My girlfriend comes from Finland and her entire family still lives there. Luckily she speaks perfect English (with a slight American accent, a result of watching so many TV shows) or we would never have understood each other. I speak two languages fluently - English and Afrikaans, with a growing understanding of German which I find interesting because of my ancestry. Learning a Germanic language after knowing one is relatively easier, seeing as they basically have the same roots. She also speaks a little Swedish and I find the similarities between German, Swedish and Afrikaans uncanny. Not that I haven't tried to learn Finnish, but to be quite honest after a few minutes, I feel like I have been sucking unsuccessfully on a very thick milkshake and my head is about to implode. In short, it really 'Finnishes' me. (She also stopped laughing at jokes like that a long time ago.)
My girlfriend and I met on Facebook and began chatting some time in August last year and things advanced to the point where she took a leap of faith and came out here to meet me. We've been together ever since and things are going just great. Language has not been a barrier, although some culture shock has manifested on both sides, though not much or anything actually noteworthy. I suppose the biggest difference she has revealed to me is the high level of paranoia and obsession we South Africans have with security - and also the alarming amount of time we actually spend sober.
All jokes aside, so far I have managed the basics you learn first in a relationship. "I love you" is "Mina rakastaan sinua" and I have learned a few words, noting a few similarities between Finnish and English, and (believe it or not) Finnish and Afrikaans. Examples include "ja-nee" ("Ja-ei"- No, I am quite serious - Afrikaans is not the only language on Earth that actually uses that.) As a footnote, my hunajapupseni (honey-bunny) thinks the predominant and appalling Souf Efrikin accent is 'cute' (shudder) and is actually endeavouring to learn some Afrikaans. To her credit she is doing quite well. She also takes great pleasure in pointing out that Edith - our much loved Xhosa family domestic of 18 years, pronounces her name far better than any body else so far (don't think I haven't tried, Love).
There are also similarities which may be a result of either Latin or English influence, such as the Finnish word for "magistrate" - "maistraatii". Of course there is a sprinkling of funny dots and things at seemingly random locations which alter pronunciation that I simply cannot find on my boring US English keyboard. Apparently Finnish, or Suomi as the locals call it, is basically a dying language which is closely related to Estonian - although I couldn't tell. Despite her otherwise perfect accent, my sokerimuriseni (my little bit of sugar) still sometimes pronounces words like 'vodka', and 'videos' with a 'w' - but usually just when she vants to be cute!
My other half left everything behind and came here to join me at the end of November and brought with her some Finnish recipes, which obviously, were written in Finnish. Be that as it may, the other day she decided on a whim to run these through the Google translator in order to make it understandable to us ordinary folk without (understandably) taking the trouble to translate them herself. These are some of the amusing results:
2 eggs 3dl milk 150G minced (1 onion), salt
Pepper grated cheese
Put the pasta boiling completed in boiling water. More time for cooking bag.
Chop the onion into small pieces.
Heat the pan hot, put a little rapeseed oil lämmittelemään
Pannulle and onions stern.
When the onions are slightly ruskistuneet, folds Meat pannuun their
Sekoittele minced so that it breaks down to components and nice tan.
Mix in budget to an amount of pepper. Pair
Tablespoons is the time yes.
Put the final word of confu little salt.
Pour finally ready-minced onion wodge about 5-8 cents a deep
Glass vuokaan (matalampikin happens as long as it is correspondingly larger).
When the pasta is enough kiehuneet, mix them jauhelihojen confu
Vuokaan. Roiskimasta Beware of all the materials the walls kulhosta
Take the glass and break it 2 eggs. Mix finally one (eg,
Fork) eggs perfectly balanced color liejuksi.
Dig a empty bowl and fold kananmunavelli there.
Confuse cent of the egg and milk sekovat completely interchangeable.
Pour the egg mix 3 deciliter of milk, for example desimitan help.
Hmm 'help' indeed. And if I have to follow this recipe to the letter I'm sure I would need it. Needless to say when we viewed the above last night it left us both in stitches. LMAORATF as they say in "chat-speak".
Regardless of what language it is said in, "I love you" stays beautiful, and two hearts beating together make the same sound. It is the language of Love.
I am teaching the love of my life Afrikaans and she is trying to teach me Suomi, so some increased effort is required on my part. After all, I have to meet my future in-laws someday, and I do not want to introduce myself as: "I are a refrigerator."