No, I *don’t* understand the words coming out of your mouth

I’m glad I’m not picky.  Living in Finland, not understanding the language, means that quite often, I simply pick something up without knowing what it is and figure, What’s the worst that could happen?  Meals or drinks in cafes, what I hope is shelf paper in the grocery store…medicine at the pharmacy…

Luckily, pretty much all of the restaurants here have menus in English and English-speaking waitstaff.  Some of the smaller cafes, on the other hand, don’t.  The food is generally on display though – salads, sandwiches, quiches – so it’s often quite simple to just point and nod.  I do it all the time.  “What’s that?” my friend will ask me as I take a forkful. I usually just shrug my shoulders.  “I don’t know – it looked good.”  And, quite often, it is.  I honestly can’t think of a time when I wanted to spit something out after tasting it.  Food is food, and I love food – even if I don’t know what I’m eating!

I know, getting medicine without knowing what your getting – bad idea.  Again, the pharmacists usually speak English decently enough to get what you need.  Last time, I was looking for allergy medication.  Unlike in the States, where I would read the labels and compare dosage and hours and prices, here I just grab whatever the pharmacist holds out to me. “Sure, that’ll work, what’s the worst that could happen?  So, how do I take this?   Twice a day?  Cool.”  I figure that’s the most important thing, right?

Today I had to get cough drops.  I had already been told that the cough drops here were…not good.  But I needed them.  So I asked the pharmacist.  She handed me a box and said, “Tablets.”  I think she means it pills, and I try to clear it up. “I’m looking for something to suck on.  Like…(wracking brain for simple terms) like candy.”  She nodded. “Yes, that’s it.”  Okie-dokie.  I got home and looked at them:

Would *you* want to put these in your mouth?

Those look like *yummy* cough drops, don’t they?  I shrug.  What’s the worst that could happen?

I tried.  I really did.  I held that thing in my mouth for about 10 seconds, trying to convince myself it wasn’t that bad.  But you know what?  It was.  It was that bad, and worse.  So if anyone back home is putting together a care package…HALLS!!

I recently “liked” the Facebook page for the City of Rauma…which, of course, posts in Finnish.  Lucky for me, Facebook has a nifty “See Translation” option.  Unlucky for me, neither Bing Translate nor Google Translate work for shit on Finnish.  Take, for example, this translation for something they posted yesterday:

Huomenna pääsee taas iltatorille!

Iltatorit ja sunnuntaikirppikset alkavat torstaina 28.6. ja jatkuvat 2.8. saakka tiistaisin ja torstaisin. Pitsiviikolla iltatorit järjestetään poikkeuksellisesti maanantaina, keskiviikkona ja torstaina.

Myyntiaika alkaa klo 16 ja päättyy klo 20, ohjelmaa torilla on joka kerta eri teemoin klo 17-19 välillä. Tarkemmat tiedot eri iltojen esiintyjistä:

Tomorrow is, on the other hand, in the evening the square!On Thursday, the markets will start in the evening and sunnuntaikirppikset 25.5. and continue for 2.8. on Tuesday and Thursday until. The week will be held on Monday evening, on an exceptional basis, a lace squares, on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Sales begin at 16 and ends at 20, the program must be made each time in different markets with different between 17 to 19: 00. For detailed information about the different iltojen of the artists: (Translated by Bing)


Yeah, that makes a ton of sense, right?

So, I know something is going on in the square this evening – actually, it looks like something will be going on every Tuesday and Thursday evening from now through August 2nd.  And then there’s something about Monday and Wednesday, and lace is mentioned (Rauma has a big Lace Week festival in July), so I’m thinking during Lace Week, what is normally happening on Tuesday and Thursday will be happening on Monday and Wednesday.  Okay.  It starts at 4pm (16) and ends at 8, but then there’s something about something from 5-7pm, and I can’t figure out what.

Well, let’s go see what this is all about, shall we?  I took a little stroll down to the square, and yes, there were vendors set up selling things.  A few of the produce stands were still up, and there were a couple of “pre-made goods” such as jewelry and knit clothing.  But most of the tables were flea-market type merchandise – mismatched china, random shot glasses, out-of-date clothing, old books.

There was also a stage set up, and a woman started singing about 5pm, so I guess the 5-7pm part is a performer of some sort.

So there you go.  Oh – and there’s a little train going around town now, too.  That was also on the Facebook page:  Kake City can again be seen out and about in a newsletter sent to train to the streets!  City train leaves the hour in front of the restaurant, and to bring to the attention of the passengers to the city of La Bamban attractions under the leadership of the Finnish version of the Guide.  Mmmm-hmmm…what she said.  (La Bamba is a restaurant in town.)

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “No, I *don’t* understand the words coming out of your mouth

  1. LOL! It says: Evening market and Sunday flea market are open again from Thursday 28.June until 2 August on Tuesdays and Thursdays. During the Lace Festival evening market is held on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Stalls open at 4pm and close at 8pm. Live performances and events every evening between 5-7pm. (the link is more info on the live performances).
    Yeah google translate pretty much

    • I agree. Bing in particular is not very useful for Finnish-English translations! I finally have just enough Finnish to get the general idea of what’s being said, but naturally the very words I can’t understand are the ones that come through Bing/Google untranslated!

    • So, see, I got the gist of it! 😀

  2. This post cracked me up. And made me recall miming symptoms of a cold to a pharmacist in Budapest that didn’t speak a word of English. It worked and the meds she gave us were perfect. Amazing how much you communicate without words, right? Though in your case not all success stories. 🙂

    • Yeah, I haven’t even told you about the time I tried to buy fabric at a little store in Old Town. *That* was hysterical – three of us communicating about fabric through hand motions – but I got what I needed!!

  3. we are living a the same life!!! hahaha
    had 2 horrid flu bugs through our house last year so have had some of those moments in the aptekki myself.

    i assume you have a lidl store in rauma.. i found some suitable ‘cough drops’ there… green paper wrappers think they have black text look like wrapped candy and they are in the candy section… labeled eucalyptus… sorry i cannot be more helpful i am currently traveling otherwise i could go look in my drawer and give you a better discription… they are as close as i could find to our hall’s cough drops. not unpleasent as far as a cough drop goes and helps. hopefully you are feel better very soon.
    xo tracie

    • You know, it’s amazing how often I hear, “You know where I found ____” or “You know where I found the *best* ___” At Lidl! (Those back in Charlotte – it’s basically the same as a Aldi, might even be the same company.) It’s hit or miss there, and it’s certainly not a one-stop-shop, but it’s great for finding surprises! I don’t go there often, because it’s the furthest store, but I make it a point to go every couple of weeks, to see what I can find. Found bread crumbs there last week…now if I could just find condensed cream of mushroom soup…

      And, I think I found what you suggested! Green and black wrapper, called “Euka Menthol,” and they definitely taste like the cough drops I’m used to. Sucking on one now, we’ll see how it works for the cough. Thank you!!

  4. anonymous

    Cough drops that are essentially candy i.e. with no actual medicine or relaxants in them can be found on candy aisles of every store. If you want something a bit more soothing and medicinal, there’s this sort of stuff. What you got was this sort of stuff which are basically for making your …well, mucus, I think is the word, more runny.

    Just because people speak English, they don’t necessarily exactly get what you mean by single words. That’s more of a cultural distinction than a dictionary distinction. Don’t just say what items you want, say what you need them for and what you want the items to do for you.

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