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  5. "Hän on sisukas nainen."

"Hän on sisukas nainen."

Translation:She is a woman with sisu.

June 23, 2020



What is sisu?


Sisu is the Finnish spirit of determination, especially in the face of adversity, that is an important aspect of Finnish cultural identity. I feel sisukas is a weird term to introduce at this stage, though...


I think they're trying to add some Finnish cultural knowledge to keep it interesting! Same with kantele in this same lesson.


Same with Shaman, not entirely Finnish though :)


Kiitos selitys


We say 'sisu' in parts of Michigan, too, with this exact meaning :). There are a lot of Finnish-Americans in Michigan, so that's where it comes from.


It's a Finnish word, not an English one, but it doesn't have a perfect translation. It's like spunk or grit, but with the implication of being stoic about it.


"Spunk" is a pretty vulgar word in the UK and isn't used to describe any respectable person (women, in particular). I'd go with something like spirited or having pluck (courageous readiness to fight or continue against odds; dogged resolution).


As much as us Finns like to consider "sisu" to be untranslatable, I would accept translations such as "She is a spunky woman." etc. for this sentence.


There's no such thing as "untranslatable" between languages. Sometimes words are elevated to these lofty positions for no good reason, we Welsh have hiraeth which is also said to be untranslatable, but it pretty much means "longing/yearning".

Bad and poor translations are only due to the translators poor ability.

EDIT: Those who downvoted clearly know nothing of languages and how they work.


True. Usually it just means that there isn't a directly equivalent word in the target language. Often a set of different words can be used depending on context or sometimes multiple words are needed.

Like Swedish "lagom" translates to "just enough for the purpose". It is very much translateable, but doesn't have one specific English word it translates to.

Same with "sisu". "Stoic grit" would be a good translation in many contexts.


@Jonlang_: Don't forget that speaking in any language the speaker already has to "translate" his internal thoughts into spoken words and body language, and in that transliteration sometimes "untranslatability" plays a role. If you would study sign language, i.e. the (tactile) hand signs in order to "speak" with a deaf/deaf+blind person, this aspect of communication becomes much more important. BTW, sign languages are real languages of its own, with grammar and all linguistic aspects like spoken (and sung) languages have. However, the grammar of a sign language usually does not compare at all to that of the spoken language in that country. (Aug 2020)


It has to do more with interpretation, I think.


Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.



That description is mor or less accurate. There does not appear to be an exact translation into English. Courage isn't an exact translation. Fortitude might be a better translation. However, sisu seems to imply courage, fortitude and resilience. (There is, in general, nowhere near a one-to-one correlation between languages.)


There are a few I would personally have no problem with using as a translation of "sisu", which include "tenacity", "pluck", "grit", and maybe a couple of others I can't think of off the top of my head right now.


Makes me think of Hobbits!


would this be similar to "stoic"?

[deactivated user]

    Love that they've used a bit of purely Finnish phrasing here. Very much doubt I would ever use this phrasing, but certainly good to learn!


    never heard the word Sisu...


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisu It is a concept used to describe the "national character" of Finns.


    Thanks for an explanation - I really thought it's english word, I've never heard of... :)


    How about something like tenacious, resolute, or persevering?


    "Stoic determination" is the closest you'll get. There cannot be a single English word really because stoicism is an integral part of Sisu.


    So, does the suffix -kas mean "with?"


    Only in the same way the "ed" in "spirited" means "with" in a sentence like this, She is spirited. -> She is a woman with spirit.


    I agree that you have to get a feel for these kind of words but in the form of this exercise it is kind of confusing.


    Can you translate it as:
    She is the woman with sisu?


    I think Finnish would change the word order to imply this, seeing as it lacks articles, but I'm not 100% sure.


    When I translate full sentence using Google translate: Hän on sisukas nainen. She is hardy women. Is that ture?!


    No, and mainly because the subject predicative is plural while the subject and the verb are singular, which makes it grammatically incorrect. It's all supposed to be singular. The adjective is similar but not quite right. My preferred translation is "plucky".


    It could be translated as 'meaningful'. It is not entirely a Finnish concept, so it makes no sense not to translate it (example: the Estonian word 'sisukas' has the exact same meaning as in Finnish).


    That is not even a remotely similar concept. If that's what it means in Estonian, then the Estonian word has a completely different meaning. Wiktionary describes the concept of sisu as "strength of will in the face of adversity".


    English is a rich language and inventing a new word such as 'sisu' seems questionable. Especially since the concept is difficult to follow for people who have no previous encounter with Finnish. The word comes up at a very early level dedicated for beginners. Yet there are so many great words in Finnish that can be properly translated, why not to focus on those instead? That's just my subjective opinion, and I wish you good luck!


    I am not sure how to translate 'sisu'. There is, in general, nowhere near a 1-to-1 correspondence between languages; and that makes many expressions untranslatable or nearly so. Double meanings, and tongue-twisters, for instance, generally cannot be translated.


    I would translate it as "pluck". It's not entirely equivalent but it's close enough, and the same can be said of many commonly used translations. In my view, the only good reason to do an avoidable loan translation is when the cultural transfer from the loan translation is deemed more valuable for the purpose of the translation than maximising the intelligibility of the translation. This is generally the case when there are stylistic purposes involved, so I'm personally not sure whether insisting on a loan translation as the only option is beneficial for purely pedagogical purposes.


    Why should we learn such kind of words as "sisukas" at the beginning of course? Like it's something so important, that we should learn it immediately.


    What Duo teaches, ar not always the most probable expressions; but even such less-probable expressions ar useful because they still teach vocabulary, and grammar, syntax, and morfology.


    I think 'gutsy' describes it perfectly. This is a slang term which is in common use nowadays.

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