We call the country of the Finns Finland, but they call it Suomi. What's curious here is that neither of those words has a certain origin- both of their etymologies are obscure. The Fin- part of Finland apparently derives from the Old Norse appellation finnr, with an older meaning of something like "dwarf", but that's all we know about that. As for suomi, it's been theorized to come from Proto-Balto-Slavic zeme, meaning "ground", but that's uncertain, since Finnish is a Uralic language. Another possible explanation brings it back to Proto-Indo-European dheghom, or "earth", but this is a mere reconstruction and it's probable that never existed as a word at all. As word origins in European languages go, both of these are suspiciously lacking in substance. The gist of it all is that the origins of the Finns escapes us, in both their language and ours. Does this indicate that Finland doesn't actually exist? It's up to YOU to decide.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd