Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mä pidän

A learner of Estonian who has just started out on Finnish could be forgiven for thinking that the Finnish phrase mä pidän is the Finnish of ma pean (I must) but it's not! * Mä pidän means I like, the equivalent of mulle meeldib. Because of the argument structure of this phrase is different in the two languages, the thing or person that is liked is treated as an object in Finnish but a subject in Estonian. Let's take a look at a few examples, some of which come from the excellent book Colloquial Finnish by Daniel Abondolo. In this blog I will make much reference of this book and as I do so translate the Finnish into Estonian so I get practice in both languages.

F: Minä pidän kahvista.
E: Mulle meeldib kohv.
I like coffee.

F: Minä pidän teestä.
E: Mulle meeldib tee.
I like tea.

The structure of the Finnish sentence is: SUB pitä- OBJ=stA (Liker in NOM, verb, thing liked in ELA)
The structure of the Estonian sentence is: OBJ=le meeldima SUB (Liker in ALL, verb, thing liked in NOM)

The Finnish closely resembles the English structure but in the Estonian, a more literal loose translation into English might be 'Coffee/ tea is agreeable for me', very similar with the Irish structure if I do say so myself (Is maith liom caife/ tae)

So not only is the verb different in the two languages different but the whole argument structure of the sentence is also different. Let's take a few more examples.

F: Mä pidän televisiosta, mutta mä kuuntelen mieluummin radiota.
E: Mulle meeldib televisioon, aga ma eelistan raadiot kuulata. (more formal)
E: Mulle meeldib televisioon, aga ma kuulan meelsamini raadiot. (less formal)
I like television but I prefer to listen to the radio.

F: He pitävät vedestä, mutta he juovat mieluummin viiniä
E: Neile meeldib vesi, aga nad eelistavad veini juua. (more formal)
E: Neile meeldib vesi, aga nad joovad meelsamini veini. (less formal)
They like water but they prefer to drink wine.

mieluummin 'more gladly' in Finnish and meelsamini 'more gladly' Estonian
eelistama 'prefer' in Estonian

You can see similarities in verb conjugation between the two languages here:

F: Mä juon, sä jout, me juomme, he juovat
E: Ma joon, sa jood, me joome, nad joovad
I drink, you drink, we drink, they drink

Of course, be aware in Finnish that it's more common in the spoken language to say ne juo than he juovat.

What about the negative, 'I don't like...' This is mä en pidä in Finnish and mulle ei meeldi in Estonian. This time some examples from my own head.

F: Mä en pidä maidosta, sitten mä juon mustaa teetä ilman maitoa tai vihreää teetä.
E: Mulle ei meeldi piim, sellepärast ma joon musta teed ilma piimata või rohelist teed.
I don't like milk so I drink black tea without milk or green tea.

F: Lapset ei pidä kouluun mennä.
E: Lastele ei meeldi koolis käia.
The children don't like going to school.

F: Tyttö ei pidä juustosta, mutta se pitää suklaasta.
E: Tüdrukule ei meeldi juust, aga talle meeldib šokolaad.
The girl doesn't like cheese, but she likes chocolate.

* That said, the verb pitä- means 'like, hold' and in Estonian the verb pidama, from whence comes the phrase ma pean, also means 'hold'. The equivalent of Estonian ma pean is mun pitää. (More about use of pitä- from here)

ALL = allative case; ELA = elate case

Thanks to ainurakne for comments
Comment by ainurakne on
Actually, when I started to learn Finnish and heard phrases minä pidän/en pidä, then for some reason I knew instantly what they meant. It seems to me that I have heard something similar in Estonian (maybe in some dialects), especially in negative sentences, for example: 'Ma ei pea sinust palju.' or 'Ma ei pea eriti piimast.' (maybe someone wiser than me can elaborate on this one), although, maybe I just confuse it with a phrase '(kellest/millest) lugu pidama', which nowadays means mostly 'to respect someone/something', but is also widely used like this: 'Ma ei pea piimast eriti lugu.' = I don't like milk very much / I am not very fond of milk / milk is not one of my favorites. meelsasti - meelsamini - kõige meelsamini or meelsaimini gladly, more gladly, most gladly

1 comment:

  1. Hi, nice blog! Just some suggestions, to correct the Finnish. 'Sä jout' should be 'sa juot'. Also,'lasten ei pidä kouluun mennä' should be: 'lapset eivät pidä koulunkäynnistä' or 'lapset eivät tahdo mennä kouluun'. And instead of saying 'mä en pidä maidosta, sitten mä juon mustaa teetä ilman maitoa', say instead: 'mä en pidä maidosta vaan juon teeni mustana'. :)