maanantai 6. kesäkuuta 2011

BFF #3: Please

Good morning world! Let’s start this new week with a new post in the series called BeFriending Finland. BFF is all about exploring and hopefully explaining the quirks and peculiarities of Finnish culture and people. Today our topic is the little but quite common word we all know. That is please.

To put it in a one sentence: we do not have a word for “please”. There, I said it. This is one of the reasons why a foreigner might think that Finns are rude and impolite.

See, if one asks another to pass the salt, one would automatically add please to the end. Since we do not have that word, we don’t. We use conditional to make the sentence polite. So when a Finn says “ojentaisitko suolan” ("would you pass the salt"), he’s actually being very polite.

In the case of “yes, please”, we replace the “please” with "kiitos", which is “thank you”. Comparing it to English “no, thank you”, it’s not very different. Anothe way of going around "please" is to replace it with "ole hyvä" ("you're welcome", or literally "be good"). Such a case might be for example "please pay here" and that would be "maksa tähän, ole hyvä".

Also as we have noticed how useful that little word is, it kind of has been adapted to our language. One might hear someone say “älä pliis tee noin” (“please, don’t do that”), where "pliis" is just a Finnish version of the word, written as it is pronounced, as the rest of Finnish language. Though I must admit in most cases it is used more in a non-honest, ironic kind of way. And all in all it is not very common and not at all official.

If I try to sum it up a bit, I’d say that if someone asks you to do something and doesn’t say please, he might not be impolite. He might just be Finnish.

Are there any other situations, where English speaking people use “please” I did not remember to talk about? Does your language have a word for “please”? Do you consider Finns rude?

Stay tuned for more, coming up next: What?

4 kommenttia:

  1. Thanks for this post! I will point it to my native Englisg speaking friends as this is one of the most irritating things for them to understand...

  2. When I visited Edinbourgh I met this group of people of different nationalities and backrounds (there were people from Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Denmark etc) and one of them said that it actually had been quite interesting to notice that whenever one of them goes home and then comes back, every one of them starts to make different kind of mistakes in English - with pronunciation, syntax, grammar in regular. Finns tend to misuse their pronouns she/he/her/him etc. And to forget to say please. :) In a way, when we don't remember to say 'please', we are just making a grammatical error - not actually being rude.

  3. Anonyymi, quite good point you have there. You are right in a way. As it is more of question about language, not manners, then it can be seen as a grammatical error amongst those who have english as their second, third, even fourth language. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails