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"Anteeksi, mutta osaatko puhua englantia?"

Translation:Excuse me, but can you speak English?

June 30, 2020



Is "mutta" ( = but) necessary after anteeksi. Can't we omit "mutta" like -- Anteeksi, osaatko puhua englantia? Excuse me, can you speak English?


It can be omitted. I'd say you don't usually need it when "anteeksi" is "excuse me", e.g. "Anteeksi, voitko väistää?" / "Excuse me, could you move a bit/let me through."

You're more likely to need "mutta" when "anteeksi" means "sorry". "Sorry, I don't agree." / "Anteeksi, mutta en ole samaa mieltä."


In this case that wouldbe ok


Without really thinking literally, I translated it as: "Excuse me, but do you speak English?" ("do" rather than "can") And it was marked wrong.

In English, the main difference between "do you speak [language]" and "can you speak [language]" is that with "can" it sounds more like a request (sort of like "please speak english if you can") than a question about the person's abilities.

Is this distinction the same in Finnish?


I interpret it the complete opposite way! I would answer "Do you speak Swedish?" with "Ja, hur så?" but if someone asks "Can you speak Swedish?" I would go "Yes" and then keep doing what I was doing.

In other words, I interpret "do you speak" as a request for me to code switch, whereas "can you speak" is more a general inquiry about my abilities.


Can you speak could mean both what you said and what tj... said.


I'm not sure I agree with your description of English. I do agree that "do you speak English" is typically how you ask whether someone can speak English, so using "can" instead of "do" suggests that you intend something beyond just a question about capability, and this can be an implicit request or complaint.


There us no "can" in the answer list


Presuming the question is asked to determine whether someone knows the language well enough to speak it, wouldn't a better translation be "excuse me, but are you able to speak english"? I always figured "can you speak English" would be "voitko puhua englantia".


Are you able is 'Pystytkö' (more like being physically able). Can you means both 'voitko' and 'osaatko' but they have a little difference. 'Osaatko' is more literally 'can you' but 'voitko' is almost 'pystytkö' but it doesn't necessarily mean to 'be physically able'. It's more like 'I don't understand that language, can you speak English?'


"Excuse me, but do you speak English?" would probably be the way to find a mutual language. Thus, this would be a pragmatic equivalent to the Finnish "osaatko puhua englantia?" In contrast, asking "can you speak Finnish?" might imply the person is known to speak Finnish, but for some reason they are trying to speak in some other language. The translation would be "Voitko puhua suomea?"

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