Why “naisia” instead of the template word “naisten” (women)?

I made a SPC update (decentralized procedure) including some sentences in section 4.6, Fertility, pregnancy and lactation (Hedelmällisyys, raskaus ja imetys). Some of the phrases must be taken directly from  Appendix I, “Pregnancy and Lactation” (Raskaus ja imetys). There was a phrase  “Women of childbearing potential should be advised to avoid becoming pregnant during treatment“. I had translated it as follows: “Naisia, jotka voivat tulla raskaaksi, on neuvottava välttämään raskaaksi tulemista hoidon aikana.” ( the parts that can be taken directly from Appendix I are in italics here).

After delivery, I got a question from the translation agency:  Why did I write “naisia” and not “naisten” as in the template. Was there a grammatical reason for that?

Yes, the reason is grammatical. Finnish nouns can have hundreds or thousands different forms. The reason for this change is the change of the verb structure in the sentence.

The template phrase ( Pregnancy, [3], third phrase) is as follows (only relevant parts copied here):

  • Women of childbearing potential have to use effective contraception during treatment.
  • Naisten, jotka voivat tulla raskaaksi, on käytettävä tehokasta ehkäisyä hoidon aikana.

In Finnish, the verb structure “have to use” (on käytettävä) requires a different case form in the preceding noun than the verb structure “should be advised to avoid” (on neuvottava välttämään).

The plural basic (nominative) form of “nainen” (woman) is “naiset” (women).  Case endings are used in Finnish to replace the preposions of the Indo-European languages (at, on, in, with, from, for, etc). So, the plural form of “women” can be anything of the following: naiset (nominative), naisten/naisien (genitive, two alternative forms are possible), naisia (partitive), naisina (essive), naisiksi (translative), naisissa (inessive), naisista (elative), naisiin (illative), naisilla (adessive), naisilta (ablative), naisille (allative). In addition, there are three other cases but I list them here as they are of minor importance (practically not used with the word “woman”). And there is one more case that is common, accusative, but it always looks like either a) nominative, b) partitive, so there is no separate form for it.

And this was only the plural. The corresponding singular forms for the word “nainen” (nominative for a woman) are nainen, naisen, naista, naisena, naiseksi, naisessa, naisesta, naiseen, naisella, naiselta, naiselle. When comparing these with the plural forms, one can see that the plural marker in Finnish often is the letter in the middle of the word. The plural marker in the nominative is, however, -t in the end of the word.

Besides, many other endings can be attached to nouns to give further meanings to the word.  E. g.  “also” (-kin) can be added as follows: (singular) nainenkin (also a woman), naisenkin (genitive, also of a woman), naistakin, naisenakin, naiseksikin, naisessakin, naisestakin, naiseenkin, naisellakin, naiseltakin, naisellekin. The corresponding plurals are naisetkin, naistenkin/naisienkin, naisiakin, naisinakin, naisiksikin, naisissakin, naisistakin, naisiinkin, naisillakin, naisiltakin, naisillekin.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s