Category Archives: Viikon idiomi

Peculiar differencies between Finnish and English

1. If you make notes, you “write something down” in English, but in Finnish you “write up” (kirjoittaa ylös).

2. “To pull one’s leg” means to deceive somebody, but in Finnish you don’t pull a leg, but “nose” (vetää nenästä).

3. I don’t know why “a piece of cake” should be easy, but in Finnish the easy thing is “a sausage“, not a cake (helppo nakki).

4. In Finnish you don’t “take medicine“, but you “eat medicines” (syödä lääkkeitä)

5. “To translate” in Finnish means “to turn” (kääntää)

6. The verb “soittaa” has many meanings in Finnish. Normally it means “to play an instrument”, but it means also “to call“. So literarily you are “playing the phone” (soittaa puhelimella).

7. If you don’t have a faintest idea, you have “no clue“. In Finnish, you have “no smell” (ei hajuakaan).

8. To kill two birds with one stone sounds more impresssive than to kill two files with one strike (kaksi kärpästä yhdellä iskulla).

The easy sausage / piece of cake

Se on helppo nakki. / It’s a piece of cake.

While in English something is “a piece of cake”, in Finnish it’s “an easy sausage” (“nakki” is that kind of small hot dog or a frankfurter sausage, to be exact).

In English, you say “to make hay”, when you use an opportunity to get the most benefit. In Finnish, you say “helppoa kuin heinänteko” / “Easy as making hay.”

“Like taking candy from a baby”, isn’t a common idiom in Finnish, but a direct translation would be “helppoa kuin karkin varastaminen lapselta”.

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.

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.