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Speaking while inhaling – what is that?

Speaking while inhaling

Have you ever heard someone speaking while they are breathing in? If not, listen to the following recording. The latter part of the sentence is spoken while inhaling. That’s called ingressive speech.

audio transcript
Oletko koskaan kuullut, kun joku puhuu ja hengittää sisään?

What is ingressive speech?

Usually speech is produced egressively. It means air flows out through your mouth and nose when you speak. In ingressive speech, air flows in. Hear the difference:

audio Egressive speech Ingressive speech
Ei. Ei.
Joo. Joo.
Just. Just.
Kyllä. Kyllä.
Niinpä. Niinpä.

Where can you hear it?

Ingressive speech is used in many languages, including Faroese, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish among others. In Finnish it’s not very common but not rare either. You may hear ingressive speech when, for example, giving a brief answer just as yes and no.

audio Egressive speech Ingressive speech
Mitä sä teet tänään? – En mitään.
Mennäänkö elokuviin? – Joo, mennään vaan.
Onkohan elokuvateatteri auki? – En minä tiiä.

Sometimes you may even hear longer stretches of ingressive speech. The air is out but the talk continues – you don’t need to stop to breathe.

audio transcript
Meidän piti mennä elokuviin, mut ei me sit mentykään ku elokuvateatteri oli kiinni.
Elokuvateatteri oli kiinni ni me sit mentii kahville ja istuttiin siellä pari tuntii.

Now you have experienced ingressive speech, why not give it a try and talk without taking a time out!

For a comprehensive strategy to learn Finnish, read more here.

Writer of the blog post:


Riikka Valkjärvi
Finnish language specialist
riikka.valkjarvi
@mediconnection.fi