Suomalaisten englannintaidoista

An ouppen letö tu Lenita Airisto

An op-ed piece in Helsingin Sanomat spawns a small revolt

A guest article in Helsingin Sanomat by one of the champions of Finnish style, Lenita Airisto, has prompted a small storm of protest. Airisto, who has been a tireless supporter of Finnish industry and promoter of “the Finnish brand” abroad, has often charged Finnish businessmen with a lack of style – most famously in her arch comments about the wrongness of wearing white sports socks with a suit.

In her latest broadside, Ms. Airisto took aim at drunkenness among public figures, in the wake of revelations that a senior civil servant had groped women at a cocktail party. She also had a go at what was described as “monkey English” as delivered by many of Finland’s leaders at international gatherings.

Whilst there was widespread approval for Lenita’s attack on the first count – few have much time for civil servants getting out to lunch and out of order – she did run into a hailstorm of criticism from readers on the second matter. The newspaper’s message board rapidly filled with comments that she was caught in an old era, when teachers stressed that before a pupil should dare open his or her mouth, the language and enunciation had to be pin-perfect.

Nowadays, teachers encourage communication rather than perfection, and Lenita Airisto’s suggestion that simply “speaking a foreign language with a thick accent” is somehow wrong or a sign of stupidity – and therefore “bad for the brand” – was not well received at all.


This open letter was subsequently sent to Ms. Airisto by a Helsingin Sanomat journalist.

Tiör Misis Airisto,

Ai äm raitink tu juu pikos ai ret tö Helsingin Sanomat yestödei. Juu wöö seiyink tis:

“Drunks and people who speak monkey English should not be in the public eye.”

Juu ment kokteil paatiis. Juu tount laik trankken piippul oor piippul huu tount spiik eksölent inklis.

Juu kool tem piippul huu spiik “manki inklis”. Mii Heikki, juu Lenita.

Tu pii kvait honöst, ai tount antöstäänt vot tiis tuu tinks häv tu tuu vit iitsatö. Ai miin, if sampati is trank oor if sampati tasönt spiik inklis veri kut. Tei aar tuu tifrent tinks in mai opinyön.

Ai tsast vaant tu sei, ai nou veri meni piippul huu tount spiik eksölent inklis, pat huu aar stil kvait intelitsent. Sam ov tem aar iivön ministers. Tu juu vaant tiis piippul tu stei houm oolveis? Tiör Misis Airisto, ai tount laik iliitist pulsit.

Joos sinsiöli,


Helsingin Sanomat