Jayeless.net

Link: “Witty title-less post about the Finnish formal pronoun”

Original post found at: https://allthingslinguistic.com/post/672039778180579328

The finnish language has the pronouns hän, which is she/he, and se, which is “it”. In official written finnish, hän is the pronoun used of people and people alone, and se is of animals and inanimate objects. But this is where it gets funny. Written finnish is different from all dialects of spoken finnish - no spoken form of finnish naturally uses the pronoun hän in normal conversation. The entire human pronoun was introduced to the finnish language artificially, as the men who translated the bible to it felt it was ungodly to not at least have a distinct pronoun for beings with an immortal soul.

However, the attempts to introduce the new pronoun soon ended up somewhere along the lines of “ok fine, you can call each other whatever, but the king and God are Hän (and please show up to church sober)”, so the whole pronoun more or less ended up as a linguistic equivalent of those fancy plates your grandparents have in a glass cabinet for Extremely Special Guests, and nobody is actually fancy enough to require such formality.

(The post does go on; it’s all very good!)

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.