Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Asking for help with Finnish

Do you sometimes feel it's hard to develop your skills when nobody corrects your Finnish? Or have you ever figured out that you've been systematically mixing tai and vai or saying normaalisesti instead of normaalisti for years while your friends and family have just been amazed by the fact that you can function in this language? Why don't the Finns help you out and correct at least the most obvious cases?

My guesses are that they are shy, afraid to hurt your feelings or just simply don't know where to start. They might also fear some horrible questions about the consonant change, object or the names of the endings, and choose to be quiet for their own sake.

Here are some simple questions you can ask after whatever you said and get the most out of talking with the Finns.

  • Voiko niin sanoa? - Can you say so?
  • Onko se oikein sanottu? - Is it correctly said?
  • Onko se kohteliaasti sanottu? - Is it polite?
  • Lausutaanko se noin? - Is it pronounced like that?
  • Kuinka se kirjoitetaan? - How do you spell it?
  • Onko se oikea sana? - Is it a real word?

You could also try these suggestions..

  • Voitko korjata, jos mä sanon jotain väärin? - Can you correct me, if I say something wrong?
  • Älä korjaa kaikkea. - Don't correct everything. 
  • Älä keskeytä, mutta kerro lopuksi. - Don't interrupt, but tell me at the end.

..or throw in the ultimate question miksi:

  • Miksi se on kiviä eikä kivejä? - Why is it kiviä and not kivejä?

You might also like my post How to make Finns speak Finnish, not English.

6 comments:

  1. This is the most awesome/useful post!! I love that you give several ways of asking 'is that right?' Thank you!

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  2. Hi,

    Thanks a lot for this very informative blog, really !

    However, from my understanding of the mutta/vaan difference about which you wrote a post (which I read), I would expect "Älä keskeytä, *vaan* kerro lopuksi" in the second to last example, since this is kind of an alternative we are giving.
    Quite like "not this but that" which to me would be "ei tuo vaan tämä".

    Maybe I misunderstood something. Anyway I'd love it if you could explain.

    Thanks very much in advance !

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    Replies
    1. Oh, you are absolutely right! "Älä keskeytä, vaan kerro lopuksi." Is much better Finnish. I don't know why I wrote 'mutta' here. Perhaps I was thinking of a longer pause there, after which 'mutta' would work better and encourage the speaker to point out the corrections later. "Älä keskeytä! ... "Mutta kerro lopuksi."

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    2. Oh, now I see what you meant! Definitely makes sense.

      Kiitos nopeasta vastauksesta ja erinomaisista artikkeleistas !

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    3. Kiitos itsellesi! Mä en olisi muistanut koko postausta ellet sä olisi kommentoinut sitä. :) Ja nyt sain samalla linkitettyä tämän tekstin uusiin kirjoituksiin.

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  3. Nice... You are absolutely right!!!..Amazing Ways to Asking Help

    ReplyDelete