Tagged with finnish

Captainess Kirk: Musings on language and culture

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen S. Kirk

In my experience with language, nothing is exactly the same when you translate it. Direct, literal translation is impossible to accomplish in many languages without corrupting, or downright destroying, meaning.

For example, in English, we can say, “He has a ball.” This is a simple idea to us, conveyed by possession and ownership, in what we believe are simple, universal terms.

And, yet, when translated into certain languages, it becomes something much different.

In Finnish, “He has a ball” becomes “Hӓnellӓ on pallo.” To translate this literally would be “He is ball.” The form of the verb “be” used here takes this phrase from a state of being to a state of ownership. It gets more complicated in Russian. That same phrase gets translated as, “У него есть мяч,” which is, in English, “At him there is ball.” This is how ownership, or the closest thing Russian has to ownership, gets conveyed. To further complicate things, let me point out that “ест” (in this circumstance “there is”) is also a tense of the verb “есть” (“eat”).

Effectively, this also allows us to argue that “У него есть мяч” can also be directly translated as “At him to eat ball,” but that is a linguistics battle for a different day. Continue reading

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Captainess Kirk: The Finnish Sauna

Captainess KirkBy Kathleen Kirk

At every opportunity he possibly can, Nordic Surfer Ville keeps shamelessly plugging how much he thinks I’d enjoy saunas. He keeps telling me how relaxing and refreshing they are and, while he was here, how much he missed them in Finland.

The problem with pushing me to experience the sauna is that I have aquaventaphobia.

Aquaventaphobia is technically the fear of pool drains, but in actuality I’m terrified of all vents and drains. It might goes back to being a little girl and having my grandmother tell me repeatedly not to get too close to the pool drain or it would suck my intestines out. Because that really is my fear — irrational as it is — that vents and drains will somehow develop some magical suction.

That means there’s no way in hell I am going into a sauna, at least without working myself up to it over a period of months, maybe years.

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Captainness Kirk: English, Kusipää, Do You Speak It?

By Kathleen S. Kirk

A few days ago, I was watching Burn Notice, one of my favorite shows. It’s about a famous spy, Michael Weston, who gets blacklisted and effectively booted from the CIA. He’s made out to be this brilliant linguist, fluent in Russian, and his name was known all over Russia.

Before I started learning Russian, I could’ve believed this. Now, not so much. I’m quite certain any and all Russians who heard him would’ve laughed him out of Russia, possibly even out of Europe.

It came down to one simple word, спасибо (pronounced spa-si-buh). And he was pronouncing it like it was spelled cпасибва (spa-si-bva). The subtitled translation simply said, “Thank you.”

No, this could not be.

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Captainess Kirk: Captain’s Log Supplementary, Introduction

By Kathleen S. Kirk

A moderately long time ago in a remote Ohio town absurdly far away, there was a young girl named Kathleen who decided when she grew up she would be a Jedi. Unfortunately, a short time later, reality set in; her mother gently informed her that girls who were nerds were “just plain weird” and she didn’t really want to be viewed as that, did she?

When this homeschooled chicken first started college full-time at 16, she was scarred by her first encounter with nerds. It was unfortunately with one of the bad varieties; they were purposefully rude and offensive and they seemed to have a distinct aversion to personal hygiene.

These nerds belong to a special class, according to my good friend So Purely French Antoine. They were groups of gamers and, as any exploratory nerd knows, encountering them can be a permanent turn-off from geekdom. I theorize that because they operate on the fringes of normal society, they reinforce their own frightening subculture.

Regardless of why, they sufficiently managed to frighten me away from embracing my nerddom … until one day I Netflixed the new “Star Trek” movie. And, just like that, with the simplicity of throwing a switch, I became obsessed. I became a Trekkie.

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