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Fennicization or Finnicization (Fennicisation/Finnicisation) is the changing of one's personal names from other languages (usually Swedish) into Finnish. During the era of National Romanticism in Finland, many people, especially Fennomans, fennicized their previously Swedish family names.

A set of graves in Tampere, showing the Swedish surname ‘Kyander’ as well as the Fennicized ‘Kiianmies’.

Many of these people were descended from Finnish-speaking farmers, who had previously changed their Finnish names to Swedish ones after climbing society's ladder. This was an understandable stratagem, as official positions (and even many trades) were only open to those speaking Swedish, and a Finnish name would have been an impediment to success.

In the 18th century, Finnish recruits serving in the Swedish army were given short Swedish surnames such as Törn, Malm and Brun. This was because Swedish officers found Finnish names difficult to pronounce. Some of these names were later fennicized to Törni, Malmi etc.

A notable event in fennicization was the centenary, in 1906, of the birth of the philosopher and statesman Johan Vilhelm Snellman. Author Johannes Linnankoski encouraged Finns to give up their Swedish names on the 12th of May, Snellman's birthday. During 1906 and 1907 about 70 000 Finns changed their names.[1]

Notable finnicized names


  1. ^ Kotimaisten kielten tutkimuskeskus :: Snellmanin 100-vuotispäivä ja sukunimien suomalaistaminen


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