Changing my Finnish language narrative.
This week I did something quite unexpected. I gave a tour in Finnish 🇫🇮 and English 🇦🇺 * simultaneously. I wasn’t expecting to have to do that. Mainly because I had forgotten how rare it is that my in-laws both understand and speak English.
My guests were a FIN-AUS couple, and the Finnish parents. All of my correspondence had been in English and so I foolishly presumed that the outing would also be in English. How wrong I was!
When we gathered I asked if they spoke English and both parents (in a very typical Finnish way, more shy than apologetic) smiled and shook their heads, no. The Finnish half of the couple jumped in and said they could translate. I could have said yes, thanks and left it there.
Except this time a little voice stopped me. Firstly I remembered an outing from a few years ago with a lovely German family, where the youth (well 40ish) understood and spoke very good English, while their parents struggled. That day was me speaking and then a simultaneous German translation going on behind me. Distracting to say the least.
The other reason is more personal and one that I have sort of touched on over the years. That’s the thought that I sound silly or wrong when I speak 🙄 Granted, I have stopped worrying about this in personal encounters and just yesterday had a lovely chat in the dentists chair (that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one!) about holidays and travel now that things started looking normal again.
Obviously the Finnish language and non-Finns learning and using of it are of constant fascination here. Helsinki’s daily paper had two articles this week about Finnish and non-native speakers. One on the difficulty to break into the job market (even with good Finnish skills) and the other about high school students who have arrived recently and their learning & social experiences. It was interesting to read that at least in one case it was okay to laugh when someone had trouble pronouncing a word.
So back to my outing. I laughed and said that I battle with Finnish everyday so I will do the outing in both languages and whilst my brain will probably be fried 😵💫 by the end of it (and it was!!!), let’s do this!
By the end of the outing I was exhausted. I had managed to lose words in both languages, something that happens an awful lot these days. I can visualise the words in the other language, yet can not pronounce them. Still everybody was happy and that’s the main thing.
Now, a few days later looking back I know that I need to work on my vocabulary and pronunciation. I also need to shift the thinking a little. Time to stop thinking in terms of battling the language – true, it is hard work. However I like reading and speaking Finnish. (Writing is another thing altogether!). So from now on I am embracing Finnish. That is a much more positive point of view. It’s time to release my inner Finn 😎.
If you want to find your inner Finn, follow the link: https://www.visitfinland.com/campaigns/finngenerator/public/en/
* I use an Australian flag, well because I am Australian 😉