Sep 9, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: Weird Finnish Proverbs

Today's subject isn't etymology precisely, but proverbs. Sometimes it's hard to see how bizarre some of the ones in your own language sound to others, because you've been hearing them all your life, but I'll admit some Finnish expressions and proverbs are fairly bonkers.

For example:

Keinot on monet, sanoi akka, kun kissalla pöytää pyyhki.

Loose translation:  There's multiple ways to an end, said the crone, and then used the cat to wipe the table.

It's a "where there's a will, there's a way" kind of thing. Or maybe "think outside the box" would be a better translation of the intent. No idea of the origin. Maybe somebody just couldn't find a dishrag one day, I dunno.

Here's another:

Mies se tulee räkänokastakin, vaan ei tyhjännaurajasta.

Translation: Even a snot-nosed kid will grow up to be a man, but never someone who laughs at trifles.

Yeah. And people wonder why Finns seem serious most of the time.

Elämä hymyilee kuin silakka piimätuopissa.

Life is smiling like a herring in a jug of buttermilk.

Don't look at me, I have no idea. Sounds gross.

Siinä pysyy kuin paska Junttilan tuvan seinässä.

Stuck like shit on the Junttilas' walls.

Means stuck on tight. Origin is uncertain. I'm not sure I want to know. Google at your peril.

I'll leave you with a newer one:

Hänellä ei ole kaikki muumit laaksossa.

Translation: Some of his Moomin trolls have left the valley.

Means something like "he's got a few screws loose."

Do you have a weirder proverb in mind? Tell me in the comments.

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