Shaking a stick at bookkeeper 2

Prior to my trip to Finland and Germany this summer, I posted several pieces on the Finnish language. Ten years ago I wrote travelogues during my summer in Finland where I was studying Finnish. I will revisit a travelogue I originally posted on 20 July 2000, about Finnish vowel and consonant duplication. My original post from ten years ago mentioned “bookkeeper” as the only English word to have three sets of double letters written consecutively. In Finnish, sets of three doubles is quite common. One word consists solely of double sets; uuttaa is the verb “to extract”.

It is interesting to note that the word for the adjective “new” is uusi, and when this word is inflected into the partitive case it becomes uutta, so vowel length (as well as consonant length) is extremely important in Finnish, otherwise one risks saying a totally different word. Kyykky means “knee-bends” (the exercise) while kyky is “ability” or “skill”. I can see a kinky tie-in with both of these words and the Finnish branch of the KY lubricant company.

Hyppyyttää is the verb “to dance about” (like a child on one’s knee). It has four pairs side-by-side. However, when one encounters words which meet the pattern [ V V + K / T + E ] then one can predict a quadruple pairing in inflection. My notation means two identical vowels followed by a K or a T followed by an E; this particular combination will e-x-p-a-n-d a word to four double pairs.

For example, the word is liike (“business”) in its nominative or “dictionary form”, yet becomes liikkee-  when it is prepped for inflection. Choose a case ending that starts with two double letters, such as -ssä or -llä and one encounters the string liikkeessä or liikkeellä  (respectively “in the business” or “at the business”).

Aate (“idea”) lengthens to aattee- in its root form and thus gains a fourth pair of double letters when -ssa or -lla is appended: aatteessa or aatteella. All too often I don’t even think of the doppelganger I am going to write until I notice that my fingers appear to be playing around on the keyboard. Try typing liikkeellä and you’d swear you were ten years old playing around on your mom’s old typewriter.

[Edit: Finnish can stretch to five pairs of double letters if you add a possessive case ending to the examples above. The third-person possessive ending is either -nsa or -nsä. If this ending is added to the end of liikkeessä, you get liikkeessänsä = “in his (or her) business”. Often the possessive ending contracts to -aan or -ään and thus liikkeessään, where five pairs are strung together. I am sure you can invent some six-string pairs if you add a word to the beginning of liikkeessään that ends in -L that pertains to a certain kind of business. The word for “teardrop” is kyynel, so if you were involved in the teardrop business–say you were a screenwriter for weeper movies–then I suppose you could use kyynelliikkeessään.]

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