Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

I'm still saying it wrong

I believe English to be a very difficult language to learn, and my lazier side is relieved that, as a native speaker, I was spared that experience. But Finnish, man. FINNISH. It is so hard! I know, I know, it's learnable, and it has a system, and it at least uses the same alphabet as English, but Finnish just sees the world a different way, and it's hard to re-train your brain.

All of these reflections are courtesy of today's Finnish class, in which I learned still more ways I have been Saying It Wrong. If I have internalized one thing about Finnish during this latest course, it's that Finnish cares a lot about directions. Where are you going? Are you going to somewhere, or coming from somewhere? Or were you mostly standing in place? Did you go and come back quickly? Were you ON that place, or just kind of in its general area? Does the place that you went/came/were happen to have a roof or an enclosure of any kind? (All of this brought on by the mennä syömään/olla syömässä/tulla syömästä trifecta.) I believe I have been saying things like "minä menen katsoa elokuvan" (I'm [physically] going to watch a movie) but that is Saying It Wrong. "Going" means movement which means direction which means there's this whole other aspect to consider. So it's menen katsomaan.

And there's more! In Finnish, you have to think about whether the verb you are performing is a process, or complete. Russian has verbs like this, too, but Finnish takes it even further: you have to consider the nature of the verb's object as well. Today in class my group and I briefly gave up and started laughing because we were trying to say "I am in the living room celebrating my birthday," but had to consider: is birthday food? is birthday a material? is birthday an abstract concept, or something concrete? Are you celebrating all of it? Or just part of it? Or is celebrating, perhaps, inherently a process? You can't say that sentence until you can answer those questions, and they're questions I'm simply not used to asking myself because English doesn't need me to.

All this and more, when you're learning Finnish.

The sister missionaries

The sister missionaries

Girl with a new pipo (winter hat)