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Funny Finnish words part II and all-round struggles with the language

September 14, 2012

Okay here’s a list…

  • rikki – sulphur, broken
  • kurkku – throat, cucumber
  • kuusi – spruce, six
  • anna – woman’s name, give
  • satu – woman’s name, story
  • tullitulituuli (one letter makes a difference in the meaning of these words)

Words I will never be able to spell in their conjugations and in the right context – yrittää (try), kaikki (all), luottaa (trust), lyödä (hit), löydä (find)… and a bazillion others. Depending on the case you have to leave letters out. Sometimes it just frankly feels impossible.

<slap to the forehead>

What is also difficult is remembering the sound difference between y and ö in Finnish. I still remember my Finnish teacher, Sirkka, in Kirkkonummi having to overemphasize the sounds of the two letters and using them in words so we could understand.

I still have major problems with pronouns – so I just use joka for almost everything

I learned a new word awhile back and this is for all you hockey fans out there: Ylämummo – the upper corners of a hockey net. So when someone has scored “ylämummo” they have stuffed the puck up high, in the netting behind the crossbar.

Making new words stick in my aging brain is still a problem and my vocabulary of verbs is really puny. I use a dictionary a lot. I still get by though – I even managed to take care of a customer issue with my bank through its chat system recently. I’ve even managed a few doctor’s appointments in Finnish, but that is probably because my first vocabulary collection was health and human anatomy.

I am aware I have an accent when I speak. I had someone ask if I was Estonian one time, but I have also had some older Finns peg me down as an English speaker – and from North America at that. It really baffles my mind how they could figure that out from my foreign sounding accent! Then again, if you’ve been around Finns long enough and run into a Finn speaking English in some obscure area of the world, then your experienced ear will certainly pick it out.

But the nicest thing about Finnish is being somewhere where people don’t understand the language and you and your companions can banter away without a care in the world… Ha ha ha! Okay, it’s rude I know, but sometimes necessary eh! 😉

How’s your Finnish?

Have a nice weekend! Hyvää viikonloppua!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Martti K. permalink
    September 14, 2012 1:19 pm

    So yrittää (try) is something what an entrepreneur does.
    Then we a lots of sayings as well like
    Täältä pesee
    Meillä on millä mällätä
    Meillä on tämä reilu meininki
    Täällä on tekemisen meininki
    Maksetaan potut pottuina

  2. Martti K. permalink
    September 14, 2012 1:22 pm

    When we are about to start something it is time to ryhtyä rupeemaan
    If you are experienced you can say muutakin on kierretty kuin tahkoa
    If you are not too smart then your pää on tuohesta
    Some people have so much money in they vallet that 0n tuohta (niin ettei p—-lle taivu)

  3. September 18, 2012 8:20 pm

    Did you know any Finnish when you first moved to Finland? I have always wanted to learn, but it’s hard to find the resources to begin. I picked up a few things from my Mumma but after she and my Aunt passed, the language is pretty much absent in my family anymore. My Dad knows a little, but not enough to keep a conversation.

    • September 21, 2012 6:49 am

      No, not really. Even though I have Finnish roots, I wasn’t exposed to Finnish as a child. I took a 10x course once a week at the Suomi Koulu in Sudbury, Ontario in the months before I made my first visit here. Then I took a course every winter for the first few years I lived here. Do you live in a big city? There might be a Suomi Koulu there?

      I can offer up a few links that might help. I had someone ask the same question since she is planning to come here to play SM-Liiga ringette next season. Apparently you can get some good stuff on Amazon. But, I’ll get back to you.

    • September 21, 2012 7:29 am

      Alright, here’s the scoop: – this site is all in Finnish, but if you open it with Google Chrome, you can get a (mostly bad) translation of the contents. Oppi materiaalit is Learning materials in Finnish. This is a pretty advanced site, so you might find this hard to start with – but you can listen to the language being spoken, so that might be helpful. – this is a good one too. It says, “Valitse luettelosta aihe. Aiheen alta löytyy materiaalia ja tehtäviä aiheeseen. Materiaalin voit myös tulostaa itsellesi.” Chose a subject from the contents. Under each topic find materials and exercises to do. You can also print these materials for yourself. This might help.

      Selko Suomi is “easy Finnish” – made easier for learners of the language. So you can google that and see what you come up with.

      Here’s the Selko keskus:

      Here’s a selko news site: One good way to learn the language is read the news from Finland in English and then find the same stories in Finnish. I do that a lot.

      News sites: and they also have an easy Finnish site: and here is one I read every day too:

      The absolute number one tip I can give you about the Finnish language is that you pronounce everything you see. There are no silent letters or weird dipthongs in Finnish, so it’s already easy! You might not understand what you’re saying – but at least you can say it! 😀 Finnish is also full of compound words. There is no gender (he and she in Finnish is “hän”, it is “se”). There are also no articles (a, an, the).

      I always tell beginners to start with the alphabet.

      You can check if there is anything on YouTube for learning Finnish – I haven’t checked, but there may be stuff there.

  4. September 23, 2012 6:10 am

    Thanks so much, that helps out a lot! I hope to visit Finland sometime, I’m actually hoping to make the trip as part of a retirement gift to myself. I love your blog, keep up the great work.

    • September 24, 2012 7:50 am

      You’re welcome! I hope you get to make that dream come true someday! And thanks – the plug of support means a lot! 🙂

  5. Martti K. permalink
    October 16, 2012 10:24 pm

    Translation for puheripuli? – anybody

    • Petri permalink
      February 24, 2013 1:08 am

      Puheripuli would likely be translated as ‘speaking spree’ or ‘someone who can’t stop talking!’
      Though my favourite Finnish phrase is still this rather dirty 90’s F1-drivers related school yard joke “Oliver Panis, Jos Verstappen antais”, however explaining the joke to someone who doesn’t understand Finnish …


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