Saturday, July 20, 2013

Satu on koulussa

Text is taken from Hyvä-parempi-paras: Soome keele õppekomplekt algajaile by Karre Sark and published by Kirjastus Iduleht

So it has been a long time indeed! After I did well getting 90% in both my Lithuanian and Estonian exams I had to focus my energies on my job as a proofreader, teaching, university work and also my doctoral research. That left no time for studying Finnish. However, it seems that I might be moving to Finland next year to live and work and thus I have decided to return to my study of the language.

Here is the first audio text from one of my Finnish textbooks.

Satu on koulussa ensimmäisellä luokalla. Hänen koulunsa sijaitsee Köyliössä. Köyliö on Suomen kunta, joka sijaitsee Länsi-Suomessa. Aamulla Satu kävelee kouluun. Joskus sää on kylmä ja tuulee. Usein sataa. Kun sade loppuu, tekee auringonpaiste taas iloiseksi. Satu pitää koulusta, koska siellä on mukavia kavereita ja kivoja opettajia. Satu tykkää äidinkielestä ja matematiikasta. Hänestä myös kuoluruoka on hyvää.

Satu on koolis esimeses klassis. Ta kool asub Köyliös. Köyliö on Soome vald, mis asub Lääne-Soomes. Hommikul Satu jalutab kooli. Mõnikord ilm on külm ja tuuline. Sageli sajab vihma. Kui sadu lakkab, teeb päikesepaiste teda taas rõõmsaks. Satule meeldib kool, sest seal on toredaid sõpru ja vahvaid õpetajaid. Talle meeldib emakeel ja matemaatika. Tema meelest on koolisöök ka hea.

Satu is in first grade in school. Her school is located in Köyliö. Köyliö is a Finnish municipality situated in Western-Finland. In the morning Satu walks to school. Sometimes the weather is cold and it is windy. It often rains. When the rain stops the sunshine makes Satu happy again. Satu likes school as she has good friends and nice teachers there. Satu likes Finnish and maths. She also thinks the food at school is good.

Some vocab. differences to note:

Nouns, adjectives adverbs:

Fin: luokka, aamu, joskus, usein, aurinko, iloinen, kaveri, äiti, ruoka
Est: klass, hommik, mõnikord, sageli, päike, rõõmus, sõber, ema, söök
Eng: class, morning, sometimes, often, sun, happy, friend, mother, food

Finnish iloinen 'happy' is not to be confused with Estonian ilus 'beautiful', though they share a common origin. Iloinen is a combination of ilo 'joy, delight' plus the suffix -inen, which transforms nouns into adjectives. Wiktionary says that Finnish ilo is cognate with Estonian ilu 'beauty', and possibly also Livonian īla ('nature') and Pite Sami âllo ('urge').

Students of Finnish will be reminded of the Finnish verb syödä 'eat' when seeing the Estonian noun söök 'food'. The verb is sööma and from the root can be formed such words as söödik 'glutton', söögiraha 'food money', söögilaud 'dining table' and söökla 'diner, cafeteria' etc.

Despite Estonian hea being the 'normal' translation of Finnish hyvä it should be noted that the words hää and hüva also exist in Estonian, often appearing in reference to old traditions and elements of Southern Estonian life and culture. Take the following sentence:

Vanema on küpsetanud pannkooke ja muud hüva rooga.
Grandmother has cooked pancakes and other good food.

Here you can see the word hüva used rather than the standard word hea. Anyone who has studied Estonian will know the words hästi 'well' and häid, plural partitive of hea, which clearly contain hää. The above sentence also contains another 'old' word, roog (gen. sg. roa, part. sg. rooga). This word is often found on menus - eelroad 'starters, appetizers'. (It is a bit confusing that the sg. part. is rooga as it might be misread as roo + -ga, the Estonian comitative marker. There is a word in Estonian whose genitive is roo, it's the homonym roog, the shortened form of pilliroog 'reed'. Pill is the Estonian for 'musical instrument' [pillimees 'player, musician'], 'weeping' [pillima 'to weep, cry'] or 'pill [drug]').

My wife shared with me an old Estonian expression parents used to tell their children (incase they become too happy for too long ;-) ) which contains the word pill in its meaning of weeping: Pill tuleb pika ilu peale 'Weeping follows great joy'. What's this? Rõõm is the standard Estonian translation of the word 'joy' (see rõõmus above), but here we see ilu meaning 'joy'. Ilo anyone?

