Finnish language blog

The forest answers in the same way one shouts at it

Niin metsä vastaa kuin sinne huudetaan. / The forest answers in the same way one shouts at it.

This proverb means that your deeds have their consequences and the English equivalent would be “What goes around comes around”.

“Sitä niittää, mitä kylvää” comes from Bible: “You reap what you sow.” Other proverbs with the same meaning are
“siten makaa miten petaa” / As you make your bed, so you must lie on it and
“sitä saa, mitä tilaa”/ “you get what you order”.

The hunger grows by eating

Nälkä kasvaa syödessä / The hunger grows by eating

The more you eat, the more you crave, the English equivalent would probably be “I am a bottomless pit”. This applies also to other good things in life besides food.

Apparently the same idea exists in French “L’appétit vient en mangeant.”

On the other hand “ei makeaa mahan täydeltä” / “don’t fill your stomack with sweets” means that you shouldn’t have too much good things.

A fox tail under one’s arm

Hänellä on ketunhäntä kainalossa. / He has a fox tail under his arm.

The cunning fox is a metaphor for dishonesty, so hiding a fox tail refers to some kind of dodginess. A similar idiom exists in English: “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and it’s also a common saying in Finnish: “Hän on susi lammasten vaatteissa.”

Another idiom related to suspicious things is “Juttuun oli koira haudattuna.” / “There’s a dog buried in it.” In English, you’d probably say something like “there’s something fishy about it” or “I smell a rat.”

10 Finnish idioms with animals

1. aasinsilta “ass’ bridge”: a relationship between two otherwise separate phenomenon.

2. leijonanosa “lion’s portion”: the largest part of something.

3. koiranilma “dog’s weather”: horrible weather, as in “rains cats and dogs”.

4. kissanpäivät “cat’s days”: abundant life.

5. hevonkuusi “horse’s spruce”: a place in the middle of nowhere.

6. kananlento “chicken’s flight”: some short lived enterprise.

7. kananlihalla ~ goose bumbs (lit.~ “chicken’s meat”): when it’s really cold.

8. karhunpalvelus “bear favour”: a favour done with good intentions but with a bad outcome.

9. syntipukki ~ scapegoat (lit. ~”sin goat” ): a surrogate victim.

10. hiirenhiljainen “mouse silent”: very silent.

Play it one more time (soittaa)

Soittaa means to play, for example, an instrument. “Aleksi Laiho soittaa kitaraa Childrens of Bodom -yhtyeessä”.

You can easily derive the typical nouns from the verb:
soittaja: a (musical) player
soitin: a musical instrument
soitto: music (also musiikki)

In Finnish, you also “play a telephone”, so to phone / call ~ “soittaa puhelimella”.

Conversely, to play a game is “pelata“, not “soittaa” and when the children play, it’s “leikkiä“.

As so often, this verb has also it’s intransitive counterpart (a verb without an object): soida.
Puhelin soi, kuka soittaa? / The phone is ringing, who’s calling?

What is love? (rakkaus)

Finns don’t throw this word around as often as other people. “Rakkaus” is serious business, and a Finnish man uses this word approximately 2-3 times in his life. The burger chain slogan “I’m loving it” sounds corny in Finnish. However, it’s a very important word to know.

As so often, the noun and the verb are the same in English: the verb “(to) love” and the noun “(a) love” look the same. In Finnish the verb is “rakastaa” and the noun is “rakkaus“. For example, “Minä rakastan sinua”/ I love you”, but “What is love? / Mitä on rakkaus?”

A person, who is loved, is “rakas” = belowed, dear, darling.

Mitä on rakkaus? Rakas, älä satuta minua enempää! / What is love? Baby don’t hurt me no more!

Other verb are: to fall in love = rakastua and when adults love each other, they might make love = rakastella.

A pig in a poke

Älä osta sikaa säkissä.
Don’t buy a pig in a sack / pig in a poke.

The idea is that you shouldn’t make hasty trades/ decisions without sufficient background information.

Finnish companies and their names

Many Finnish companies have “international” sounding names, and even some sensible Finnish names have been changed to some silly neologisms, such as Itella, Sonera, Destia, Nordea etc. There are still some Finnish companies and brands with a proper Finnish name. Here are some explanations what these names do mean.

Fazer is a company known for its chocolate (Fazerin sininen) and it’s named after its founder Karl Fazer.

Fiskars is named after the town of Fiskars (“A fishing place” in Swedish). Fiskars is an owner of some famous Finnish design brands such as Iittala, Arabia and Hackman.

Hesburger , “Hese“, is a mcdonaldian hamburger chain and it’s name comes from its founder Heikki Salmela.

Ilmarinen is a Finnish pension and insurance company. Like many others, this comes also from Kalevala, and he’s a powerful smith and a demigod. He’s famous for forging the Sampo.

Kone : an engineering company Kone is owned by the Herlin family (the richest family in Finland) and it means “machine” or “device”.

Lemminkäinen : another name from Kalevala. Lemminkäinen is a hero who loves fighting and women. The company Lemminkäinen is the largest construction company in Finland.

Marimekko: mekko means a skirt in Finnish and it was founded by Viljo and Armi “Mari” Ratia.

Metsä group is an international forest industry group. The name itself means simply “forest”.

Neste is an oil refining company, and the name means “liquid“.

Nokia used to be the Finland’s pride until Microsoft munched it up. Before mobilephones, the company manufactured for example rubber boots. It’s named after the city of Nokia near Tampere.

Olvi is the largest Finnish-owned brewery. “Olvi” is an old word for beer.

Outokumpu is a mining company named after the city of Outokumpu. Literally it means a “strange hill”.

Sampo is a magical artifact built by Ilmarinen (see above), a mill which spilled out flour, salt, and gold. The company Sampo is an insurance group. Previously there was also a bank called “Sampo pankki”, but now it’s a part of Danske bank.

Sanoma is the largest media company in Finland and publishes for example the newspaper Helsingin sanomat. Sanoma means “message”.

Tieto means “knowledge” and “tietokone” is “computer” in Finnish. Tieto (currently TietoEnator) is an IT company.

Valmet is a heavy machinery developer, known for its tractors. The name comes from Valtion Metallitehtaat (“National Metal factories”).