Finnish Stories

Vastahakoinen Akka
The Reluctant Wife


Two part story of the strife between husband and wife from “Fairy Tales and Stories of the People of Finland.

Translated and voiced by Irmeli Kuehnel.


Cultural Background on Stories from “Fairy Tales and Stories of the People of Finland”
[“Suomen Kansan Satuja ja Tarinoita”]

The Finnish stories that are translated for the Language Museum were derived from the book referenced above. The most recent printing of this historical book was in 1920. The last original printing was in 1863.

The 1920 edition preserves the old Finnish language; thus, the script is linguistically and syntactically clearly Finnish; however even Finnish natives may find the text to be somewhat challenging.

The different types of literature in the book include poems, stories, and fairly tales (some that are not of Finnish origin, rather of German or Danish origin). Excerpts from Finland’s national epic “Kalevala” are also represented.

Another great aspect of the book is that it contains a treasure trove of black and white drawings that illustrate each reading piece. In addition, there are numerous colored drawings for many of the writings.

For the modern reader, the texts can be perceived as humorous, poetic and sometimes rustic or macabre, since they hearken back to the 1800s, when Finland’s population was bucolic and had not been urbanized.

The story that I translated has two parts. The first part is “The reluctant wife”, and it is a comical tale about how beleaguered husband outsmarts his wife.

The title to the second part is “The reluctant wife, part 2 ,” which contains some early black humor.

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Fanni is Radnóti's wife
Located near the Tang capital city of Chang’an, site of the modern city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, in central China.
Soldiers of that time commonly wore a white head cloth, similar to what is still worn by some peasants in China today.  The implication is that the conscripts were so young that they didn’t know how to wrap their head cloths, and needed help from elders.
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
The area of Guanxi, meaning “west of the passes”, refers to the area around the capital city of Chang’an.
This is an alternative name for a province in western China, now known as Qinghai, which literally means “blue sea”.  Kokonor Lake, located in Qinghai, is the largest saline lake in China.  
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
Oulart Hollow was the site of a famous victory of the Irish rebels over British troops, which took place on May 27, 1798. The rebels killed nearly all the British attackers in this battle. (Source: Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854, pp 92-93, at archive.org)
The phrase "United Men" is elaborated upon in the Notes section below.

Ghetto


An Italian word meaning “foundry.” It originally referred to a part of the city of Venice where the Jews of that city were forced to live; the area was called “the ghetto” because there was a foundry nearby. The term eventually came to refer to any part of a city in which a minority group is forced to live as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Because of the restrictions placed upon them, ghetto residents are often impoverished.

"You’re five nine, I am do-uble two"


A reference to the year 1959 and the year 2020.

"The Currency"


Meaning US dollars - this is drawing attention to the fact that Cuba is effectively dollarized.

"Sixty years with the dom-ino stuck"


This sentence is a reference to the Cold War notion that countries would turn Communist one after the other - like dominos. Cuba was the first domino, but it got stuck - no one else followed through into communism.

رحلنا


رحلنا, or "rahalna," means "we have left."

Habibi


Habibi means "my love."

Ra7eel


Ra7eel, or "raheel," means "departure."

3awda


3awda, or "awda," means "returning."

أهلاً


أهلاً, or "ahalan," means "welcome."

a5 ya baba


a5 ya baba, pronounced "akh ya baba," means "Oh my father."