An inspiring way to motivate

First, an unrelated story to set the mood.

All I’m going to say in introduction is you need a license to drive, to own a gun, to do surgery; generally to do things that, if done by a moron, can ruin people; but for parenting you just need a functioning set of genitalia, a friend, and spare time.

The results are, now and then, just the equivalent of handing out free scalpels, aprons and chloroform on the street:

WARM SRPINGS, Ga. — Police have arrested a Georgia woman who they say forced her son to kill his pet hamster with a hammer as punishment for earning a bad grade.

(Via Stupid Evil Bastard)

* * *

Now, to business.

The title of this post is a translation of the Finnish phrase “inspiroiva tapa motivoida”, which sounds even more hokey in Finnish; it was used in the army a lot because they wanted to be humane and hip, but from my NCO training I seem to recall it basically, in practice, meant a lot of screaming and pain.

It works in that setting well enough. (One could conjecture the fancy phrase was introduced as a psychological subliminal thing; the four letters “tapa”, while read and said in this context as meaning “a way”, are identical to the spelling and pronunciation of the imperative form of the verb “kill”.)

* * *

Quick guide to talking to Finnish males over eighteen; the basics of army slang. (Needful because of universal male and voluntary female conscription; for the most for six to twelve months.)

  • runtu = punishment, often because the sub-sergeant was dumped by his girlfriend.
  • gines = to not have a leave when most of the others are having one; Christmas, Midsummer and New Year’s, usually.
  • härö = something or someone that out of whack, out of order, dumb, stupid or just begging for trouble.
  • viheltää! = the shout at which everyone’s supposed to drop what they’re doing and drop to the ground; translates as “it’s whistling!” which sounds cute but means the incoming whistle of a grenade or something like.
  • TJ = short for tänään jäljellä or “[that much] left today”; appended to the number of mornings (aamu means “a morning”, and is the unit for counting these things) one has to wake up before one can run out of the gate wearing flip-flops and a floral shirt. When one’s TJ count gets low enough, mutterings of the word väbä and the associated slouchings and losings of military rigor start; the word seems to be an adaptation of the word vähän (little, a small amount) for pronunciations best suited to uttering it with maximum irritation at those not yet in that state.
  • hajota = the verb “to fall apart”; used of people in the army setting to mean “to snap”, “to have a breakdown”, “to lose one’s motivation and will to live”. Happens to people regularly, and to everyone at least once, especially after a few days at a leiri, a camp-out out there in the endless dark cold woods, where the highlight of one’s day is a sipa or sissipaska, or taking a shit without any toilet, branch, pit or paper. Really fun when there’s lots of snow; and usually interrupted by an air raid alert. Derivates of hajota are the verb hajottaa, to feel like one’s about to fall apart and lose it, and hajotus, any activity liable to cause that.
  • asento! lepo! = two screams that mean “Attention!” and “At ease!”. Shouting or coughing these will cause a wonderfully reflexive snapping into either of the desired basic states. It will, however, be digging for blood in the regions of one’s proboscis to yell taakse poistu!, the drill command for “turn around, run ten paces, and by the gods be quick with it! Dammit!” — there are variations of this such as oikealle poistu! (to the right), eteen poistu! (forwards; the one giving the command ought to be careful to not be run over) and käteni osoittamaan suuntaan seitsemän kilometriä kapteenin auton ali ryömien yhdellä jalalla hyppien p’stu! Liikkuu liikkuu! Er, that’s the example that everyone starts to expect after a few days of drilling: “In the direction indicated by my hand, seven kilometers, crawling under captain’s car and hopping on one foot, go! Move it, move it!”
  • lepi = almost the same as the plain Finnish word lepo, which means rest. The army word has connotations of the rest being a) a rare pleasure, b) shamefully, slobberingly total and disgusting to behold, though nice to enjoy, and c) probably due to some temporary and unintended glitch somewhere in the chain of command that’s best not inquired about, lest it cease.

A few words like that, and every Finnish man and boy will be your friend; what befriends the women, I don’t know. (Well, you could try this on one that’s been in the army; don’t know what the results would be.)

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