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Vaikka

Have you learned what the words "vaikka" means yet? It's a bit of a problematic word because it has many meanings. Too few of them are mentioned in regular dictionaries. Or maybe you have a better dictionary than I do, I don't know :) Here come my explanations:

1. Vaikka: means more or less the same as "esimerkiksi"
- Osta vaikka kolme banaania ja yhden omenan!
- Tule vaikka huomenna!
- Voisit mennä vaikka Espanjaan lomalle.

2. Vaikka: a conjunction, which means "although, even though, even if"
- Menen kävelylle, vaikka sataa.
- Vaikka on jo myöhä, lapset valvovat yhä.
- Kotimme tuntuu tyhjältä, vaikka meillä on kaksi lasta ja kolme koiraa.

3. Vaikka: means more or less the same as "tosi paljon/kauan"
- Minulla on vaikka kuinka paljon sukkia.
- Odotin vaikka kuinka kauan, mutta hän ei tullut.
- Kesällä on juhlia vaikka kuinka paljon.

Somehow I feel like I'm missing a meaning or two here, but I can't think of them anymore... Suggestions?

Confusing words

Sometimes words are very similar to each other, which can give you trouble remembering which meant what! Next some examples that have give me trouble in the past. It does get better when you use the words often enough. Some of these even feel very silly now. Hard to remember why they give me so much trouble!

valita - to choose: Valitsen itse oman tieni.
valittaa - to complain: Sinä valitat aina kaikesta!
välittää - to care: Sinä et välitä yhtään minusta!
vallita - to reign: Rauha vallitsee maassa.
väittää - to claim: Hän väitti, että hän ei ollut paikalla.
väistää - to give way: Väistin juuri ajoissa.

välttää - to avoid: Yritän välttää burnoutin.
vältellä - to evade: Olen nyt yrittänyt vältellä kaveriani viikon.
välttyä - to escape: Ei nykyään enää voi välttyä mainoksilta.

yltyä - to get stronger: Tuuli yltyi myrskyksi.
yltää - to reach: Yritän yltää ottamaan kirjaa kirjahyllystä.

uhka - threat: Lisäaineet ovat uhka terveydelle.
uhri - victim: Hän oli väkivallan uhri.
orpo - orphan: Simpanssitkin adoptoivat orpoja ;)
orja - slave: Tein töitä kuin orja.

houkutella - to allure: Asiakkaita pitää houkutella ostamaan tuotteita.
haukotella - to yawn: Haukottelin jatkuvasti, koska luento oli tylsä.

myyrä - mole: Myyrä saalistaa toukkia ja muita hyönteisiä.
mäyrä - badger: Mäyrä on keskisuuri petoeläin.

And then there's those words I STILL can't tell apart! I can nowadays more or less tell what KIND of a sounds the following present, but I still can't really describe the difference for example, or give good examples. I'm not sure if I will ever learn these well enough. But then again, these are words that mostly are used in novels, and in novels you can always guess from the context. That might be the reason that I've never really put an effort in learning these... Maybe I will this summer, after my courses end? Or maybe I find something more important to do first! I could read Kalevala for example. Anyway, here are the words I still can't really identify, plus a few that I KNOW, but that I put in here because they made the list look more impressive ;)

humina, hurina, kahina, kalina, kirkuna, kohina, kolina, kopina, korina,
mutina, murina, narina, pauhina, rapina, solina, sorina, suhina, rahina,
surina, ulina, helinä, hälinä, jyrinä, köhinä, pärinä, räminä

Those of you living in Finland know there's the YKI-test you have to participate in if you want the Finnish nationality. If you do the YKI-test at the highest level, some of the words right above this have been in it! This is the kind of stuff you need to practice if you want to get a 6 at YKI.

Animal sounds

Somebody requested I'd make a post about the sounds animals make in Finnish. I just realized I actually have a vocabulary page that HAS that vocabulary already! You can find it here. I'll add a nice little dialogue here, which deals with the same subject. This dialogue comes from some book, but I can't remember which one. If anyone does, please let me know, so I can add the right source for it!

