The Finnish Name of the Year 2023 is Käärijä. The name roughly translates as "money maker" or "roller". The sound of the letter “ä” is the same as in “cat”, In this case the first syllable Kää-ri-jjä is long.
Rap artist Jere Pöyhönen, known by the stage name Käärijä, successfully represented Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 with his song Cha Cha Cha. He came second in the contest and received the largest amount of telephone votes from the public.
“Language experts were delighted about Käärijä’s success with a Finnish artist name and song lyrics. Nowadays, many people in Finland think that one should always use English in international contexts. Especially the vowels Ä and Ö are seen as problematic and therefore avoided in names. Käärijä showed us that these beliefs are not necessarily true,” explains Dr. Lasse Hämäläinen, a member of the award jury.
“Moreover, Käärijä is an authentic name, not a creation of a record company or an advertising agency. Käärijä himself has told that the name was invented by chance when he was playing slot machines with his friend.”
Chosen by experts of onomastics
The Finnish Name of the Year award is an honorary title given to a good proper name that has appeared in the Finnish media or otherwise been topical in Finland during that year. The purpose of the award is to highlight successful name choices and to emphasize the importance of good name choices in society. The winner candidates can represent any category of proper names, such as place names, personal names, company names, or product names. The award winner has been chosen every year since 2017.
The award winner was chosen during the Finnish Conference of Onomastics, the annual meeting of onomastic experts in Finland organized at the University of Helsinki. The award jury had selected seven finalists among the nominations send by the public. The winner was decided during the conference in a closed vote by 45 voters.
This year’s other finalists were Espoon kaupunginteatteri (a theater), Hukkasiini (a shoe brand), Mosaiikki (a culture center), Nysväri (a cleaning brush), Ransunraitti (a street), and Uvja (a mental health phone service in Sami languages). Winners from previous years include names of an animal hospital, a mobile application, a church building, and a newspaper.
More about the Finnish Name of the Year award (YouTube, in English)
Dr. Lasse Hämäläinen
+358 40 7428373
Dr. Taarna Valtonen