swims in

The living fish swims in water

"The living fish swims in water" is the approximate English language translation of a complete sentence, which, in the three most widely-spoken Finno-Ugric languages of Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian, is recognizable as being of common origin, and traceable to the common ancestor of the three languages. The Estonian philologist Mall Hellam, who discovered the sentence, has even claimed mutual intelligibility. The fact that only one such sentence is known highlights the divergence between the Balto-Finnic languages and Ugric languages.

Sentence and commentary

The sentence reads:

Although the common origin is easy to notice, the sentence is not actually mutually intelligible: a University of Pennsylvania scholar has reported that Finns don't understand the Hungarian sentence and Hungarians don't understand the Finnish. Nevertheless, each word is traceable to Proto-Finno-Ugric, not a more recent loanword.


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