Word of the Day

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

English made in Finland

My wife and I have recently returned from Finland. Most Finns speak excellent English, but there was somebody, our 50-odd year old guide around the fortress of Suomenlinna, carrying a name tag with the flags of England, Sweden and Finland, who sometimes left a little to be desired. It was easy to understand her and she was knowledgeable about Finnish history and the surroundings of the castle, but she made up a lot of words, like old-fashionable. For her ships can swim. Her pronunciation was also off sometimes: she repeatedly pronounced area as uh-REE-uh and archipelago as Ahr-kuh-puh-LAH-go. She produced They usually never fought in winter. An example of a messup with verb tenses: In the 19th century this fortress has been.... But the most interesting things were the nonexistent English words. If I didn't speak other languages, I might have not understood her. She mentioned Helsinkians pendling between the city and the island. She meant commuting. German has pendeln, Swedish has pendla, and Czech has pendlovat for that meaning. Once, describing, I suppose, some sort of rod, stick or stake, she called it a slag (I know, this is a word, but it is not what she meant). I associated it with German schlagen and Swedish slå, "to strike, to pound, to hit". There were also rooting (at least it sounded like this) soldiers. I think she meant some sort of amateur soldiers, islanders who defended the fortress even though they had never been trained to bear arms.

No comments: