Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Did I just commit a cardinal crime?

One of the more interesting aspects of both Finnish and Swedish is also an orthographic finesse. This phenomenon seems to be quite difficult for some (native) people to grasp (although they should have been brainwashed about this since pre-school). Word-compounding is a fairly common occurrence in both Finnish and Swedish, and really, it’s not all that difficult to master either. You pick two or more words, and then you stick them together. (ok – sometimes you might need to add some extra letters between the words… )

(Fin) saippua + kauppias = saippuakauppias.
(Swe) tvål + försäljare = tvålförsäljare

Now, interestingly enough, this does NOT work in English

Soap + seller = soap seller

As you can see, in English the words remain apart, do this in Finnish /Swedish and you’ll give the person reading your text an enormous headache. It seems to confuse a lot of people, who have spent too much time learning English and forgotten how to spell in their own native tongues.

Another example

(Fin) äidin (mother’s) + kieli (tongue) = äidinkieli

If someone would write äidin kieli instead of äidinkieli, they’d be talking about their mother’s actual tongue.

But, as the blog title implies, nobody’s perfect….

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