Estonian/Finnish: false friends

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by jonquiliser, May 20, 2007.

  1. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Tere jälle, people!

    I've been reading (wel, trying to!) some Estonian texts these day, and every five words I seem to run into yet another Ee-Fin false friend! So I thought, if you feel like listing some of the ones you know, it would be nice in order to get a wider picture of which there are. Sock already provided a few of them (tänan!) that I'll include here, plus a few ones I've run into myself.

    raiskama (Fin: raiskata) - to spend, to waste in Estonian, and to rape in Finnish
    kummitäti (tädi) - rubber aunt in Estonian and god-mother in Finnish
    kortsu - (kortsus) wrinkled in Estonian and condom in Finnish

    Ma kaotasin oma koti: it reminds of the Finnish "m(in)ä kadotin (oman) kotini" that would mean "I lost my (own) home". In Estonian, I just learnt, it means "I lost my bag"! :D

    eesmärk, Estonian "aim/purpose/objective", cf. Finnish esimerkki "example".

    Ära puuduta mind! is Estonian for "don't touch me!", looks like the Finnish "älä puuduta minua" = "don't anesthetise me!" :D

    Ok, that's a few. I know there are mountains of them, so not something we can deal with exhaustively, but if anything particularly striking comes to mind for anyone, please share it! :) :cool:

    Jah jälle, tänan!
  2. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    Tere kõik, terve kaikki, hello all!

    Yay, this is a fun thread :D Okay, let's see...

    Est: surema (to die) - Fin: surra (to grieve)
    Est: halb (weak, bad) - Fin: halpa (cheap, inexpensive)
    Est: vaim (spirit, ghost) - Fin: vaimo (wife)
    Est: tema (he/she) - Fin: tämä (this)
    Est: toore (raw) - Fin: tuore (fresh)

    Then, a compound word puuviljamehu (fruit juice) which could be a Finnish word, but in Finnish it'd mean "tree grain juice" (well it does make sense when you think about it). Finnish for "fruit juice" would be hedelmämehu.

    Estonians, please comment if I made a mistake there, I'm relying mostly on a dictionary here.
  3. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Good ones, DrWatson! I especially like the puuviljamehu!! :D :D

    (Come to think of if, perhaps puuvilja makes sense - it's the crop of the (fruit) trees, so in a slight stretch of the concepts, why not call them the cereals of trees? :p)
  4. suslik

    suslik Senior Member

    USA, Atlanta
    Estonia, estonian
    I would help you, but I don't know anything about Finnish.
    Only couple of words, like tukkajumala and hassukissa :)
  5. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    Here's another rather hilarious one: kassiahastus (hangover). To a Finn it sounds like kassiahdistus (colloquially maybe kassiahistus) which would mean "bag anxiety" :). Does this word, by the way, have something to do with kass (cat)? Here's some more false friends:

    Est: määre (fat) - Fin: määre (attribute, qualifier)
    Est: kannatus (agony, suffering) - Fin: kannatus (support, adhesion)
    Est: kaabu (hat) - Fin: kaapu (cloak, gown)

    And suslik: tukkajumala? Very important word, indeed :D.
  6. suslik

    suslik Senior Member

    USA, Atlanta
    Estonia, estonian
    actually I've never heard that we use word kassiahastus to describe hangover...kassiahastus means big anguish. We use word 'pohmell' or shortly 'pohmakas' for hangover. And I don't think there is any connection with cat in kassiahastus, maybe old estonians thought that cats can have big anguish or smth...
  7. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Tukkajumala is funny in its own right - how on earth did you get to learn that?! :D
  8. suslik

    suslik Senior Member

    USA, Atlanta
    Estonia, estonian
    2 years ago we had 2 exchange students in Estonia from Finland and one stayed in my friend's home, so they tought us some words:)
    one was tukkajumala...and I remember something like kodinseurayhdistys and jauheliha and some other words.
  9. elpoderoso

    elpoderoso Senior Member

    I don't understand any of these languages, but I do enjoy these ''false friend'' threads very much. I wonder if anyone could tell me if Kaapu's similarity to the English word ''cape'' is more than just superficial.
  10. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    hola elpoderoso:
    I'd imagine the Finnish kaapu, which is the gown worn by priests and others) shares the etymological origin of the English cape. I can't provide you with any sources for that claim, though.. :|

