Thursday, 24 February 2011

That's Not My Name!

A headline in the Helsingin Sanomat last weekend was:

Halonen: “Pidän Obamasta”
[Finnish President] Halonen: “I like Obama”

There's something bizarre about this in my opinion...

No, I don't mean Halonen's feelings for Obama – I am sure he is a very likable chap. I mean the way Obama's name has been extended with the elative case ending “-sta” (from/of). 

Did anyone ask Obama whether he minded his name being extended?

Maybe I am weird, but I think names are a very personal thing. I generally don't like people fiddling with my surname and I find it disturbing that Finns can do that with impunity.

My name is no more Miekalta (from Miekka) or Miekalle (to Miekka), than it is Miekkadude or Miekkacool(1). Imagine, if your surname is Roger, in some circumstances you would become Rogerista, which sounds like a splinter group of the Nicaraguan liberation front. That's just wrong!

Admittedly, names do get extended in English also, e.g. Freudian or Thatcherism. But that's different, because a) these are new words not the person's name per se, and b) because it implies the people concerned have done something of note, which I suppose is flattering for the most part (well, err, Stalinism?).

So just as the Japanese treat business cards as they would the person, I think the Finns should treat people's names with more respect: I call on them to stop appending letters straight onto them!

In the spirit of compromise, and to prove I am not an unreasonable person, I propose that henceforth cases be “coloned” onto names the same way as they are already onto acronyms, e.g. DNA:sta or NASA:lle → Obama:sta or Miekka:lle.

I wonder if my proposal will take off...

(1) OK, my name is not really Miekka either, but hopefully my point clear


  1. He he're funny and I LOVE reading the blog. Keep writing! :-D Btw, I'm an Indo living in Lapland. Coming to visit your blog through the link that Heather posted in FB.

  2. Colon is exactly where you should stick that proposition. Don't use the language if you don't like it.