"organic" in Finnish (was: @ in Icelandic)

Mai Kuha mkuha at BSUVC.BSU.EDU
Sat Jul 14 23:45:11 UTC 2001

On Sat, 14 Jul 2001, Barry Popik wrote:

(...) In a world where technology and employment are constantly changing,
Icelanders do not adopt international words. Instead, they have passionate
discussions about various solutions. Instead of a computer (...)

Along the same lines, I was fascinated by a couple of extremely
high-frequency words that I encountered for the first time while in
Finland two months ago.

The informal word for "cell phone" is "kännykkä" (that's "kannykka" with
umlauts on the a's, in case the characters don't come across right). My
brother says the word was first introduced in a cell phone ad, and that
its stem is a colloquial word for "hand"; because of the connotations of
the "hand" word, I think the term "kännykkä" might have suggested the
meaning "object that a hard-working person holds in his/her hand" at
first. My sister-in-law was not aware of this origin suggested for the
word, so it's evidently not immediately obvious. (By the way, in case
you've heard that there are lots of cell phones in Finland, it's true.
Everone over the age of eight seemed to have one. I saw a person sitting
at one end of a sofa call the person sitting at the other end of the same
sofa on his kännykkä.)

I was particularly amazed, though, that the word "organic" hasn't been
borrowed. Instead, the produce section at the grocery store is full of
signs proclaiming "luomu", apparently from "luonnonmukainen", "conforming
to nature".

And all this information isn't off-topic at all, because, er... oh yes: it
adds to our understanding of all these other routes that American English
could conceivably take, rather than borrowing.


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