Thursday, 10 March 2011

Language Oddity #3: To Have Or Have Not

French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon claimed “property is theft” (“la propriété, c'est le vol!”). It seems the Finns agree, as they have no property. In fact they have nothing, because there is no such verb as “to have” in Finnish!

Yep, unbelievably the Finnish language is missing one of the most fundamental verbs known to man and woman!

Instead, and with typical twisted Finnish logic, the idea of “having” is constructed by combining the verb “to be” in the 3rd person of the singular with the adessive, one of the 15 cases of the Finnish language. Still following?

So, if Finns want to express that “a living thing has”, they say “on the living thing, there is”.  So for example:

Kissalla on viikset – The cat has whiskers (literally: on the cat is [sic] whiskers)
Sinulla on koira – You have a dog (literally: on you is a dog)
Pekalla on auto – Pekka has a car (literally: on Pekka is a car - poor Pekka!)

In other words, Finns don't have property, it comes onto them. Proudhon would probably have approved.

Still, it's odd, very odd.

Note: This is just part of the story... Check out the update!

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