not be officially recognized in Sweden. Just fyi.