The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

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Woods
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The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Woods » 2016-02-20, 22:02

I've pretty much decided myself to go to Finland in about a month or two, look for a job that'll allow me to stay in the country for as much as I want (and this is a key element because otherwise I'll spend all my money and have to quit very soon) and learn the language. What worries me, however, is the fact that I don't speak almost any Finnish for now. I mean, I understand the phonology and some of the basic grammar, but it'll take at least a few months until I can start communicating freely, so in the beginning I'll have to rely solely on English.

I've had similar adventures in the past - one in Sweden, one in Denmark and one in Germany. In Sweden, it worked without a problem - these guys are really open-minded and cool, and they would let me start in English and find my way through Swedish. In Denmark, it didn't work at all - and I got the impression (sorry Danes) that they're all chauvinist assholes. In Germany, it worked because I speak French (and I was lucky). Now, what about Finland - am I more likely to hear "go study and return when you've learnt Finnish" or to be welcomed and accepted in the society as a foreigner while I learn?

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Naava
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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Naava » 2016-02-21, 18:59

I believe most of people here are positively surprised if any foreigner can speak Finnish, whether it's just a few words or fluent C2 level. Of course there's always assholes who hate everything and everyone, but who cares about their opinions! :lol: What I've heard from others, your biggest problem here will be how to speak in Finnish without Finns noticing you're not a native speaker, thinking they're somehow bothering you by forcing you to use a language you're not 100% comfortable with, and changing to English in order to be polite to you. But yeah, no worries with English. The younger people you meet, the better they're at speaking it.

What I'd be worried about if I were you is how to get a job. I've heard it's not easy for someone who doesn't speak Finnish at all. It's not impossible either, just don't expect it to happen right away. I'm sorry I can't tell you more, I've never had to find a job without knowing Finnish. Maybe someone else here has more experience in this than I do?

I hope you'll be lucky and find a job and a nice place to live in! I think Finnish culture is quite similar to Swedish one, so you should know what's waiting for you here. :D Anyway, welcome!

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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Iván » 2016-02-26, 21:47

Naava wrote:What I'd be worried about if I were you is how to get a job. I've heard it's not easy for someone who doesn't speak Finnish at all. It's not impossible either, just don't expect it to happen right away. I'm sorry I can't tell you more, I've never had to find a job without knowing Finnish. Maybe someone else here has more experience in this than I do?

This.

Despite the fact that most Finns speak some English and, as mentioned above, the younger people you meet, the better they'll speak. However, English is only used in companies which are related to business and technologies due to the fact that many foreigners work there. It is very hard to get a job without speaking Finnish. I know some foreigners who are currently studying their bachelor's degrees in Finland and they don't speak any Finnish, most of them work as cleaners or at fast-food restaurants.
Minkä nuorena oppii, sen vanhana taitaa.

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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby isusbellus » 2016-08-02, 10:54

I had two bad experiences at a music festival. A man teased me for my accent and another girl asked if I was from Finland which I am. I think the girl did not recognize my accent. I am Swedish speaking Finn.
:?
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puke ( •ᴥ•)
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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby puke ( •ᴥ•) » 2016-08-22, 15:13

If you do not speak perfect Finnish, you will be spoken to in English. Even if you speak Finnish but have a permanent Germanic or Romantic accent, I will still speak to you in English because in Finnish if you say something stupid the mistake is yours but in English the shame is shifted to me if I say something stupid in English. If you sound like a Nordic, I switch to Swedish and mess you.
Naava wrote:I think Finnish culture is quite similar to Swedish one

Only city culture, country culture is very different and I am sorry but if you said the same words in the country without regret you would be stabbed.
isusbellus wrote:I am Swedish speaking Finn

Om är du en sved för finn? Annars är okej.

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Naava
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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Naava » 2016-08-22, 17:23

puke ( •ᴥ•) wrote:
Naava wrote:I think Finnish culture is quite similar to Swedish one

Only city culture, country culture is very different and I am sorry but if you said the same words in the country without regret you would be stabbed.

I'm a Southern Ostrobothnian from a small countryside town. No one's gonna stab me. :lol:

But to be serious, Finnish culture has been heavily influenced by the Swedish one. I'm not saying there wouldn't be any differences at all, but if I had to pick a country which culture most resembles ours, I'd say Estonia or Sweden. Well, I must admit I haven't been to Eastern Finland very many times, so they might disagree. Anyway, I had an impression that Woods never intended to move there, so in this case it doesn't really matter.

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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Virankannos » 2016-08-22, 21:05

puke ( •ᴥ•) wrote:
Naava wrote:I think Finnish culture is quite similar to Swedish one

Only city culture, country culture is very different and I am sorry but if you said the same words in the country without regret you would be stabbed.
Whether people in the countryside or anywhere else for that matter "feel" that something is false or stab you if you think otherwise doesn't make it less true.

isusbellus
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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby isusbellus » 2016-08-30, 14:18

isusbellus wrote:I am Swedish speaking Finn

Om är du en sved för finn? Annars är okej.[/quote]

??? hä?
[flag=]sv[/flag] Native [flag=]fi[/flag] B1 [flag=]et[/flag] A1 [flag=]en[/flag] Depends, my pronunciation is bad

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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby Kalkalash » 2016-09-24, 9:45

Naava wrote:What I've heard from others, your biggest problem here will be how to speak in Finnish without Finns noticing you're not a native speaker, thinking they're somehow bothering you by forcing you to use a language you're not 100% comfortable with, and changing to English in order to be polite to you. But yeah, no worries with English. The younger people you meet, the better they're at speaking it.

To continue with this; Most people will probably switch to English if they hear you speaking broken Finnish just to be polite to you, like Naava said. You can help this by trying to be persistent and just talking Finnish back to them, and switching to English when you can't express yourself in Finnish. People will usually get the hint at that point that you'd prefer to keep the discussion in Finnish.

What also helps if you have a group of people (or a person) you regularly hang out with. With them it'll be easier to have Finnish conversations without switching to English, and they'll correct you if you make mistakes, which is something a stranger will never do.

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Re: The Finns' attitude toward people who don't yet speak the language

Postby sa wulfs » 2016-10-23, 9:33

My (admittedly very limited) experience is a bit different. In Helsinki, most people would talk to me in Finnish if I started the conversation in Finnish, and only switch to English when I asked them to (or when they saw an unmistakable look of sheer confusion on my face). The most salient example of this was a waiter at a rather touristy place who addressed me directly in English when he welcomed me and took my order, but who readily switched to Finnish when I uttered a simple "Haluaisin maksaa", and he got off a few sentences in quick succession before I had to ask him to switch back.

Note that my Finnish is extremely poor, so it's not like I sounded anything like fluent when I addressed these folks. However, I didn't speak a lot, so maybe those Finns just hadn't reached their broken Finnish tolerance threshold. :P
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