(Language and Culture Tandem)
by Maria Babakhanyan Stone
I met my tandem partner (for privacy, her name is H). She seems nice. We didn’t speak Finnish yet. Hopefully next time I will not be shy and we can speak some Finnish :).
10/27/2017 – 2nd Tandem meeting. ART CAFE.
Minä olen Maria. Sinä olet H. Hän on James. Minä puhun suomea. Sinä puhut suomea ja vahan englantia.
Mitä “löydä” tarkoittaa (mean)?
ne -> them
Can you please read it?
… sinä ….. ……………….
one more -> una mas -> yksi vielä
We did 30 min Finnish, 30 min English. I brought some children’s books in Finnish but they were too difficult. Then I asked some questions to H. and she answered. During the English part, H. said she didn’t plan anything and talked about her English. For me, it is difficult, because I know so little Finnish…
Mitä kieltä sinä puhut?
Kuka sinä nälkä?
Onko sinulla yskä?
Onko sinulla pää kipea?
Mika sinun nimesi on?
13.11.2017 -> CAFE ART – closed. KIRJAKAHVILA.
H. was late. Cafe Art was closed. We met later at Kirjakahvila, a quaint place in medieval part of the center. It is difficult to cenverse in Finnish as I know so little of the language. I had some questions prepared and asked H. Also we chatted in English about sauna.
Puhutko sinä suomea?
Minkä maalainen sinä olet?
Mikä päivä tänään on? – Maantai.
Pidätkö sinä saunasta? – Pidän.
Pidatko sinä kahvista? Pidän.
Pidatko sinä jäätelöistä? Pidän.
Millainen ilma tänään on? Kylmä. (Cold).
Milloin sinä heräät?
Mistä he puhuvat? Ei tieda. 🙂
11.9.2017 – Quantum Library -> Feeniks Library
Minä olen Maria.
Minä olen opiskelija.
Minä opiskelen Turun yliopistossa.
Työskentelen Tuorlan Observaotryssä.
Opiskelen suomeksi Johannan kanssa.
~ Kysymykset ~
M. Minkä maalainen sinä olet?
M. Puhutko sinä suomea?
M. Milloin sinä heräät?
Kayttekö (te) usein elokuvissa? En kay.
Käytko (sinä) usein teatterissa? Käyn.
Mitä sinä opiskelet yliopistossa? Musiikkitieteitä.
Missä kirja on? Hyllyssä.
Missä käyt illalla? Harrastuksissa.
Missä olit eilen? Kaupassa.
Mitä kieltä te puhutte töissä? Suomea.
Oletko sinä töissä? Olen.
Onko teillä puutarha? Ei ole.
Asutko sinä kerrostalossa vai omakotitalossa? Millainen talo on? Onko se suuri vai pieni? Kerrostalossa. Suuri.
Kuinka monta lasta sinulla on? Ei yhtään.
Oletko sinä naimisissa? En ole.
Oletko sinä nainen vai mies? N.
Kuinka vanha sinä olet? 19 vuotias.
Mitä kieltä te puhutte kotona? Suomea.
Missä kaupungissa sinä asut? Turussa.
Missä maassa sinä asut? Suomessa.
Minkä maalainen sinä olet? Suomalainen.
~ Lists ~
Nouns, Shopping List
- omena (apples)
- kananmunat (eggs)
- maito (milk)
- voi (butter)
- WC paperi / vessapaperi (TP)
- “todo” lista
- osta ruokaa (buy food) | ruoka-a
- lähetä sähköpostiviesti opettajalle (email teacher)
- palauta (kirjaston) kirjat (return library books) | reminds me of recycling bottle return palauta in the S-market or K-city market
I have very little time to dedicate to the acquisition of the Finnish language., so my progress is slow. That’s okay. I keep t it and little by little the language reveals itself. It does take some effort for the Tandem because I have zero knowledge of Finnish, so what can I possibly talk about if I can barely tie two words together in a sentence? Finnish is not an intuitive language for me yet. So, I am not sure how to construct sentences. I have to memorize a lot. Also, I have to find ways to practice because at home I speak in English with my hubbie and at work as well. I can’t distinguish verbs from nouns from other parts, so even when I read, I am not able o guess the meaning. Maybe I should find a good textbook.
- juu, joo, kyllä -. (yeah)
- yaffa cookie
- How are you?
- Mitä kuuluu?
- Miten menee? (friendlier)
- What are you doing today? weekend? for Christmas? What are your plans? – Mitä teet jouluna? Mitä teet ikonloppuna? tanaan?
- Would you like to have a coffee? – Haluaisitko lähteä (to go) kahville? (some coffee) — kahvilaan -> – ffee shop
- How much is …? Paljonko tämä (this) maksaa (cost)? • Do you have any discount? sale? – Milloin alennus alkaa (start)? Alennus vatko broileri valmiiksi paistetut – nat alennuksessa?
- …. because …. sentences -> koska (s-sh)
- I like broilerista koska se on maukasta.
