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Lesson Transcript

Michael: What are some Finnish-English false friends?
Kati: And what are some words that are often used incorrectly?
Michael: At FinnishPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Ben Lee is in a supermarket with his college friend, Miia Maeki. He makes a small but important mistake when speaking to the shop assistant:
"I want to pay by "credit map.""
Ben Lee: Haluan maksaa luottokartalla.
Ben Lee: Haluan maksaa luottokartalla.
Miia Mäki: Tarkoitatko luottokortilla?
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Haluan maksaa luottokartalla.
Michael: "I want to pay by "credit map."
Miia Mäki: Tarkoitatko luottokortilla?
Michael: "Do you mean by credit card?"

Lesson focus

Michael: In this conversation, we hear Ben Lee say,
Kati: Haluan maksaa luottokartalla,
Michael: which in English is "I want to pay by "credit map." In response, Miia Maeki says,
Kati: Tarkoitatko luottokortilla?
Michael: which means, "Do you mean by credit card?"
Michael: When you're first learning Finnish, you're likely to come across some cognates between English and Finnish. Cognates are words that appear in different languages, and have a common origin. On the other hand, false cognates, or "false friends" as they're often called, appear similar between two languages, but, in fact, have distinct meanings.
Michael: In the dialogue, we hear Ben Lee confuse the word
Kati: luottokartalla
Michael: meaning "credit map" for
Kati: luottokortilla,
Michael: meaning "credit card." This is just one example of a false cognate between English and Finnish.
[Recall 1]
Michael: Let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Ben says "I want to pay by "credit map.""
(pause 4 seconds)
Kati as Ben Lee: Haluan maksaa luottokartalla.
Michael: literally meaning "I want to pay by credit map." What Ben intended to say was that he wants to pay by credit card.
Kati: Haluan maksaa luottokortilla.
Michael: Ben mixed the word
Kati: kartta,
Michael: a "map," with the word
Kati: kortti,
Michael: a "card." The word
Kati: [SLOW] kortti
Michael: in Finnish is actually a loanword from Swedish, where "a card" is
Kati: ett kort.
Michael: There are many other false cognates between English and Finnish. You may hear the word
Kati: greippi,
Michael: for example, and assume Finnish speakers are talking about "grapes." In fact,
Kati: [SLOW] greippi
Michael: actually means "grapefruit." When you hear the word
Kati: ale, [SLOW] ale
Michael: it may sound like somebody is talking about beer in English, but, in Finnish, it actually means "sale." When Finns are then again talking about their favourite
Kati: bändit, [SLOW] bändit
Michael: they're not talking about any famous criminals, "bandits," but they're instead talking about "bands" and music. When someone says they've found some
Kati: home [SLOW] home
Michael: in their newly purchased house, it doesn't mean they're feeling all settled in and cozy there, but it actually means they've discovered some dreaded "mold" inside.
Michael: And, finally, when someone is encouraging you and telling you
Kati: Nauti! [SLOW] Nauti!
Michael: they're not saying you should be "naughty," but to "enjoy yourself." If this sounds like the perfect idea, you should not say
Kati: Perfekti! [SLOW] Perfekti!
Michael: which means the "the perfect tense," but you should say
Kati: täydellinen idea, [SLOW] täydellinen idea
Michael: the" perfect idea" instead.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: The modern spoken Finnish and especially the slang spoken in the metropolitan area of Helsinki may nowadays often sound familiar to English speakers. This is due to many English loanwords being adopted into the daily spoken language. The meaning of the words is also roughly the same as it is in English. For example,
Kati: squad [SLOW] squad
Michael: is the same as the English "squad," and refers to the group of friends you like to hang out with. And, when something is
Kati: mintissä, [SLOW] mintissä
Michael: it means it is in "mint condition," in other words, looking good. You may also wonder if learning Finnish is
Kati: wörtti, [SLOW] wörtti
Michael: meaning "worth it," worth the trouble.
Many abbreviations that derive directly from English have also found their way to the language spoken especially by teens and young adults. For example "atm"
Kati: atm [SLOW] atm
Michael: is directly from the English expression "at the moment," and is therefore not referring to an automatic bank teller machine.
Kati: Bae [SLOW] Bae
Michael: comes from the English "before anyone else," and refers to the person nearest and dearest to you.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Kati: Hei hei!
Michael: See you soon!