Quantifying loanwords: A study of borrowability in the Finnish lexicon


Summary, in English

The current study set out to investigate patterns of loanwords in a sample of 1,460 lexical meanings in the Finnish lexicon by means of quantitative methods. The methodology used was borrowed from the Loanword Typology project (Haspelmath & Tadmor 2009a), and consisted of a template including various fields, where information about each lexical item was coded. The fields included measures such as Borrowed status, Age and Donor language, and the data was collected from etymological dictionaries. The values coded for the lexical meanings were analysed to answer the research questions, which had to do with e.g. loanword patterns in relation to semantic domains, immediate donor languages and loanword age. The loanword patterns found in Finnish were also compared to the cross-linguistic averages found by the Loanword Typology project. It was found that, in general, Finnish is a fairly typical language from a loanword typological point of view. It was also corroborated that the overwhelming majority of loanwords in Finnish come from Indo-European, especially from Germanic languages. Support was also found for correlations between loanword age and donor language branch, in that the loanwords from different language branches layered themselves timewise. Although the findings of this study are largely in line with the previous research on loanwords in Finnish, the most important contribution of this thesis is the restructuring of the previous research into a format which makes it comparable to corresponding data in a relatively large sample of languages cross-linguistically.


  • Languages and Literatures


  • loanwords
  • Finnish
  • Uralic languages
  • language contact
  • borrowing


  • Gerd Carling
  • Niklas Johansson