olla + -massa/-mässä

Discussion in 'Suomi (Finnish)' started by Gavril, May 30, 2010.

  1. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Do the Finnish speakers agree with this, or is there another guideline for using this construction?

    Once, I asked someone if she was going to a meeting the following day, and she answered, "Olen tulossa", which doesn't fit the "I'm busy"-pattern. However, tulossa/menossa could be a special case.
  2. Grumpy Old Man Senior Member

    I wouldn't use busy, at least in most cases it seems unnecessary. Olla +ssa/-ssä is very often best translated into English by simply using the continuous tenses:

    Olen kävelemässä puistossa. = I'm taking a stroll in the park.

    To my mind, it is sometimes used needlessly and the resultant Finnish sentence may not meet the requirements of Kielitoimisto:

    Olen kirjoittamassa / Kirjoitan vastausta hänen pyyntöönsä. = I'm writing a reply to his request. In this case I'm busy writing doesn't sound bad to my ear.

    Other Finns may have other opinions. I'm looking forward to them!:)

  3. hui Senior Member

    In general, I do not agree. Only when there are hints about being busy or in a hurry (EDIT:) or doing it right now.

    Note that tulossa/menossa are actually nouns (I think), while seisomassa is a verb form (I think). Not that it matters in this case, though.
    Last edited: May 30, 2010
  4. DrWatson

    DrWatson Senior Member

    True. When this olla + -mAssA construction includes tulla, mennä or lähteä, nouns tulo, meno and lähtö are often used instead of MA-infinitive forms, ie. tulossa/menossa/lähdössä

    Regarding the original question, I agree with GOM.
  5. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    I think Kävelen puistossa can be translated the same way, though -- is Olen kävelemässä more emphatic of the fact that it's an action in progress?

    Just to make sure I understand, do you mean that only Olen kirjoittamassa has the nuance of "I'm busy" in this case?
  6. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Olla + III inf. inessive is sometimes necessary for the message to be understood. Consider this example:

    1. Syön mämmiä. (now or generally?)
    2. Olen syömässä mämmiä.

    But remember that many times it can be replaced by adding an adverb, such as tällä hetkellä, juuri nyt, or paraikaa (= parastaikaa, contr. of "parasta aikaa"). The context can help, too.

    Syön mämmiä, älä häiritse minua!

    I don't know about the usage of "busy" in English, because we don't have a corresponding word. Why should we think about it then? :) Let's just think of it in terms of continuous forms.
  7. Grumpy Old Man Senior Member

    "I think Kävelen puistossa can be translated the same way, though -- is Olen kävelemässä more emphatic of the fact that it's an action in progress?"

    I agree completely with your analysis.:thumbsup:

    "Just to make sure I understand, do you mean that only Olen kirjoittamassa has the nuance of "I'm busy" in this case?"

    No, not really. I just ffel inclined to think that olen kirjoittamassa appears to convey an idea of being really intentionally involved in the process of writing. I am sure many others don't feel the same way. I'm not sure how to put it. I may be taking a walk and end up in a park without really indending to go there. However, if I'm writing a reply to somebody that cannot be purely incidental. It must be intentional. Therefore I'm busy writing doesn't sound bad to my ear. I don't know if anyone agrees with me, though.:D

    However one sees it, I don't think any way of phrasing it makes a lot of difference.


  8. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    I ran into this construction in the following context:

    "Jokerit's series position and share agreement with the league are currently in limbo, because they [are in the process of moving?] to the Russian league KHL at the end of the year."

    Did I translate on siirtymässä correctly here? How would the meaning be different if the phrase were replaced with the simple form siirtyy?

  9. Grumpy Old Man Senior Member

    Your translation is fine. In actual fact, there may not be much going on regarding the Jokerit joining the KHL at this very moment, though. Therefore, siirtyy wouldn't really make a big difference and would sound equally natural. Siirtyy gives the impression that everything has been agreed upon and consequently it can be considered a fact that Jokerit won't play in SM-liiga after the next season.

    As this is not a fact yet, on siirtymässä is a better choice. It implies that the process is incomplete.
  10. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Sometimes, "is (being) planned to" or "is about to" might be a more appropriate translation. What do other Finns think?

    Ylioppilastutkinto on muuttumassa sähköiseksi.
    Salainen mikrofilmi oli joutumassa venäläisten käsiin.
  11. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA

    Another case of "olla + -massa" that I don't quite understand:

    "The Leijonat's best defensive line in the 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic was Sami Lepistö/Juuso Hietanen. Lepistö [...?] the 2-2 tying goal. Mika Pyörälä deflected his shot into the goal."

    Part of the problem is that I'm not quite sure how the verb värkätä should be translated here, either (based on the Googling I did, the verb's meaning seems to vary from region to region).


    Kiitoksia paljon
  12. altazure Member

    The meaning of "värkätä" here is "tehdä", so "oli värkkäämässä" means "oli (mukana) tekemässä". He participated in making the goal. Imaginative language usage like this is especially common in sports journalism.
  13. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    I'd say that "Idiotical language usage like this is especially common in sports journalism."
  14. Jyrkkä Jätkä

    Jyrkkä Jätkä Member

    I think värkätä in this context could be substituted with sommitella (compose) or junailla (engineer).
    Hän oli mukana sommittelemassa maalia.
    Hän oli mukana junailemassa maalia.
  15. Spongiformi Senior Member

    Considering "värkätä" is only one degree better than "kyhätä" to describe the professionalism of an act, I would say it probably wasn't an especially beautiful and stylish goal, at least in the opinion of the journalist who said that.
  16. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    To review what's been said so far:

    1) the olla tekemässa-construction can mean that an action is in progress, in which case it is synonymous with tekee, teki etc. (in their imperfective meanings), but potentially less ambiguous (see post #6)

    2) olla tekemässä can also indicate that the action is about to happen, and perhaps that there are plans/preparations being made to make it happen (posts #9-10)

    3) it can also be used to show that the subject is/was involved in performing an action, but wasn't the person who completed it (post #12)

    4) as discussed in this thread, when the verb of olla tekemässä is transitive and has a total object (as opposed to partitive object), it can only be interpreted as "about to happen", not "in the process of happening"; the same interpretation applies when the verb is intransitive but punctual (i.e. when the verb's action happens in a single moment, such as nukahtaa "to fall asleep", rather than over a period of time, such as nukkua "to sleep, to be asleep")
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015

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