When thinking about Finnishness and how I personally differ from other nationalities as a Finn, one of the first things that comes to mind is definitely the utter need for personal space. Fear not, I’m not about to give you the old fashioned lecture on the stereotypical Finn that represents an unsocial and quiet people of the North. On the contrary, I find our need for a refined me-time an underrated characteristic. I for once am extremely outgoing and obnoxiously loud, so the stereotype clearly doesn’t apply. Yet I sometimes feel the utmost need to unwind alone after a long day or simply because I happen to feel like sulking at home by myself. In Finland it is not a problem. In Finland we simply say: *„Vittuun täst keilahallist!“ and leave. In my experience foreign people often feel a much stronger obligation to put up with their undesired surroundings and other people’s company even if they’d much rather be at home making pizza or drinking tea or whatever the hell they do in their spare time. I believe all people should take a leaf out of Kalevala and learn to value their right to be alone every once in a while.
*(roughly translates to: „To hell with this bowling alley!“. Doesn’t really make sense in Finnish either, but people tend to get it.)
Here is another topic i feel especially strongly about. As a young Finn in my early twenties I have learned two different versions of Finnish: The one I was taught at home and in kindergarten, at school and in books. The proper Finnish, which as it happens is also the language taught to foreigners. Then there is the domestic slang learned in the streets, from friends and from the occasional cool aunt that shows up in family functions drunk and ready to stir shit up. This I believe is the real and far more colorful version of my dear mothertongue.
The most common urban legend about the Finnish language is that we have a thousand words for snow. Or a hundred, or maybe it was 55, no idea. Whether it is true, I don’t know and to be quite honest with you, I don’t really give a flying rat’s ass about it. What I think should be celebrated is the fact that in Finland we have such a vast vocabulary of swear words. I could start listing, but it would take all night and I probaly wouldn’t even get halfway. Not only do we have hilariously descriptive terms for swearing such as ** „vittujen kevät“ and ***„paskanjäykkänä“ but we also have linguistic masterpieces like the word „vittu“ which can be used as a noun, an adjective, a verb or pretty much anything one wishes. That is a rare richness people usually look past. I mean there’s only so many times you can talk about snow without coming off as a hydrophiliac weirdo, but swearing never gets old. Ever. I swear.
**The spring of cunts – a common phrase used to describe deep frustration
***Stiff as shit – describing the way one looks when, well, scared shitless