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GET TO THE POINT: LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE IN THE FINNISH ZONE Elizabeth Peterson University of Helsinki.

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Presentation on theme: "GET TO THE POINT: LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE IN THE FINNISH ZONE Elizabeth Peterson University of Helsinki."— Presentation transcript:

1 GET TO THE POINT: LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE IN THE FINNISH ZONE Elizabeth Peterson University of Helsinki

2 my very own Fulbright project, (Peterson 2004, my PhD) a few key findings about linguistic politeness in Finnish metalinguistic data from Finnish speakers current research on anglicisms in Finnish discourse 2Communication in Finnish -- Peterson OVERVIEW

3 ≠ ettiquette ≠ manners ≠ ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ not entirely, anyway for a linguist, politeness = a specific culture’s behavioral norms (House 2005)  there is no such thing as an “impolite” culture  we do not say that one culture is “more polite” than another  each culture has its own culturally specific ways of encoding politeness 3Communication in Finnish -- Peterson LINGUISTIC POLITENESS

4 What kind of factors are Finnish people sensitive to in a communicative event?  traditional values of power, distance, and rate of imposition (of requests) (Brown and Levinson 1978, 1987) Are there signs of variation?  if yes, then we know that there are specific rules of politeness in Finnish 4Communication in Finnish -- Peterson QUESTIONS IN MY RESEARCH

5 WHAT LINGUISTIC TOOLS HELP SHOW POLITENESS? (OR MITIGATION?) English request type interrogative: Can I? command: Give me hint: That smells good. modal verbs Can I? May I? Can you? verb tense/mood Can you give me? Could you give me? politeness markersplease, thank you 2 nd person addressthou, you, ya’ll, youse, etc. Finnish request type interrogative: Annatko? command: Anna. hint: Tuoksuu hyvältä. modal verbs Voinko? Saanko? Voitko? verb tense/mood Voitko antaa? Voisitko antaa? politeness markerskiitos, -han/hän 2 nd person addresssinä, te 5Communication in Finnish -- Peterson

6 sociolinguistic interviews and discourse completion tasks with 68 native speakers of Finnish results analyzed both quantitatively (multivariate analyses) and qualitatively (through broad transcription) 6Communication in Finnish -- Peterson METHOD

7 Communication in Finnish -- Peterson7

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11 Communication in Finnish -- Peterson11

12 What kind of factors are Finnish people sensitive to in a communicative event?  distance is important, power seems to throw them off, and rate of imposition (of requests) leads them to all sorts of extra verbiage they would be quick to deny… Are there signs of variation?  oh yes What do we know then?  that Finnish has culturally-specific rules of politeness 12Communication in Finnish -- Peterson ROUND UP

13 Finnish politeness is withdrawing and evasive modesty, a wish to remain inconspicuous may even mistrust or be embarrassed by overt politeness or flattery conversation begins only after formal introductions politeness forms are based mostly on loans from other languages; therefore ”common” people may consider them artificial or humiliating (hegemenous) 13Communication in Finnish -- Peterson POLITENESS IN FINLAND (YLI-VAKKURI, 2006) ”EVASION AT ALL COSTS”

14 What do Finnish people say about themselves and their language and customs? Four major themes... 14Communication in Finnish -- Peterson PART 2 OF MY DISSERTATION RESEARCH

15 “I think that in Finnish we go straight to the point. In English you have all these words that might make it softer, but they don’t mean anything. But our culture is maybe such that we don’t have such little chat … but it depends on the way you were raised, what sort of family you come from, what sort of manners you have.” (51-year-old female) 15Communication in Finnish -- Peterson 1. FINNISH HONESTLY PRECLUDES SMALL-TALK AND OTHER SUCH FRIVOLITIES

16 “We are used to obeying all sorts of rules. All sorts of these regulations and directives that the EU makes, Finland is always the first to do them, and on time! In all the media, it is reported how Finns did this without any criticism at all! Sometimes I feel like the whole EU is just laughing at Finns and how they go and do all the things without even questioning.” (29-year-old female) 16Communication in Finnish -- Peterson 2. FINNS ARE LAW- ABIDING

17 “I would say that we in Helsinki are less cordial than most people in Europe … Politeness has grown in the last 10 to 25 years, maybe because we want to be more European. More … sivistynyt (‘civilized’). I think Finnish people try to treat strangers better than they treat other Finns. They try to be more polite.” (27-year-old male) 17Communication in Finnish -- Peterson 3. THE TIMES THEY ARE A – CHANGING... AND SO IS OUR LANGUAGE

18 “[In Finland], when you bump into somebody, you don’t say ‘excuse me.’ You say, ‘oh-ho!’ – and that’s already a lot! It doesn’t matter.” (38-year-old female) 18Communication in Finnish -- Peterson 4. THE (LACK OF) IMPORTANCE OF LINGUISTIC POLITENESS

19 “In Finnish, if you say kiitos, it really means ‘please.’ You can’t use it all the time like you do in English. Or maybe I could say ‘Voisitko olla hiljaa?’ [‘Could you be quiet?’], and the please is in the conditional verb.” (31-year-old female) – backs up quantitative results criticism of the use of please in English: “you use it all the time.” 19Communication in Finnish -- Peterson LANGUAGE VS. LANGUAGE USE: POLITENESS

20 my obsession with ”the magic word” anglicisms in Finnish 20Communication in Finnish -- Peterson MY MOST CURRENT RESEARCH

21 Paunonen & Paunonen (2000): pliis first used in 1944 Suomisen Olli rakastuu (‘Olli Suominen falls in love’), by Orvo Saarikivi 21Communication in Finnish -- Peterson pliis ‘please’

22 22Communication in Finnish -- Peterson an index of popular~youth culture engagement Yeah, put on some hot music, please!

