The Savonian dialects (also called Savo Finnish) are forms of the Finnish language spoken in Savonia and other parts of Eastern Finland. It belongs to the eastern Finnish dialects and it is divided into more specific dialect groups.
Savonian dialects are the most widely distributed dialects of Finnish. They are spoken in the Savonia region (Northern and Southern), but also in North Karelia, parts of Päijät-Häme, Central Finland, Kainuu, Koillismaa district of Northern Ostrobothnia, the lake section between Southern and Central Ostrobothnia as far north as Evijärvi and in the municipalities of Pudasjärvi and the Southern part of Ranua in Lapland. Also the language spoken by forest settlers in Värmland and Norwegian Hedmark of Central Scandinavia belonged to the old Savonian dialects. The area of Savonian dialects makes up one third of the whole area of Finland.
The Savonian dialects are of different origin than Western Finnish dialects. Savonian dialects form a dialect continuum with other Eastern dialects of Finnish and the Karelian language, with whom they have common ancestry in the Proto-Karelian language spoken in the coast of Lake Ladoga in the Iron Age.
Although the Savonian dialects are spread over a large geographical area with significant variations, they are rather different from the standard language and are recognized as local dialects. There are large variations between different Savonian dialects, but a few of the most stereotypical features are:
Although standard and known elsewhere, the usage of verb compounds is particularly prevalent in Savo Finnish and a prolific source of creative expressions. The first verb is in the infinitive and indicates the action, and the second verb is declined and indicates the manner. For example, seistä toljotat "you stand there gawking" consists of words meaning "to-stand you-gawk".
Northern Savonian dialects are spoken in the municipalities of Hankasalmi (Eastern part), Haukivuori, Heinävesi, Iisalmi, Joroinen, Jäppilä, Kaavi, Kangaslampi, Karttula, Keitele, Kiuruvesi, Konnevesi, (Eastern part), Kuopio, Lapinlahti, Leppävirta, Maaninka, Muuruvesi (part of Juankoski since 1971), Nilsiä, Pieksämäki, Pielavesi, Pyhäsalmi, Rantasalmi, Rautalampi, Riistavesi (part of Kuopio since 1973), Siilinjärvi, Sonkajärvi, Suonenjoki, Säyneinen (part of Juankoski since 1971), Tervo, Tuusniemi, Varpaisjärvi, Varkaus, Vehmersalmi, Vesanto, Vieremä and Virtasalmi.
Middle dialects of Savonlinna area are spoken in the Eastern Savonia, the municipalities surrounding the city of Savonlinna between Southern Savonia and North Karelia: Enonkoski, Kerimäki, Punkaharju, Savonranta and Sääminki (part of Punkaharju and Savonlinna since 1973).
The dialect spoken in Enonkoski has many similarities with the dialects of Northern Savo, while the dialect spoken in the Southern parts of Punkaharju resembles South-Eastern dialects in many ways. The difference between dialects in Savonlinna district has its roots in the colonization history. The area of greater Kerimäki (which consisted Enonkoski, Punkaharju and Savonranta) was settled by Karelian people till the 16th century, but from the 14th century the Savonian has started to settle to the Eastern side of Lake Pihlajavesi and the coasts of Puruvesi.
The differences between natural and governmental borders goes together in many ways. In Enonkoski the dialect is more Savonian in the Northern side of Hanhivirta. The other reason to this is that the Northern villages of Enonkoski belonged to Heinävesi in the 19th century, while the Southern villages were part of Kerimäki. The Northern border of Puruvesi goes through Lake Puruvesi. So the old Karelian-based dialect features have kept in Punkaharju much better than in Kerimäki, which is located in the Northern side of Puruvesi.
Eastern Savonian dialects or the dialects of North Karelia are spoken in North Karelia in the municipalities of Eno, Ilomantsi, Joensuu, Juuka, Kesälahti, Kiihtelysvaara (now part of Joensuu), Kitee, Kontiolahti, Korpiselkä (now part of Russia, little part of Tohmajärvi since 1946), Outokumpu, Liperi, Nurmes, Pielisjärvi (part of Lieksa since 1973), Polvijärvi, Pyhäselkä, Pälkjärvi (now part of Russia, little part of Tohmajärvi since 1946), Rautavaara, Ruskeala (now part of Russia), Soanlahti, Tohmajärvi, Tuupovaara (now part of Joensuu) and Valtimo.
Dialects of Middle Finland are spoken in Hankasalmi (Western part), Karstula, Kinnula, Kivijärvi, Konginkangas (part of Äänekoski since 1993), Konnevesi (Western part), Kyyjärvi, Laukaa, Multia, Pihtipudas, Pylkönmäki, Saarijärvi, Sumiainen, Uurainen, Viitasaari and Äänekoski.
Päijät-Häme Savonian dialects are spoken in Joutsa, Jyväskylä, Jämsä, Korpilahti, Koskenpää (part of Jämsänkoski since 1969), Kuhmoinen, Leivonmäki, Luhanka, Muurame, Pertunmaa (Western part), Petäjävesi, Sysmä and Toivakka.
Middle dialects of Keuruu-Evijärvi are spoken in Alajärvi, Evijärvi, Keuruu, Lappajärvi, Lehtimäki, Pihlajavesi, Soini, Vimpeli and Ähtäri. This sub-dialect area is wedge shaped in the middle of Ostrobothnia, which has its own dialects and also Swedish-speaking population. This is the influence of Savonian slash-and-burn farmers who colonized the lake section in Southern Ostrobothnia in the 17th century.
The expansion of Savonian slash-and-burn agriculture, which started in the beginning of Modern era, expanded to Central Scandinavia. Mostly in the beginning of the 17th century Savonian settlers, mainly from the parish of Rautalampi, settled in Värmland, Sweden. In the beginning of the 19th century tens of thousands of people spoke the Savonian language as their mother tongue. These "Forest Finns" were an interesting group from a linguistic point of view because their language was kept safe from other influences. The practice of slash and burn agriculture was prohibited in Sweden in the middle of the 17th century and no new Finnish settlers moved to the area. The language of Forest Finns lacked the Schwa vowel and gemination, which are used now in the dialect spoken in Rautalampi. Nowadays the Savonian dialect of Värmland is extinct. The last Savonian speakers were Johannes Johansson-Oinonen (died in 1965) and Karl Persson (died 1969).
A system with tone bound to the second vowel of a prosodic word is found in Savo Finnish, where the second syllable nucleus has tone if the first syllable nucleus contains a single segment, [...]