Minulla on nuori ystävä, naapurini pieni poika. Hän on tyypillinen tämän päivän kaupunkilaislapsi, joka tuntee televisiosta robotit, raketit ja supermiehet ja eläintarhasta tiikerit, leijonat, elefantit, seeprat ja kirahvit, mutta ei tunne tavallisia kotieläimiä. Tänään, kun menen Peltolalle, vien Arille pari pientä kuvakirjaa. Sitten katselemme niitä yhdessä.

- Toi on koira ja toi on kissa.
- Mitäs koira sanoo?
- Koira sanoo ”hau hau”.
- Ja mitä kissa sanoo?
- Kissa sanoo ”miau”. Kato täti kuinka isoja nää koirat on.
- Eivät ne ole koiria, ne ovat hevosia. Tiedätkä sinä, mitä hevonen sanoo? Se sanoo ”ihahahaa”.
- Noi on lehmiä, eiks oo? Lehmä sanoo ”ammuu”.
- Niin sanoo. Tiedätkös sinä, että maito tulee lehmästä?
- Ei tule. Maito tulee kaupasta. Mä tiedän, mä oon usein kaupassa äidin kanssa.
- Kysy äidiltä, niin äiti kertoo sinulle, mistä maito tulee kauppaan. Tiedätkös sinä, mitä nuo ovat tuossa kuvassa.
- Tossako kuvassa? En.
- Ne ovat lampaita. Lammas sanoo ”mää”. Ja siitä tulee villaa. Sitten tämä kuva, mitäs siinä on?
- Kukko ja kana. Mä tiedän mitä ne tekee. Ne munii.
- Kana munii, ei kukko.
- Kukko sanoo ”kukko kiekuu”.
- Ja kana ”kot kot”.
- Täti, mä haluaisin nähdä paljon eläimiä. Musta ne on kivoja.
- Me voimme mennä joskus  yhdessä maalle, eikö niin? Siellä minä voin näyttää sinulle hevosia ja lehmiä ja kanoja.
- Ja lampaita.
- Ja lampaitakin, aivan niin.

Vocabulary

I made a little list of the terms used to describe certain (farm) animals! The focus of today's post is on what you call the male and female equivalent of the animal, and what their young is called. Maybe this isn't something for the very beginners among you, but still, interesting! "Useless" vocabulary like this has always been my favourite. I call it useless, because I rarely come into a situation where I want to specify whether I'm talking about a male of female goat. But you never know!

You don't necessarily NEED to use these words either. Instead of calling a female reindeer (=poro) vaadin, you can just as well speak of a naarasporo (=female reindeer). The male equivalent is a urosporo. This works for most animals. Naarashamsteri and uroshamsteri, naaraskoala and uroskoala, etc.

female animal (naaras) + male animal (uros) = young (poikanen)
cow: lehmä + sonni/härkä = vasikka
chicken: kana + kukko = tipu
horse: tamma + ori = varsa
goat: vuohi + pukki = kili
pig: emakko + karju = porsas
sheep: uuhi + pässi = karitsa
dog: narttu + uroskoira = koiranpentu
cat: naaraskissa + kolli/uroskissa = kissanpentu
reindeer: vaadin + sonni/härkä = vasa

Do you know others?

Comics in Finnish

I'm currently participating in a course about Finnish dialects, so when I found this Finnish comic series, I was in heaven! I doubt a few months ago I'd have understood very much of what is said in these "mummo" comics, because I've had very little contact with other dialects than the Tampere one.

She's speaking some kind of Savo dialect, which you can notice from the following things:
  • Reduction of the strength of the diphtongs (voi > voe, laiha > laeha, poika > poeka)
  • Svaa-vowels (nälkää > näläkää) (although she says nähny and not nähäny)
  • Turning long vowels into diphtongs (saat > suaat)
  • The konsonants ts are changed into tt (vatsasi > vattas) , which is more a feature of western Finnish dialects
  • Dropping final letters off words (kun > ku, sieltä > sielt, täyteen > täytee), which is also more of a western thing
  • The sie (sinä) and mie (minä) belonged originally to the Kaakkois (Southwest) dialects, but are getting more common in the whole of Finland.
  • If this had been a more pure Savo dialect, you'd also have seen tul(n)na and nah(n)na instead of tullu and nahny
Not a perfect Savo dialect in any case, but I'd say it's still pretty good :) The Savonian area of Finland is very big after all, so there can be a major difference between the dialect spoken in the very North and the very South.