23 23 SOME RECENT OBSERVATIONS 2014: MORE THAN A MILLION GOOGLE HITS ON ’PLIIS’ “Keep minimum wage, pliiiiiis” University student demonstration in downtown Helsinki, March 18, 2010 ad campaign for Helsinki Transit 2012 unlike jees ’yes,’ not yet in official Finnish dictionaries Communication in Finnish -- Peterson

24 kiitos and pliis: (Peterson & Vaattovaara 2014) syntactically: pliis preferred clause medially; kiitos clause finally semantically/pragmatically: different types of utterances/intention regionally and socially: pliis is associated with young, urban women – but is used to a significant extent by men, as well kiitos serves as a marker of negative politeness, whereas pliis serves as a marker of positive politeness – a gap in the pragmatic system of Finnish? 24Communication in Finnish -- Peterson “NEW” VS “OLD” POLITENESS MARKERS IN FINNISH

25 preposition, adverb semantic overlap in Finnish with standard form noin about also behaves in ways that do not overlap with English ’about’ or Finnish noin (Nykopp 2013) 25Communication in Finnish -- Peterson ABOUT ‘about’

26 standard Finnish form herranjumala, minun luojani – BUT, the forms are pragmatically and semantically distinct from each other; NOT variants like in English, semantically bleached less integrated than pliis and about? – but, note [omg] (Antturi 2104) 26Communication in Finnish -- Peterson OH MY GOD!

27 Oh my god, must tuntuu et joku tulee tonne huoneeseen jat sit se on silleen omg te tapoitte hänet. ’oh my god, I feel like someone is going to walk into that room and he’ll be like, ’omg, you killed her.’ (Antturi 2014) 27Communication in Finnish -- Peterson Janice, a character from the American TV series Friends

28 social: young, global, urban pragmatic: low social distance, solidarity, informality 28Communication in Finnish -- Peterson WHAT WORKLOAD DO THESE FORMS SHARE IN FINNISH? A wrongly parked car caused a tram traffic jam in Helsinki six times yesterday. Pliis, remember to leave 80 cm between the side mirror and the rails! example 1: Deputy Mayor of Helsinki (December 2012)

29 29Anglicisms in Finnish -- Peterson “The burgers were quite all right, but who ever heard of being charged 1.50 euros for water in Finland without even being told in advance?” example 2: Finnish celebrity chef, June 2013: ”Watergate” “Yeah, and the staff that brings you the glass costs nothing? You can and may complain, but you have to have a reason. At home it’s free. Not in a restaurant.”

30 30Anglicisms in Finnish -- Peterson WHAT IS THE TRAJECTORY? codeswitch?borrowing urbanness, globalism, youth further adaptation urbanness, globalism, youth grammatically Finnish; pragmatically Finnish

31 it’s a different country, with different cultural norms. Their aptitude in English might throw you off, but for many people, knowledge of English does not equal knowledge of American or English cultural norms. for many Finns, even their English can be used in a ”Finnish” way when it comes to conversational norms, pragmatics and politeness 31Communication in Finnish -- Peterson TAKE-HOME MESSAGE

32 Thank you! my contact information: Downtown campus, Metsätalo, 6th floor, B wing, room Communication in Finnish -- Peterson

33 33 Antturi, S. (2014). "Oh my god oh my god oh my god! mä en saa henkee!" English interjection in Finnish discourse. University of Helsinki: Department of Modern Languages. Brown, P. and S. Levinson. (1987) Politeness: Some universals. Cambridge. Nykopp, L. (2013). "Sanamuoto about näin": the use of about in Finnish discourse. University of Helsinki: Department of Modern Languages. Paunonen, H.;& Paunonen, M. (2000). Tsennaaks Stadii, bonjaaks slangii. Stadin slangin suursanakirja. [The dictionary of Helsinki slang]. Helsinki: WSOY. Peterson, Elizabeth Perspective and politeness in Finnish requests. Pragmatics 20 (3). 401–423. Peterson, E. (2009). “It’s Just Different”: Emotions and Observations about Finnish and English. Helsinki English studies : electronic journal of the Department of English at the University of Helsinki. 5 Peterson, E.;& Vaattovaara, J. (2014). Kiitos and pliis: the relationship of native and borrowed politeness markers in Finnish. Journal of Politeness Research Yli-Vakkuri, Valma Politeness in Finland: Evasion at all costs. In Leo Hickey and Miranda Stewart (eds.), Politeness in Europe. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.


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