My Library Thinks Finnish is a Germanic Language

I tweeted this photo yesterday but it irritates me so much that I decided to put it on the blog too.

My local library puts Finnish in the Other Germanic Languages section.

I could let it slide if they organized the languages by geography instead of linguistic families, but they don’t since they use the Dewey Decimal System. Besides French and English, they have labeled sections for German, Other Germanic Languages, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, and Other Languages.

If you know the Dewey Decimal System, 439 is reserved for Other Germanic Languages, but Uralic languages don’t have their own section so they should be put in 499, or Miscellaneous Languages. At least my library got Hungarian and Estonian right…

Calling Finnish a Germanic language is one of my major pet peeves. It’s right up there with calling Finland a Scandinavian country. Only Norway, Sweden and Denmark are Scandinavian countries – if you want to include Finland or Iceland, the term is Nordic.

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  • Vin

    If one was to call a Finn Scandinavian, I’m pretty sure it’d be like calling an Irish person a Brit

  • Jaap

    Is Denmark really a Scandinavian country? It’s certainly not on the peninsula called Scandinavia.

  • Cynthia

    Well my library doesn’t even know about the Dewey Decimal system, they have some really weird way to organise their books!

  • guest

    Well, the misconception is probably not helped that the “Scandinavian tourists boards of North America” have information for all of the nordic countries without distinction.

  • Zhu

    I always have a look at how books are organized in hostels for book exchange. It’s funny that French is apparently often mistaken for Spanish, and Japanese/Chinese/Korean seem to be one single language, even though really, the writing couldn’t be more different. Love these misconceptions!

  • Jennie Wagner

    I can understand grouping languages by geography for people who are traveling to those areas. I mean, it may be more convenient to do it that way in some cases. I just hate when people have no clue about language families and think that geographical proximity means linguistic similarities.

  • Jennie Wagner

    Yes! I hate when Americans misuse Scandinavian!!

  • Jennie Wagner

    Really? That’s so odd!

  • Samantha

    Really? I live in Finland for about 6 months and a lot of people there refer to themselves as Scandinavian, I was never corrected when referring to Finland as Scandinavia either… who told you that you Finland isn’t a part of Scandinavia? :) Although maybe I just got away with it for 6 months and never realised! I will have to go ask my Finnish friends now :)

Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.


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