Perussuomalaiset: True, Basic or Elementary Finns?

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

I called the Perussuomalaiset’s headquarters in Helsinki today and asked what their official name was in English: “True Finns is the official adopted name,” a male voice said. Migrant Tales’ oldest blogger, Jonas, has brought up this contradiction between the Finnish and English translation of the word perus a number of times.

One way of resolving a translation of a name is by asking the official name in that language. The problem with “True” Finn is that it implies that all other people who don’t support the party are imposters, or “False” Finns.

If we look at the translation of the word perus on EUdict,  it can mean in English basic, basal, elementary, fundamental and rudimentary to name a few. Unless you want to fool the English-speaking public, true is a poor and deceptive translation of the word perus.

I think a name like Rudimentary Finn would fit better the character and non-existent political background of some of the newly elected PS MPs like Teuvo Hakkarainen.

For this reason, I personally will start calling the party Perussuomalaiset or PS.

  1. Allan

    The translation is really a poor one, but all the options in English do not convey the same idiom. Remember that punk in the 70-80 shift – Maukka Perusjatka. How would you translate perusjatka? “man-on-the-street-dude?

    I think to convey the idea of Persut it would be the “Alf Garnett Party”.

  2. JusticeDemon

    There is nothing wrong with True Finns as the name of a political party. This is also a perfectly reasonable translation equivalent for perussuomalaiset, which is a nominal in Finnish (i.e. a word combining some features of both a noun and an adjective).

    The “word” perus (i.e. the type-64 noun) is rare as such, but the non-inflected prefix perus- is exceedingly common. To find out how this prefix is used in modern Finnish, we have to look at over a hundred words beginning with perus-. These words take up about six pages of fine print in the 8th reprinting of Nykysuomen sanakirja published in 1983.

    There are similarly many ways to use true in English. Interesting examples for our present purpose include “True North”, “True Life”, “True Blood” and “True Grit”.

    I think if I had to translate “true Finn” as a description (as opposed to a proper name), I would probably choose aitosuomalainen, but this is far from decisive.

  3. horst lederhosen

    Their voters speak finnish, not english, so they I guess they don’t really care that the english translation is deceptive, and with makes the party sound scarier than it is.

  4. JusticeDemon


    And then they wonder why only the likes of Nick Griffin, Roberto Fiore and Bruno Gollnisch will talk to them in Brussels. 🙂

    Didn’t the celebrated polyglot Sulo Aittoniemi come back from Belgium once with the splendid idea of changing the name of the old SMP to Suomen Kansallinen Rintama. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Jonas

    There was in fact an article in Hufvudstadsbladet a couple of days ago reporting that Jussi Niinistö had suggested changing the party’s Swedish name to Grundfinnarna. A quick Googling shows a blog entry from him here:

    Not a terrible suggestion given that they certainly don’t speak for the entire Finnish population regardless of language group. For English, I still like Basic Finns best. Their attitudes and behaviour are pretty basic.

  6. Allan

    Well, if Soini keeps his stand on the Portugal bailout, then they cannot be called “untrue finns”, but it is such rare thing to see a politician to actually be keeping his word at´fter the elections. Even Arhinmäki who was accusing Soini of being a turncoat is now pro-bailout.