What Non-Writing Goal Do You Want to Accomplish in 2020?

The one non-writing goal that I have for the coming year is to improve my Finnish language skills. I have been here for over five years and my vocabulary and grammar are still terribly basic. There are reasons for this, and I think they’re valid, but that doesn’t change anything.

Finnish is hard. I still struggle to pronounce vowel sounds that don’t exist in American English. The words are long, because (and I’m oversimplifying this) proper nouns with adjectives and modifiers get jammed together into compound words. So you don’t say, for example, “strawberry jam”. In Finnish it’s “strawberryjam”, mansikkahillo.

Which is fine, except when the pieces of the compound words can possibly be other words. For example, aamupalaverihuone means “morning meeting room”, where the office team gathers at the start of the day. Aaamu = morning, palaveri = meeting, huone = room. But hold on, if you break it differently aamupala = breakfast, veri = blood, so it could also mean “breakfast blood room”. Because the emphasis is always on the first syllable and letters are only pronounced one way, morning meeting room and breakfast blood room are pronounced the same way. You have to go by context, because clearly, breakfast blood room makes no sense, but when your vocabulary is limited it’s confusing.

What Non-Writing Goal Do You Want to Accomplish in 2020?

My real excuses are that I work from home, so I’m not immersed in the language. Nearly everyone I know is an English-speaking expat. Almost all service people, from bankers to repairmen to grocery clerks, speak English. So it’s been the lack of opportunity to practice. That’s why as soon as registration opens up, I’m going back to taking classes in January. This time around Katie is going to take the classes with me, and we’re going to make more of an effort to speak Finnish at home for extra practice.

Okay reader, even if you’re not a writer you can share this one. You don’t have to be a participant in The Merry Writer game to play along here!

The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

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