SO, you have arrived here in Finland. You’ve also gotten over the shock that summer has already ended, just as it was beginning to cook up nicely. You’ve come to love the quiet, all unnecessary small talk now eradicated from your social portfolio. Heck, you have even swallowed hard to accept the fact that the textbook Finnish you have been studying so hard during your Finnish course actually has little relevance to the spoken parlance on the street.

But then something comes along to rattle any newfound confidence with the local lingo. Recent months have seen a flush of sentences on social media and elsewhere online that at first glance look like a mistake. Feast your eyes on sentences such as this one:

Kokko! Kokoo kokoon koko kokko!
– Koko kokkoko?
– Koko kokko! – Ok, kokoon kokoon koko kokon!

Yep, I’m afraid it actually means something! In fact, the entertaining blog Depressing Finland is full of such tongue twisters. Here’s how they translate this conversation between two people:

“Kokko (a surname)! Build the whole bonfire up!
– The whole bonfire?
– The whole bonfire!
– Alright, I’ll build up the whole bonfire!”

The head scratching doesn’t end there, mind you, with the likes of this also on offer, courtesy of FinnInExile from the same blog:

Keksijä Keksi keksi keksin. Keksittyään keksin keksijä Keksi keksi keksin keksityksi

Huh?? Have no fear (if possible), here comes their explanation:

“Inventor Cookie invented a cookie. Once the inventor Cookie had invented a cookie he invented that a cookie was invented.”

Ah, good to know it makes about as much sense in English, then. And so, just in case you think you may have gotten the hang of it, along comes a doozy along the lines of:

Hilja sanoi Hiljalle hiljaa niin hiljaa ettei Hilja itsekkään kuullut kun Hilja sanoi Hiljalle hiljaa...

Goddit? Nope? Maybe? Kinda?? Well, here goes the blog’s explanation:

“Hilja said ‘be quiet’ to (another) Hilja so silently that Hilja didn’t hear herself as she told Hilja to be quiet”…

But, at the end of the day there is no reason to fret. Just as we don’t communicate in vast chunks of text pinched from Dr. Seuss (at least, the majority of us don’t, anyway!), there are few occasions in life here in Finland where such sentences will come in handy.

Now, if only the same thing could be said about the partitiivi case!

James O’Sullivan