    Greetings from another one who enjoys false friends - linguistic, of course :p
  11. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    I think the word has been loaned from Swedish into Finnish. I found such word as kåpa in Swedish. According to Wikipedia, however, kåpa is sleeveless, whereas kaapu has sleeves. Perhaps it's some kind of a missloan? The origin of the Swedish word I can only guess, but I imagine it may have a connection with English cape.
  12. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    According to "Modern Finnsh Dictionary" kaapu usually has no sleeves, usually it has a hood, a capuche (from French), that could be the origin of this word. Who knows?
  13. elpoderoso

    elpoderoso Senior Member

    Here is something I found about the origins of cape in the Online Etymology Dictionary:
    "garment," O.E. capa, from L.L. cappa "cape, hooded cloak". The modern word and meaning were a reborrowing (1565) from Fr., from Sp., in reference to a Sp. style.
    This however doesn't explain the how the word arrived into Finnish.
  14. jonquiliser

    jonquiliser Senior Member

    Svediż tal-Finlandja
    Might have something to do with the monks (capuchin monks, I mean), called like that because of their clothing. I don't know where there were monks of this order (apart from Italy -and France?) but it might explain the spread of the word..?
  15. Emanresu

    Emanresu Member

    Ontario, Canada
    Canada: English
    talo = house in suomi
    Talo = jail in estonian

    Mabye, might be wrong again :D
  16. astlanda Senior Member

    Estonian maamurre
    "kassiahastus" is used for "hangover" in Estonian literature and was used in media as well. "pohmell" is a Russian word, but younger generations don't know much about Russian and use freely all the kind of rubbish, sometimes so rude, that only really bad Russian drunks may use them (I don't want to offend any Russian here. Don't get me wrong.). That's why the contemporary Estonian sounds worse to my ears.
    'talu' is "farm" in "Estonian" = Finnish 'maatila'

    "jail" is "linna" in Finnish and "linn" is "town" Estonian. Thus, if someone says in Viru hotellin murre (a mixed language used for illegal trade at Soviet time) "Minä elän Vasalemman linnassa." (trying to say "I live in Vasalemma town") a Finn could understand it "I live in a jail of Vasalemma." (There was one in Vasalemma indeed.)

    There are several dictionaries about this issue published both in Finland and Estonia.
    I saw one in Akateeminen Kirjakauppa of Tampere recently.
  17. Elvus Member

    Est: raamat ('book') - Fin: Raamattu ('Bible')
    Est: surm ('death') - Fin: surma ('murder' or rather 'manslaughter'[?])
    Est: tee ('tea' but also 'road') - Fin: tee ('tea')

    Correct me if I'm wrong. I love both languages.
  18. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    The verb surmata means 'to kill, to murder' but the noun surma means simply death, usually an accidental death.
    Last edited: May 23, 2010
  19. hollabooiers Member

    Est: pulm (wedding) - Fin: pulma (trouble)
    Est: vahva (fun, awesome; brave) - Fin: vahva (strong)
    Est: laud (table; plank) - Fin: lauta (plank; board)
    Est: koristama (to clean) - Fin: koristaa (to decorate)
    Est: ruumid (kind of a weird word for rooms (plurar) used only in very specific instances, for example no one would say "minu ruum" meaning "my room") - Fin: ruumiit (corpses)

    There's a funny story related to the last two words. Some people from Finland came to visit an Estonian hospital once - I don't know what the occasion was exactly, but I guess it was some kind of a work-related cooperation.. something. Anyway, apparently they got there early and the person who came to greet them told them something like "Oh I'm sorry, we didn't expect you so early, ruumid on veel koristamata (the rooms haven't been cleaned yet).", which to Finnish ears sounds like "the corpses haven't been decorated yet". :D Must have left a lasting impression of how hospitals operate in Estonia!
  20. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    You could also translate it in Finnish as "I live in Vasalemma Castle/Fortress/Palace" -- according to my dictionary, "castle" is the primary meaning of linna.
  21. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Another thing that could be called a "false friend" is the suffix -ma/-mä: for example,

    Est. koolema "to die"
    Finnish kuolema "death" (not used as an infinitive)

    However, it seems that surema is the more common word for "to die" in Estonian. Does koolema mean something slightly different from surema?
  22. hollabooiers Member

    After checking this, because I actually wasn't sure myself, it appears koolema doesn't officially exist in Estonian. ;D There's koolma, which is referred to as a dialectal word. You'd still hear and see koolema used every once in a while as well, though, so it can indeed create those false friend situations.

