Sunday, 18 September 2011
“To make a Finnish word”, Noah explained, “all you have to do is take the English word and add the letter ‘i’ if it’s not already there, like bulevardi or esplanadi!”
Really? Let’s see: banaani, halli, kioski, posti, maili, metri, musiikki, traktori, salaatti, hotelli, komposti, kuppi, tomaatti, siideri, kulttuuri, bussi, blogi, taksi, elefantti, leopardi, gaselli, simpanssi, spagetti, makaroni, ravioli, tortellini (OK, I'm getting a bit carried away here)...
Actually, there does seem to be some truth in Noah’s remark.
Of course, it doesn’t always work: portti is not a port (it’s a gate), joki is not a joke (it’s a river) and kaveri is not a caver (it’s a friend). Even the former Finnish ski-jumper, singer, stripper and occasional philosopher, Matti Nykänen got it wrong when he famously declared: “elämä on laiffii” (“life is life” – using the i-trick to coin a word that exists neither in English nor Finnish, much to the amusement of his fellow Finns).
But my own learning of Finnish has been transformed by Noah’s remark. When I don’t know a word, I now try the i-trick. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (“Tarzani asuu junglissa” - not quite “Tarzan lives in the jungle”). But it never fails to raise a smile when it doesn’t.
Posted by Telefinn at 11:12