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Boundary Gemination – Loppukahdennus – Advanced Finnish

Take a look at these forms: Menep pois! Otav vaan! Tulet tänne! These are examples of phrases that contain boundary gemination or “end doubling” (loppukahdennus). This is an advanced phonological phenomenon in Finnish.

If you’re studying Finnish on your own, with regular course books or at a language course, you’re not likely to come across this topic. There are some grammar books that do include it, for example Jukka K. Korpela in Handbook of Finnish, but it’s rare.

Table of Contents
  1. What is boundary gemination?
  2. Forms with boundary gemination
    1. The imperative
    2. The infinitive of verbs
    3. Negative verb forms
    4. The basic form of words ending in –e
    5. The allative case (mille)
    6. The possessive suffix -nsa/nsä
    7. Certain types of adverbs
    8. The comitative case
    9. The TU-participle
    10. The NUT-participle
  3. Why does this happen?
  4. Is this important for language learners?
  5. Glottal stops
  6. Multiple occurances in a phrase

1. What is boundary gemination?

The English term “boundary gemination” is pretty obscure. Boundary gemination (rajageminaatio) is a phenomenon where consonant sounds are doubled when they appear at the border of two words. This isn’t even close to being a perfect or exhaustive definition. For that, you will have to read this whole article!

This is a phonological (spoken language) feature and won’t be visible in written Finnish. In Finnish, we can also call this phenomenon either loppukahdennus “end doubling” or alkukahdennus “beginning doubling”, which are easier to understand than the term “boundary gemination”.

For example, the imperative form Anna! “Give!” will be subject to this phenomenon as follows, with the words between square brackets [ ] the spoken pronunciation.

  • Anna mulle! [Annam mulle!] “Give (it) to me”
  • Anna se mulle! [Annas se mulle!] ” Give it to me”
  • Anna tuo mulle! [Annat tuo mulle!] “Give that to me”

Linguists will (if needed) mark potential “end doubling” (loppukahdennus) with either an x or a ‘. So, if you’re looking at advanced grammar books, the word huone can be marked as either huonex or huone’. The x is supposed to be in superscript, but wordpress won’t allow for that.

Note that you will only hear this when the speaker doesn’t take a break between saying both words. If they’re talking really slow or pausing between two words, there will be no doubling. Take for example, the sentence “Mene sinne kohta!” (Go there soon). In spoken Finnish, this will sound more like “menes sinnek kohta“, with the first consonant of each word doubled. If the speaker speaks really slowly, there will be none of these doubled sounds.

2. Forms with boundary gemination

This doubling of consonants (loppukahdennus) happens with certain types of words and in certain types of conjugations or inflections. It’s definitely not used between all words! Below, I’m listing the cases in which you will be able to hear this in Finnish.

2.1. The imperative

The singular imperative verb forms will cause the consonant of the next word to be doubled.

Written Pronunciation
Tule tänne! Tulet tänne!
Anna mulle! Annam mulle!
Mene pois! Menep pois!

2.2. The infinitive of verbs

The infinitive of verbs will also be followed by duplication.

Written Pronunciation
Haluan ostaa koiran. Haluan ostaak koiran.
Nyt täytyy lähteä pois. Nyt täytyy lähteäp pois.
En voi vastata siihen. En voi vastatas siihen.
Saanko imuroida maton? Saanko imuroidam maton?

2.3. Negative verb forms

Negative verb forms will also have boundary gemination in the present tense (#1), imperative (#2) and passive forms (#3). This excludes the imperfect and the conditional completely.

# Written Pronunciation
1 En mene sinne. En menes sinne.
2 Älä ota kuvaa! Älä otak kuvaa!
2 Älkää menkö kotiin! Älkää menkök kotiin!
3 Ei voida jatkaa. Ei voidaj jatkaa.
3 Ei osteta sitä. Ei ostetas sitä.

2.4. The basic form of words ending in -e

Most words that end in -e will have the next sound doubled. This will take place at the end of these words on the border with the next word, but also when the word is part of a compound word.

