Freitag, 11. Mai 2012

The Travelogue, Part XXXVI - A Finnish Dictionary

The Finnish Maiden

When you live in a foreign country and both you and the inhabitants are forced to communicate in an alien language, misunderstandings abound. This is of course equally true in Finland, where the English word used might reflect something entirely different than you would normally assume. To prevent you from falling into some of the many pitfalls if you ever venture here, I have collated some of the more common words so you know the subtle differences in meaning between Finland and the rest of the world.

My Finns - I know some of you won't respond kindly to this, so just see it as a test of humour. :)


Finland and surroundings

"An American, a Russian and a Finn watch their neighbour drive by in his new sports car. The American shouts: 'Awesome car dude, you're really doing well for yourself!'. The Russian mutters between his teeth: 'Man, I'd really like a car like this.' The Finn quietly thinks to himself: 'I hate the fucker. Who does he think he is? I hope he just crashes and dies.'"

- common Finnish joke 

Finland: The glorious maiden-shaped Duchy of Finland who achieved independence from Russia and Sweden, won the Winter War despite inferior forces, home of Nokia and Mika Haekinnen and best country to live in (apart from during winter). Not "The little country up there where Sweden is."
Helsinki: ->capital
Russia: neighbouring country that lusts for Finland's rich natural resources and innumerable work force. Built all pretty buildings in Helsinki and now apparently wants them back.
Sweden: Imperialist neighbour hated for 800 years of cultural hegemony and forcing Finns to learn Swedish in school.
Stockholm: town you sleep in to cure the hangover of the cruise from -> Finland before you head back the next day 
Swede - snob, arrogant prick, or faggot
Swedish Finn - half-snob, half-prick or half-gay
Thailand: hot place you go to meet other Finns on summer vacation when it's hot in Finland anyway
Tampere: Wannabe ->capital
Turku: Former ->capital for people who haven't made it to Helsinki yet
Jyväskylä: Hillbillie town meets star architect
Lappland: where Santa lives, in his own amusement park for Japanese people.
Karelia: stretch of land in lost to ->Russia that Finland needs back to solve its overpopulation problem


Finnish Independence Monument

"Depression in Finland is a bit like the Football world cup in Germany - everyone does their best to excite everyone to join in."  

Holidays - Government-alloted amount of workdays including Saturdays you have accumulated from April to April at a rate of 2 days per month to be spend recreationally during the summer period in Finland instead of in winter when you would most want to leave.
Lottery - what you won when you are born and live in Finland. Kids learn this in school.
Fashion: what was hip in Sweden long enough ago that no one thinks you're Swedish
World War II: entertainment category between the "Comedy" and "Horror" shelves in the video rental store
Red light: an impregnable barrier that keeps you from crossing the road despite lack of cars
Lunch: late breakfast (~ 11:00)
Suicide: usually includes wife and kids
Army: first and last line of defense against ->Russia. Also only official certifier of your worth as Finnish man.
Complaining: Finns are allowed to complain about everything. Foreigners are limited to the following: weather, cold, taxes, Alko closing times, Swedes, darkness. Complaining about anything else will be considered ungrateful and impolite.
Hobby: diversion from ->depression
Sport: preferred ->hobby, as it is healthy, cheap and requires little talking to other people

Tradition and Culture 

Students in their uniform on Vappu

"Leuka rintaan ja kohti uusia pettymyksiä."
(Chin down and towards new dissapointments.)

- Finnish saying

Design Capital 2012: ->Helsinki
Aalto - one of the two designers, famous for the Aalto Vase
Maija Isola - the other of the two designers, created the famous Marimekko flower print
Alko: national liquor store with monoploy. Opens when you're at work and closes before you get home. Used to be called "Oy Alkoholiliike", but similarity to "Oi, Alcoholic!" caused a re-branding.
Vappu (May Day): excuse to get drunk (wearing a university overall)
Johanus (Midsummer): excuse to get drunk (around a bonfire)
Joulu (Christmas): excuse to get drunk (next to a fir tree)
Itkuvirsi: folk music, literally meaning crying psalm
Spring: season created through Finnish force of will by wearing shorter clothing despite nature's lack of thermic compliance
Summer - the greatest thing about Finland and the only reason why Finnish people make it through the winter
Vittu: meaning pussy, roughly equals the use of fuck!/fucking in English. Uses include "Haista Vittu!" - Fuck off (lit. "Go smell pussy") or "Voi Vittu!" - Oh shit (lit. "Butter pussy!").
Jallu(vina): the devil in glasses
Salmiakki: the devils younger equally evil sister
Lonkero: alcopops on tab
Mökki: countryside hut where Finns traditionally go in summer to greet the newborn mosquitoes

Social Interaction 

"Kellä onni on, se onnen kätkeköön." 
 (Let the one possessed by happiness conceal his happiness.)

- Finnish saying

Compliment: elsewhere: an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration which might or might not be sincere. Finland: a sincere expression of sexual interest by insincere means
Troll (m./f.): what Finns become under the influence of too much alcohol. It's like full moon for werewolves.
Trollsex: what you will be getting when you take a -> Troll home after a night out.
Staying overnight: Social fauxpas that will make the bed's owner assume you either are too drunk to walk home or that you desire a relationship.
Smalltalk: talking about anything else than your most immediate needs. Anything concerning topics above tier 2 on the Maslow's Pyramid is small talk.
Silence: socially perfectly acceptable answer to any asked ->question
Extrovert: talks to friends of friends without introduction
Question: sign of lack of self-reliance and perseverance in solving your own problems
Fuss: what you are causing when addressing a problem
Bragging: what a Finnish professor in francophone literature does when he claims he "picked up a little French along the way."

More Commonly Confused Words

2012 Presidential election poster

"How to turn a death sentence into lifelong imprisonment: ask to learn Finnish for your last wish." 

- Finnish joke

Pop: metal
Fridge: closet that keeps food warm in winter
Spice: Salt 
Affair: impending marriage
Sociable: slutty just without the sex part
sarcasm: a lie or insult in the assumption that either will automatically include wit and humour.
dating: laborious American way of getting laid
Tango: Polka
Capital: over-sized village
Flirting: free drinks
Shy: socially inept 
Doing well: being hated
Ice Hockey: football