Monday, March 10, 2014

Finnish notes, part 1

If you live in an apartment building in Finland, you might run into notes like this:

"Vintin varastot nro 12 ja 13 kehotetaan tyhjentämään ja siivoamaan 7.3. mennessä, sen jälkeen tyhjennys tapahtuu omistajan toimesta."

"The attic storages number 12 and 13 are asked to be emptied and cleaned by March 7. After that, the emptying will be done by the owner."


Jarkko said...

"Are asked to be emptied", this kind of double passive isn't really possible in English :) In Finnish we use the passive (or rather, they "unknown subject") a lot, but often it's not possible to translate it directly to English. A passable rule of thumb would be that whenever it's possible, translate the Finnish passive sentences into English active sentences --> We ask you to empty and clean the attic storages number 12 and 13 by March 7. After that, the owner will empty the storages.

I tried to find an online source for this, but unfortunately this mistake is so limited to Finns speaking English that it hasn't really gotten the attention it would require here. If you've studied English at the University of Jyväskylä, I'm sure you're familiar with Eleanor Underwood. She's an expert on the topic, and she's also the one I have to thank for drawing our attention to this double passive mistake in one of her courses.

Hanna said...

Oho. Kiitos. Mä jätän sen kuitenkin tuolla tavalla, koska kökkökäännös auttaa hahmottamaan suomen lauserakennetta. Samanlaista kömpelyyttä on varmasti myös muissa postauksissa, joissa on passiivia.. Pitää kiinnittää tuohon jatkossa huomiota! :)