Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finnish Cultural Assimilation Lesson #28

My fellow immigrants, here is yet another lesson from my course dealing with Finnish culture and how to make yourself a part of it. Far too often I run into immigrants who can't speak a word of Finnish even though they have lived here for years. Usually they come from English-speaking homelands and they make the claim that Finnish is so hard to learn. The fact of the matter is that they don't try, or if they ever did try, they gave up early years ago. This is a pity. Without the necessary language skills one will never be able to fully understand the complexities of the Finnish soul.

Fingerpori is an excellent comic strip by Petri Jaarla. Usually the humor in Fingerpori is based on puns and wordplay, therefore nearly impossible to translate into English. Every now and then I run across a Fingerpori strip that translates well.

Click on strip to enlarge.

Learn and use Finnish my immigrant brethren! If for no other reason learn the language so that you too can appreciate the humor of Fingerpori.


  1. Olen samaa mieltä! I totally agree! I am a Brit living in Lapland...been here five years and whilst Finnish certainly isn't the easiest of languages to learn... one has to at least TRY! Well said Willie.

  2. Minä myös - ulkomaalaisien täytyy oppia suomea (tai yrittävää...) jos hauluisivat asua Suomessa. But I do wish it was easier to find courses that concentrate on day-to-day communication and comprehension rather than grammar rules.

  3. The only real way to learn is to keep your Finnish active outside of class. Read newspapers. Keep a word diary. Watch Finnish TV shows even if you don't understand them at first. Go out for coffee and eavesdrop. At first you may only understand one out of every ten words but with a bit of perserverance things will start to fall into place.

    Another thing that may help is a bit of suffering. When your Finnish friends are around, insist that they use Finnish. It may be that you don't know what is going on in a conversation but when you do finally figure it out, it means that you've learned something.

    One of the greatest disservices a native Finn can do to an immigrant is show off their English and or other language skills on a constant basis. If your immigrant friend doesn't get daily exposure to the language, he or she will never learn.
    I'm lucky in the sense that my friends never try to speak English with me. I do get annoyed when every now and then a bank teller or a store clerk responds in English although I have intitiated the interaction in Finnish.

  4. Kiitos hyvästä neuvosta. As with everything there's no replacement for hard work and perseverance.