Written Pronunciation
Vene hajosi. Veneh hajosi.
Sade jatkui pitkään. Sadej jatkui pitkään.
Viime viikolla satoi lunta. Viimev viikolla satoi lunta.
Hernekeitto on kuumaa. Hernekkeitto on kuumaa.
Homesieni kasvaa nopeasti. Homessieni kasvaa nopeasti.
Tervetuloa!
Tervettuloa!

This rule does exclude some words ending in –e, such as pelle, nukke, nalle, Kalle, Ville, psyyke. These words don’t get boundary gemination at all. Often they are clear loanwords (eg. lasagne, latte, genre) or people’s names (eg. Aarne, Anne, Joanne).

You can also recognise these words by their genetive. Instead of the normal -ee- before the genetive –n, these words will just get one –e-. Compare for example huone : huoneen vs. pelle : pellen.

2.5. The allative case (mille)

The allative case‘s ending –lle will also create boundary gemination.

Written Pronunciation
Kerron lapsille sadun. Kerron lapsilles sadun.
Se oli meille tarkoitettu. Se oli meillet tarkoitettu.
Mennään merelle kalaan! Mennään merellek kalaan!
Allekirjoitus tänne, kiitos. Allekkirjoitus tänne, kiitos.

2.6. The possessive suffix -nsa/nsä

The third person posessive suffix -nsA will also get the consonant behind it doubled.

Written Pronunciation
Hän tuli äitinsä kanssa. Hän tuli äitinsäk kanssa.
Hän käveli isänsä takana. Hän käveli isänsät takana.
Hän kampasi siskonsa hiukset. Hän kampasi siskonsah hiukset.

2.7. Certain types of adverbs

The following groups of adverbs:

  • -sti: hyvästi, selkeästi, varmasti
  • -nne: sinne, tänne, tuonne
  • -tse: maitse, sähköpostitse (prolative)
  • -lti: pitkälti, paljolti, viljalti, laajalti, niukalti, paksulti
  • -i: alasti, huoleti, ääneti, vaiti, saati, alati, iäti
Written Pronunciation
Se tekee varmasti hyvää. Se tekee varmastih hyvää.
Se oli kauniisti sanottu! Se oli kauniistis sanottu!
Menen sinne kohta. Menen sinnek kohta.
Sovitaan puhelimitse sitten. Sovitaan puhelimitses sitten.
Hän sai viljalti kehuja. Hän sai viljaltik kehuja.
Siirrytään ääneti muualle. Siirrytään äänetim muualle.

Not all adverbs ending in –i will get “end doubling” (loppukahdennus). For example, läpi, halki, ilmi, irti and poikki don’t follow the above pattern; they don’t get doubling.

Sometimes, not all sources agree on whether some of these words get doubling or not. For example, Suomen kielen perussanakirja claims that no adverbs ending in –lti are subject to boundary gemination.This is in contrast with Nykysuomen sanakirja, which says they do get doubling.

The words listed above are all clear cases everyone seems to agree about. Below, you can find a lot of words ending in –i organized by whether they generally do or don’t get boundary gemination.

Generally yes Generally no
alasti, huoleti, ääneti, vaiti, saati, alati, iäti, kiinni, asti, kaiketi, läpi, halki, ilmi, irti, poikki, irti, heti, rikki, tuiki, yli, puhki, ratki, ohi, liki, julki, kohti, het, eli

2.8. The Comitative Case

When you’re using the comitative case without a posessive suffix, many sources say there is also boundary gemination there.

Written Pronunciation
Hän tuli molempine poikineen. Hän tuli molempinep poikineen.
Hän saapui kauniine vaimoineen. Hän saapui kauniinev vaimoineen.
Pärjääkö hän omine nokkineen? Pärjääkö hän ominen nokkineen?

2.9. The TU-participle

Historically, the TU-participle did not get doubling at all. However, research has proven that in current Finnish, it often does get doubling.

Written Pronunciation
Ollaan saatu ruokaa. Ollaan saatur ruokaa.
Näin ei voitu jatkaa. Näin ei voituj jatkaa.
Milloin on päätetty tästä? Milloin on päätettyt tästä?

2.10. The NUT-participle

The NUT-participle hasn’t been the subject of boundary gemination either historically. However, in spoken language, the –t at the end often doesn’t get pronounced (tullut > tullu). The resulting form will reportedly get the next consonant doubled in current Finnish.

