FINNISH IS A COOL LANGUAGE
When Finns speak, everybody listens
- it's just that nobody else understands
by Bill Farmer (Knight-Ridder newspapers)
The Finnish language is quite unusual compared to most other languages.
Here are Yuliya's first impressions of the language and our country:
Finnish is not the easiest language to learn but it is not impossible either. If you plan to live and work in Finland you need to be prepared to learn at least the basics. You will manage with just English language quite well but the more you know Finnish, the better you can adapt to Finnish society, know what is going on around you and feel at home here.
Josefina: Learning the Finnish language
Finnish really is a cool language - here are five fun facts to prove it!
Finnish doesn’t have gender-specific personal pronouns, just hän meaning both he and she – a good example of equality and keeping things simple.
There are more letters than in the English alphabet – after z we keep going with three more letters: Å, Ä and Ö
Each letter corresponds with one sound no matter to which letter it follows or where in the word it is. There are no silent vowels so you always know how a word is pronounced – just say what you see and keep the emphasis always on the first syllable.
There’s no future tense in the Finnish language which makes it easy to seize the day, to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. At least in theory.
The very basics of the Finnish language with Heidi and Eric
You can get started with basics of the Finnish language by watching the video below. Listen and repeat!
Finnish words, phrases, numbers, and signs you might see. (click to reveal)
Basic words and phrases, by Heidi and Eric
|opetellaan suomea||let’s learn some Finnish|
|hyvää huomenta||good morning|
|hyvää päivää||good afternoon|
|hyvää iltaa||good evening|
|hyvää yötä||good night|
|Nähdään huomenna!||See you tomorrow!|
|Hauskaa päivänjatkoa!||Have a nice day!|
|Hyvää viikonloppua!||Have a nice weekend!|
|joo||yes (slang, but very common in spoken Finnish)|
|ole hyvä||you're welcome|
|eipä kestä||don’t mention it|
|Mikä sinun nimesi on?||What's your name?|
|Nimeni on Heidi.||My name is Eric.|
|Minä olen Heidi.||I’m Eric.|
|Hauska tutustua.||Nice to meet you.|
|Minä rakastan sinua.||I love you.|
|Mitä kuuluu?||How are you?|
|Hyvää, kiitos.||Fine, thanks.|
|Ihan hyvää, kiitos.||I’m alright.|
|Entä sinulle?||How about you?|
|ei se mitään||no problem|
|Puhutko englantia?||Do you speak English?|
|Puhutko suomea?||Do you speak Finnish?|
|En puhu suomea.||I don't speak Finnish.|
|Puhun vähän suomea.||I speak a little Finnish.|
|Voisitko puhua hitaammin?||Could you speak more slowly?|
|Voisitko kirjoittaa sen?||Could you write it down, please?|
|Voisitko toistaa, kiitos?||Could you please repeat that?|
|En ymmärrä.||I don't understand.|
|En tiedä.||I don't know.|
numerot / numbers
Signs you might see
|epäkunnossa||out of order|
|tupakointi kielletty||no smoking|
|ei sisäänkäyntiä||no entry|
Unique Finnish words
Sisu is a word which describes the Finnish spirit. It means that you finish what you start, you don’t quit in the middle of a job, and you don’t whine. It means to be stubborn, determined and sometimes stupidly brave, an expression used to describe the national character of a Finn. It means we will relentlessly keep trying, no matter what, if we really believe there is something worth achieving in the end.
Kaamos (officially translated as “polar nights”) is the period of time between November and February when the sun sets totally for three months above the Arctic Circle. There aren't that many hours of daylight anywhere else in Finland either. Even if some Finns would rather hibernate through this time of the year like bears, this is a very busy season for travel and tourism industry in Lapland.
The steam you get in sauna when you throw water on the sauna stove is called löyly. It is an essential part of sauna experience.
Vihta (word used in western Finland) or vasta (word used in eastern Finland) is a birch whisk with leaves used for whipping oneself or each other in a sauna. It is a lot more relaxing than it sounds. Birch leaves release essential oils that can heal inflammations and clean the skin, while whipping also enhances your blood circulation.
After kaamos when days get a bit longer, the sun melts the top of the snow just enough to make it hard - so hard that you can actually walk on it without falling in! That is called hankiainen.
Surprisingly well-known — and loved — outside Finnish borders, kalsarikänni literally means to get drunk at home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out.
When visiting someone’s house, you may want to bring something for the host: ground coffee, baked goods, flowers or candy for the kids. That little something is called tuliainen. It can also refer to a souvenir.
Talkoot means volunteering to do something for the common good. For example, most of the housing complexes hold pihatalkoot twice a year to clean up the common outdoor areas. All residents are invited to volunteer to help.
What do Finns mean when they say..?
When Finns are in a very bad mood, they are like “a bear shot in the ass”
When someone is in a great hurry, Finns say one “runs using a head as a third leg”
When Finns think someone is a bit crazy, they say “one hasn’t all the Moomins in the valley”
When someone looks extremely happy, Finns say “one smiles like the sun in Naantali”. Naantali is a small town in south-western coast of Finland.
When something “vanished into thin air,” Finns say it “disappeared like a fart in the Sahara"