    To answer your original question, koolema/koolma sounds relatively literary and/or archaic and you don't hear it that often in everyday language. If you ask me, it also has kind of an "uglier" sound to it than the more neutral surema does, as in it could be used to describe the miserable death of a person who has suffered for years beforehand or a group of people dying as a result of an epidemic or something along the lines of that.
  23. KotkaSLC New Member

    Not that different from pomme de terre or fruits de mer.

    Anyway, I only discovered this site because I knew that Estonia in Finnish was Viro, but I wanted to know what Estonians called Finland which I found somewhere else, Soome.
  24. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    They call us "poro" (reindeer) because we come from the north.
  25. Nikolaos_Kandidatos

    Nikolaos_Kandidatos Senior Member

    Rethymno, Crete
    That's correct, using linna for "prison" is slang/informal. (Fortress, though, is in most contexts best translated linnake or linnoitus instead, and has slightly different connotations). The connection with Estonian linn is obvious if one considers that in early medieval times real cities were few: most comparable centres of habitation consisted of a fortified strategic point (castle) and a surrounding settlement. Estonian continues to use this word for modern cities where Finnish has kaupunki instead, but note that the names of some cities still end in -linna: Savonlinna, Hämeenlinna (both places with notable medieval castles still standing).

    As for the topic of false friends: I'm not sure if this was already mentioned but as a very young lad I once had a funny experience eating in Estonia: having said yes to an offer of viiner (sp?) I expected to be served a sweet pastry (the meaning of viineri in Finnish) but ended up disappointed when I was confronted with a sausage instead.
  26. Lugubert Senior Member

    Do these entities qualify as false friends?

  27. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    The osa- in osaühing seems to be the Estonian word for "part" (osa, just as in Finnish), but I'm not sure about the composition of -ühing.

    My best guess (knowing very, very little about Estonian) is that üh- is based on üks "one": cf. the inflected forms ühes, ühel and so on. As far as the ending -ing, it resembles the Finnish suffix -inko seen in words such as osinko "dividend" < osa, but I'm not sure if the two are connected.

    osakeyhtiö is composed of osa- + the suffix -ke, and yht- "one" + the suffix - (cf. kolmio "triangle" < kolme "three").

    So, if the above is correct, the roots (osa- and üh-) of osaühing are not false friends with the roots of osakeyhtiö, but the suffixes added on to each root are different in the two languages.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013
  28. sirammaris Member

    Hey all,
    here are a few more:

    EST: hallitus (mold, mildew) - FIN: hallitus (government)
    EST: kohtu (court, tribunal) - FIN: kohtu (uterus) <-- I've seen Finnish tourists take photos under the "Kohtu street" sign in my town
    EST: padi (pillow) - FIN: patja (mattress)
    EST: kalju (rocky mountain) - FIN: kalju (bald) <-- this is actually pretty funny

    there are so many!
    I've actually noticed a lot of false friends between Finnish and Italian as well, they're mostly rude for some reason.
  29. Mordong Member

    Finnish - Helsinki
    This thread is fund and useful. :)

    A couple more:
    EST: kull, -i, -i (hawk) - FIN: kulli (cock,dick) (When I first moved to Estonia, my only condition concerning the apartment was, that I didn't want it to be on Kulli Street. :) )
    EST: veski (mill) - FIN: veski (spoken language for 'toilet')
    EST: arvutada (to count) - FIN: arvuuttaa (ask riddles)
    EST: kallistada (to hug) - FIN: kallistaa (to tilt (one's head), to tip (a chair))
    EST: loss, -i, -i (castle) - FIN: lossi (ferry boat)

    Anyhow, my personal favourite are the Estonian names, which would be quite suspicious in Finland, such as the already mentioned Kalju (Bald), Aivo (Brain), Raivo (Rage) and Rivo (Obscene).
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2013

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