Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Winter Olympics: Vancouver 2010

This is the statue of Paavo Nurmi that I pass on my way to Finnish class. The Paavo Nurmi statue was, according to the Turku web site, the first statue commissioned by the newly independent Republic of Finland. It was sculpted by the Turku artist, Wäinö Aaltonen and five castings of the statue were made.

Why a statue of Paavo Nurmi on the blog post about the Vancouver Olympics? According the Patu and Tatu exhibit at the Turku Castle, Paavo Nurmi put Finland on the map. He was a 9 time Olympic gold medalist and won 5 gold medals in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Finland had been independent from Russia for only 7 years when Nurmi blazed into Olympic history. He was known as the Flying Finn.

Since his day, Finland has continued to collect Olympic glory. Finland has one of the highest per capita Olympic medal counts and promises to do well at this winter Olympics.

The interesting thing about watching the Finnish coverage of the Olympics on YLE, a Finnish station, is remembering what my Finnish teacher told me about vowel agreement. In Finnish, the vowels in a word must agree. "Y" is always a vowel and can only appear in words that contain e, i, y, ä, ö. "Y" cannot appear in a word with a, o, or u. My Finnish teacher said that some words such as "Olympics" are very non-Finnish since O and Y are together in the word.

I will continue to watch for vowel agreement and New Hampshire stars Bode Miller and Kris Freeman on YLE!


  1. So is there a Finnish word for Olympics? How do they pronounce it?

  2. Chris told me that the Finnish announcers treat the Y like and I so they are pronouncing it, but it is a strange looking word when you consider vowel harmony.