Easy Finnish, Lesson 4: Fingerpori

Living proof that Finnish is one of the world’s easiest languages is provided daily by the comic strip Fingerpori, written and drawn by Pertti Jarla since 2007 and syndicated in nearly all the daily Finnish newspapers I have ever read. If I am not mistaken, a few years back, Fingerpori overtook Viivi ja Wagner, which I have translated here on a few occasions, as the most popular comic strip in Finland.

Fingerpori‘s value for the Finnish learner is that nearly every strip is based on wordplay, double entendres, and the absurdity that arises when the characters take certain expressions literally or forget (like many tyros like me often do) that words can have entirely disparate meanings in different contexts.

Unlike Viivi ja Wagner, whose humor is based on Wagner’s charmingly uncharming piggishness and Viivi’s clear-eyed yet affectionate exasperation with her boyfriend’s endless faults and abysmal male chauvinism, Fingerpori cannot usually be translated in a straightforward way.


My fabulous former Finnish teacher Tiina has drawn my attention to this strip, in which the humor revolves around the word liike, whose basic meanings are “motion” and “movement,” on the one hand, and a “shop” or a “business,” on the other. Here it appears in the inessive caseliikkeessä. (Don’t ask me where the extra “k” and the extra “e” came from: it would take too long to explain.)

In the first panel, the auto mechanic advises the man on the left, “You will save time and trouble if you change [your] tires at a/the shop.”

Unfortunately, the man on the left has heard something else: “You will save time and trouble if you change [your] tires on the go.” Meaning, literally, while “in motion.”

In the second panel, we see the man trying mightily, indeed, to change his tires on the go.

“No jaa,” he says, probably in exasperation. “Oh well.”

I imagine it takes native Finnish speakers only a few milliseconds to get the joke. For Finnish learners, on the other hand, it is a test of our fluency or, at least, our ability to puzzle out things we don’t get right off the bat.


Ring Finger


Panel 1
Wagner: Viivi is in a better mood now that we’re engaged.
Viivi: La-la-la!

Panel 2
Wagner: The metal ring on her left ring finger made it happen.

Panel 3
Wagner: Again, something that only a woman understands.

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Finnish in Hesari on October 22, 2016



Panel 1
Wagner: I’ve been on Facebook for years already.

Pane1 2
Wagner: And I still don’t have a single friend.

Panel 3
Wagner: Except Jesus.
Jesus: I’m not on Facebook.

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Finnish in Hesari on June 2, 2016



Panel 1
Wagner: I made a smoothie.
Viivi: Great! What’s in it?

Panel 2
Wagner: Some beer.
Viivi: Isn’t there anything else in it?

Panel 3
Viivi: There is no such smoothie!
Wagner: That is not for you to decide.

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade DE for the heads-up. Originally published in Finnish by Hesari on October 28, 2015



Panel 1
Wagner: “I’ve learned to speak stadi [Helsinki] slang.”

Panel 2
Wagner (in stadi): “Hey, tram driver, close the door. There’s a cold breeze in here. Do you understand?”
Tram Driver: “?!”

Panel 3
Tram Driver (in Karelian dialect): “I don’t understand. I’m from Lappeenranta.”
Wagner: “I should have guessed.”

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade TP for the heads-up.