Finnish is known to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn and with words like peruspalveluliikelaitoskuntayhtymä (“a public utility of a municipal federation for provision of basic services”) in the mix, it’s easy to see why. An agglutinative language, Finnish is famous for its long compound nouns which are basically big long words made from of lots of little words stuck together.
Combine this compounding method with a colorful culture and a sense of humor and you’re left with a ton of Finnish words with literal meanings that are sure to make you giggle.
Read on for 7 Finnish words that’ll make your day bright.
The English expression ‘I’m broke’ is an informal way of suggesting that the financial push and pull of the world has broken you in some way and probably relates back to the Italian custom of breaking the bench of money-lenders who were out of coins. The Finns however, prefer the adjective ‘persaukinen’ which literally means to be ‘open in the ass’. Charming.
The Finns don’t use a “computer”… they have a “knowledge machine” (Tietokone)
This sounds suspiciously like something my grandmother would say. The Finns don’t just use a derivative of the word ‘computer’ as in some languages, they have their very own word ‘tietokone’ which translates literally as ‘knowledge machine’. Too cute.
The Finns have their own version of the mythical creature we know as a Dragon. Rather than a giant winged reptile, Finnish fairytales refer to a Lohikäärme which means ‘salmon snake’. Not only would a salmon snake have no wings it would also have no claws or arms or legs and as a result would not be scary in the slightest.
In Finland Santa Claus is known as ‘Christmas Goat’. In the Finnish pagan tradition, Joulupukki refers to a man who turned into a goat on Christmas Eve and visited Finnish children in their homes. The Coca-cola Santa Claus has mostly taken over in Finland these days but the original Joulupukki can still be seen in some small villages on the 24th December.
‘God does not play dice’ – Albert Einstein.
Yes, Albert, but does he play ‘lottery cube’? A strangely naïve and endearing way of referring to dice, the Finnish play the lottery every time they roll. Despite the negative connotations of a ‘lottery cube’ (ie: having a slim chance of winning), the Finns are active gamblers with an estimated 8 in 10 adults gambling every week.
Pizza gone cold? No worries, just put it in the popty-ping for 30 seconds. Every time you say this word out loud you make the world a funnier place to be so add it to your vocabulary right now. I definitely am.
In Finnish the word Juoksennella means ‘to run around’ but the way this word has been compounded has changed its meaning so that it has become this fabulously nonsensical question. Juoksentelisinkohan? Yeah, why not. Just watch out for traffic.