The Gulf of Mongolia

Alex Ross, the author of The Rest Is Noise and the musical critic of The New Yorker, wrote in his 2007 article on Jean Sibelius:

Finns are strangers to the European family. Descendants of an errant Mongolian tribe, they speak a language unrelated to the Indo-European linguistic group.

“Descendants of an errant Mongolian tribe”? I imagine it was a widespread belief, especially among Swedes and Russians, during Sibelius’ formative years, but one does not expect to encounter it in an otherwise serious and well-researched article in 2007. Whether Finns are “strangers to the European family” is a matter of judgment but their descent from Mongols is a poorly founded conjecture from the 18th or 19th century that refuses to die.

One comment

  1. Also, even if the language may have originated with the Mongols it does not necessarily follow that the people do.

    Anyway, the most important thing to note is that all Scandinavians, and also Russians, are in agreement that Finns are “f*cking weird”.

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