Andrew Chesterman (with Anneli Lieko and Leena Silfverberg)


1999d      Finnish for Translators. Helsinki: Finn Lectura.







Finnish for Translators  is a manual for non-native speakers of Finnish who wish to translate professionally from Finnish into other languages, and also for students of Finnish as a foreign language. It offers a key to the comprehension of Finnish, focusing on those aspects of Finnish grammar and stylistic usage that tend to be especially tricky for translators. The book is thus a kind of reader’s guide to Finnish, for non-Finns. The orientation is from form to meaning, not on producing Finnish but on understanding it.

         It is not meant to be read through from beginning to end; rather, it should serve as a reference book, where particular points can be checked and practised.

         The book has five parts. Part I presents some areas of Finnish grammar and word formation that can be particularly problematic for translators, such as the multiple functions of the genitive, complex noun-phrase structures, the interpretation of Finnish word order, and non-finite (participle) structures.

         Part II is a reference list of Finnish endings, including suffixes and other minimal meaningful elements (morphemes); these are arranged in alphabetical order. 

         Part III is a set of translation exercises covering most of the points discussed in Parts I and II.

         Part IV gives keys to all the exercises: possible translations to check comprehension, and occasional notes.

         Part V has a selection of tables and checklists, and references.

         Throughout the book, our examples are primarily from authentic, non-edited, non-literary documentary texts of various kinds, mostly dealing with topics and vocabulary typical of EU subject matter, including legislation, public information brochures, reports, news items, official comments, plans, agreements, statements etc. Translations of individual examples (in the text and in the exercise keys) are fairly literal, to show the structure of the Finnish. In a running text, more natural versions might well be more appropriate, but our focus is on the sense of the Finnish, not the elegance of the English. Particularly literal versions are given between quotation marks.

         We assume that readers of the book will already have a basic knowledge of Finnish, and will have access to primary reference works such as grammars, dictionaries and CD-ROMs, such as the CD-ROM version of the Suomen kielen Perussanakirja; the Hyperkielioppi multimedia presentation of Finnish grammar, its dialects and the development of the standard language and Finnish language planning; and the Perusmuotosanakirja by Karlsson and Koskenniemi, which gives the basic dictionary form of any inflected word. Other useful reference works include Lepäsmaa, Lieko and Silfverberg: Kuinka sanoja johdetaan, and Jönsson-Korhola and White: Tarkista tästä. (See the References.)

         Other good sources of information in Finland are the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland (tel. +358-9-731 5209), the Language Service of the Prime Minister’s Office (+358-9-160 2058), and the Finnish Centre for Technical Terminology (+358-9-608 996).





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