Monday, December 12, 2005

Hyvä Herne-Keitto!*

In the interest of diversity and cultural sensitivity, Carnaby Fudge herewith presents the following discussion to help further understanding between disparate peoples.

As our regular readers know, my husband is from Finland. Over the years, he and I have noticed some of the cultural differences between Americans and Finns. These differences are difficult to notice at first, because they can be so subtle, but they're there. For instance, my paradigm was forever shifted when I first looked at a Helsinki newspaper. There was a big, splashy ad for a department store sale, which my husband translated for me. The ad read, "HUGE SALE ON POLKA MUSIC AND PEA SOUP!!!" (Do Finns know how to have a good time or what?) But the best examples of cultural differences are common expressions and names for things. It's amazing how close these can be and yet so far away. A few examples...

Let's say an American is getting irritated with some blowhard who just won't shut up. He might say to the offending person: Shut your pie hole.

A Finn would say: Leipäläpi kiinni. (Shut your bread crack.)

If the blabbermouth won't shut his pie hole, an American might tell him: Take a hike.

A Finn would tell him: Suksi kuuseen. (Go ski into the pine trees.)

If the gasbag won't take a hike, this would irritate the American. You might say: He's got a bee in his bonnet.

The Finn would comment: Herne nenässä. (He's got a pea up his nose.) (What is it with Finns and peas?)

But perhaps the blabbermouth who won't take a hike is just a little bit insane. An American would think this guy is: Off his rocker or One card short of a full deck.

A Finn would observe: Iso pyörä heittää. (The big wheel is wobbly.)

Now, all this arguing has made the American hungry, and he decides he wants to go to a restaurant that serves home cooking, in which case he might go to Marie Callender's.

The Finn, however, will seek home-style cooking at Pata-akka (The Pot Hag).

After all this the Finn goes home and "eats" some medicine to calm his stomach, "opens" the television to see what's on, and finally "closes the lights off" and goes to bed.

Thus concludes our first lesson in Finno-American cross-cultural understanding. In Lesson 2 I will explore some of the kooky and obscure Finnish proverbs and obtuse Finnish jokes.

[* "Hooray for pea soup!"]


Blogger Rusticus said...

So what do they say about someone who is pea-brained?

12/15/2005 10:54 AM  
Blogger Stickwick Stapers said...

Good question! I asked hubby and he says they call them "herneaivo." It's literally "pea brain" -- the same in Finnish as in English.

However, "two peas in a pod" becomes "kuin kaksi marjaa" which means "like two berries of the same kind." Meh.

12/15/2005 12:08 PM  
Blogger Rusticus said...

Nice to see that insults tend to cross language and cultural boundaries!

But berries? Sheesh, they dropped the pea on this one!

12/15/2005 1:18 PM  

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