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Exploring Moomin's Homeland of Finland and the Finnish Language

November 28, 2016

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Finnish Translation

Hi, I'm Yucchi. I just transferred to the translation industry from another business field last fall. Since this is my first time working in the field of translation, I'm constantly learning so many new things each day with the help of my senior co-workers.

I heard that a Moomin theme park was expected to open in Japan, and this news got me interested in the country of Finland―homeland of this popular character. Finland, located in Northern Europe, is also often referred to as the 'Country of Forests and Lakes' and is well known for Santa Claus and the fashionable interior items that they produce. The IT industry is also highly developed as can be seen in world-widely known IT companies such as the once famous Nokia Corporation. In today's blog, I will be introducing some interesting facts about this amazing country.

Finland's Past and Present

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland borders three countries; Sweden to the west, Russia to the east and Norway to the north. The land area of Finland is equivalent to that of Japan. However, the population of the entire country adds up to only the same as that of Hokkaido, which is approximately 5,400,000. This Scandinavian country also has a dramatic history of fighting repeatedly against the invasion of two of its neighboring countries, Russia and Sweden.

When you think about the country of Finland, some of the first things that probably come to mind are substantial child care support and a fulfilling education system. An article by Nikkei DUAL tells us that Finland has an organized consecutive system which provides support to families through maternity and also after their child is born. A package of child care items containing things such as baby clothes is distributed to each family expecting a new baby. From such tender assistance systems, we can tell that Finland is providing support to each child so as to ensure equality in their quality of life regardless of their family's financial state. They even provide free education at all of their national/public schools and higher education institutes . According to articles by Asahi Newspaper and The Huffington Post, children in Finland enjoy the process of learning and are not constantly pressured by academic tests and competition. If they are considered to not have understood the learning material well enough, they can repeat the same grade once more. Even in such cases, these children are not considered as under-performing students who have fallen behind their peers but are seen from a much more open-minded perspective only as students who have spent an extra year or so in school.

Finland also provides a wonderful environment to enjoy sports. A blog article by a major Japanese travel agency, Chikyu-no-Arukikata (How to Explore the World), says that many unique sports competitions are held in Finland, one interesting example of such sports being 'Cell-phone Throwing'. This seems to be an international sport where the competitors throw their phones to see who can get the furthest distance. Another creative sports competition is a race where husbands carry their wives all the way to the finish line. Some people who are not very confident in their athletic abilities may hesitate to try more major sports, but these kinds of unique sports may actually be enjoyable even for them.

NOKIA used to be one of Finland's most world-widely famous IT companies until it was sold to another organization. However, even after this, many former NOKIA employees have started successful venture companies in various fields such as the mobile gaming industry. The fact that large events for entrepreneurs are held every year in the nation's capitol, Helsinki, proves that Finland provides a suitable environment for starting new businesses.

Useful Knowledge about Finland

The Unique Features of the Finnish Language

Information from an international language academy in Japan (DILA) tells us that Finnish is categorized differently from Swedish, the language that is spoken in its neighboring country. Finnish actually falls in the Finno-Ugric language category and is very similar to Estonain. Many different types of vowels exist in Finnish and among these are several vowels which we Japanese speakers are not familiar with. Such vowels are a bit challenging to pronounce, but the key to pronouncing Finnish words is basically to pronounce them just as they are written. Therefore, it is not so difficult for Japanese people to make out the correct pronunciation of Finnish words. However, there are no particles in Finnish whereas the Japanese language makes frequent use of particles such as te, ni, wo, ha (てにをは). Because of this, Finnish nouns, adjectives and numerals decline. Verbs also change their form according to aspects such as tense and pronouns , so many Japanese are expected to struggle at first with these various word forms.

About Business & Communication in Finland

According to an article by Toyo-Keizai Online, Finnish businesses value punctuality and quick decision-making. Since people in Finland value spending time with their families, they put an emphasis on working efficiently and, therefore, get straight to the point and make prompt decisions at meetings without wasting time on irrelevant small-talk. Finnish workers rarely go out to drink with their co-workers just to socialize as the Japanese often do, but make up for this by sometimes holding meetings in saunas. Just as it is easier for the Japanese to have frank conversations and be open to each other when they go naked in hot springs, the same thing might be said of Finnish people in saunas.

What Makes Finland Unique

Before writing this article, the only things that came to mind when I thought about Finland was that it was located in Northern Europe and that it was home to Moomin. However, through my research, I found out that Finland was also a nation that valued nature and treasured time spent with family. I truly admire their work ethic of working quickly and effectively to leave the office on time and spend time at home with their families. It would be exciting to try some of Finland's unique sports such as cell-phone throwing and I would also love to read Moomin stories in their original language . Now, I want to know even more about this fascinating country!

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