What would Quenya look like if Finnish had been extinct? What would it look like if Tolkien had never learnt Finnish at first place? But why did he learn it anyway?
Are you curious? I am! Read below and find out the reasons you need to be thankful for Finland culture, people, government and language.
To begin with, Finnish was considered a minor, peasant language. Swedish was the high culture and administration language since Middle Ages and this eventually led to a process called Finland’s language strife. Everything began with the Finnish War in 1808-9 when Sweden ceded Finland to Russia, making it an autonomous grand duchy within the Russian Empire.
Initially, Swedish retained its status, but over the years, nationalism arose and there was a movement to establish Finnish as the national language. Kalevala (the epic poem of Elias Lönnrot) boosted the Finnish national identity and intensified the language strife.
“Swedes we are no longer, Russians we do not want to become, let us therefore become Finns!” – Adolf Ivar Arwidsson
To make history shorter: Finland became a country, Finnish became their national language and if it weren’t by their government, their people who fought to preserve their language, Swedish would be the only official language of Finland.
This guy on the left would have never learned Finnish in order to read the Kalevala. Maybe, there wouldn’t be a Kalevala written in Finnish to read after all. Most certainly, Tolkien would not base his prime language in Finnish and this guy on the right, (as well as many other people) possibly would not admire Quenya beauty as intensely as he does. He probably would be taking a nap right now, instead of researching and writing this article.
So…..in behalf of both guys here and everyone else who is reading:
Kiitos, Suomi! (Thank you, Finland!)
Your language and your disposition towards it made us all very very….alassëa!
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