Finnish language blog

A leader leads

Johtaa means “to lead” and is used often just like in English, where it has some concrete and some abstract meanings.
Examples:

Kaikki tiet johtavat Roomaan.
All roads lead to Rome.


Hannes Kolehmainen johtaa kisaa.
Hannes Kolehmainen leads the competition.

Tämä metodi johtaa parhaiseen tulokseen.
This method leads to the best result.

Similarly, the leader is “johtaja”.

Johtaa has also a meaning “to pass through” or “to convey”, “to conduct”. In science, you can use it in experssions such as “the cord conducts electricity” / “Johto johtaa sähköä”.

The noun is “johto”, which means “leadership, management or goverment”, or as in the earlier example “a cord” or “a conductor”.

Vitsi:
Miksi Lech Wałęsa pidätettiin?
Hän oli korjamassa autoa ja ilmiantaja kuuli, kun hän sanoi “puolan johto pitää vaihtaa”.

(Puola = Poland, puola = spark coil)

Humalassa / Drunk

They say that Inuit language has hundreds of words for snow (hat isn’t actually true). Finnish has a plathera of words for “being drunk”. But as they say “rakkaalla lapsella on monta nimeä”, “a beloved child has many names”.

hiprakassa
huppelissa
hutikassa
jurrissa
kaasuissa
kekkulissa
kuoseissa
kännissä
laitamyötäisessä
lärvit
maistissa
naamat
nakit silmillä
nauttinut
naula otsassa
ottanut
ottanut häppää
ottanut keittoa, soppaa
ottanut neuvoa-antavaa
pelti kiinni
perseet olalla
perseet
pienessä sievässä
päihtyneenä
päissään
pöhnässä
seipäät
soosit
tillin tallin
tuiskeessa
tuiterissa
tumut
tunnelissa
turvat
tuubassa

Derivations and etymologies: lähteä

Lähteä means “to leave” or “to go (away)”.

Sometimes “to go” is more natural in English: “lähden kalaan” / “I’ll go fishing” (“menen kalaan” is also possible here).

At railway stations you can see signs saying “lähtevät junat” meaning “departures”. The noun is “lähtö” (a departure), and “lähtöruutu” means the starting point, square one.

Lähettää means literally “to make something to leave”, so it means “to send”. “Lähetän kirjeen ulkomaille” / “I’m sending a letter abroad”.

Lähde is a place, where the water is coming from, a spring or a fountain. It can be used also in an abstract sense, as “origin” or “source”

What do animals say in Finnish?

Koira: vuh!
Kissa: miau!
Lehmä: muu!
Porsas: röh röh!
lammas: mää!
Kana: kot kot!
Kukko: kukkokiekuu!
Hevonen: ihahaa!
Karhu: mur!
Ankka: vaak!
Tiainen: titityy!

Derivations and etymologies: käyttää

Kävellä means “to walk” and it comes from the verb “käydä” which has basically the same meaning, but it has some other spesific uses. For example: “Sinun pitäisi käydä lääkärissä.” / “You should go to the doctor.”

It’s also a part if idioms like “to be okay with”, for example “maanantai käy minulle” / “Monday is ok for me.” (see also the article about “sopia”), or “to happen“. For example, “mietin, miten minulle vielä käy” “I wonder what will happen to me.”

When in English “engine runs“, in Finnish it “walks”. For example: “Moottori käy tasaisesti.” / “The engine runs steadily.”

-ttää -suffix has the meaning, “make somebody to do something”, for example syödä -> syöttää = to eat -> to feed (= “to make somebody to eat”). In the similar fashion, you’ll get a new verb from “käydä”, namely “käyttää”. Keep in mind that things that work smoothly, “walk” in Finnish. That’s why käyttää means “to use”.

Osaatko käyttää tietokonetta? / Do you know how to use a computer?

Miscellaneous interjections

Ah! Voih! Hupsis! Oho! Iik! Noh… Hei! Niin. Jaa… Hmm… Öhöm! No! Hih! Ha! Mmm… Uuh.. Aah… Aaargh! Jopas! Höpöhöpö! Eih! Kääk! Hop! Köh-köh! Niisk!

Waiter, I’m buying! (tarjota)

Tarjota means “to offer”, fox example “Tarjosin hänelle apua” / “I offered him help.” In Finnish, if you are giving something for free, you are “offering” it, for example: “Otetaan oluet, minä tarjoan.” / “Let’s have beers, I’m buying. “

A waiter in Finnish isn’t a person who waits, but “offers”, that’s why waiter = tarjoilija. Waitress is called “tarjoilijatar“, but it sounds really old fashioned. The waiter often brings you a tray, which is “tarjotin” in Finnish.

In sales, an offer = “tarjous“. It can also mean same as “alennus” = discount. For example: “Tämä paita oli halpa, koska se oli tarjouksessa” / “This shirt was inexpensive, because it was at a discount”.

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).

Does that contract suit you? (Sopia)

Sopia means “to fit” or also to “to suit” both in concrete and abstract sense.

“Sopiiko paita sinulle?” “Onko se sopiva?” /
“Does the shirt fit to you? Is it suitable?”
“Tuo puku sopii sinulle hyvin.” /
“That suit suits you well.”

It can refer to other suitable/unsuitable things as well, not only clothes:

“Sopiiko perjantai sinulle?” / “Does Friday suit you?” (lit. “for you”)

If something “suits you” then you “agree to it”, that’s why “sopia” means also “to agree” in Finnish.

Teidän pitää sopia riitanne! / “you must come to an agreement.”

The noun derived from it is “sopimus“, which means any kind of agreement, pact, treaty or contract (written or oral).
Allekirjoitin vuokrasopimuksen vuokranantajan kanssa. /
I signed a rental contract with my landlord.

Pariisin rauhansopimus päätti toisen maailmansodan./
The Paris Peace Treaty concluded the Second World War.

A challenging court case (haastaa)

Haastaa is an old fashined word meaning “to talk” or “to chat”. It’s rarely used in it’s original meaning, but it’s still included in another verb “haastatella” = “to interview” (lit. ~ “make someone to chat” ).

“Toimittaja haastatteli poliitikkoa.” “The journalist interviewed the politician.”

In modern Finnish, “haastaa” has a spesific meaning “to challenge”, for example “Haastan sinut kaksintaisteluun!” “I challenge you to a duel!”

Haastava” is an adjective and it means “challenging”, for example, “Kisa oli hyvin haastava” “The race was very challenging.”. The noun derived from “haastaa” is “haaste“, “a challenge”. “Otan kaikki vaikeudet haasteena” / “I will take all the difficulties as a challenge”.

In Finnish, to “sue somebody” is literarily “to challenge somebody into court” = “haastaa oikeuteen“. (see the article for “oikeus“)