How much do you understand of it? More here!

There is always more Finnish to be learnt!

Good exercise for those of you who have already got the knack of Finnish and want a bit of a challenge! Explain the difference between the following words. Languages always try to move away from situations where two words mean exactly the same, so synonyms start to develop connotational differences. Can you explain what situation to use these words in?
  • katkera & kitkerä
  • keikistellä & veikistellä
  • kiemura & kiehkura & kiekura
  • kieriä & vieriä & vyöryä
  • kihara & kiherä
  • kiiruhtaa & kiirehtiä
  • kavuta & kivuta
  • kimaltaa & kimmeltää
  • kaamea & karmea
  • kaarre & kaarros & käänne
Lots of words beginning with a k :)

Vajaa paradigma

Having trouble conjugating verbs or bending words into the different cases? Maybe you can take comfort out of the fact that Finns sometimes run into the same problem as well! These words have a "vajaa paradigma", which means these words only appear in Finnish in certain forms and can't be put in any other case or be conjugated. They are like bugs in the language, things left open. A Finn usually doesn't realize these words exist, but ask a Finn nearby to conjugate the following verbs for example:
  1. erkanee (Vene erkani rannasta. = the boat drifted from the shore) This verb doesn't have a basic form, but Finns will probably answer "erkaantua" if you ask them. Point out to them that the third person singular for erkaantua is "erkaantuu" and not "erkanee". See them struggle with this fact ;)
  2. täytyä (minun täytyy lähteä = I have to leave) This verb doesn't have any conjugated forms except the third person forms. It doesn't really NEED any conjugated forms of course, because you will always have the third person in the "minun täytyy" -sentence contruction, but still.
  3. kaikaa (Laulu kaikaa = The song is heard from far away, echoes) Again, third person form exists, but what about the infinitive?
  4. kutiaa (Hän kutiaa herkästi kainaloista = He's very ticklish in his armpits) This verb has no basic form (though you could invent "kutita", "kutiaa" or "kudita") nor can you conjugate it in the pst ("kutisi" isn't Finnish)
The same counts for some nouns
  1. kuoliaaksi (ampua kuoliaaksi = shoot sb dead) This word has two forms that are in use: kuoliaana (the essive) and kuoliaaksi (the translative). You could think the basic form is "kuolias", but ask any Finn and they'll have no idea.
  2. niikseen (jos niikseen tulee = if it comes to that) This word DOES have a basic form, but I doubt any Finn will find it. The basic form is "se", in the plural (ne) translative (niiksi) with a possessive suffix (-en) attached to it.
That's all the examples I can think of right now, but there's more

Hello world!

Finnish. It's a beautiful language. Maybe not the most beautiful language in the world, but a pretty one anyway. I guess it also depends who's speaking it. A drunk middle-aged man on Hämeenkatu (Tampere's main street) can make Finnish sound ugly, while the words from a loved one make it sound warm and cuddly. Wait, I take that back. The words "minä rakastan sinua" don't actually sound very cuddly. The words "oot ihana" on the other hand...

The intent of this blog is to offer a more personal side to my website. I got an email a few weeks ago that made me realize I didn't even have my name on my website anymore. I fixed that, but I still would like to make my website a little more personal from now on. So:

Moro! Nimeni on Inge Holsteyn. Olen belgialainen ja olen asunut Suomessa 5 vuotta. I'm currently studying Finnish at Tampere University and aI'm about to finish my second year there. I love learning more about Finnish. I am, for example, currently taking a course about Finnish dialects that's both interesting and challenging. Another course on the program for this spring is advanced semantics, which I don't really care about, but it's obligatory, so we'll just struggle through :) I'm no longer teaching Finnish privately. I am still teaching though: I work as a substitute teacher in Tampere and get to teach groups of students here as often as I can find the time for.

This blog will be updated irregularly. It might also disappear after a week of online time. It all depends on whether I have the time, the energy and enough inspiration to update it. What I'd like to write about would be small things about Finnish. I will stick to English, but might occasionally use some Finnish.

If you have any suggestions about things I should write about, go ahead and comment!