Tag Archives: languages

The importance of routines for toddlers

If you are a parent, you have most probably encountered the huge need babies and toddlers have for routine, structured, predictable days.  We share most of the activities together with my wife, but I usually take care of the end-of-day routines.  Furthermore, I’ve taken to mark each step by singing a different song.

I use TuneIn for listening to internet radio stations. Since most Mexican stations play the national anthem at midnight local time, I will usually sing it when I’m preparing him to go to daycare at 8 a.m. Finnish time. Think of it as a small scale “honores a la bandera”.

If I’m around when he takes his mid-day nap, I’ll sing him this:

To brush his teeth then we’ll come with this:

When it’s time to go to bed it’s the turn of “La familia Telerín”:

Putting his pajamas will be to the tune of “Juan Pestañas”

And in case that was not enough and he can’t sleep, then stronger measures are needed

Funnily enough, if by any chance I miss or mix any of the songs, he will be very, very annoyed. I just hope he doesn’t grow up thinking life is an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical or a Pedro Infante movie. 🙂

Adaptation / Integration / Assimilation

Lately I’ve been meditating quite a lot on why some of my friends have not been able to fit here in Finland and left, while I am still here, going on with my life and generally happy with it.  Since some of them actually had a Finnish (or half-Finnish background) but spend their formative years abroad, I think we can safely assume that in their cases it was not due to lack of exposure to the language and culture.

I’ve also been thinking about the immigration debate in Finland, and how the desired state of all commentators (and I’d assume more than a few immigrants) is that newcomers should successfully integrate to Finnish society.  However, the question then becomes  what does integration actually mean, and how is it achieved.  With that in mind, I started to go over my own process while living here, and I have sketched a model for it with 3 different (and grossly oversimplified) stages.

  • Adaptation: The process of making terms with your new surroundings, including first contact and ways of working with the location, language, culture…
  • Integration: Now this becomes more of a two-way street.  You acquire more traits of your host society, but at the same time are accepted as part of it as well.
  • Assimilation: When there is no important difference between yourself and the society you live in.  Probably you won’t achieve it, but your kids might.

Based purely on my own observations (and taking into consideration that I am no social scientist) I am starting to believe that the biggest challenge is making the leap between adaptation and integration.  Letting go of your expectations while at the same time holding a grip on your possibilities while understanding your environment better seems to be quite hard.  Coming to terms with a language that might be very different, and values and behaviours that might not always correspond to your own, and both learn from and accept such differences requires a certain strength and a support network that not all of us have.

This is of course not helped by the fact that the phenomenon is quite new for the host society as well, which is still coming to terms with it itself.

Let’s have fun with the Finnish language, part I

Over the years I’ve learned to accept as normal the many differences and quirks Finnish has for someone learning it as a second language. Some of the most hilarious I’ve seen or heard from others below:

Olen iloinen = I’m happy
Olen loinen = I’m a parasite

Minä välitän sinusta = I care about you
Minä valitan sinusta = I (will) complain about you

Minun kieli on turvonnut = My tongue is swollen
Minun kulli on turvonnut = My dick is swollen (happened to a guy who had just gotten a tongue piercing)

kolari = car crash
Kolari= town in Finnish Lapland where snow (or something like it) fell this week

Comercial en inglés, comercial en español

Lo interesante de este comercial, estarán de acuerdo conmigo, es que en lugar de utilizar servicios de doblaje simplemente tomaron a la misma persona de su versión en inglés y lo pusieron a hablar español, con resultados aún más cómicos que el comercial original (abajo).  Además, estoy seguro que el mismo comercial en español no funcionaría fuera de Estados Unidos porque sonaría demasiado raro a todos aquellos que no están acostumbrados al acento de un angloparlante.  Creo que  es obvio que para los vendedores de este producto el mercado latino era lo suficientemente importante.

Maybe people are getting used to “the different”?

Last week something interesting happened.  I was walking to the store and in quick succession two unrelated strangers spoke to me in Finnish, like any other person, asking questions about the neighbourhood or directions.

Why is this significant?  Because I don’t have the stereotypical Finnish complexion nor facial features and dress in a very particular way (jeans, black jacket and texano cowboy hat this time), so more often than not people will address me in English or refrain to do so.

As said in the title, maybe people around here are getting used to “the different”, as they have in other places like Brussels or Stockholm.

Grabbed & crapped

Finnish phonology differs greatly from that of other languages.  Just like the rolled r doesn’t exist at all in many Asian languages, b, g & d are usually “fused” with p, k & t, while c, f, q, w, x and z are only used for loanwords.

This means that on rare occassions you might end up with a guy who think’s he’s saying “grabbed” sounding like “crapped” instead.  As any other accent, you just get used to it.