Posts filed under Language


Some fellow foreigners in Finland have started a blog called Höpöhöpö, a place for those of us learning Finnish to say hi and try out our emerging language skills. Could the genesis for this have been in a comment Phil left on my site during Language Week? Toiset ulkomaalaiset suomessa on aloittanut uuden blogin Höpöhöpö,missä me suomea oppivia voi piipahtaa ja yrittää meidän tulevaa kielitaitoa. Tuliko sen ajatus Philin kommentista minun blogilla Kieliviikolla?

Posted on September 21, 2006 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Language.

Etymology of Tuomiokirkko?

While riding in the tourist boat along the Spree past Berlin's domkirche (cathedral), our group had an interesting discussion about the etymological origins of the Finnish word for cathedral, tuomiokirkko. Tuomio literally means 'judgement', so it plays into the whole christian judgement day, doomsday kind of thin g. At the same time, the word is still reminiscent of the German dom and especially Italian duomo. The general opinion held that dom and duomo originate from the Latin domus, 'house', in that a church or cathedral is literally the 'house of God' (Domus Dei). But then how to explain the closeness of German dom and English doom (not to mention the dome on top!) My online research so far hints at a linguistic fusing of two previously separate meanings. Or maybe just a complete coincidence between the similar sounding words in Greek/Latin (domos/domus) for house, and Germainic domaz for judgement. But that's a pretty big coincidence For example, the etymology of doom refers to Old English dom, meaning "law, judgement, condemnation", while the modern sense of "fate, ruin, destruction" emerged only later from the idea of Christian Judgement Day. This in turn points further back to a possible Proto-Germanic origin in domaz. The entry for dome meanwhile claims, "In the Middle Ages, Ger. dom and It. duomo were used for "cathedral" (on the notion of "God's house"), so English began to use this word in the sense "cupola," an architectural feature characteristic of Italian cathedrals."

In my favourite article, Tampere Sanomat's Kysy papilta ("Ask a priest"), priest and Doctor of Theology Matti Repo responds to Jussi's (I trust not our Ängeslevä) query about the origin of tuomiokirkko's sinister-sounding prefix. Alas, Repo rejects the teasing possibility that tuomio refers to the final judgement, and explains that it comes from a rough transliteration of the Swedish domkyrka (same Germanic origins as domkirche back to Latin domus). It is likely that when it was borrowed into Finnish, the spelling tuomio was erroneously used because it sounded like an existing Finnish word (itself likely borrowed from the Old High German tuom assumed it had a connection to God's judgement instead of God's house. English doom would be likewise linguistically unrelated to dome, but conceptually fused together in Christianity.

Can this really be? I'm still not sure I buy the remarkable coincidence. Do any other etymology geeks out there have some better information on the weird echoes contained in tuomiokirkko?

Posted on August 31, 2006 and filed under Finland, Language.

Kieliviikko 2006

language week 2006Taas on Kieliviikko, ja osallistun tänä vuonna ainakin yhdellä viestillä. Viime vuonna aioin kirjoittaa joskus suomeksi. Sen vuoksi, asennoin Stephanie Boothin Basic Bilingual plugin WordPressilla. En kirjoitetaannut niin paljon suomeksi sen jälkeen, ja en käyttänyt pluginia uusilla teemoilla. Ehkä on riittävän vaikea kirjoittaa blogilla omana kielenä. Ehkä parempi vain kirjoittaa suora molemilla kielellä kun yritä käydä monimutkaista pluginia.It is Language Week again and I'm participating again this year, at least with one posting. Last year I intended to blog occasionally in Finnish, so I installed Stephanie Booth's Basic Bilingual plugin in WordPress. I haven't written so much in Finnish since then, and I haven't used the plugin in the newest versions of my design. Maybe it's hard enough to blog even in one's own language. Maybe it's better to just write straight in both languages than try to use some complicated plugin.

Posted on July 25, 2006 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Language.

Etymology of Beer

I was talking with an Austrian visiting professor in the sauna during our annual graduate school seminar this week, and he explained the origin of the word 'beer.' Beer (or more accurately the German bier, which English borrowed) apparently originates from the Latin bibere, to drink. This all made perfect sense, until I began to wonder why the Germans needed a Latin word for such a Teutonic beverage. As beer and languages are two of my favourite subjects, I did a little more digging, and found this excellent investigation into the subject. The mystery deepens, however:

why did the Germans borrow a word for which there was already a perfectly good one (aluth-) in their language? The Romans were not beer-drinkers, so why use one of their words for the beverage? If a Latin word had to be used, why not the usual Latin one (or Gallo-roman, at any rate), cerevisia? Anyway, the new word ousted the old in continental west Germanic, which developed into modern German and Dutch, but both words continued in use in Britain.

So this is why we have both beer and ale in English, but öl in Scandinavian, olut in Finnish, bier in German, bière in French, birra in Italian, cerveza in Spanish and cervesa in Catalan. The more you know...

Posted on April 7, 2006 and filed under Drinks, Language, Rambling.

La setmana d'idiomes

Language Week<disclaimer>I apologize in advance for this misguided attempt at writing in Catalan.</disclaimer> 

Bon dia! Em dic l'Scott i jo sóc del Canadà, però visc en a Finlàndia. Moltes gràcies a Stuart Mudie, un blogger escocès de la que viu a Paris (i de la que abans vivia a Barcelona abant). Stuart m'ha escrit ahir i per suggerir escriure que escrigui en català. Jo vull saludar a en> Marc i a tots els amics meus a la Barcelona. Visca els campions i visca  Catalunya Lliure!

Translation (or "what I wanted to say"): Good day! My name is Scott and I'm from Canada, but I live in Finland. Thanks to Stuart Mudie, a Scottish blogger from Paris (and from Barcelona before that). Stuart wrote me yesterday and suggested that I write in Catalan. I'd like to say hello to Marc and to all my friends in Barcelona. Long live the champions and long live free Catalunya!

It was on Stuart's that I found out about both Qumana and Language Week. Good finds! Now his punishment is to be subjected to my beginner Catalan. Well, hopefully neither he nor Marc (nor any of you catalanes) mind helping me fix my mistakes. I promise to leave the amendments in the post as part of the learning process.

Posted on July 6, 2005 and filed under Blogging, Language.


Tässä on minun ensimmäinen suomenkielinen veto blogissani. On kyllä aika yritä kirjoita jotain toisessa kielessä, ja mikä parempi tilanne kun kieliviikko. Olen miettinyt mihin aiheeseen tämä blogi pitää keskittyä, ja varmasti hyvät esimerkit olisivat suomi ja minun elämä suomessa asuvana ulkomaalaisena. Siksi, samaan tien, rekisteröydin Toivottavasti, pari bloggeja (onko oikea termi suomeksi?) löydä minua ja alkaa keskustella (vaikka englanniksi tai suomeksi). Jos tämä yritys onnistuu, ehkä yritän huomenna ranskaksi tai catalaksi. Translation: This is my first try at Finnish in my blog. It's about time that I tried to write something in another language, and what better time than Language Week. I've been thinking about what topics my blog should really focus on, and certainly good examples would be Finland and my life as a foreigner living here. So, at the same time, I registered at (an index of Finnish blogs). Hopefully a few bloggers will find me and start to discuss (either in English or Finnish). If this attempt succeeds, maybe I'll try in French or Catalan tomorrow.

Posted on July 6, 2005 and filed under Blogging, Finland, Language.