Polite phrases in Finnish

A language lesson for all of ya.

Kiitos. Thank you. (As in “So you handed me the salt? Thank ya.” and “You saved me from a bear attack. Thank you!”; in youth use the word morphs to kiitti or something like that.)

Anteeksi. Sorry. (As in “Sorry! Give way! Sorry!”, and in “Seems I sat on your hamster. Sorry, dude.” The latter case may even call for Hei, elämä on laiffii, or “Hey, life’s life, what?” — though it needs to be said it sounds a lot more braindead in Finnish, maybe because of association. Also please note a foreigner mentioning Matti Nykänen, the person linked to, to a Finn may cause an acute implosion of writhing embarrassment.)

Haloo. (What you holler into the phone when there’s no sound from the other end. If there’s just the sound of a heavy breather, you might try to outpsych him/her with Mitä sulla on päällä? or the old “So, what’re ya wearing?”)

Hyvää ruokahalua! (That’s somewhere between “Bon appetit!” and “Itadakimasu!”; the literal meaning is the first one. A meal may be ended with Kiitos ruuasta or “Thanks for the food” or Ruoka oli hyvää ja sitä oli riittävästi, “Food was good and there was enough of it”, or Välittäkää kiitokseni kokille, “Give my compliments to the cook”. Farting and belching are not generally taken as culinary compliments.)

Kippis! (That’s “Cheers!”; Finns being the drinkers they are it will probably be a herald of steeply increasing challenge in understanding the Finnish spoken around you.)

Karhuvaara! (“Bear alert!”; the usefulness of this exclamation is left to the reader to ponder.)

Ilmaista kaljaa halvalla! (A general-purpose call for aid and help from a position of desperate danger. Literally taken means “Free beer for cheap!” but should bring all Finns within hearing running to you; after that the organization of them into helpers is left to you.)

Löylyä lissää, eihän tämä tunnu vielä missään! (Just in case you are in a sauna: “More water on the stove; this feels nowhere yet” — but please note that Finns may not take this rhetorically. There’s a 50% chance someone will upend a 20-liter pail on the stove once this is said; shortly after that the invention of rolling around in the snow and swimming in frigid waters will be re-enacted.)

Apua! Poliisi! Palokunta! Ambulanssi! Teräsmies, Batman ja Hämähäkkimies apuun! (A general-purpose combination: “Help! Police! The fire department! An ambulance! Superman, Batman and Spider-Man to the rescue!”; your chances of receiving any aid may not be maximized by including all of these in your cry.)

Kerro kerro kuvastin, ken on maassa kaunehin. (“Mirror mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?” or literally “Tell, tell o looking glass, who’s the fairest in the land?”; just in case you need something to say while looking in the mirror. Another favorite for this use is Kansalaiset, medborgare… or the traditional “Dear people (and the same in Swedish)” that is the proverbial start of officious presidential speeches.)

Huomenta päivää iltaa yötä, mitä kuuluu, miten menee, sitä on elossa pysytelty, ei ole vielä henki lähtenyt, sitä vielä sinäkin jaksat elää, mitä? (A medley: “Good-morning good-day good-evening good-night; what’s up, how’s it going, still keeping alive huh, haven’t stopped breathing yet, you’re still bothering to stay alive, what?” Should be enough for all meetings.)

And the same for partings: Heippa, hei hei, nähdään, hyvästi, jälleennäkemisiin, mene ukko/akka suolle ja huku sinne perkele, sano terveisiä, koetahan jaksella, ime pakoputkea ja kuole, moro, moikka, heips. Nahkurin orsilla tavataan! (Might be useful to be very careful with which is which. “Bye, bye bye, see ya, goodbye, until we see again, go to a swamp you guy/gal and drown yourself there you fucker, say I said hi, keep your pecker up (non-genital wish), suck an exhaust pipe and die, ‘kay bye, righty-bye, bye-all. See ya on the skinner’s beams!”)

Nyt alkaa läski tummumaan. (“I say the fat’s going to fry now, chap”, except with the vague Britishness replaced with brutal backwoods menace and promises of indiscriminate violence against rotund and thin alike.)

Kahvia! Kahvia! Kahvia, unta tai kirves päähän. (“Coffee! Coffee! Give me coffee, or sleep, or an axe to the head!”)

Hei! En puhu sanaakaan suomen kieltä. (“Hi! I don’t speak a single word of Finnish!” — possibly followed with a Kerro lisää! or “Tell me more!” and a Luulitko sinä että minä olen ulkomaalainen? Savosta ollaan, kuten aksentista kuulee! — “Didja think I was a foreigner? I’m from Savonia, as you can hear by the accent.” Savo/Savonia is a region in eastern central Finland, round the city of Kuopio; the people of that region have a reputation compatible with writing posts like this one; I grew up in the region. Oh, and — Hei. Satutko puhumaan englantia? Minulta ei tämä suomen kieli niin luonnistu. — “Hi. Would you happen to know any English? I’m not all that proficient with Finnish.”)

One Response to “Polite phrases in Finnish”

  1. Too Many Odds and Ends « thinklovesurvive Says:

    […] on Finland. / Phrases one needs to know /.  Free beer for […]

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