The lesson here I suppose is that even though the standard translations of 'food' in the two languages are ruoka and toit (though söök in the text above) and 'joy' is ilo and rõõm, scratch the surface and you discover a word like roog and older meanings of words like ilu.


The Estonian ilm translates as 'weather' but Finnish ilma can be translated often as 'air'. Contrast Finnish ilmankuivain (ilma 'air' + kuivain 'drier/dehydrator') with Estonian õhukuivati (õhu 'air' + kuivati 'drier/dehumidifier'). See here for Estonian ilma and Finnish ilman.

Above you will notice that Joskus sää on kylmä ja tuulee 'Sometimes the weather is cold and it is windy' is translated as Mõnikord ilm on külm ja tuuline 'Sometimes the weather is cold and windy'. Finnish speakers will recognise tuuline as Finnish tuulinen. My wife tells me that there isn't really an Estonian verb equivalent for Finnish tuulla. 'Wind' is tuul in Estonian and tuuli in Finnish.

In the text above 'it rains/ it is raining' is given as sataa in Finnish and vihma sajab (inf. sadama) in Estonian. It would also be possible to say sataa vettä in Finnish and simply sajab in Estonian. Vettä is the partitive of vesi 'water' (vesi, vett in Estonian) while vihma is the partitive of vihm 'rain' (sade, sadetta in Finnish [sadu in Estonian translates as 'shower' as in ilm keerab sajule 'it looks like rain (lit. weather turns to shower)']).

However, unlike in English the phrase 'it's snowing' translates into Finnish and Estonian as sataa lunta and sajab lund. The phrase 'it is drizzling' is rendered as sataa tihkua in Finnish and tibutab vihma in Estonian. The Finnish verb tihkua means 'percolate, seep' whereas the Estonia tibutama means 'drizzle'.

My wife tells me there is an Estonian verb tihkuma 'sob, whimper'. Other verbs or expression to convey the same are nuuksuma and vaikselt nutma 'cry quietly'. The Eesti keele rahvasõnaraamat gives the definition of nuuksuma as nuttes häälekalt sisse hingama 'to audibly inhale whilst crying'.


Fin: sijaita - sijaitsee
Est: asuma - asub
Eng: lie, be situated, be located

Of course, Finnish also has the verb asua - asuu 'reside, stay, dwell', as in Missä asuu sinun perheesi? 'Where does your family live?'

Fin: kävellä - kävelee
Est: jalutama - jalutab
Eng: walk

Wiktionary says that kävellä is derived from käydä 'walk', the latter being cognate with Estonian käima 'walk, move, go'.

The last thing I will point out in this post is the Finnish sentence Hänestä myös kuoluruoka on hyvää 'She also thinks that the food at school is good'. The reason why it's hyvää and not hyvä (i.e. part. and not nom. case) was explained to me by an acquaintance of mine Standalone adjectival or nominal predicates in Finnish sentences expressing definition or identification are usually in the partitive, cf. Pojat ovat poikia = Poisid on poisid (Boys will be boys). EDIT: See the comment on this issue below by Atte.

It's not possible to use this structure in Estonian * Temast on koolisöök ka hea. We have to render it as T(em)a meelest 'from her mind'. There is also, however, in Finnish the phrase olla mieltä 'to be of an opinion', as in Mitä mieltä minä olen kiusaamisesta 'What I think about bullying' (kiusaaminen 'bullying, harressment' (kiusa 'bother, nuisance' [kiusata 'tease, bother, pester, pick on etc.']) + -minen suffix to form verbal nouns, as in kirjoittaa 'write' to kirjoittaminen 'writing', syödä 'eat' to syöminen 'eating').

(Mä pidän vs. Mulle meeldib is discussed here)

I hope you enjoyed this post. Until the next time!

Näkemiin! Nägemist!


  1. This comment arrived in my email inbox but never appeared on my blog in the comments so I am writing it here:

    By Atte.

    "The reason why it's hyvää and not hyvä (i.e. part. and not nom. case) was explained to me by an acquaintance of mine: Standalone adjectival or nominal predicates in Finnish sentences expressing definition or identification are usually in the partitive, cf. Pojat ovat poikia = Poisid on poisid (Boys will be boys)."

    Iso suomen kielioppi says (VISK § 946) that the case for adjectival and nominal predicatives depends on the subject of the sentence: "non-divisible" subjects cause the predivative to take the nominative and "divisible" subjects to take the partitive.

    Going by the naive "usually in the partitive" rule, you'd end up saying things like "Sinä olet kaunista" and "Minun koirani on ruskeaa"!