- Minä pidan broilerista koska se on maukasta (it is tasty).
Culture: X-mas in Finland
Do you have Xmas lights? reflectors? – …?
hautausuma – 24,25,26
joulukinkku -> Christmas park
rutabaga, carrot, potatoes, macaroni, meatbolls
2kg/5 euros -> kaksi kiloa viitella (viisi, declined) euroa 🙂
yksi kilogramma perunaa
In Russian, there is a saying, “Repeating is the mother of learning”. This is true for me. I read a whole book on learning Finnish but retained very littel. I feel that now I have to review and re-read several times and keep practicing to retain. I don’t have much time or desire to start memorizing things. I prefer naturally incorporating the language. However, some things I think are so critical, that I do make the effort to memorize, such as
days of the week
December 3rd, 2017
I decided to pick my activity as reading dialogs from a book. It was an old text with pre-euro money :). I had much fun. 🙂
Kirja: “Finnish for Foreigners 1”
Kirjilija: Maija-Hellikki Aaltio
Me lukemme Hannalla dialgit sivut 23, 28, 31, 40 ja 44.
tai -> or
ulkomaalainen -> foreginer
vain -> only
Mitä kuuluu? -> How are you?
Entä teille? -> And you?
vain -> Entä teille? – Hyvää vain.
oikein -> Te puhutte oikein hyvin suomea.
tulee -> comes in
osoitteesi -> address
kotimaasi -> country of origin
istu -> sit
markkaa -> old money
Se ei ole kallis.
Se on hyvin halpa.
oikealla ja vasemmalla
Tänään, Minä kirjoittan minun tiedot matka-apuraha asiakirjassa.
Minä olen Maria Stone. Minun nimeni on Maria. Minä olen opiskelija Turun yliopistossa. Minun tutkimus on tähtitiede. Minulla on aviomies. Hänen nimeni on James. Me asumme Turussa. Me puhumme vahan suomea. Minä työskenelen Tuorlan observatoriossa. Tuorla ja Turku ovat kaunis kaupungit.
Minä yrittän opiskella uusi sanot ja pieni lauset.
It has been almost four months that I came to Turku, and I was hoping that I would be fluent by now! I have seen blog posts and vlog posts about people becoming fluent in just two months, but this is not the case for me. I consider myself still a beginner in Finnish. I am very excited to learn the language, just with the studies and family responsibilities, the time to spend on studying is very small.
Also, I can’t afford to purchase books or sign up for paid online material, so I have to make do with the material available for free.
The above statements don’t really have anything to do with my learning, but okay, so what is my reflection overall about my learning of the Finnish language.
As mentioned before, I don’t have any intuition whatsoever about the language because it is just so different. The only language I learned successfully before was French, and I did not have to memorize anything. Maybe I was younger or maybe I have been French in my past life, but I would just read once and remember everything, even the hardest grammar and conjugation concepts. The French language was extremely intuitive for me.
This is not the case with Finnish. It is like a garden with delicious fruit behind big hard series of walls. And I am at the outside, not sure how to get in. I try and try, but so far, there is not much progress. I just scratched the surface of the outside wall and was able to “taste” only what little fruits had fallen through wind or through very long branches outside. I know how to read, I sort of know how to pronounce (not perfectly), I am not afraid of long words, I can read them too. I am learning a lot of vocabulary. I know what single words mean. But I can’t really make sentences yet. I have a series of sentences that I memorized, but I can’t make my own.
Even the vocabulary seems completely impenetrable.
To memorize the numbers, I had to use mneumonic techniques combining all the languages that I knew and math 🙂 For example, viisi -> like roman numeral V, yhdeksan = like deksan (reminds me of deka/10) – yksi, kahdeksan = deka-kaksi, yksitoista-> toista ~10 (desyat’ in Russian), sata ~100 (sto in Russian).
