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When I started to learn Esperanto, I remember that one said to me there are no exceptions and the words sound how they are written.
So I'm really surprised to see some words with double letters such as Pollando or Finnlando (I guess there are not the only words with double letters).

So, why those words have double letters? Is it not possible to write Polando or Finlando? Is it an exception (so it is in conflict with my first assertion)?

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These words don’t break the rule because they really are supposed to be pronounced differently by lingering on the consonant a little longer. Usually the double consonants come about because of two roots being combined, such as Pollando which is the lando of poloj. Finno on the other hand is one of the rare roots that contains a double consonant. If it was just written like fino there would likely be confusion with the word for “end”, so finlando could be a country at the end of the world or something.

Take a look at Forvo for the difference in pronunciation between fino and finnlando.

PMEG has a long description of this.

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Pollando is only a double letter due to a morpheme boundary: /pol-land-o/ ("Land of the Poles"). So one should probably pronounce the two /l/s as separate letters.

According to my (1977) copy of JC Wells' "Esperanto Dictionary", Finland is Finlando, so all normal there.

Update: The Finnlando issue seems to have been changed, ie it is indeed a double consonant. As Neil mentions in his answer, finn- is a double consonant root, because fin- was already taken. This is a general problem when (constructed) languages meet reality (ie names), that they often don't really fit into the phonological or morphological structure of a language. You can either sacrifice consistency (as in allowing a double consonant root), or you have to pick a different name (which then nobody will recognise as easily). It seems Esperanto has developed along the former line.

  • Hm, according to my copy of JC Wells’ dictionary Finland is Finnlando 🤔 – Neil Roberts Apr 23 '18 at 11:39
  • It's inconsistent: EO "Finlando" is "Finland", but EN "Finland" is "Finnlando"! – Oliver Mason Apr 23 '18 at 11:45
  • In my 2010 edition it isn’t inconsistent, it is Finnlando in both directions… – Neil Roberts Apr 23 '18 at 11:49
  • Mine is from 1977 ;) -- but yes, it makes sense to avoid the conflict with fin- – Oliver Mason Apr 23 '18 at 11:52
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    I’ve seen Suomio used as an alternative Esperanto name for Finland (from Finnish Suomi). Of course, few non-Finns would recognise the root. Then again, Esperantists somehow got used to Barato for India and Kimrio for Wales… – Bjørn Apr 23 '18 at 19:03

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