Towards the horizon

Ylä-Karjalassa harjoittelijana oleva Matthias Bellgardt kertoo arjestaan Suomessa. Matthias on Suomessa pääsiäiseen saakka Hyvärilän Horisontti-hankkeen kautta.

The number 6 is on fire


I’m not the first nor will I be the last one, who will write about this lovely, but utterly incomprehensible language called Finnish. What’s not to love about a language with phrases like kalsarikännit or kuusi palaa. It’s just really hard to learn and I fear these 9 weeks won’t be enough, to even hold a simple conversation.

Right now, I only know some short sentences and words, which are useful for basic understanding. Some words like päivä, kiitos, hei, huomenta and of course perkele. If a Finn says something in Finnish to me, I respond with mina olen saksalainen every time. Then they know at least I won’t understand anything. Some of them switch to English, others even to German, but they mostly remember phrases like Guten Tag, Danke and Auf Wiedersehen.

If I could understand at least half of what the people around me saying, I wouldn’t feel like a complete stranger. They often translate it for me, but that’s not the same. Maybe I should only say no niin all the time, just to fit in.

So, my only way to communicate is in English. Before I came here, I thought most Finns are good English speakers, but I was a bit too optimistic about that. I thought they learn it besides school by consuming English media, because they don’t have the luxury of a full dubbing and translation of media, like in Germany. That’s the way I learned English: Internet and video games.

It’s a mixed bag. I met people, who can on the one hand hardly understand any English at all and on the other hand speak it perfectly without an accent.

It’s funny how the Finns also have problems with the th like the Germans. For example, “the” with the German accent becomes ze and with the Finnish te.

Sometimes the Finns mixed up the genders, if they speak English. I know there is no gender-pronouns in the Finnish language, so I guess it’s hard for them to distinguish between them. Once, someone talked about a woman and then used he for her. First, I got confused about that, but now I’m used to it.

After all I manage, even if I had to use gestures or google translator.



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