To memorize the names of the week, I used the following “helpers”:
> perjantai >
|maanantai||tai-> day maanan -> Mon -> Monday|
|tiistai||tiis -> Tues->Tuesday , starts with “t” -> “two” starts with “t” -> 2nd day|
|keskiviikko||viikko -> week keski -> kes -> in Armenian “kes” means half -> half~middle-> Middle of the week -> Wednesday|
|torstai||tors-> Thurs -> Thursday tors-> “chors” in Armenian is #4 -> 4th day of the week -> Thursday|
|perjan -> starts with “p” -> “pyatnica” starts with “p”, in Russian means Friday -> Friday|
|lauantai||lauan -> sounds like “lounas” which means lunch -> food -> food day -> on Saturday you can relax and have nice lunch/food at home -> Saturday|
|sunnuntai||sunnun -> Sun -> Sunday|
To memorize the names of the months,
tam->tam-tam musical instrument -> tambour -> time of music and celebration -> like Christmas and January festivities -> January
Hel -> a month like hell because of its cold weather -> February
3) maaliskuu -> starts with “m”, like March -> March
4) Huhtikuu -> huh-> haha, chuckle, laughing, April 1st is the day of jokes -> April
5) toukokuu -> touko -> tuk-tuk, Russian for knock-knock, the good summer season is knocking as it is the last month of the spring -> May
6) kesäkuu -> kesä ~’kes’ in Armenian means half -> half ~mid-> middle of year -> June (6th month)
7) heinäkuu -> in Armenian, July is “Hulis”, so starts with “H”, June is “Hunis”, so I remember that it is like July “Hulis”, but instead of “l” in the middle, there is “incorrectly” an “n” -> July
8) elokuu -> in French this was also a wierd word for August -> “l’août”, with many vowels -> “el” – like article “l”, and “août” is pronounced like “oo”, so “el” +”[oo]” +”kuu/month” -> August
9) syyskuu -> starts with “s” like September; month of “sysky” Autumn”; reminds me of driving to Oregon from California, because I saw signs for “Siskiyou” forests -> month of thinking about golden trees and leaves -> September
10) lokakuu -> like l’octobre in French -> October
11) marraskuu -> month of “marras”, ‘moroz’ in Russian means cold weather -> month of cold weather -> November
12) joulukuu -> joulu-Christmas, I remember my professor asked me “How do you say in English “Christmas month”? -> December (also joulukuu-sounds like “jolka” in Russian, which means a [Christmas] evergreen tree).
Some background of other languages helped me with learning Finnish, but not too much. I noticed that some words are common between some old words in Russian and Finnish. For example, “lekääri” means doctor I think, because in Russian “lekarj” means “healer”, but it is used in older texts. Or the word “leipa”, which means bread, and in Russian “lepeshka” means a tortilla-looking baked pancake. Then, to construct expressions, Finnish language uses some structures which are appended at the end of the word. For example, Tuorla – Tuorlassa (Tuorla – in Tuorla), this is not unfamiliar to me because in the Georgian language we do the same, Tuorla – Tuorlashi (“shi” postposition means “inside”). Furthermore, all three languages Armenian, Russian, and Georgian have declinations for their nouns, so I am familiar with that concept too. Also, the Armenian language has long words, and it is easy for me to read long words, no problem at all! In the Armenian language the stress is however always on the last syllable, but the Finnish emphasizes the first. I am also familiar from Spanish and Russian the concept of omitting personal pronouns when constructing simple sentences. And the study of Chinese and Japanese languages, which are to me very visual because they use pictograms and the sentences are void of many grammatical structures, thus I think of the words in Finnish sometimes as pictures, and that helps me to remember and be comfortable with longer words. For example, tähti+tiede =tähtitiede. Thankfully, there are no article in the Finnish language!
I am still in the journey of learning Finnish language. Every time I learn something new, it is like a present, like another delicious fruit from the garden, and I get to understand people and communicate better. My learning of the language also gets me to spend different type of time with my husband, as we talk or learn about it together sometimes. Language also is a window into the culture or vice versa, so by learning the language, I also get to know cultural and historical aspects about this place. For example, I learned that “Turku” even though it sounds like “Turkey”, actually means a “market”.
I would like to reflect also on the community aspect of learning a language. As I go on, I feel like I am part of different groups, the beginners, the foreigners, the locals, in different ways. The different situations I find myself in teach me different vocabulary sets. For example, the supermarkets put me into the situation where I have to learn the names of the ingredients. Because I cook all the meals for my family, I can’t just limit myself to the basic 20-word food vocabulary in the textbook, I need to know is it whole milk or 2%, is it local or imported, is it a flour that’s for bread or for baking other things. So I am forced to learn more advanced “chef” vocabulary. The same goes for many other areas of my life where the information is not well explained or lack explanations in English.
At the university, I am not only a student, but also a researcher under a salary. So often in person and via email (or phone) communications are in Finnish. There is no or poor English translation. I am really struggling in this area, because if I make a mistake in communication, then the cost of the mistake is critical. So I try to pay attention to how people not only write in Finnish, but how they behave in the work environment, so that I can fit in smoothly.
Nevertheless, I don’t want to just fit in. I would like to learn Finnish well enough to express myself and to find my own voice in this language. I am not the only one who thought of that; even Goethe has said that “A man who is ignorant of a foreign language is ignorant of its own.” Maybe through learning a new language, I will find more about my own language and about my place in the world. One of the nice Finnish hosts I met through AirBNB told me that she found it curious why I came to Finland to study Astronomy even though I have never been here and that she felt that my path here would be interesting. So I earnestly continue on working on overcoming those walls towards the garden inside. Who knows, maybe through some magic, they will start coming down easier as I go on; as somebody said once, “Speaking Finnish is like having a superpower”. So maybe by speaking Finnish, and taking on this other Finnish soul of myself (as predicted by Charlemagne through his famous quote “To have another language is to possess a second soul”), I will be able to find the answers and realities my soul was seeking all along unbeknownst to my pre-Turku self.
Thank you for the course,
Maria B Stone