Finnish belongs to the Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric family of languages.
Its closest relative is Estonian; Hungarian is a distant cousin.
It is spoken by approximately 5.2 million people, mostly in Finland, and by some in Sweden and Russia as well.
There are three varieties of standard Finnish which are spoken throughout the country:
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kirjakieli ("book language") - used in official documents, official speeches and the daily news,
yleiskieli - the standard language used in schools and taught in this course; it is formal and correct, though more relaxed than the "book language," and
puhekieli ("spoken language") - more casual variety used in everyday conversation, which changes frequently.
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