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Linguistic “beauties” January 24, 2010

Posted by Anna in Language, Swearing.

The truth is: everybody swears.
You can pretty much ask anyone and not find one person who hasn’t spoken a single profanity in their life. When learning a new language some people (such as yours truly) tend to start with the swears. Everyone knows their fucks, shits and bastards in possibly more than one language but how many of you can truthfully say that the can swear in Finnish?

Let’s start with the most basic and most used swear amongst Finns:
vittu. Literally translated it means cunt or pussy (refering to the female genitalia) but is used in the same way as fuck. That word is used, mostly by teenagers, as a filler word and they have and incredible skill of having entire sentences with vittu as everyother word. Hearing sentences as that can (and do) make people laugh. Vittu can also be put into sentences that, when you think about them, make no sense at all. Such as “vittujen kevät” as in “the spring of pussies” but the phrase “vitun urpo” translated out to fucking idiot. That points out how variable of a word vittu is because it can be used in so many different ways.
Next I’ll have to mention  the Finnish translation of the good old shit: paska. It’s the exact same word in Finnish as in English and thus used in the same way. “Oh shit” is “voi paska” and a very usual phrase to myself at least “haista paska” is translated “smell shit”.
Last but not least my favourite swear and what I refer to as the perfect swear due to it having hard letters p, r and k in it: “perkele.” It’s the name of a pagan god of thunder in Finnish mythology (or so says wikipedia) and is used as a exclamation. My dictionary translates the word as devil but who yells out “oh devil!” when the fail at something. Sounds more like you’d be saying “oh devil you’re such a joker!” So in English it’s rather dammit or darn, allthough the Finnish word for that is “hemmetti” tai “hitto”.
But I’d better stop right about here so this won’t turn into a novel, even though I could go on for hours about this.
So let’s finish of with a video of an English speaking person swearing in Finnish. Beacause that’s always fun.



1. Ms Leino - February 11, 2010

Contents: Excellent
You write so eloquently about such a volatile topic, wow! This was very educative and I am very impressed by your use of advanced vocabulary. Oh, and did I mention that it’s funny, too? Hilarious! I laughed out loud (LOL)… And you provoked public outrage + loads of comments, a wonderful topic choice! If I could change one thing, I would finish the essay differently by a summary of your thoughts instead of such a casual signing off. You could start the last paragraph with a conjunction like “after all” or “all in all” or “to sump up”… 🙂

Media / appearance: Very good
You have discovered a great video, but perhaps you could have included a few links to appropriate websites discussing the same topic 🙂

Grammar: Excellent
– swear words = kirosanat, swear = verb, kirota
– useful TO ME
– finish OFF

2. tiusanen - January 25, 2010


Good job Anna! Description seems intresting and spelling in good posession. That’s true that Finns swear alot. There are a lot of facts i your text, and im assumed of that. You start descriptive and that’s a good way to do that. You continue pretty surely and in your middlepiece of text are preseted some swearwords and their meaning literally and virtually. Very nice is that you have told, how Finns use them in many respects. Lastpiece of your text is traditional, cause you tell about your opinions. Extra is that there are some case history.

Where are pictures? I know that it’s extra hard to find suitable picture, but there could have been somethig that animates your lovely text. Video is good,but more.. Some finish swears are translated wrong, i think no one says ” smell shit” rather ” fuck you or screw you or something. oh shit is straight translated ” voi paska” but in better meaning it means ” voi vittu.”

3. Rosa Piirinen - January 25, 2010

Yeah “homo” = gay is pretty common, but I dont think it actually is a swearing word. Just a word to insult one. 😛

4. Juhani - January 25, 2010

Oh, and you forgot that finns also say others “homo”. And also the common word “saatana” that means satan.

5. Rosa Piirinen - January 25, 2010

PS! “Spring of pussies!” XD Haha, I think Im going to use it. Awesome.

6. Rosa Piirinen - January 25, 2010

^ It’s not necessarily “fuck you”. I’d say “fuck you” means more like “haista vittu”. Or at least it is used that way.

And I think it was good that you went for the literal ones and also how it is used.

Great subject I must say. Finns do swear alot. 😉

7. Juhani - January 25, 2010

Nice. It’s true that most people start learning language trough swearing. But still, isn’t “haista paska” translatted as “fuck you”?

Anna - January 25, 2010

That’s true but I went for the literal translation

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