What Would You Be Called In Finland?

Languages28 March 20142.8k

Let's get one thing straight, translation is a serious business.

No brand wants to be left looking stupid by botching a translation to such an extent that the original meaning of the slogan is lost.

For example, Parker Pens were left red faced after an advert with the tagline 'It won't leak in your pocket and embarrass you' was mistranslated into 'It won't leak in your pocket and make you pregnant'. Oh the irony!

However, that doesn't mean there isn't room for a bit of fun and that's why we think a recent initiative by the Finnish tourist board, Visit Finland, is pure genius. 

In recognition of the fact that every European has some Finnish genes in them thanks to the Vikings, it has created the 'Finngenerator'.

This app translates standard anglicised names into Nordic monikers, with some creative licence thrown into the mix. For example, everyone's favourite spy James Bond would be known as Jouko Pallas, with his forename a reference to the brave wise man in the Finnish epic poem Kalevala.

Even the most bland of English names take on a new vibrancy. John Smith, for example, becomes Tapio Hongisto, which translates loosely as 'Ancient king of the forest' (Tapio) 'Home made of pine trees' (Hongisto).

They have also created a version that allows Japanese people to translate their names into Finnish, so Yoko Ono becomes Virva Ruohola.

While it is obviously something of a novel idea, it has helped Visit Finland to engage with people all around the world through a very simple idea. It has also allowed them to market the country in an understated way, as the app has a range of pictures that show the nation in all its natural beauty. 

This shows how translations can not only be useful, but also great fun. 

As you are probably aching to know your Finnish name equivalent, here's the linkOh, and by the way, from now on, please call me Jouko Mesikämmen!


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