All posts by Reetta Kemppinen

10th and final meeting

Even though I was really looking forward to finally having our last meeting, I’ll have to admit, it’s a bit sad. EOTO became such a routine, we pretty much had one per week, and oftentimes in the same cafe in Finlayson.

Anyway, for this last meeting we had decided to translate a song from each language. The topic came up when we were listening to songs that were hits in our childhood, and we thought it might be a fun idea to translate some lyrics on an each one teach one lesson. Songs are often more poem like, with metaphors and hidden meanings, so translating them is not only more challenging, but more interesting.

The song we translated from Spanish was called “20 de enero” (20th of January) by an artist called “La Oreja De Van Gogh” (The ear of Van Gogh), and the reason we picked it was because the music video is an absolute blast to watch. The song is pretty old, from the early 2000’s, so that only adds the cheesiness into the music video.

Anyway, the lyrics. I’m not going to paste all of them here because this post would be insanely long, but maybe go through the new vocabulary I learned, and some more interesting passages from the song. It was largely in past tense, which made it a bit challenging, but I managed okay as long as I was told which verb was actually in question.

New vocabulary I learned:

Arrastrar – drag/pull

Llenar – fill something up

Sonrisa – smile

Madrugada – early morning (A better translation would be the Finnish word aamuyö)

Cristal – glass (not a drinking glass, a window glass)

Reflejo – reflection

Cara – face

There were some other difficulties as well, such as recognizing verbs that were in the past tense, and translating entire passages so that the sentences would actually make sense. To be honest, would have been easier to translate from Spanish to Finnish instead of English, because the structures would be more alike, especially with the verbs.

A passage I quite liked went: “La madrugada del 20 de enero saliendo del tren”, which meant: “The early morning of 20th of January coming out of the train”. It barely makes sense, but it sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Another one was: “Cogí un tren que no dormía”, which means: “I took a train that didn’t sleep”. Also quite a fun one.

Some passages I was able to translate almost entirely myself were:

Era un reflejo del sol de medio día – It was a reflection of the midday sun

Yo quiero quererte o morir – I want to love you or die

También de fotos tuyas de antes – Also with photos of you from earlier

Dibujé tu sonrisa junto a la mía – I drew your smile next to mine

It was nice to see that with a little nudge, I was able to translate something kind of complex. Some of it was so poetic that it was impossible, though.

The song I first thought I’d help Ignasi translate from Finnish was Ikuinen Virta by Indica, since it definitely was a hit when I was a kid, but it somehow turned out to be insanely hard to translate well. Probably because the passages are extremely short but somehow contain a lot of meaning? So, we ended up switching. I picked Hetken tie on kevyt by Tehosekoitin because I like the song and it’s quite pretty. I definitely had to help Ignasi a lot though, because it turned out the lyrics were pretty damn artsy.

Anyway, that concludes our each one teach one journey. What a fun course this was!

9th meeting – swear words

As this one was our second last meeting, we decided to finally do the swear word lesson we talked about in the beginning. We actually had this meeting in ravintola Näsinneula over some (pretty expensive) coffee. Fancy!

We started off with the Spanish swear words. The most common exclamations that roughly translate to “fuck”, are coño and cojones. Then there’s of course stuff like mierda (shit) and puta/o (bitch/fuck(ing)). When it comes to insults, idiota (self explanatory) and imbécil (also self explanatory) are common, as well as capullo (moron), which is only really used for men though. Gilipollas (asshole) and hijo/a de puta (bitch) can be used for anyone, and vete a la mierda means “fuck off”. Now I can hopefully swear fluently, shall I ever end up in Spain.

8th meeting – clothing

Ignasi has a Finnish exam coming up, and he wanted to learn some clothing related vocabulary for it. I taught him some in Finnish, and he taught me some in Spanish. I must say I only remembered one word from before, which was zapatos (shoes). Some of the words he taught me I did remember after being told what it was, such as:  pantalones (pants), falda (skirt), camisa (shirt), chaqueta (jacket), sombrero (hat, and yes, any kind of a hat).

Some completely new words I learned:
Hoodie – sudadera
Belt – cinturón
Jeans – tejanos
Scarf – bufanda
Gloves – guantes

I also learned the word bambas (trainers), which apparently is a strongly regional word. For most of Spain, bambas means the slippers you would wear at home, not trainers, but Ignasi swore that bambas is definitely the superior word for trainers.

I also taught him the words farkut and takki, and asked if he could figure out what a jean jacket would be. He guessed farkkutakki quickly enough! I tried the same in Spanish with less success. Jean jacket in Spanish is chaqueta tejana (not tejano chaqueta like I thought). I keep forgetting the describing words always go after the noun, and the gender was hard as well.

7th meeting – bad jokes

Well, today we were both a bit tired for one reason or the other, so we decided not to do anything very demanding.  Ignasi told me a few bad jokes in Spanish. I actually kind of understood all of them when he spoke slowly enough. Not always the comedical value, but at least the meaning of the sentences. It was nice to see that I’m able to understand spoken Spanish, even if just a bit.

– ¿Como se dice edificio en catalán? (How do you say “building” in Catalan?)

– Edifici.

– Ya sé que es difícil ¿pero como se dice?  (I already know it is difficult, but how do you say it?) 

The joke in this one is that the Catalan word edifici sounds like they’re saying “it’s difficult” in Spanish.

– ¿Donde estudian los niños de Bélgica? (Where do Belgian kids study?)

– En coles de Bruselas. (In schools of Brussels/in brussel sprouts) 

In this one, “cole” is a spoken Spanish word for school (I only knew of escuela before this), and “coles de Bruselas” means brussel sprouts in Spanish.  Cole actually kind of reminds me of the Finnish slang word skole, which also means school.

– ¿Por que en Lepe nunca entran en la cocina? (why do they never enter the kitchen in Lepe?)

– Porque hay un bote que dice sal. (because there is a container that says “salt (leave)”)

Here, the joke is about the people of Lepe, who are considered dumb in Spanish jokes (Kind of like the people of Laihia are extremely stingy in Finnish jokes). The punchline is that the word for “salt” and “leave” are the same in Spanish.

New vocabulary from today:

Edificio – Building
Fácil – Easy
Difícil – Hard
Cole – School
Un bote – a container

Sixth meeting – conjugations

Today Ignasi requested we would practice verb conjugations, since he was having a hard time with those. I decided I want to practice the same thing with Spanish as well. Even though I know the conjugations pretty well, it’s been a while since I actually practiced doing them (other than in the context of some random sentence) so I thought it can’t hurt.

There are three verb types in Spanish. Type one is verbs that end with -AR, type two with -ER and type three with -IR. The conjugation is similar to Finnish in its method, since each pronoun has to be paired with a different conjugation of the verb. Finnish has twice as many verb types, though.

The difficulty with Spanish is that there are many irregularities in the conjugations, and they don’t apply to each conjugation of the same verb. For example the first-person version of poner (to put) is pongo instead of “pono” (which would be the logical conclusion), yet the “g” does not carry out for the rest of the conjugations. I was surprised with how many irregularities I remembered though! A bigger problem turned out to be the accent. I wanted to put it on top of the letter “i” even in type one verbs, even though you’re not supposed to. I wrote down the rules for the accents to reference later.

Fifth meeting – Finnish homework and verbs

Today we met at cafe Taikapapu behind Stockmann. We recently discovered it’s one of the few cafes in town that offer a student discount, so especially filter coffee is a very good price. Also it’s some good quality coffee. But enough about that. I helped Ignasi with his Finnish homework, and he taught me some Spanish verbs.

I’m not 100% sure how we ended up on the topic, but Ignasi told me of a Spanish poet called Antonio Machado, who was exiled in France after the war and whose memorial grave can be found in Collioure. We decided to translate one of his more famous poems:


I did know some of the verbs and words, but even when Ignasi filled in the ones I didn’t know, it was very challenging for me to translate. It’s a poem, and as per usual, the words are not in a normal order. The poem goes as follows:

Wanderer, the path is your footprints and nothing more;
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made when walking.
When walking the path is made, and when you turn your sight back, it is seen the path must never again be stepped on.
Wanderer there is no path but foam trails on the sea.

Some things that I learned from the poem were that because caminar is “to walk”, caminante means wanderer. Just like how cantante is “a singer” and cantar is “to sing”. I also learned the words huellas (footprints), atrás (behind/back), senda/camino (path), estela (wake/trail) and a more common verb for walking (as opposed to caminar, which I’ve been using so far), which is andar.

We also revised on some common verbs that I had forgotten, and I made some sentences with them:

Miro la tele – I’m watching TV

Me gusta andar – I like walking

Escucho música – I’m listening to music

No veo bien – I don’t see well

Puedo ver mi casa desde aquí – I can see my house from here

Vuelvo a casa – I’m returning home

Overall a pretty good lesson, and I feel like it’s getting easier to form sentences with words I know. Even if I sometimes doubt myself, I’m rarely far from the correct answer.

Fourth meeting

Ignasi’s family is visiting Finland, and we happened to be on the same train from Tampere to Helsinki, so we had a meeting on the train.  Earlier this spring, we had bought Ignasi a Finnish children’s book to read. It was hard to find one that was easy enough for a beginner, but also not for babies.  We ended up buying something called Paten Kalastuskirja. This time he had brought the book with him, so we decided to translate the first chapter together.

It was harder than I thought! I hadn’t realized while choosing the book that there’s a lot of past tense. Luckily there is some dialogue in the book that will be in present tense, but this first chapter was definitely pretty challenging. I think Ignasi did really well despite everything. He could actually get the gist of a few sentences even without my help.  Translating from a book really made me realize how oddly Finnish works compared to English, because it was pretty tough to explain why we use a certain conjugation or even a verb in a certain spot.

After translating these two pages, Ignasi taught me some words and verbs of the same subject. Here’s my list of vocabulary from today:

To go – Ir

To leave – Salir

To fish – Pescar

Amazing – Asombroso/Alucinante

Place – lugar

Age – Edad

Hobby – Aficion

Duck – Pato

To hunt ducks – Cazar patos

Moose – Reno

Berries – Frutas de bosque

To hate – Odiar

I also learned that in Spanish you call an alive fish and a dead fish with different words, which is pretty interesting. A fish in the water is “pez”, and a fish that’s dead and will be cooked is “pescado”.

Third meeting (food and death)

For our third meeting we met at Wayne’s coffee in the center. Ignasi told me about a documentary he had watched about a train crash in Spain. Basically, when you ride trains in Spain you never know if you’re going to die or not, which led us  to the topic of death, and death related words. We decided to write some down in addition to the food words we were planning to study today.

The food vocabulary was not too hard, since most of the words I have already learned once. Some were harder to remember than others, but I learned some completely new ones too, such as “sandía” (watermelon), “aceituna” (olive), “zumo” (juice) and “sidra” (cider). I also learned that fruit salad is “macedonia”, which I find quite funny.  The other food related words were somewhat familiar, though I really had a hard time recalling the words with an Arabic root, such as “arroz” (rice) . We also went through each word to determine whether it was a feminine or a masculine word.

The death related vocabulary was all new, except for the verb “morir” (to die). Ignasi also told me that you can call someone a “fantasma” (ghost), if they’re very self centered, or bragging about stuff they made up. I don’t really know what this vocabulary will be of use for in daily life, but I tried making some random sentences with the new words. Such as:

Soy un esqueleto – I am a skeleton

Eres un fantasma guay – You are a cool ghost

Esta lápida es guay – This headstone is cool

Esta lápida es la mía – This headstone is mine

Esto es un funeral – This is a funeral

Esta reunión es un funeral – This gathering is a funeral

I did not remember the differences between all the different “this” words, so that was useful to relearn. “Este” and “esta” are adjectives, and need to be attached to a noun according to their gender, while “esto” is a generic pronoun. Also the possessive pronoun “mi”(my) does not change its gender, however if you want to say something is “mine”, you need to use “mía” or “mío”, but the gender is determined by the thing that is yours, not your own gender. Remembering to gender everything is one of the hardest things for me, since neither Finnish or English have that quality. I feel like I’m starting to recall more and more vocabulary and grammar though, which is motivating.

Second meeting – weather words

We met again at cafe Pala for a weather-related meeting. Some of this stuff I have already learned before but forgotten, but I learned some completely new things as well.

Weather in Spanish is “tiempo”, which also means time. Some words I remembered from my past studies were “sol” (sun) and “nevar” (to snow). Words that I had to revise were “lluvia” (rain), “nieve” (snow), and “viento”(wind). I also somewhat remembered how to actually use the words in a sentence. You use the verb “estar” (be) for weather that can be thought as an event like rain and snow. So, “está lloviendo” means it is raining. For other words like sun and wind, you use the verb “hacer”(to do/make). So “hace viento” means it is windy.

It’s sunny = hace sol

It’s snowing = está nevando

It’s hot = hace calor

It’s cold = hace frío

Some completely new words that I learned were “tormenta” (storm) and “granito” (hail). Another new word that is very specific to Spanish weather is “bochorno”, which is very humid and hot weather. I think it can be compared to the Finnish word “helle”, though Finland hardly has as extreme heat or humidity as Spain.

We also ended up talking about the “have to” structure in both our languages. I remembered that in Spanish you use the verb “tener”(have) paired with “que”, but I had never learned that you actually have to use a reflexive pronoun within the structure, so that was an useful bit of information. I also learned to say “hace un frío que pela”, which is basically saying it is very cold. It means something like “a cold that peels”, which surely doesn’t sound pleasant, but then again cold for Spaniards is at like 0 °C (sorry Ignasi).

First meeting at cafe Pala

Having a coffee in the center around 4PM proved itself a difficult task, since all the coffee places were full of people getting out of work. We settled on walking a bit further to cafe Pala, a quieter place inside the Finlayson building.

We both already have some skills in the languages we want to learn, so for this first meeting we ended up just talking about what kind of lessons we should have in the future, and also some random stuff that came up. As a Finn I of course asked if Ignasi knows what “pala” means in Finnish. He did know it means “a piece”, and I learned that “pala” in Spanish means a shovel. The more you know.

Consequently he also knew the Finnish word for hangover (krapula), and taught me the Spanish word for it, which is resaca. I ended up teaching him a couple more words for hangover (kankkunen, darra, kohmelo…) , since we seem to have plenty, while Spanish only uses one.  Probably the product of our multitude of dialects.

We talked about kiosks in our countries, since even though R-kioskis are literally everywhere in Finland, they are still (to Ignasi’s surprise) a franchise, not a state owned business like in Spain. I was curious about who the lucky bastard is that actually owns the R-kioskis if it’s not the state, and after a brief google search I found out they’re owned by a parent company based in Norway?? What the.

I also now know that there are two kinds of banks in Spain. The ones called “banco” are ones trying to turn a profit (so corporations basically) and ones called “caja” (caja literally translates to “box”) are what I think most Finnish banks are, so like a savings bank.

One more thing that stood out for me was finding out that the Spanish days of the week derive from the names of the Roman gods, aka, what we know as the names of the planets. I had never thought about it, but once he told me it seemed so obvious (Martes = Mars, Miercoles = Mercury, and so on).