Yesterday I biked around Helsinki on a bookstore run. Whenever I am in a new city I always like to check out the book and music stores, and I spent all yesterday afternoon poking around alternative, sci-fi, second-hand and otherwise smaller bookstores.
The third-largest bookstore in the city is actually the Yliopiston Kirjakauppa (University Bookstore), which is like a shoebox in comparison to the University of Toronto bookstore. I have my eyes on a book focussing on the specific problems found when translating from Finnish to English. At 160 markkaa, it’s expensive (about forty Canadian dollars) but absolutely fascinating.
At one store selling remainders I bought a cheap Finnish-Sami/Sami-Finnish dictionary. Sami (sometimes spelled Same) is the indigenous language of Finland. It is now politically incorrect to call the Sami “Lapps” or their language “Lappish”, and I prefer to call this people by the name they themselves use. However more often than not, you will see “Lapp” or “Laplander” everywhere there is an English translation. I suppose the translators think that translating “Saame” to “Sami” would be lost on the part of the English reader. Hmm. Sounds like the perfect moment for educating the reader, don’tcha think?
Sami is more sibilant than Finnish, and the main difference in Sami is the vastness and variation of its sibilants. Where Finnish has merely the /s/, Sami has /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /ts/, /zh/, /dch/, and more that I cannot type using this font! Finnish fennicizes words it adopts if the originating language utilises a /z/, /sh/ or other similar sound. Examples are Sambia for Zambia, seepra for zebra, sipsit for (potato) chips, lakritsi for licorice. More sibilance also occurs in Karelian, a nearly dead language from Finland’s southeast.
Books are expensive here, and that is understandable if you consider that the total Finnish-speaking population is five million and no country anywhere else speaks the language. Yet the Finns do like their books and the two main bookstores downtown are rivals to Toronto’s Bloor Street Chapters in terms of size.
Here are the answers to my earlier question asking what were the Finnish-derived words in the OTaCWL:
1) MARKKA plural (monikko) MARKKAA
2) PENNI plural PENNIÄ or PENNIA since English sets don’t have Ä tiles 😉
3) SAUNA. Now how can ya miss that one.
4) KANTELE, the national instrument of Finland.
There are more Finnish words in the OSW. Can you find any?
This evening there is a concert by Värttinä, one of Finland’s top musical groups, at Olympic Stadium. I have been a fan of them for years and tonight will be my first Värttinä concert. Check them out and have a free listen at your local record store.