Shaking a stick at BOOKKEEPER / Licence Plates


English word games frequently use BOOKKEEPER as an example of a word having three consecutive letter pairs [1]. However Finnish frequently goes one pair better and there are hundreds of words which have a string of four consecutive letter pairs. For example:

HYPPYYTTÄÄ is a verb meaning to dance about (like a child on one’s knee).

When the noun LIIKE (business) is inflected into the inessive case, it becomes LIIKKEESSÄ : “in the business”.

Makes me think that Finnish Scrabble ought to be like one of those pocket game thingies wherein you have a grid of some twenty-five squares and you have to shuffle the squares around to put together a picture. Finnish Scrabble ought to give the players the liberty of shifting one (just one!) tile on the board to allow for consonant degradation, or its linguistic opposite, as above. One of the main obstacles to playing Finnish Scrabble is that once a word is on the board, it’s there to stay. You can’t do nothin’ to it folks. Even case inflections have some influence on the internal structure of the word.

In Finland twenty-five letters are used on licence plates, with the exceptions being Q, Ä and Ö. No place of origin is on the plates at all; the plates are merely three letters followed by three numbers. The letter I looks identical to the number 1 so I am still hunting down Finland’s III 111 plate. I have counted several which are III ??? or ??? 111 though.

Perhaps the most interesting plates are those from the autonomous Åland Islands. The plates feature ÅLAND in big blue capitals against a white field. The loveliest plates you ever did see (after, IMO, the polar bear-shaped plates of Canada’s Northwest Territories and the nuclear yellow of New Mexico’s).

[1] Although I have seen SUBBOOKKEEPER in print (once).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *