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Minä Rakastan Sinua - I Love You

The three magic words in Finnish. Magic indeed, as you rarely ever hear it. Love, in general, is a topic of interest for most people. No wonder it is the reason why many of us wake up in the morning.  Regardless if it is love for work, respect for your close once, or maybe for animals or nature. You name it, love is all around us. However, why is it that these three words feel like they are so hard to say sometimes? And in this case, I wanted to ask why is it particularly difficult in Finnish? 

It just feels like ‘minä rakastan sinua’ holds so much value and sovereignty in the Finnish culture. Not often do you hear people say ‘minä rakastan sinua’. I see that this can lead to missed opportunities, missed chances of telling someone they really mean something to you. In my opinion, there are different levels of love, different kinds of love. Because at least I feel like I care for, look up to, or enjoy the company of so many people around me. I could say that I love many of them. But how is it that I have rarely ever mentioned it to them? 

The attitudes people have about the languages they speak offer insights that are just as valuable as how they actually speak their languages.

As I was looking back, I realized that I have only been able to say these three words to my loved ones that I loved in another country. I was kinda shocked, to be honest. The attitudes people have about the languages they speak offer insights that are just as valuable as how they actually speak their languages. Attitudes and emotions about a language, for example, offer clues as to what constitutes social insider/outsider behavior, what varieties have prestige in a community, or how linguistic changes are perceived by certain groups within a community. 

When I was younger, I thought that I love you in Finnish sounded dumb and for some reason, did not value the words. But today I see that there is so much power in them. When you say it, it forces you to stop for a second to take a breath to say it, even when you just look at the way it is pronounced. So, I bow for the Finnish linguists who invented these power words. I love ‘minä rakastan sinua’. However, taking into consideration how many years I have lived in Finland to how many I’ve said ‘minä rakastan sinua’ is alarming. But why is it that you don’t hear those words that often in Finland, and should it be that way? Many people in Finland have often said that they would translate the three words to mean more like a feeling of caring for another.

Examine if the way you use different words matches up to your emotions?

Furthermore, many Finnish believe that the so-called overuse of the ‘I love you’ dissolves the meaning of it. Moreover, I am not claiming that one language is “more polite” than another. Politeness in a language is something so culturally bound, so language-specific, that to try to compare systems for expressing linguistic politeness could be likened to a comparison between the merits of a screwdriver and a stapler. Both are proper tools, but each is useful only for the right task. Politeness in a language is much the same way: what works perfectly well for one language absolutely does not carry over into another. But I would still like to challenge everyone to examine if the way they use different words matches up to their emotions?

Wouldn’t it feel good to hear ‘minä rakastan sinua’ from someone? I bet it also would feel damn good to say it as well. As the Beatles once said, all we need is love. So, how can people live, function, survive and have hope if there is such an oppressive cultural norm and burden to communicate to someone that you care for them, value their presence, enjoy to have you in their life, that you support them, and so much more? What impact does this have on our society when it comes to social psychology?

Someones life can be touched and changed by only knowing that someone loves them.

The “typical Finn” is a stereotype that endures in the Finnish consciousness, reinforced both by Finns and outsiders (see Sajavaara and Lehtonen 1997). The qualities as those of the ‘typical Finn’ are: trusting, reliable, cultured, cooperative, kind, always on time, thrifty, hardworking, honest, and optimistic. Such qualities earn Finland a regular spot on the world’s list of “least corrupt countries” (according to Transparency International 2001–2009) and have even been written about in The New York Times (Hoge, 2002). But, in short, the stereotypical Finn is said to be one who values action over speech. This perceived characteristic is something Finns themselves joke about, as well as a stereotype advanced in journalistic and touristic accounts of Finland. But how Finns see themselves and how they wish to position themselves to other cultures? In fact, many Finns can be said to have upheld “the silent Finn” stereotype as indisputable truth. Thus, Finns can have difficulty with the American way, because they feel that they are just saying something and they don’t mean it.” Again, the feeling is that Finnish honesty makes talking for the sake of talking uncomfortable.

I am sorry that this time, there were more questions than answers. But I hope this made you think at least a little bit and to questions the norms we are living in. Are we just going on with our daily lives because it is just how it is, or are we asking ourselves such questions: why is it this way, what impact it has on an individual/group/and social levels, and then if there would be a way to do things better? The future is not set. Don't miss an opportunity to let people know how much they mean to you! Someones life can be touched and changed by only knowing that someone loves them.


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