Written Pronunciation
Tuolla makaa kuollut mies. Tuolla makaa kuollum mies.
Olen jo ottanut suihkun. Olen jo ottanus suihkun.
En tullut kokoukseen. En tulluk kokoukseen.

3. Why does this happen?

The reason for boundary gemination is burried deep into the history of the Finnish language. However, we can use the NUT-participle as a more recent example that demonstrates the same development.

The NUT-participle normally doesn’t have this doubling of sounds at the end of it. However, in current spoken Finnish, it’s very common to drop the final -t. The disappearance of this –t is a trigger for the next consonant to be doubled. Something very similar has happened in the history of the Finnish language.

Linguists have been able to trace back the original forms of many cases and tenses to their earlier forms. This has shown that most of the forms above have lost their final letter over time, just like the NUT-participle. For example, the negative present tense would in ancient Finnish have has a –k at the end of it. This –k disappeared over time, and this caused boundary gemination to occur.

Here are some of the changes that have likely occured to cause this for the forms above:

  • The -lle form has been theorized to originally have ended in –len.
  • The –nsa form has been theorized to originally have been –nsak.
  • The infinitive of verbs would originally have ended in –k.
  • Words ending in –e would originally have ended in –h or –k.

4. Is this important for language learners?

No, not really. I mean, it will help you sound like a Finn, but this is a really tiny spoken language phenomenon which – while widespread – doesn’t really impact anything. Some dialects don’t even have consonant doubling at all! It’s also unlikely that a regular Finn with no linguistic background will even be aware of this phenomenon, and they’re unlikely to have heard of the term loppukahdennus.

If you’re studying Finnish as a university and doing advanced courses, this will be taught to you. As a “regular” language learner, it might be worth your time to pick some common words or phrases that have this phenomenon and practice saying them the “right” way. I would suggest for example “hernekkeitto” and “menep pois” to be two such cases.

Loppukahdennus “end doubling” actually helps notice the difference between certain forms that look similar otherwise. For example, the form antaa could be both the infinitive of the verb “to give”, or the third person singular hän antaa “he gives”. However, the infinitive of the verb will have boundary gemination while the third person singular does not. As such, we will hear:

  • Hän antaa sen sulle. – Third person singular form, so -s- doesn’t get doubled. “She gives it to you”
  • Haluan antaas sen sulle. – Infinitive form, so -s- gets doubled. “I want to give it to you”

The same is true for the name Anna and the imperative form Anna!

  • Anna mulle valittaa. – Name, so –m– doesn’t get doubled. “Anna complains to me”
  • Annam mun valittaa! – Imperative, so –m– gets doubled. “Let me complain!”

5. Glottal stops

Up to this point of the article, I’ve limited myself to examples where we’re dealing with a doubled consonant. However, it’s important to realize that this phenomenon can also occur with vowels!

For example, Anna tänne will be pronounced as Annat tänne because anna is the imperative form of antaa. When we follow anna up with a noun or verb that starts with a vowel, we get a different situation: the vowel doesn’t get doubled but we get a glottal stop: Annaʔ ʔolla.

You can hear glottal stops in English as well, though you won’t write them either. Take for example the phrase “uh ʔoh”. You have a glottal stop there between the two words when you say it out loud. British English also often has glottal stops where other English dialects have -t-, such as the word button (buʔ ʔon).

6. Multiple occurances in a phrase

I have picked my examples above carefully in order to not have more than one occurance of loppukahdennus in one phrase. However, a sentence can have many of these in a row, if we have multiple words in a row that are subject to it.

  • Anna lapsille varovasti hernekeittoa!
  • Annal lapsillev varovastih hernekkeittoa!
    anna = imperative
    lapsille = allative
    varovasti = adverb –sti
    herne = word ending in –e

 

  • Liisa ei halua mennä mökille siskonsa kanssa.
  • Liisa ei haluam mennäm mökilles siskonsak kanssa.
    halua = negative verb
    mennä = infinitive
    mökille = allative
    siskonsa = –nsa

Read more elsewhere

So that’s it for this phenomenon with many names in Finnish: rajageminaatio, loppukahdennus, alkukahdennus, and rajakahdennus. I hope this was an interesting topic!

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