While preparing for the upcoming React Finland (24–26.04) conference, you may have spent some time learning the basics of the Finnish language. This time we’ll leap to advanced level — all done by using only a single phrase.
I’ll demonstrate you five quite common scenarios of daily life in Finland. And how we‘re able to survive from almost every situation by using a simple language rule called “kysymysliitepartikkeli” (“question suffix particle”).
If you’re having a presentation#
Standing in front of a crowd may be a stressful situation. A situation where the speaker needs to break the ice and win the confidence of an audience. The easiest way is to test whether the microphone merely works by asking:
“Kuuluuko?” (“Can you hear me?”)
And if the mic is on, the audience will reply:
“Kuuluu!” (“Yes, we can!”)
If you’re having dinner#
Manners on a dinner table in Finland follow the standard rules, but sometimes people get confused with all the utensils.
You may find yourself holding a fork and asking “Where does this belong to?”. Of course, a friendly waitress will help you by pointing the right place and replying “Over here”. And because you want to be polite as well, you can confirm his/her guidance by asking:
“Kuuluuko?” (“Does it belong here?”)
And then the waitress will reply:
“Kuuluu” (“Yes it does”)
If you’re having a small talk#
When it comes to small talk, Finns love talking about two topics. The first one is the weather. The second one is any possible topic while being in a sauna.
You can approach a fellow Finn simply by asking “How are you doing?”. In 99% of the cases, he will reply “I’m doing fine”. Since you probably want to continue the conversation, you can ask another question:
And because Finns always tell the truth by default, he’ll reply:
“Kuuluu” (“Yes I am”)
In 1% of the cases, you might get their life story as a response. So be careful when asking this question!
If you’re going too far with the conversation#
You should be aware that Finns have strict personal space and some topics should not be discussed of at all.
A typical Finnish reaction is to shout: “This is none of your business!”. To show your concern, you’re allowed to push the conversation a little by replying “It actually is”. Doing this will get any Finnish person a bit confused, and they will ask:
“Kuuluuko?” (“Oh, it does?”)
You have to keep a solid line and reply:
“Kuuluu” (“Yes it does”)
If you’re playing a game#
If you’ve ended up this far and fellow Finn wants to challenge you to a board or card game, you’re doing it very well.
It’s time to learn some additional Finnish. For instance, you hold a card with mystical illustration of a moon bone; you would ask “What is this?”. And the Finn will reply “A moon bone”. You will repeat the actual answer by asking:
“Kuuluuko?” (“A moon bone?”)
And the Finn will repeat the answer:
“Kuuluu” (“Yes, a moon bone”)
The above is possible because “kuu” (moon) and “luu” (bone) can be combined into a single word “kuuluu” (moon bone) which happens to overlap with other usages.