Finnish language blog

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”).

Derivations and etymologies: hukkua

Hukkua” means “to drown”. “Eno putosi veneestä ja hukkui järveen.” / “Uncle fell out off the boat and got drown in the lake.”

It can also be used in a less dramatic context, the other meaning is “to get lost” : “Pekan avaimet hukkuivat / Pekka’s keys were lost.”.

Note the difference between “hukkua” and “hukata” In linguistics they are called transitive and intransitive verbs: transitive verbs need an object, intransitive cannot have one.

hukkua: “Avaimeni hukkuivat” / My keys were lost.
hukata: “Hukkasin avaimeni” / I lost my keys.

Hear, hear! (kuulua)

The verb “kuulua” is familiar from phrase “mitä kuuluu?” ~ “how are you?“. Literally it means “what can be heard?“. You can use this verb for example in sentences like “Naapurista kuuluu melua” “Some noise is coming from the neighbor.”

Do not mix this verb with transitive verb “kuulla”, “to hear”. For example: “Kuulen sinun puheesi” / “I can hear your speech”, “Puheesi kuuluu” / “Your speech can be heard”.

Another verb from the same root is “kuunnella”, to listen: “Kuuntelen hevimetallia” / “I listen to heavy metal.”.

Verb “kuulua” has also another meaning “to belong to” or “be a part of something”. It’s a loan from Swedish (“höra till”), so the semantical motivation comes from there. “Rikolliset kuuluvat vankilaan” / “Criminals belong in jail.” Also: “Pekka kuuluu rotareihin” / “Pekka is a member in Rotary-club”.

Author, write a book! (kirja)

Kirja is a typical example of a root which appear in several words.

Kirja means “a book”. The verb naturally is “kirjoittaa”, to write (note also “kirjata”, to book or to log). Kirjoitus means writing in general.

The “-ja” suffix is similar to English “-er”, thus kirjoittaa -> kirjailija = to write – > a writer (or an author). Kirjasto means a place with many books, a library (“a bookery”). Kirjallisuus means the literature (“bookness”).

Käsikirjoitus is a direct translation from latin, a manuscript.

Kirjain is “a letter” as a letter in alphabet, but Kirje is a kind of letter you send in post.

On the other hand, English has some uses for this word which Finnish doesn’t have. For example you “book” an apointment in English. Finnish has another word for that “varata”.
I booked an appointment for a doctor./
Varasin ajan lääkärille.