Today’s post is a short one, because I’m just back from a visit to the local sf pub meeting. Nice things, those. You go to the friendly neighborhood (or in this case, downtown) pub, order some food and a beer, sit down with people you know (and some you don’t if you’re lucky and there are new people at the meeting) and talk about stuff. You know, an ordinary pub night. Except with more sf. Which makes it even better.
Anyway. Lists are all the rage on the net, I hear. I’m lousy with lists: I can’t even list my favorite books if asked when I don’t expect it. Or when I do. Normally I just evade the question by starting to talk about the latest book I’ve read and hope the person I’m talking to forgets what they asked. If that doesn’t work, I ramble on until they get the hint and pretend they forgot the question. Or, in a pinch, I change the subject. By the way, did you know that the Finnish cavalry-men, called “hakkapeliittas,” were feared through Europe during the Thirty Years’ War? Apparently this was because they were used to fighting the Russians on the Eastern border and no chivalry was known in those battles. In other words, instead of civilized fighting, they were used to what we today would probably call total war. (My wife is currently preparing a lecture about Sweden as a superpower in the 17th century, and that’s where I got this interesting tidbit.)
So, lists. I thought I’d make a list for you. Something about Finland, or the Finnish language to be more specific. You may not know this, but there are several reasons why the Finnish language is cooler than English. Here’s my top five, at least for today. (It might change tomorrow. As I said, I’m lousy with lists.)
- Finnish is more equal. We don’t have gender-specific personal pronouns, there’s just “hÃ¤n” meaning both “he” and “she”. This is sometimes a problem for translators, but otherwise pretty neat. It also means we don’t have a language-related problem with people who don’t identify either as a he or a she, and maybe are therefore a little better equipped to treat them more normally in other respects too. If you want, feel free to borrow the word from us. We don’t mind.
- We have more letters than you do. Your little alphabet ends with z, but we also have Ã¥, Ã¤, and Ã¶. And no, those aren’t umlauts. They are totally different letters that just look like a and o with umlauts. And more is naturally better.
- Finnish is elegant and economic. You can say so much more with just one word. For example “epÃ¤jÃ¤rjestelmÃ¤llistyttÃ¤mÃ¤ttÃ¶myydellÃ¤nsÃ¤kÃ¤Ã¤n”. Ok, so that isn’t a word anybody would really ever use, but technically it’s still correct. It means something like, “even with his or her (notice how awkwardly I need to express that) ability to not make others more disorganized”. The downside to this is that if you want to participate in NaNoWriMo in Finnish, you have to produce quite a lot more content.
- Finnish is clear and logical. Each letter corresponds with exactly one sound, always. No exceptions according to which letters it follows or where in the word it is. (With the single exception of “ng” which just makes the rule more precise.) No silent vowels either, so you always know how a word is pronounced by looking at it, even if you’ve never heard the word before. And the emphasis is always on the first syllable. If every language were this practical, learning them would be so much easier.
- There’s no future tense in the Finnish language. The present tense is used instead. “No future,” as the TÃ¤htivaeltaja slogan says. This makes it easy to seize the day, to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow. At least in theory. There are some who insist on trying to introduce a sort-of future tense by artificial constructs like “you will come to know this,” but they are clearly in the wrong and should stop immediately.
There you have it. Obviously a superior language, and now that I think about it, everybody should learn it. Really, it’s elegant, logical, and clear. It’s like using the metric system. (What’s up with not using that, anyway? Come on! I can sort of understand the British trying to hang on to remains of days past, but what about Americans? Aren’t you supposed to let go of your parent already and move on instead of clinging to the past? I’ve heard a lot about how it’s time for America to change; couldn’t you change in this regard too while you’re at it?)