Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ask Ziva - Language Edition

The temperature has risen. We went from -18.5C at the coldest to -5C now. That’s 23 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who prefer odd units. And with the balmy weather came the snow. There’s a million snow outside. Any unit. It just keeps coming down. But while I love talking about the weather, we have something more important to tend to. Today is "Ask Ziva"-Day. And the beautiful Rena has posed today’s question:

“Ziva, what are you exactly?”

That’s a very good question, beautiful Rena. Mike seems to think I’m a three-armed Swede living in Finland, eating bark bread and bathing in vodka. Sadly that’s not entirely true. I am Finnish. I was born and raised in Finland and will never ever identify with a Swede, the vegetable OR the nationality. However, I was born into a minority. Much like the French-speaking population of Canada, about 5% of all Finns speak Swedish as their mother tongue. This is probably due to the fact that for 600 years Finland was a part of Sweden and a few Finns inevitably learned Swedish during that period of time. For the rest of the population, 600 years wasn’t enough time to master the difficult language, and that’s why the rest of Finland still speaks Finnish and sound like idiots when they try to speak any other language. The Swedish-speaking part of the population is also prettier.

Finnish-speaking Finns in a sauna.

Swedish-speaking Finns in a sauna.

Now, because there are both Swedish-speaking Finns (like little old me) and Finnish-speaking Finns, there are two official languages in Finland. This means that while I’ve gone to school in my mother tongue, Swedish, I’ve studied Finnish ever since third grade. And since Finns have acknowledged the importance of understanding at least a little English, we learn English is school as well. Then, after 7th grade, we can start learning other languages too. In short this means that I’m bilingual when it comes to Swedish and Finnish, fluent in English in both writing and speech, have studied French for eight years without ever understanding a word, and taken two years of Spanish and one year of German with better results than I got from the eight years of French. Damn those French and their silly little language.

So to answer your question, beautiful Rena, I’m a three-armed Swedish-speaking Finn who eats bark bread and bathes in vodka. Just don’t call me Swedish, that will make me mad. *


  1. Those Swedish speaking Finns are that sauna. Which one are you Ziva?

  2. Noname: I'm one of the guys in the other picture.

  3. Darling Ziva! Thank goodness you are one of the Swedish speaking Fins rather than the other way around. I always hate it when Michael puts on his "expert" hat and even dumb little me knows he's wrong! I knew you were a Fin!

  4. There's a vegetable called Swede?

  5. You're a guy? Dang. There are a bunch of men that will be very sad to hear this.

    But you still have cookies, right?

  6. Linda: I knew you knew it. And I knew you knew because I knew you were the wisest blogger I ever knew.

    00dozo: Yep, it's a turnip. Looks sort of like a Swede, but less human and more vegetable.

    Rena: I love a boggled mind.

    Reffie: Of course I have cookies. What kind of a big sweaty sauna man would I be if I didn't have cookies? (P.S. I lied.)

  7. I'd like to humbly apologize for calling you a Swede. Sometimes I get the big head and think I know everything, when, in fact, I only know about 98 percent of everything. But I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, assuming you have any left what with the cold and snowy weather you're having.

    "There’s a million snow outside. Any unit. It just keeps coming down."

    Have I told you how much I adore you, Ziva? Because I do.

  8. I know in Finns just Hyvaa huomenta what means good morning,right? :)). I think that this language is very difficult.I don't like french either but I prefer french rather.

  9. MikeWJ: Of course you adore me. Apology accepted, no feelings were hurt. I know you didn't mean to call me a Swede, it can be very confusing with the whole Swedish/Finnish thing, and your brain gets overloaded so easily. Don't worry about it.

    Rares: Finnish is difficult because it's not an Indo-European language like many other major languages (English, Spanish and French, and even both Swedish and Romanian.) It's so completely different from anything else that it takes years and years to learn it. And many bottles of vodka.

  10. "Much like the French-speaking population of Canada, about 5% of all Finns speak Swedish as their mother tongue."

    I don't understand. None of the French-speaking Canadians I've met speak Swedish, let alone 5% of them. I think you may have ingested too much Glögg. Or maybe I haven't had enough?

    In any case, I think your difficulties with the French language is because you didn't have the right teacher. I would be more than willing to tutor you. Lesson one : Nicky a toujours raison.
    (trans: Nicky is always right) Practice for a while and let me know when you are ready for lesson two. :-)

  11. Nicky: Are you sure you've met the right kind of French-speaking Canadians? I'm pretty sure they all speak Swedish. Must be the glögg.

    Onward. Mais, bien sûr tu as toujours raison. Et moi, je n'ai jamais raison. J'ai tout essayé, mais je ne peux pas apprendre Français. Aidez-moi!

  12. "I’m a three-armed Swedish-speaking Finn who eats bark bread and bathes in vodka" And that's what I love about you!

  13. Meleah: And here I thought you loved me for my cookies.

  14. Mais c'est merveilleux! En partant, tu as bien dit que j'ai raison et vraiment, c'est la partie plus difficile à maitriser! En plus, tu a dit que tu n'as jamais raison. Tu es maintenant prête à enseigner: tu peux commencer avec Jepeto!

  15. Tänker alla prata konstiga språk här på din blog så tänker jag också göra det! Jag har faktiskt också läst franska men jag är så bra på det så jag tänker int skryta om det för ni skulle alla bli så avundsjuka. Tji på den ni!

  16. Nicky, honey, you really shouldn't task me with teaching Jepeto anything. I might accidentally hit him over the head with something. He could definitely use a lesson in table manners, though...

    Muschu: Du får kommentera på precis vilket språk du vill! Men vilken tur att du inte skryter med hur bra du e på franska... ;)

  17. Please, please tutor him. He needs to be accidentally hit on the head. Several times.

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