The Finnish Room at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning will reflect the Finnish heritage in all its aspects.
The Room will resemble a smoke house. Smoke houses represent a high-quality log construction technique found only in Finnish buildings, causing the inner wall structure and the log walls to remain stable over time--this technique will be demonstrated in the room. The beams at the ceiling and smoke hole draw attention to how smoke houses were heated.
The culture also included the kaskiviljely slash-and-burn technique of farming and an oral poetry tradition which was capable of preserving information and was used in trading and exchanging skills with other tribes. These are described in Kalevala plates on the wall of the Finnish Room, in which life on the land is portrayed and examples of the language are given in the rhyme under each plate, transcribed from the original spoken Finnish.
Picture: Kalevala plate, Kylväjä, sowing seeds
The Finnish Room is not only about the unique architectural technique of the Finnish houses, it is much more; it is about the Finnish culture as it existed and still is alive in Finland.. This rich culture is handed from one generation to another and is the heritage which we can be proud of.. The Finnish Room will demonstrate this heritage and show how it has come along and left its imprint in the new environment also.
The old Viking boat, which became well-known during the early Folk Festivals in Pittsburgh, was brought to the West Moreland Heritage Festival. Of course, all Scandinavians are now settled in their countries and are not sailing their dragon boats to new destinations.
The Finns also built boats. That was the way to travel along the rivers. Perhaps the Finnish boats did not have the dragon heads on the front scaring the river creatures out of their way. However, great boat builders existed. As it is told in Kalevala, Väinämöinen got the ‘manual’ for building a boat from the old Vipunen.
The Finnish Language that tells about the Vipunen and Väinämöinen, has been spoken for a long time in Finland, long before the historic time, when the written records were kept in Swedish. The Finnish became the official language of Finland during the autonomic time with Russia when also the written record translated into Finnish. Swedish remained as the language of a minority of Swedish Speaking Finns. It was also kept active in order to read old records and history.
The Finnish language uses characters which correspond to the sounds in the spoken words. Michael Agricola started translating the New Testament into written Finnish while he was studying in the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He characters which Gutenberg had in his printing press. They were used in printing European languages and Latin. The first ABC book published by Agricola also had these characters.
The spoken sounds in Finnish are very clear and it was quite easy to connect the characters with the sounds. It took a long time before the sounds used in Finnish words were matched with the right characters. However, at the time when Aleksis Kivi wrote his novel, "The Seven Brothers", the first novel written in Finnish, the characters were well assigned. His writing uses the same letters which through this development had become the Finnish alphabet. The language of the oral tradition, which had served in all forms of endeavors among the Finnish speaking people, is now in written form with the same 15 cases, 4 infinitive forms and other ways to form sentences to communicate in a manner so that even complicated matters and details are understood.
This so called "kirjakieli", book language is taught in schools and it is used everywhere where written language is needed. With its rich appearance it is well adopted anywhere where written papers or records are needed in addition of being a language used in literature of all kinds. There are 8 vowels and 14 consonants in the Finnish alphabet.