The default translation of Huh is pretty arbitrary and dialectal. "Wow" would be more generic. Basically, "whoa" comes into common use from the command to a horse to stop, so it can be used to express surprise or disbelief, but normally in response to another person's words or behavior.
From English perspective your suggestion is wrong. “What a” construction is used to express an emotion when you see or experience something really good or bad, basically means “that’s really...”. Just “what” doesn’t capture that sense and sounds strange. Also “traffic” doesn’t equal “traffic jam”. Traffic is movement of cars on the road (can be other vehicles and even people). It can be good- moving at good speed or bad- moving slowly, but still moving. Traffic jam on the other hand means cars are stuck on the road and aren’t moving due to heavy congestion or whatever else. And ruuhka here means congestion or jam.
“What traffic” still doesn’t make sense however you look at it, because we are talking about a traffic jam, and not being surprised there are cars on the road. Hence, “what A traffic jam” is the most logical way to say it. You could say “What horrible traffic!” That would be closer to what the Finnish sentence means, but it isn’t as smooth and completely misses the word “ruuhka”, which we are learning.
I'm with Oinophilos on this one. Idiomatically it's perfectly fine, as an exclamation, to say "What traffic!" Totally normal and regularly done. And we'll never get a super-exact translation for a Finnish noun like "ruuhka," with a meaning that doesn't have a one-to-one match with an English noun. Just one of the mysteries of translation.
But. Traffic = liikenne. Ruuhka= jam, congestion, rush. Traffic appeared in the English version only out of (questionable) context, should really be “liikenneruuhka” for a word like “traffic” to appear. Yes, often can’t translate literally, but in this case “traffic” would appear out of nowhere literally. We are learning Finnish vocabulary after all, so the choice of words does matter.
This means what a queue, its not clear at all what kind of queue it is. Liikenneruuhkaa is traffic jam,
"What a queue!" - "Mikä jono!
"Ruuhka" (/"suma") - congestion, also overcrowding or (traffic) jam
Used in compounds such as
"ruuhka-aika" - rush hour etc.
"ruuhkavuodet" - "the crowded years", when you are juggling trying to manage all aspects of your life (family, work, friends, hobbies, aging parents etc.)
"Ruuhka-Suomi" - either the Helsinki region and nearby municipalities OR the area within the borders of the Helsinki-Tampere-Turku triangle
A queue is one line of people awaiting their turn. That is the only kind of queue that exists. But it is true that "traffic jam" is more specific than "ruuhka". It's any situation in which there is too much traffic and movement is difficult as a result of it. There doesn't have to be vehicles involved, since it can be just foot traffic. Also, there doesn't have to be any queues involved either.
Please can we have "Wow" as an option for "Huh"? I'm not American and personally would NEVER say "Whoa" or "Woah" to express dismay/surprise/etc., and would feel bit silly doing so, like I was talking to a horse. "Phew" is kind of prissy and old-school. "Wow" is ubiquitous in most of the worldwide English-speaking nations that I can think of.
Not sure why there are so many arguments about the meaning of “whoa”. Yes, it can mean “stop”, but all dictionaries also have it as exclamation of surprise. For example, from Oxford dictionary: “1. used to express surprise, interest, or alarm, or to command attention. "whoa, that's huge!"
I'm also American, and while I admit I've probably used "whoa" in this sense before (think Jeff Spicoli - "Whoa, dude, check it out!"), I would also usually say "wow" instead. The difference is (to me) a minor one - I don't think this is the same "whoa" you'd use with a horse, but rather the word "wow" with a pronunciation difference. "wow" should, in my opinion, be accepted.
Nothing is wrong with the use of “whoa” here, “whoa is a popular exclamation used to express surprise, amazement, or great pleasure” (https://writingexplained.org/whoa-or-woah-difference). But wow could definitely be an option, although, imho, it has more of a positive connotation.
