Tag Archives: phrases

Finnish phrases and why they won’t translate directly

I have thought this blog text couple days now and have ruffled the other blog text’s quickly. There were only couple of students mentioning that some Finnish phrases really won’t translate in any other language. And everybody knows that Finland is best known from it’s beautiful nature “the land of thousands lakes and forrests”, shy people and ice-hockey. So I will focus on couple of the Finnish phrases in this blog text.

“Oma lehmä ojassa”

“Own cow in a dike” – It doesn’t seem as it would mean that you are doing something because the cow is yours and not the neighbors cow. So you’re doing something for your own  good or there’s something vested interest. Do you see the logic? Same kind of phrase in English would be “Own horse in the race”.

“Rakkaudesta se hevonenkin potkii”

“The horse kicks out of love, too” – A phrase we have taught already in kindergarten when the kids tease each other “because” they have a crush on you or something like that. Actually it doesn’t make sense in Finnish either. Horses won’t kick if they love someone. But why we have this? I don’t really know.

“Ahneella on paskanen loppu”

“Greedy has a shitty ending” – This actually makes sense (for Finnish at least). If you’re too greedy everything can turn out as shit. So to us it means be even little bit humble and don’t get too greedy.

“Sitä saat, mitä tilaat”

“You get what you are ordering for” or “Ýou get what you pay for” – But actually it means that if you’re doing nice things you’ll receive nice things and if you’re mean the karma will get you.

“Kell’ onni on, se onnen kätkeköön”

“The one who has happiness, should hide it” – Do not brag. Finns believe that if you show off how happy you are, you will lose it. Have you ever seen an article of Finnish lottery winner before they have already lose the wins? Me neither.

If you got interested about the silly Finnish phrases here’s plenty more: Wikiquote, Finnish proverb , The culture trip, 20 Finnish words that makes no sense in english and Translation flowers.