Monthly Archives: March 2015

Derivations and etymologies: tie

Tie means a road or a way. It’s important to know the right way, that’s why “to know” is “tietää” and “knowledge” is “tieto”.

If you have lot’s of knowledge, you have “science”, which is “tiede” in Finnish. For example Geography = “maantiede”.

A machine that knows a lot, is “tietokone”, a computer. A computer has lot’s of files =“tiedosto”.

My computer knows the right road – it has a geography file. / Tietokoneeni tietää oikean tien – sillä on maantiedetiedosto.


Free like air (“ilma”)

Ilma means “air”.

Air is nothing, and that’s why “ilman” means “without“. “Kahvi ilman maitoa / Coffee without milk”.

If something costs nothing, it’s “ilmainen”, free (as in “free beer/ ilmainen olut”).

Ilma also means “weather” and “ilmasto” means “climate”. “Tänään on sateinen ilma / today is a rainy weather.”

If you put together maa and ilma you have the whole world, so “maailma” = “world”.


Derivations and etymologies: tapa

“Tapa” means “a custom” or a “tradition”. (Not to be confused with verb “tappaa”, “to kill”.) For example “Saunominen on suomalainen tapa / Sauna is a Finnish tradition”. It can also bean any other kind of habitual thing, for example “tupakointi huono tapa / smoking is a bad habit”.

If something happens even once, it can become a habit, that’s why “tapahtua” = to happen.

if something is habitual or customary, it’s also common and usual, “tavallinen” (note the consonant gradation, p -> v). “Pekka on tavallinen suomalainen nimi” / “Pekka is a common Finnish name”. “Tavallisesti menen töihin bussilla” / “I usually go to work by bus”.

The noun is “tapahtuma”, a happening or an event. Sometimes meetings can be events, so “tapaaminen” = meeting.

Derivations and etymologies: sattua

The basic meaning for “sattua” is “to hit (a target)”, for example “luoti sattui maaliin / the bullet hit the target“.

If something hits you, it also hurts. That’s why sattua also means “to hurt”: “minua sattuu vatsaan/ my stomach hurts” (lit. “in the stomach”).

Sattuma means a change or coincidence. “Se oli vain sattumaa / it was just a coincidence” or “Hän voitti sattumalta / he won by change“.

Jalkaani sattui, kun tikka sattui siihen sattumalta.
My leg hurt, when the dart hit it accidentaly.

Viikon idiomi: “lyödä hanskat naulaan”

Lyödä hanskat naulaan ~ to put your gloves hanging ~ to quit

When you work, you need gloves (especially in physical work). When you don’t work anymore, you put them hanging on the hook (or nail) on the wall. That’s why “Lyödä hanskat naulaan” means “to quit” or sometimes “to go on strike”.

Saint Urho’s day

I have never heard about this thing called “Saint Urho’s day” before. Apparently it should be some kind of Finnish equivalent of St. Patrick’s day for those Americans who have Finnish roots. The tradition is to shout “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!” (“Grasshopper, grasshopper, go from hence to Hell!”, Don’t ask why!) and eat fish soup called “mojakka” (never heard about that either). I would also guess that it includes some drinking.

According to Wikipedia the legend of Saint Urho was the invention of a Finnish-American named Richard Mattson in Minnesota in the spring of 1956. Wikipedia also mentions that in Finland we don’t really recognize any saints.

Another resources, says: “The legend of St. Urho says he chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers.” Anciaet what? I don’t really get that grasshopper thing. Grasshoppers sound like Biblical plague to me, but I have never heard they have been such a problem in Finland, at least not in March when temperature is still below zero (or maybe it’s because Saint Urho succeeded?). Neither does grapes grow in Finland, unless you mean blackcurrant, which is called viinimarja, “wineberry” in Finnish. Strange, because Minnesota should have approximately same climate as Finland, so they should know.

It sounds like somebody has been pulling somebody’s leg. Is there anynone who can admit that have ever celebrated Saint Urho’s day?

Pentti Kurikan nimipäivät – Aina mun pitää

Pertti Kurikan nimipäivät (PKN for short) is a Finnish punk band known from the documentary “Kovasikajuttu” (Punk Syndrome). They all have developmental disabilities and they have recently raised some issues about rights of disabled people . Their song “Aina mun pitää” is representing Finland in the Eurovision song contest 2015.