"whoa" is the correct spelling. I find it interesting that it's spelled correctly here but not on the actual question. From M-W: What to Know Woah is not yet in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as an official spelling variant of whoa, but its usage has increased dramatically in the current century. "Whoa" is still much more common however, so only time will tell if this spelling variant is accepted. https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/words-were-watching-woah-whoa-slang-definition
Whoa is seldom used colloquially in America anymore unless you are trying to stop a horse or sometimes a person. huh doesn’t really need translation it is a universal expletive unless the Finnish huh actually means stop in which case stop would be a clearer translation. Oh well I am rambling huh whoa!
“Whoa” is used on the East Coast all the time. I’d say, one of the most frequently used exclamations. Probably depends on where in the country you are. “Huh” is used too, of course, but I think the meaning is a bit different from that in Finnish. More of disbelief/disappointment/question connotation.
Not to interrupt all of you who are discussing an almost-word like "whoa" :), but I'm intrigued by the use of "mikä" here. I considered phrases like "what a mess" or "what a predicament" to be highly idiomatic English, and never figured that the concept of "what a ---" might work similarly in any other language. Does "mikä" really serve almost that same role in Finnish - i.e. would you translate these and other similar "what a ---" expressions using "mikä"?
I cannot say for Finnish, but "What xxx" for an exclamation seems to be a quite common construction in European languages: French ("Quel(le)"), German ("Was für"), and even Turkish have it ("Ne"). If it has an Indo-European origin, then in the case of Finnish and Turkish it must be an areal influence.
Edit: come to think of it, even Japanese has "何て (nante)" and "何と (nanto)" that have partially the same function and originate from "what": almost feels like it's a tendency engrained in human language development?
That would be misleading most of the time because they are not that similar. The English "huh" is used to create tag questions, to indicate that the speaker did not hear what was said, and to express amusement, subtle surprise, doubt, and confusion. The Finnish "huh", on the hand, is used to express relief, fatigue, and surprise. The only usage they therefore have in common is that they can both be used to express surprise, but even when it comes expressing surprise, there are subtle differences in tone and contexts of usage. It's also worth noting that they're pronounced differently because the English "huh" is pronounced as either /hʌ/ or /hə/, whereas the Finnish "huh" is pronounced as /huh/.
My Finnish mother uses something like "hoo" as a mild utterance. I guess that might be what they are driving at. "Huh. No niin" is something I heard a lot from my mum and Mummo but it was very different to an English "Huh" - I really think Duolingo should drop the Huh. It does not translate well out of context.
My uncle, only a few years older than me, painstakingly taught me all the Finnish swear words and how to combine them. Duolingo gets a bit funny about swear words but the Finnish V word is what leaves my lips if I hit my thumb with a hammer. Which is fine in England unless my mum hears it. She is immune to English swearing (not that I'd swear in front of my mum) but if I let a V go, I'm in trouble. In Finland I have used some distinctly fruity language which has defused 2 situations as Finns seem completely stunned by being cursed in Finnish by a non native. And Finnish swearing is unusually expressive. I liked Roba and I watch every bit of Finnish TV I can get. Currently watching Bullets on British E4.
Kaikki Synnet was a good double series on E4 too. Huone 301 is next on my list. There is quite a lot of Finnish TV here in UK if you search. Netflix has Sorjonen and Deadwind. Prime has quite a lot of Finnish films - Aurora was a really good film. Heavy Trip was really funny. 4 utter bellend lads in a heavy metal band end up with a full coffin in Norway. You'll have to watch it. It was laugh out loud funny but pretty crude at times.
I'm not sure what exactly you mean by "not a real word", but in any case both "huh" from Finnish and "whoa" from English are utterances with meanings, and any utterance with a meaning can be translated. "Whoa" can also be used to express surprise, and "huh" from Finnish shares this same potential meaning (but doesn't share the potential meaning of "stop" or "slow down"). The Finnish "huh" can additionally be used express fatigue and relief. It's also worth noting that it shouldn't be equated with the English "huh", which is pronounced differently and has different functions and meanings, apart from the fact that it can also express surprise.