Thursday, October 29, 2009

Those Whacky Finnish Proverbs

Many of the countries I've worked on have easily recognizable proverbs and sayings that were great for filling my quota of side bar "fun facts." Finland does not. Yeah, they have proverbs, but ...WTF? Some of them even baffle The Finnish Friend.
I found these at Finland for Thought. The blogger is an American living in Finland.
I followed the link at the bottom to, but I couldn't quite figure out what that site is. I felt like a shopper in a knitted cap looking for a nice axe handle at a cooperative retail society. I think.


Annika said...

I know the one with the axe handle! I'd translate it "Hello, axe handle", though.


This comes from a comic little story that used to be well known, about an old man who is quite deaf but doesn't like people to know about it, so when somebody talks to him, he tries to guess what they're saying and answers accordingly. As the old, deaf man is sitting outside his cottage whittling away at a piece of wood, a stranger comes by, stops and greets him, but the old man assumes that the stranger is asking what he's making from that piece of wood, so he replies "an axe handle". The story consists of a dialogue entirely made up of misunderstandings and false assumptions, after which the stranger goes away thinking he's just talked to the village idiot, while the old man prides himself on his conversation skills.

The saying is used quite often in Sweden and refers to situations where you get a reply that's sensible in itself, but completely unrelated to what you were asking about.

The other ones I don't know, though. Many of them seem to demand some knowledge of Finnish popular culture.

Fresca said...

Thank, Annika! That's wonderful.
Sort of like "Who's on first?"--a reference to a comic dialogue about baseball players, made up entirely of misunderstandings (because "Who" really is the name of the first-base player).

You must be right that the phrases are specific to Finnish culture rather than generic truths dressed in local clothes ("don't poke a lion with a stick").

Anonymous said...

Well, not a lion but...

"Angry as a bear shot in the arse."

fresca said...

That's the ticket!
I didn't come across many of those in my google search.