Finns - Subdivisions

Subdivisions

See also: Finnish language#Dialects

Finns are traditionally assumed to originate from two different populations speaking different dialects of Proto-Finnic (kantasuomi). Thus, a division into West Finnish and East Finnish is made. Further, there are subgroups, traditionally called heimo, according to dialects and local culture. Although ostensibly based on late Iron Age settlement patterns, the heimos have been constructed according to dialect during the rise of nationalism in the 19th century.

  • Western
    • Häme: Tavastians or Häme people (hämäläiset)
    • Ostrobothnia: Ostrobothnians (pohjalaiset)
      • Southern Ostrobothnians (eteläpohjalaiset) have a particularly distinct identity and dialect
      • Central Ostrobothnians (keskipohjalaiset)
      • Northern Ostrobothnians (pohjoispohjalaiset)
        • Norrbotten, Sweden: speakers of Meänkieli, a Far Northern dialect of Finnish
    • Southwestern Finland: varsinaissuomalaiset
  • Eastern
    • Ingria: Ingrian Finns (inkerinsuomalaiset)
    • Karelia: Karelian Finns (karjalaiset); Karelian dialects of Finnish are distinct from the Karelian language spoken in Russia, and most of Northern Karelia actually speak Savonian dialects
    • Savo: Savonian people (savolaiset), speak the Savo dialect
  • Emigrants
    • Forest Finns (Metsäsuomalaiset) of Sweden
    • Finnish immigrants to Sweden (ruotsinsuomalaiset)
    • Kvens (kveenit) of Finnmark, Norway
    • Other emigrant Finns (ulkosuomalaiset)
  • Swedish-speakers also have several dialectal subdivisions.

The historical provinces of Finland and Sweden can be seen to approximate some of these divisions. The regions of Finland, another remnant of a past governing system, can be seen to reflect a further manifestation of a local identity.

Today's (urbanized) Finns are not usually aware of the concept of 'heimo' nor do they typically identify with one, although the use of dialects has experienced a recent revival. Urbanized Finns do not necessarily know a particular dialect and tend to use standard Finnish or city slang but they may switch to a dialect when visiting their native area.

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